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CNN's web page today:
That's before the helicopter crash replaced the image with a map of Iraq showing the location of the site relative to Baghdad. An interesting juxtaposition, smiling Iraqi women hanging election posters as the violence grows. We'll turn to the actual story in a moment.
July 1863, the third day of the battle of Gettysburg. Lee had brought his unbeaten army into the North, and after two days of combat elected to take a bold step to end the battle. Pickett?s Charge, a fatal attack on the Union center, marked the end of the battle, and the beginning of the end of the Confederacy.
The discipline of the advancing Confederate troops, faced with the task of covering a mile of open ground, was superb, and excited the admiration of friend and foe. The men moved forward at between 85 and 110 steps to the minute, preserving magnificent alignment until they reached the Emmitsburg Road. Despite a degree of protection offered by those two rises in the ground, the Union artillery, brilliantly cited by Hunt, was able to mount crossfire with horrific effect. When yankee infantry - Ohioans on the rebel left, Vermonters on the right - boldly moved forward and enfiladed the advancing lines with heavy musketry, the Southerners found themselves in the situation that all soldiers dread....out in the open, in dense formation, being shredded by enemy fire from front and flank. One of Heth?s brigades, Virginians under the command of Mayo, could not stand the pressure and broke, but the rest endured the nightmare sufficiently to press on towards the stonewall and the clump of trees that marked the objective. Pickett?s men had converged with Pettigrew?s and Trimble?s, and the frontage of attack was now reduced to 540 yards as the final rush was made. Now began what Hancock, who was himself desperately wounded, described as ?..A very terrific contest at close quarters...? This was no ?walk over?, but a furious struggle in which the defending Northern soldiers also suffered heavy casualties. Confederate infantry pierced the Union line and fought hand to hand. The deepest penetration was made by the 11th Mississippi of Davis?s brigade from Heth?s division, not, as is often supposed, by Armistead and his Virginians from Pickett?s division. The effects of the flanking fire from Stannard?s Vermonters, along with the murderous close range canister blasts from Union artillery, had still not prevented the Southerners from reaching their objective. The additional two brigades of Wilcox and Lang were sent forward in support, but Longstreet, who, despite his protest, was in nominal command of this attack, withheld any further support. The overall result was catastrophe for the Army of Northern Virginia. The unsupported troops who had achieved the break in the Union gun line were mostly killed or captured, and the attack decisively and bloodily repulsed.
Pickett?s division suffered some three thousand casualties, and the losses in Pettigrew?s and Trimble?s commands were in proportion. Overall, more than five thousand of the attackers had been killed or wounded, many of the latter being taken prisoner, and in addition fifteen hundred unwounded prisoners had been taken. At least six and a half thousand men, about half the troops deployed in the action, had been lost, and ninety per cent of the casualties had been sustained in half an hour. The loss of life among those of higher rank was incredible. Pickett lost all three of his brigadier generals, two dead and one grievously wounded, and of his thirteen colonels eight were killed and all the rest wounded. Of the 35 officers in his division above the rank of captain, only one escaped unhurt.
1944, the Pacific, the sunset for the Empire of the Rising Sun:
Late in the Pacific war, the Japanese high command turned to an official national strategy of "special attack." The suicide airplane attacks were often referred to as "kamikaze" (divine wind), borrowing the name from the typhoons that reportedly blew up and swept away Kublai Khan's invading Mongol fleets in 1274 and again in 1281, in response to the fervent prayers of Japanese religious leaders.
The organization of the Divine Wind Special Attack Corps was begun during the Japanese defense of the Philippines. Escorted to their target by fighters, the pilots were instructed to plunge their bomb-laden aircraft directly into enemy ships, creating a "man-guided bomb" of extraordinary power. The first such attack, involving five navy Zero fighters armed with 250-kilogram bombs, occurred on October 25, 1944, during operations off Leyte Island, following Vice Admiral ծishi Takijir?9;s (1891-1945) formal suggestion that such operations be planned. The tactic met with some success, and the army air force soon joined in.
