The Last Remake
The drama of evil has its own logic. Here are a number of opening scenes. Let's see if we can't anticipate what conclusion a malevolent director might reach from them. Scene number one. The number of visitors who came to Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas mass increased by 50 percent, according to the Associated Press. "Israeli tourism officials said they expected some 20,000 visitors to cross from Jerusalem into neighboring Bethlehem, an increase of about 50 percent over last year. Tourism workers handed out sweets and flowers to pilgrims, and smiling Israeli soldiers posed for pictures with travelers."
Scene number two. In Iraq, "thousands of Iraqi Christians made their way to church through checkpoints and streets lined with blast walls, many drawing hope from a lull in violence to celebrate Christmas Mass in numbers unthinkable a year ago."
Scene number three. Muslim and Shi'ite clerics have attended Christmas Mass in Baghdad as a gesture of friendship and solidarity and a token of reconciliation. "Muslim clerics—both Sunni and Shiite—also attended the service in a sign of unity. 'May Iraq be safe every year, and may our Christian brothers be safe every year,' Shiite cleric Hadi al-Jazail told AP Television News outside the church. 'We came to celebrate with them and to reassure them.'"
Austin Bay thinks he knows what an evil screenwriter might do with these opening scenes. And how can he be so sure? Because we've seen the original movie before we know what the remake will look like.
The original movie was called the Tet and the drama was staged in Vietnam.
December 25, 2007. Sometime within the next six months or so, al Qaeda or Saddamist terrorists will attempt a Tet offensive.
No, Middle Eastern mass murderers don't celebrate the Vietnamese festival of Tet, but trust that America's enemies everywhere do celebrate and systematically seek to emulate the strategic political effects North Vietnam's 1968 attack obtained. ...
The objective of that drama was to convince an American political audience that the war in Vietnam was lost. That no matter how much effort was put into achieving victory everything could be shattered in a single, inevitable spasm.
Giap knew attacking U.S. public opinion was a classic anti-U.S. ploy. In 1864, politically shattering Abraham Lincoln was a key Confederate goal. The Confederates launched limited offensives (Early's attack on Washington) and bitterly resisted Union attacks, particularly in Virginia where Ulysses S. Grant's limited success was achieved at an enormous cost in casualties. ...
An Iraqi Tet would essentially feature the same story line with updated props and special effects. It's an easy drama to storyboard. First scenes of celebrations like the ones described above will create the backdrop of a false dawn. Then the darkness will descend.
Their "ultimate Iraqi Tet" would feature simultaneous terror strikes in every major Iraqi city. These simultaneous strikes would inflict hideous civilian casualties with the goal of discrediting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's and General David Petraeus' assessments that Iraqi internal security has improved. The terrorists would reduce Iraqi government buildings to rubble. Striking the Green Zone would be the media coup de grace, intentionally echoing North Vietnam's assault on the U.S. embassy in Saigon. Al Qaeda terrorists would also attack Shia shrines. Kidnapping or assassinating of senior Iraqi leaders would be another objective.
This time the target audience will be voters preparing to vote in the 2008 Presidential elections. One problem that al-Qaeda faces is finding the resources to stage a creditable remake.
Actually executing a genuine Giap Tet-type offensive in Iraq, however, borders on fantasy. On a daily basis Iraq's assorted terrorist organizations and militia gangs want to cause such system-shaking, simultaneous carnage, but they don't because, well, they can't.
Al-Qaeda's other problem -- which it shares in common with film directors doing remakes -- is that the storyline will never be as fresh as the original, especially with pundits like Austin Bay out there providing spoilers. Giap had the good sense to wait nearly a hundred years before attempting to reprise 1864.