Small nations have learned from the Tet Offensive — while the White House hasn’t

❝ The attacks erupted before dawn on Jan. 30, 1968 and escalated to new levels of ferocity the next day. It turned out that tens of thousands of communist soldiers had begun a coordinated series of surprise attacks on more than 100 cities and U.S. bases in South Vietnam, taking the Americans and their local allies by surprise on the lunar new year of Tet.

North Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap had planned the offensive to break the will of the United States and South Vietnam and end a long stalemate in the struggle by the North to reunite with the South under communist rule. And while Giap’s forces were eventually pushed back with huge losses, he did accomplish his wider objective of undermining American and South Vietnamese confidence in the war effort…

❝ The attacks erupted before dawn on Jan. 30, 1968 and escalated to new levels of ferocity the next day. It turned out that tens of thousands of communist soldiers had begun a coordinated series of surprise attacks on more than 100 cities and U.S. bases in South Vietnam, taking the Americans and their local allies by surprise on the lunar new year of Tet.

The lessons of Tet still resonate. “Tet shaped the world within which we live today: In an era when Americans still don’t fully trust government officials to tell them the truth about situations overseas, and don’t have confidence that leaders, for all their bluster, will do the right thing,” writes Princeton historian Julian Zelizer in the current issue of The Atlantic. “Tet is an important reminder that for liberals and conservatives sometimes a little distrust is a good thing. Particularly at a time when we have a president who traffics heavily in falsehoods, Tet showed that blind confidence in leaders can easily lead down dangerous paths.”

Say it again, Julian. Trust in a pathological liar isn’t likely to turn out well.

3 thoughts on “Small nations have learned from the Tet Offensive — while the White House hasn’t

  1. Footnote says:

    Fifty years ago, on the evening of Feb. 27, 1968, CBS nightly news anchor Walter Cronkite called for the U.S. to get out of Vietnam. Thirty-three days later, President Johnson announced that he would not seek re-election. Then on June 17th, 1972, President Nixon’s ‘White House Plumbers’ were arrested at 2:30 a.m. in the process of burglarizing and planting surveillance bugs in the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate Building Complex in Washington, D.C. This was followed by Nixon being forced to resign from office on August 9, 1974 and Gerald Ford becoming president. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106775685

  2. Flashback says:

    “The two favors that may have helped Trump avoid fighting in the Vietnam War” (Washington Post) https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/12/26/two-favors-that-may-have-helped-trump-avoid-vietnam-war/?utm_term=.90144659c106
    “The Untold Story of Robert Mueller’s Time in the Vietnam War” (WIRED) https://www.wired.com/story/robert-mueller-vietnam/
    “Donald Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees” (The Atlantic) https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/12/donald-trump-deport-vietnam-war-refugees/577993/

  3. Santayana says:

    Nguyễn Văn Lém (Vietnamese: [ŋʷǐənˀ vān lɛ̌m]; 1931 or 1932 – 1 February 1968), often referred to as Bảy Lốp, was a member of the Viet Cong. He was summarily executed in Saigon during the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War, when Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces launched a massive surprise attack.
    He was brought to Brigadier General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan who then executed him. The event was witnessed and recorded by Võ Sửu, a cameraman for NBC, and Eddie Adams, an Associated Press photographer. The photo and film became two famous images in contemporary American journalism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Execution_of_Nguy%E1%BB%85n_V%C4%83n_L%C3%A9m
    Recollection of the execution and Eddie Adams by Horst Faas, a former AP photo editor and German photo-journalist who won two Pulitzer Prizes for his images of the Vietnam War. http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0410/faas.html See also https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/15/opinion/horst-faas-photography-vietnam-war.html

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