1968, Hue, heaviest fighting of the Tet Offensive:
The Buddhist crisis had left bitter feelings towards the Saigon Government in the ancient Vietnamese capital and, within a few hours of their attack, the disguised insurgents supported by some ten NVA/VC battalions had overrun all of the city except for the headquarters of the ARVN 3rd Division and the garrison of US advisors. The main NVA/VC goal was the Citadel, an ancient imperial palace covering some two square miles with high walls several feet thick. NVA troops assaulted the Citadel and ran up the VC flag on the early morning of January 31st but were unable to displace ARVN holding out in the northeast section. Having overrun the city and found considerable support among sections of Hue's populace, the NVA/VC began an immediate revolutionary "liberation" program. Thousands of prisoners were set free and thousands of "enemies of the state" - government officials, sympathizers, and Catholics were rounded up and many were shot out of hand on orders from the security section of the NLF which had sent in its action squad with a prepared hit-list. Most of the others simply vanished.
After Hue was finally recaptured at the end of February South Vietnamese officials sifting through the rubble found mass graves with over 1200 corpses and-sometime later-other mass burials in the provincial area. The total number of bodies unearthed came to around 2500 but the number of civilians estimated as missing after the Hue battle was nearly 6000. Many of the victims found were Catholics who sought sanctuary in a church but were taken out and later shot Others were apparently being marched off for political "re-education" but were shot when American or ARVN units came too close.
The mass graves within Hue itself were largely of those who had been picked up and executed for various "enemy of the people" offenses. There is some doubt that the NVA/VC had planned all these executions beforehand but unquestionably it was the largest communist purge of the war.
US Marines and ARVN drove into the city and, after nearly two days of heavy fighting, secured the bank of the Perfume river opposite the Citadel. Hue was a sacred city to the Vietnamese and apart from the ancient Citadel held many other precious historical buildings. After much deliberation, it was reluctantly decided to shell and bomb NVA/VC positions. Resistance was heavy and sending the Marines into the city without air and artillery support would have meant an unacceptable cost in lives. To many, the battle for Hue reminded them of the bitter street-by-street fighting that occurred during World War II. The NVA had blown the main bridge across the Perfume River. US forces crossed in a fleet of assault craft under air and artillery cover which blasted away at the enemy-held Citadel. Its walls were so thick that few were killed but the covering fire made the enemy keep their heads down while the Marines and soldiers hit the bank below.
While the ARVN, with US support, fought its way through the streets of Hue block by block, the Marines prepared to assault the Citadel. On February 2Oth American assault teams went in through clouds of tear gas and the burning debris left over from air and artillery attacks. The NVA/VC were pushed into the southwestern corner of the Citadel and finally overwhelmed on February 23rd. Enemy resistance in Hue was finally reduced to isolated pockets and sniper teams. As the Citadel fell, NVA/VC units began retreating- some of them marching groups of soon to be massacred prisoners before them - into the suburbs while their rear guards fought holding actions with the advancing ARVN. The fight for Hue ended by February 25th at a cost of 119 Americans and 363 ARVN dead compared to about sixteen times that number of NVA/VC dead.
For their efforts in the Tet Offensive the communists were defeated soundly on multiple battlefields through South Vietnam, and their losses were significant, some 45,000 NVA/VC dead and nearly 7000 taken prisoner, with no territory held. American and ARVN losses included over 4,300 killed in action, 16,000 wounded and over 1,000 MIA. Tet was a crippling blow to North Vietnam, but something different happened in 1968, something unheard of in 1863 or 1944. The American media painted a picture of an "unwinnable" war, and in later days the leaders of Communist Vietnam would admit that the support of many Americans was the only thing that sustained them in a war they thought they had lost with the massive failure of Tet.
And now here's our CNN story:
Three car bombs within an hour killed five people and injured six others in Tamim province Wednesday, according to the police chief in Kirkuk.
The bombs exploded between 11 a.m. and noon (3 and 4 a.m. ET), said Maj. Gen. Torhan Abdul Rahman. The first was in the town of Riyadh, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Kirkuk, and targeted a police station, he said. Three Iraqi police officers were killed and three civilians injured.
The second detonated outside the Riyadh mayor's office, killing two Iraqi soldiers. The third bomb exploded outside Riyadh and targeted a U.S. military convoy. Three other Iraqi civilians were wounded.
Though now, given the helicopter crash that killed 30 Marines and a Navy corpsman, the headline reads "Deadliest day for U.S. in Iraq war".
