The Lies of Tet

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by carpro, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. carpro

    carpro
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    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120226056767646059.html

    The Lies of Tet

    By ARTHUR HERMAN
    February 6, 2008; Page A19

    EXCERPT

    On January 30, 1968, more than a quarter million North Vietnamese soldiers and 100,000 Viet Cong irregulars launched a massive attack on South Vietnam. But the public didn't hear about who had won this most decisive battle of the Vietnam War, the so-called Tet offensive, until much too late.

    Media misreporting of Tet passed into our collective memory. That picture gave antiwar activism an unwarranted credibility that persists today in Congress, and in the media reaction to the war in Iraq. The Tet experience provides a narrative model for those who wish to see all U.S. military successes -- such as the Petraeus surge -- minimized and glossed over.
     
  2. NiteShift

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    Good article. By any reasonable standards the VC and NVA had been defeated. And even after our guys were pulled out, the ARVINS did well, as seen in the Easter offensive of 1972. It's only when our newly elected congress pulled the rug out from under them and refused to provide support that they folded up. Thank you Walter Cronkite.
     
  3. Tom Bryant

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    Having fought there, I would disagree with the idea that the NVA was defeated. We won battles. We killed many, many more of them than they killed of us. But they were not defeated because their will to fight was never destroyed. Armies surrender when their will to fight is taken away from them.

    The NVA (after Tet, there was no VC) lost the Tet battle in South Viet Nam, but won the battle in the US when they put soldiers into the US Embassy.

    But it wasn't Walt Liberal's fault. It was the fault of gutless presidents (Johnson and Nixon) who wanted to micromanage a war and stupid military commanders who brought a WW II mentality to the war. We figured if we could take this hill they wouldn't be back. When I was there, we took a hill that had been taken by previous soldiers 3 times in 5 years. But then we would give it back. That wasn't Walter's fault, it was the fault of the commanders and the commander in chief.
     
  4. carpro

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    "Walt Liberals" problem had more to do with misrepresentation, lies and an overinflated ego than anything else. But Americans bought his story.

    By the end of 1969, militarily, the North Vietnamese were on the ropes. You are correct that they had not lost the will to fight, but Gen. Abrams had the war headed in the right direction.

    Nixon, yielding to political and media pressure, stopped him from further crippling their military efforts. There was no way short of all out invasion of the North to destroy their will to fight, but a more lasting peace could possibly have been negotiated if the campaign of the enemy at home in the U.S. had been less successful.
     
  5. Tom Bryant

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    Maybe your view of "on the ropes" is different than someone who was fighting them definition of "on the ropes". They were able to fight at will and wherever they chose.

    This was not a 3rd rate peasant army we were fighting against. This was a well trained, motivated army that had kicked the french out in 1954.

    To show how well trained they were: After we had left, they fought a war against the communist Chinese and kicked them out of their land in the north.

    They were our enemy. But Gen. Giap was a military genius.
     
  6. carpro

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    Your condescension is misplaced.

    Your tiny piece of the war doesn't give you a clue of overall condition of the North Vietnamese. Historians agree with me, including the one that wrote this OP.

    Giap may have been a military genius, but he got his clock cleaned during Tet, the offensive that followed Tet in 1968, and in the Easter offensive.
     
  7. Tom Bryant

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    no condescension here at all. History get revised all the time, depending on the political position of the writer.

    Yes, my "tiny piece of the war" (your condescension is noted) may well have been missed by historians. But the war went on for another 5 years after Tet.

    Maybe 1968 was a bad year for the NVA but for the 16,592 Americans who died during '68, they were far from a defeated enemy.

    And with this, I retire.
     
  8. carpro

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    No condescension was intended on my part. Just a statement of fact.

    Any individual soldier has hardly any idea what's going on with the "big picture". They're far more concerned with staying alive in their immediate area. Anyone that tries to kill them is a dangerous and dedicated foe.

    My statement stands and is irrefutable. Militarily, by the end of 1969 the North Vietnames were on the ropes. Not defeated.

    Nixon let them off the hook.
     
  9. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    Peace guys, your both right.

    Tet showed both of the things you are talking about:
    • We (The US) could beat the NVA or VC militarily anywhere anytime.
    • The NVA and VC while they still existed still maintained the will to fight.
    Yes we won Tet, no historian will argue that, but it showed us that we had a dedicated foe who would sacrifice tens of thousands of lives for their cause. The American public had been led to believe that their enemy was nearly defeated and unable to launch such an offensive. It may have been an act of desperation, but it worked.

    Do you guys remember the movie "The Green Berets" with John Wayne? OK it is a cheesy unrealistic John Wayne movie, I still liked it. There is a scene in there where the US soldiers are dissing the Vietnamese and the soldier says something about how we had helicopters and machine guns and they were fighting with bows and arrows (I assume they were talking about some of the highland tribes at this point). Anyway he says something like, "How can they expect to defeat us with bows and arrows when we have helicopters and machine guns." and the reply, I think from Wayne, is, "How can you expect to defeat an enemy who will fight against your helicopters and machine guns with nothing but bows and arrows."

    It is not always the equipment and manpower and tactics that win the wars, more often than not it is the will of the people. In Vietnam, the United States did not, as a nation, have that will to win. It is not whoever fights the best that wins a fight, it is whoever fights the longest, they are the ones left standing.

    Of course that begs the question in light of today, do we have that will to win in Iraq?
     
  10. billwald

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    "The side that wins the war writes the history."

    One of you men please explain how I will know when we have won the war?

    The USofA hasn't won a war since VJ Day and I wonder who really one that one? Isn't the Far East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere generally in operation? We obtain our manufactured goods and technology where? My phone call to Verizon is answered where?
     
    #10 billwald, Feb 26, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2008
  11. blackbird

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    Giap indeed was a military genius-----while on the other hand---the US General Westmoreland was a puppet of Johnson & McNamara-----granted---Westmoreland was just as good or excelling "genius" as Giap---but whats a "Genius" when he plays into the hand of White House "blowhards"???
     
  12. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    That is a great question Bill and shows perfectly why we should never enter into a conflict without defined goals.

    How will we know we have won, well that depends on how you define win. Some people think if we just bring all our troops home that is a victory. As far as the current war in Iraq if our goal was to get rid of their weapons of mass destruction then we have already won. If our goal was to end the rule of Saddam then we have already won. If our goal was to rebuild their nation and establish a free democratic nation in the middle east, well then I think we still have a ways to go.

    You know Bush has taken a great deal of abuse over that "Mission Accomplished" banner. But the truth is that for those sailors their mission was accomplished. Their war was won, a long time ago. Our military action against Iraq was a great success, but that ended years ago. It is the police action we are conducting right now where victory is not so certain.
     
  13. carpro

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    "The North Vietnamese were delighted. On the heels of their devastating defeat, Hanoi increasingly shifted its propaganda efforts toward the media and the antiwar movement. "

    And it worked. The media became the willing accomplice of our enemy.

    Much the same is happening today concerning Iraq. The difference, as I see it, is that Vietnam was a North Vietnamese strategy implemented by the American media and aquiescing American politicians and activists with political ambitions..

    This time it appears to be a purely American political strategy to ensure the defeat of America in Iraq, again with the willing support of media.
     

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