Nick Turse: Tet '68, Kabul '12 ... We Still Don't Get It

Roundup: Media's Take

Nick Turse is the associate editor of where a longer version of this piece appears.

Recently, after Afghan militants unleashed sophisticated, synchronized attacks across Afghanistan, including in the capital, Kabul, the Pentagon was quick to emphasize what hadn't happened.

"I'm not minimizing the seriousness of this, but this was in no way akin to the Tet offensive," said George Little, the Pentagon's top spokesman. "We are looking at suicide bombers, RPG [rocket-propelled grenade], mortar fire, etc. This was not a large-scale offensive sweeping into Kabul or other parts of the country."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta weighed in similarly.

"There were," he insisted, "no tactical gains here. These are isolated attacks that are done for symbolic purposes, and they have not regained any territory."

Even granting the need to spin the assaults as failures, the official American reaction to the coordinated attacks reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of guerrilla warfare in general and of the type waged by the Haqqani network in particular. It's a lesson the United States should have learned decades ago.

But more than 40 years after the Vietnam War's Tet offensive, after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan, theU.S. military still doesn't get it... 

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