Of note in the description of the three bombings is the common feature that apparently none of them hit their intended targets. This on the heels of five failed car bombings last week. CNN doesn't specify if the drivers of the vehicles were counted in the death toll, but certainly such a weapon of desperation is expected to cause a bit more damage. See Khobar Towers or Oklahoma City for example of effective vehicle bombs. See Pickett's Charge, Kamikazes, and Tet for examples of desperate attacks by defeated foes.
We can speculate forever on that interesting juxtaposition of image and words CNN provided above. Perhaps it is a sign of their objective journalistic neutrality between the poster hangers and the car bombers. But if you want an explanation of those smiles, perhaps there's a clue at PowerLine, with a report that 72% of Iraqis intend to vote, and that only 25% said they felt security was "bad" in their areas.
Guess they don't get CNN.
As a member of the Fifth Marines I was in Hue in Winter 1968. We kicked ther asses and could have ended the war if we had been allowed to chase them back to their bases. But Bobby Mc ordered us to "hold our ground". The MSM and uncle Walter in particular lied about Tet.
1/5 Nam 1967+1968
I believe what we have here is a failure to perspectivate (cross between Strother Martin & George W. Bush).
Notice since their main bombmaker has been captured they ain't been able to do shyte; and 12 car-bombs were found up in Mosul by the mighty 25th, ready for an election day statement that never will be ?
Keep the perspective going Mr. G.
I think this is not an issue of CNN "being against America in the war", but simply the fact that they're driven by profit, we (the bloggers) are driven by ideology and/or personal experience.
It creates two different types of news.Posted by Joe at January 26, 2005 11:19 PM
The present day Media is doing almost as good a job on the American (and other) public as they did back in the sixtys and seventys.
They didn't have the internet and the Blog Brigade then, if we had [had] it, the outcome of the Viet Nam "Conflict" would have ended quite diffently.
And I wouldn't have spent the last thirty some odd years rebounding between guilt and anger.
I saw that headline earlier today and I've been so angry ever since then I want to scream! I think you've tied it together beautifully.Posted by Teresa at January 27, 2005 12:25 AM
72%? There isn't even anyone in the administration willing to make that bold of a prediction. Don't you think that's a bit optimistic?Posted by Judy at January 27, 2005 12:42 AM
It's the result of a poll. Would be nice if its accurate.Posted by Buddy at January 27, 2005 01:02 AM
I'm so glad we have you doing your blog site. You put so much in perspective. Just want you to know I am very proud of you. Love you.Posted by Grannylu at January 27, 2005 02:37 AM
Has not the Media been refered to as "The Fifth Column"? For good or ill they can have a profound effect. Which side are they on? (retorical)Posted by Dale reeves at January 27, 2005 04:45 AM
I agree with Joe. CNN is not against America, it's for their liberal perspective and also for a moneymaking style of CONFLICT and DRAMA. Here's another example: Bill O'Reilly says that Fox's breaking the news in 2000, about GW Bush's drunk driving incident PROVES(yes, he's sometimes let the invalid claim of "proves" slip out) that Fox is not conservative. What I claim is that Fox was similarly committed to a moneymaking style of CONFLICT and DRAMA. Business interests generally take priority over political agenda; political agenda can certainly SLANT the material, as can stupidity, and also specific individuals' bias grounded in their self-serving decisions to help their own careers. Don't underestimate human stupidity and other shortcomings.
I suspect that the horrible assessment, early in 1968 by Walter Cronkite et al, did not intend to help the communists(which it most certainly did, and it perhaps CRUCIALLY did) - -I suspect that he intended to pursue a "gotcha" to the US military and the Johnson administration, in the belief that our federal government had DELIBERATELY put a 'happy face' on a sour military campaign.
Consider: the negative presentation that the media presents about the overall Iraqi situation causes a negative view(somewhat) in the American population - -but it contributes to a FAR MORE negative view within the American media(akin to a self-fulfilling perspective.) Likewise the POSITIVE perspectives among military families around military bases(coupled with letters and phone calls from the combat-zone loved ones) leads to at least SOME positive bias due to at least some yearning to see the good that is being accomplished despite the inherent chaos of military conflict.
I personally find the positive bias of loved ones far less "scornworthy," than the negative bias of those who make use of their unique position, to so REGULARLY remind us of how objective they are.
Keep it up. Your reporting is the best thing going on right now. If you are even half right, America and Iraq are halfway home right now and it's all going to be downhill (albeit through the mine field) from here. I'd hate to be the militants at the bottom of that hill when the head of steam gets up.
Press on Old Man.