Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. TESLA! Cathy Wood ARK Funds Bubble BURSTS! - 12th May 21
2.Stock Market Entering Early Summer Correction Trend Forecast - 10th May 21
3.GOLD GDX, HUI Stocks - Will Paradise Turn into a Dystopia? - 11th May 21
4.Crypto Bubble Bursts! Nicehash Suspends Coinbase Withdrawals, Bitcoin, Ethereum Bear Market Begins - 16th May 21
5.Crypto Bubble BURSTS! BTC, ETH, XRP CRASH! NiceHash Seizes Funds on Account Halting ALL Withdrawals! - 19th May 21
6.Cathy Wood Ark Invest Funds Bubble BURSTS! ARKK, ARKG, Tesla Entering Severe Bear Market - 13th May 21
7.Stock Market - Should You Be In Cash Right Now? - 17th May 21
8.Gold to Benefit from Mounting US Debt Pile - 14th May 21
9.Coronavius Covid-19 in Italy in August 2019! - 13th May 21
10.How to Invest in HIGH RISK Tech Stocks for 2021 and Beyond - Part 2 of 2 - 18th May 21
Last 7 days
How to Trade Binance Vanilla Options for the First Time on Bitcoin Crypto's - 2nd Aug 21
From vaccine inequality to economic apartheid - 2nd Aug 21
Stock Market Intermediate Top Reached - 2nd Aug 21
Gold at a Crossroads of Hawkish Fed and High Inflation - 2nd Aug 21
Bitcoin, Crypto Market Black Swans from Google to Obsolescence - 1st Aug 21
Gold Stocks Autumn Rally - 1st Aug 21
Earn Upto 6% Interest Rate on USD Cash Deposits with Binance Crypto Exchange USDC amd BUSD - 1st Aug 21
Vuze XR VR 3D Camera Takes Near 2 Minutes to Turn On, Buggy Firmware - 1st Aug 21
Sun EXPLODES! Goes SuperNova! Will Any planets Survive? Jupiter? Pluto? - 1st Aug 21
USDT is 9-11 for Central Banks the Bitcoin Black Swan - Tether Un-Stable Coin Ponzi Schemes! - 30th Jul 21
Behavior of Inflation and US Treasury Bond Yields Seems… Contradictory - 30th Jul 21
Gold and Silver Precious Metals Technical Analysis - 30th Jul 21
The Inadvertent Debt/Inflation Trap – Is It Time for the Stock Market To Face The Music? - 30th Jul 21
Fed Stocks Nothingburger, Dollar Lower, Focus on GDP, PCE - 30th Jul 21
Reverse REPO Market Brewing Financial Crisis Black Swan Danger - 29th Jul 21
Next Time You See "4 Times as Many Stock Market Bulls as There Are Bears," Remember This - 29th Jul 21
USDX: More Sideways Trading Ahead? - 29th Jul 21
WEALTH INEQUALITY WASN'T BY HAPPENSTANCE! - 29th Jul 21
Waiting On Silver - 29th Jul 21
Showdown: Paper vs. Physical Markets - 29th Jul 21
New set of Priorities needed for Unstoppable Global Warming - 29th Jul 21
The US Dollar is the Driver of the Gold & Silver Sectors - 28th Jul 21
Fed: Murderer of Markets and the Middle Class - 28th Jul 21
Gold And Silver – Which Will Have An Explosive Price Rally And Which Will Have A Sustained One? - 28th Jul 21
I Guess The Stock Market Does Not Fear Covid - So Should You? - 28th Jul 21
Eight Do’s and Don’ts For Options Traders - 28th Jul 21
Chasing Value in Unloved by Markets Small Cap Biotech Stocks for the Long-run - 27th Jul 21
Inflation Pressures Persist Despite Biden Propaganda - 27th Jul 21
Gold Investors Wavering - 27th Jul 21
Bogdance - How Binance Scams Futures Traders With Fake Bitcoin Prices to Run Limits and Margin Calls - 27th Jul 21
SPX Going for the Major Stock Market Top? - 27th Jul 21
What Is HND and How It Will Help Your Career Growth? - 27th Jul 21
5 Mobile Apps Day Traders Should Know About - 27th Jul 21
Global Stock Market Investing: Here's the Message of Consumer "Overconfidence" - 25th Jul 21
Gold’s Behavior in Various Parallel Inflation Universes - 25th Jul 21
Indian Delta Variant INFECTED! How infectious, Deadly, Do Vaccines Work? Avoid the PCR Test? - 25th Jul 21
Bitcoin Stock to Flow Model to Infinity and Beyond Price Forecasts - 25th Jul 21
Bitcoin Black Swan - GOOGLE! - 24th Jul 21
Stock Market Stalling Signs? Taking a Look Under the Hood of US Equities - 24th Jul 21
Biden’s Dangerous Inflation Denials - 24th Jul 21
How does CFD trading work - 24th Jul 21
Junior Gold Miners: New Yearly Lows! Will We See a Further Drop? - 23rd Jul 21
Best Forex Strategy for Consistent Profits - 23rd Jul 21
Popular Forex Brokers That You Might Want to Check Out - 22nd Jul 21
Bitcoin Black Swan - Will Crypto Currencies Get Banned? - 22nd Jul 21
Bitcoin Price Enters Stage #4 Excess Phase Peak Breakdown – Where To Next? - 22nd Jul 21
Powell Gave Congress Dovish Signs. Will It Help Gold Price? - 22nd Jul 21
What’s Next For Gold Is Always About The US Dollar - 22nd Jul 21
URGENT! ALL Windows 10 Users Must Do this NOW! Windows Image Backup Before it is Too Late! - 22nd Jul 21
Bitcoin Price CRASH, How to SELL BTC at $40k! Real Analysis vs Shill Coin Pumper's and Clueless Newbs - 21st Jul 21
Emotional Stock Traders React To Recent Market Rotation – Are You Ready For What’s Next? - 21st Jul 21
Killing Driveway Weeds FAST with a Pressure Washer - 8 months Later - Did it work?- Block Paving Weeds - 21st Jul 21
Post-Covid Stimulus Payouts & The US Fed Push Global Investors Deeper Into US Value Bubble - 21st Jul 21
What is Social Trading - 21st Jul 21
Would Transparency Help Crypto? - 21st Jul 21
AI Predicts US Tech Stocks Price Valuations Three Years Ahead (ASVF) - 20th Jul 21
Gold Asks: Has Inflation Already Peaked? - 20th Jul 21
FREE PASS to Analysis and Trend forecasts of 50+ Global Markets by Elliott Wave International - 20th Jul 21
Nissan to Create 1000s of jobs with electric vehicle investment in UK - 20th Jul 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

