The Tet Offensive was a great landmark in the Americas’ political history. Although it was a resounding victory, it cost the then president Lyndon Johnson his political career and trust of American public. On the same note, it washed away peoples’ confidence in the military and ultimate collapse of the Democratic Party. It also marked the turning point of the Vietnam War.
Effects of Tet Offensive
Tet Offensive was one of the best strategic victories for the American armed forces against Viet Cong guerrillas; however it turned out to be a massive political slaughter for America for the period of the war. The attack heightened the pacifist protest pressure group at home and discredited the American military officials and President Lyndon Johnson. The Tet Offensive was a mark of a key exit point in the war against the United States (Karnow, 1997).
On January 1968, During Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, Viet Cong insurgents in their thousands launched a large coordinated attack on virtually thirty American military installations in South Vietnam, alongside other cities in South Vietnam. Even though American military were at first caught unawares, they overpowered the guerrillas pretty fast and resolutely, it was a resounding conquer that eternally crippled Ho Chi Minh’s armed forces (Karnow, 1997).
Despite the win, the offensive alarmed the American community since it seemed to challenge President Johnson’s affirmations that America was wining battle. The American public attitude got worse after the offensive when General William Westmoreland called for 200,000 extra American troops in addition to the almost 500,000 Americans serving in Vietnam. His request shocked not just the American public but also senators, congressmen, foreign-policy makers, and President Johnson himself. Several government officials secretly began to doubt whether Vietnam was in reality “winnable” and, if that’s the case, whether America was employing the correct tactics. Former secretary of state Dean Acheson articulated his disproval, just like Robert McNamara, the secretary of defence, who resigned (Karnow, 1997).
The American media compounded the situation, following the dreadful images the American public saw on their televisions in the evening news bulletin. Westmoreland’s appeal simply confirmed their uncertainties that the administration was not telling the reality. Consequently, more Americans began to doubt the forces and the federal government. The purported “credibility gap” between what was actually happening and what the government was saying caused antiwar activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The credibility gap dismantled the Democratic Party and in effect skint Johnson’s likelihood for re-election (Karnow, 1997).
Though technically Tet Offensive was a major military victory, it was a major political crush for Johnson and the American military and a significant turning point in the Vietnam War.
Karnow, S. (1997). Vietnam: A History. The Viking Press, USA.