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What Really Was The True Significance Of The Tet Offensive For The Vietnam War?

998 words - 4 pages

The Tet Offensive was a major turning point for the Vietnam War, and thus it held a great importance for both the Americans and the Vietnamese. On Jan 31, 1968, the most important holiday to the Vietnamese, also known as Tet, which is the Vietnam New Year, the North Vietnamese Army launched a surprise attack on the South Vietnamese and the American forces. It was an attack on more than 35 major towns and cities in the South, which Saigon, the capital of the South, was included in the targets. The North Vietnamese suffered a heavy casualty, thus it seemed to be a defeat for them, but it kept the soldiers' morale high. On the other hand, the US suffered heavy 'casualty' on the American public view and the soldiers' morale. Therefore, Tet Offensive was the "psychological defeat' for the US.The US public was taken by surprise by this sudden attack, and the Americans started to question the reasons why the US troops were still staying in Vietnam, the public became so disheartened that it contributed to the withdrawal of the US troops in 1973. Before the Tet Offensive, 48% of the American public approved LBJ's handling of job as president, but after Tet, it dropped by 12% to 36%; 39% of the public approved LBJ's handling of Vietnam before it, and it decreased by 13% to 26%; 45% of the public believe that Vietnam was a mistake, but after Tet, 49% of the people believed so, it was increased by 4 % . The data above show the demoralizing effect to the American general public, these changes contributed to the later of Anti-war movement and US withdrawal. Because the US was more of a democratic country, the public opinion affects a great deal of how the government is making a decision. Moreover, nearly one month after the start of the Tet Offensive, the anchorman of the CBS evening news, Walter Cronkite, who is also a well respected and loved man by the public, said, "To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion." on February 27th, 1968. After watching the broadcast, it was quoted that LBJ said, "That's it. If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America." It showed what an important impact Cronkite's speech had on the general public, and how the general Americans trust the news reporter more than the president or the officials of the country. It showed that the Americans did not really have a great faith in the government, which also led to the anti-war movement in 1970. From all of the evidences, the public was losing its faith in winning the Vietnam War, and the...

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