The Sunni Ramadan Offensive and the Lessons of Tet

Politics / Iraq War Jul 01, 2014 - 10:47 AM GMT

By: STRATFOR

Politics

George Friedman writesIn February 1968, the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong launched a general offensive in Vietnam during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. From mid-1966 onward, the North Vietnamese had found themselves under increasing pressure from American and South Vietnamese forces. They were far from defeated, but they were weakening and the likelihood of their military victory was receding. The North Vietnamese decided to reverse the course of the war militarily and politically by marshaling available forces, retaining only limited reserves and going on the offensive throughout South Vietnam.


The attack had three strategic purposes. First, the North Vietnamese wanted to trigger a general uprising against the Americans and the South Vietnamese government. Second, they wanted to move the insurgency to the next stage by seizing and holding significant territory and resisting counterattack. And third, they wanted to destabilize their enemy psychologically by demonstrating that intelligence reports indicating their increasing weakness were wrong. They also wanted to impose casualties on the Americans at an unprecedented rate. The American metric in the war was the body count; increasing the body count dramatically would therefore create a crisis of confidence in the U.S. public and within the military and intelligence community.

General Offensives and Crises of Confidence

From a military standpoint, the offensive was a failure. The North Vietnamese military was crippled by its losses. While seizing Hue and other locations, the North Vietnamese were unable to hold them. But they succeeded psychologically and politically by raising doubts about U.S. intelligence and by creating a political crisis in the United States. In war, perception of the enemy's strength and will, and confidence in your own evaluation of those things, shifts the manner in which one fights. The U.S. intelligence estimate before Tet was more right than wrong, but by marshaling all forces for a general offensive, the North caused U.S. trust in that evaluation to collapse. Even though the North Vietnamese were militarily far weaker after the offensive, the military failure proved less relevant than this creation of a crisis of confidence.

The use of a general offensive to reverse military decline is not unique to Tet. The Germans did the same in their offensive in 1944 at the Battle of the Bulge. While the Germans also had a military intent, their psychological intent was as important. Before the battle, the Allies thought the Germans were finished. They were, and so the Germans had to show they still had power. They accordingly threw their reserves into a battle to break the Allies' nerve.

When launched at a time when it is assumed it could not be launched, the general offensive is a powerful weapon. Such an offensive is now underway in Iraq. When we step back, we see a broad offensive by Sunni jihadists underway in a range of countries. In Afghanistan, a massive summer offensive is underway in parts of the country once regarded as secure. To the south, the Pakistani Taliban launched a major offensive a few weeks ago that sparked a Pakistani counteroffensive, putting the Pakistani Taliban on the defensive. In Syria, while the Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) has not surged, it also has not declined. Southern Jordan has meanwhile seen clashes between jihadists and government forces. In the Palestinian territories, Hamas has announced, though not launched, a third intifada. To the west, Egypt is experiencing terrorism, while in Libya jihadists have asserted themselves in various ways.

