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The Tet Offensive In The Vietnam War

2634 words - 11 pages

When asked about the United States’ involvement in Vietnam Charles de Gaulle responded by saying, “I predict… that you will, step by step, be sucked into a bottomless military and political quagmire” (Wills 29). The Vietnam War should have been negotiated to an end and troops removed directly following the Tet Offensive, because by that time, it was made evident that further fighting would only cause more unnecessary harms.
Often in history nations try to justify their actions any way they can whether they are valid or not. Vietnamese intervention was reasoned to be necessary because of the possible implications of the domino effect. Just as it happened in Eastern Europe, so could communism spread to the United States if it went unhindered. These ideals were embodied through concepts like containment and brinksmanship. Both were designed to increase tension between the Soviet Union and United States by means of fighting at the periphery of the communist bloc. Obviously, increased apprehension on both sides would become a contributing factor in the starting of the war—one that could have been avoided. Furthermore, by the Tet Offensive the United States had a heavy investment in Vietnam and continually relied on its insistence that the war was nearly over. According to officials like General Westmoreland the Vietnamese, “were about to run out of steam” (Wills 39). These conclusions were drawn upon conventional warfare reminiscent of the Korean War or World War II. Like so many other nations of history, the United States used outdated tactics that relied upon taking urban centers like Saigon to defeat the Vietcong. Although taking Berlin in World War II was an effective strategy, applying the same concepts to the well entrenched Vietnamese was doomed from the outset.
Damage could have been greatly mitigated if only warnings had been acted on; perhaps the United States would have had a chance of winning the war with public opinion on the country’s side. Most of the reasons for ignoring the possibility of the Tet Offensive involved the assurances made by officials that the North Vietnamese were far too weak to launch a massive counteroffensive. General Westmoreland was quoted as saying that there was, “light at the end of the tunnel,” and that, “Victory’s just around the corner” (Montagne). What was actually progressing was completely the opposite. In fact, a document was discovered three weeks before the Tet Offensive giving orders to the Vietcong to, “Use very strong military attacks in coordination with the uprisings of the local population to take over towns and cities,” (Wills 8). The United States could have used this information to their advantage and extinguished the threat before urban areas could have been taken over in late January, 1968. Public opinion would easily have held long enough to destroy the Viet Cong as the U.S. military eventually did. Nevertheless, anti-war protests continued to increase as the same...

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