What If They Held A Tet Offensive And Nobody Found Out?

Maybe it’s the systematic withering away of foreign news bureaus, but the fact that the insurgency in Afghanistan has grown so increasingly brazen is barely registering a peep in the media:

Insurgents launched a rare ground assault against NATO’s main military base in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, wounding several international service members in the second such attack on a major military installation this week, officials said.

A Canadian Press news agency report from the base said artillery and machine gun fire reverberated through the area, about 300 miles (500 kilometers) southwest of Kabul, several hours after the attack began.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack — the third major assault on NATO forces in Afghanistan in six days — but the Kandahar area is a Taliban stronghold.
On Tuesday, a Taliban suicide bomber attacked a NATO convoy in the capital, killing 18 people including six NATO service members including five Americans and a Canadian.

The next day, dozens of Taliban militants attacked the main U.S. military base — Bagram Air Field — killing an American contractor in fighting that lasted more than eight hours.

A NATO Convoy, the main US military base and now the main NATO base in the space of a week. I’m sure the Taliban saw this as their version of a Tet Offensive, proving their ability to carry out even ground attacks and their resilience despite the escalation of US forces. But that strategy is predicated on actual attention being paid by the opposite party. The Defense Department has so tightly controlled events happening in Afghanistan, and Iraq for that matter, that the fact of the two major military bases suffering attacks from Taliban forces doesn’t have nearly the same impact.

Even in 1991, in Gulf War I, the day-to-day proceedings of the war got covered. Now it’s an afterthought. After years of occupation, the media decided to leave the battlefield and cover other stories. As a result, the daily reality of war barely reaches these shores. When the Kandahar base was struck yesterday, only one reporter was inside the wire, and she works for HDNet, which has a tiny audience. Somewhere along the line, the Pentagon realized how much easier it is for wars to just roll on without the prying eyes of reporters over their shoulders.

We’re seeing the same kind of information control attempted in the Gulf of Mexico right now, with varying degrees of success. But Afghanistan is the extreme example of that – it seems like nothing that happens over there manages to cause a ripple in the press.

UPDATE: Much more on this from Laurence Lewis (aka Turkana).

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