Tet Offensive Coordinated VC attacks on US bases and cities in SV 36/44 provincial capitals 64 district capitals Goals of NLF/NVA (Nat’l Liberation Front/North Vietnamese Army) Halt bombing/get US to talk peace Spark uprising throughout SV Tet video
Hue “We had to destroy the town to save it.” Of 17,134 houses, 9,776 destroyed/3,169 damaged 26-day effort by the U.S. Marines, U.S. Army and ARVN to recapture the Citadel Mass graves containing thousands of dead SV found during aftermath – foreshadowing?
Saigon 3AM Jan 31, 1968 – 19 guerrillas blast hole in US Embassy wall, kill 5 MPs and occupy Embassy grounds
The Tet Body Count 40,000 VC/NVA dead 1100 Americans/2300 ARVN dead Saigon, Hue, Khe Sahn and all other places attacked by NVA/VC remain in US/ARVN hands Who won?
Public Opinion Indicator Pre-TET Post-TET Change Approves Johnson's handling of job as president 48%36%-12 Approves Johnson's handling of Vietnam 39%26%-13 Source: The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1935–1971, by George H. Gallup
Big Questions IF (and that’s a big IF) Tet is a turning point, and reveals a credibility gap, why do US soldiers continue to fight in SV until 1973? Did the media lose the war? How did the American war in Vietnam change as a result of Tet? How did a military victory lead to a drop in support for the war?
Does news shape public opinion or reflect it? What is the purpose of “the news” and what factors go into deciding what gets on/in the news? Did the media contribute to the American loss in Vietnam or did they repeat the military/political perspective on the war?
War on TV Footage of US casualties, deaths Cronkite on Vietnam Cronkite on Vietnam Role of Cronkite – “The most trusted man in America” Cronkite – “We are mired in stalemate.” LBJ – “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost America.”
Aftermath of Tet U.S. military victory VC exposed and beaten – VC is done 40,000 NLF/NVA dead – 3500 US/SV Vietnamization, Pacification, BOMBING U.S. political disaster Credibility gap Where’s the “light at the end of the tunnel?” I thought we held the cities?
Individual Aftermath of Tet Eugene McCarthy emerges as peace candidate for Democratic nomination; does well in NH primary against LBJ LBJ refuses to run for re-election 3/31/68 “I shall not seek, and I will not accept my party’s nomination for another term as your president.” RFK enters race New Sec Def Clark Clifford left to deal with aftermath Westmoreland out as Commander of US forces in Vietnam
Big Questions IF Tet is a turning point, and reveals a credibility gap, why do US soldiers continue to fight in SV until 1973? Did the media lose the war? How did the American war in Vietnam change as a result of Tet? How did a military victory lead to a drop in support for the war?