The Question of Coordination

Like the Vietnamese and Germans, the jihadists have, broadly speaking, been on the defensive in recent years, and in many cases they had been dismissed as broken. They differ from the Vietnamese and Germans in the sense that they do not constitute a single force. The question remains, however, whether there has been coordination between these offensives. Clearly, the Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi offensives are linked. Not so clear is whether they are operationally linked to events in Afghanistan and Pakistan or North Africa. To the extent there was coordination, it would have come from Saudi Arabia. As one might imagine, Saudi actions are deliberately murky, so it is difficult to establish anything definitive here. But the Saudis are most threatened by the prospect of a U.S.-Iranian entente. The Saudis also find the jihadists useful for domestic political purposes and as a lever to maximize regional Saudi influence.

There are small hints here and there of coordination, such as this video. But mysteries always have small hints that one can pretend combine to prove something. So far, we see nothing definitive indicating overall coordination. But in a certain sense, it doesn't matter. These uprisings have occurred close enough to each other that they have had the same effect regardless of whether they were coordinated -- giving rise to a sense that the situation in the region is destabilizing dramatically and that jihadist strength has been underestimated.

In a sense, there was no need for coordination because in each theater jihadists were responding to the same three processes. First, there was the increasing evidence that the United States is drawing down its forces such that the door is open to broader jihadist military action. Second, American negotiations with Iran have created a fear among Sunnis, including in Saudi Arabia, that the entire political structure of the region is about to tilt massively against them. And third, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and even Syria all saw recent elections intended to create lasting regimes unfriendly to the jihadists. Within the past few months, these factors combined to force action by the jihadists with or without overt coordination.

Redefining Politics

Jihadists in particular -- and many Sunni populations in mixed countries like Iraq -- either individually, regionally or in coordination launched an offensive designed to make their military power appear as large as possible and thereby redefine politics in areas where their political influence has declined in recent years. Iraq is the most obvious example of this.

The country is divided into three regions. The Shia, the largest group, control the Baghdad government and massive oil reserves in the south. In the north, the Kurds are well-organized and well-defended and also control oil supplies. The Sunnis have little access to oil, are smaller in numbers than the Shia and have become increasingly marginalized since the creation of the post-Saddam Iraqi government. Given that a new government was being formed after recent elections with the same structure as before, the Sunnis had to throw their reserves into the battle. If taken seriously, the threat of a Sunni military force that can seize the country gives the Sunnis a seat at the table, both politically and economically.

From news reports, it would appear that a massive Sunni army is marching in the country -- exactly the image the Islamic State wants to portray. The reality is more modest. This is less an invasion of Shiite or Kurdish territory than an uprising within the Sunni regions in favor of the Islamic State, which is limiting itself to consolidating power within the Sunni region. It is not clear how the group will cope if the Shia reorganize their military and strike north and west or if the Kurds were to attack. Still, the Sunni offensive has hit Iraqi Shiite self-confidence hard. Shiite self-confidence could shatter, or the Shia could draw together and counterattack. If the latter, the Islamic State might fight poorly or well against the Shia. The Islamic State hopes Shiite confidence collapses in the face of all this uncertainty.

This uncertainty has had the same effect on the Americans and Iranians that it has had on the Shia. Neither the United States nor Iran seems to have expected an attack of this magnitude. Both seemed to be operating on intelligence evaluations that made it appear that Iraq was stabilizing under a Shiite-dominated government and that the real issue was how to manage Kurdish oil sales. The Islamic State wants to make the United States and Iran wary of their respective intelligence estimates, and therefore wary of taking any political or military action in Iraq. So far, the Islamic State has succeeded in creating panic in Iraq and wariness in outside countries.

Gauging an Offensive's Success

We will soon start to learn if the general offensive has worked, destroying old assumptions and creating uncertainty. This will be measured differently in each country. Will the fighting in Jordan spread? Can the Afghan Taliban seize and hold territory as the United States draws down to limited forces? If the Pakistani military puts the Pakistani Taliban on the run but they survive, does their mere survival threaten the regime?

The general offensive from a position of weakness can work, but it takes a combination of fragmentation, indifference and misunderstanding. The Tet offensive is the classic success. The Bulge is the classic failure. The North Vietnamese made the American media vastly overestimate northern military strength. At the Battle of the Bulge, Patton was not impressed by the German offensive and urged that the Germans be allowed to roll on to Paris so as to burn up all their fuel. As with both earlier general offensives, first reports of jihadist military success should be taken with a grain of salt.

Evaluating the offensive will give us a better sense of Iraq as the Iraqi army tries to mount a counteroffensive. But we must not focus on Iraq: This is a broader general offensive from Pakistan to the Mediterranean, whether coordinated or not. Some theaters will see failure, others success as Tet did. And though Tet serves as an imperfect historical comparison, there is a powerful parallel: At a time when reasonable people thought that the fighting had been contained in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, they have discovered that there was no basis for that assumption. And that reminds us of Tet.

"The Sunni Ramadan Offensive and the Lessons of Tet is republished with permission of Stratfor."

This analysis was just a fraction of what our Members enjoy, Click Here to start your Free Membership Trial Today! "This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR"

© Copyright 2014 Stratfor. All rights reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis.

STRATFOR Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in