The Têt Offensive: The First 48 Hours

Essay by rodkestaylorCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 2008

download word file, 9 pages 5.0

On July the 6th 1967, the top officials in “North Vietnam gathered in HàNôi for the funeral of Senior General Nguyên Chí Thanh”1, after his funeral they were going to meet to discuss the speedy and victorious end of the war. Thanh had favored removing forces from South Vietnam and conducting a long drawn-out campaign “to wear down the Americans.”2 However the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s (DRV) General Vô Nguyên Giáp had made his mind up that he would engage the Americans like his success “over the French at Điên Bên Phu.”3Giáp’s plan, borrowed from Chinese Communist doctrine, was based on the conceptof the “General Offensive.” Following, the General Offensive would come the“General Uprising,” during which the people of South Vietnam would rally to theCommunist cause and overthrow the Sài Gòn government. The General Uprisingwas a distinctly Vietnamese element of revolutionary dogma.4Giáp’s goal for the offensive was to drive out the Americans by initiating an attack so fierce and deadly that the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and American troops would turn their tails and return home.

The Têt Offensive, has proven to be a political and psychological victory for the North Vietnamese communists. It is widely believed that this was the turning point in the Vietnam War. When people in the United States saw the carnage from the offensive on television they were utterly shocked. The media’s role in the downfall of Vietnam has been controversial at the very least. It is very hard to judge where the true blame lies on the loss in Vietnam. It may be said that Têt was the “beginning of the end” because the media exposure it was given. The attack on the American Embassy in Sài Gòn drove home that the war was not about over. It was seen...