The Tet Offensive

By Marc Jason Gilbert; William Head | Go to book overview

namese Communists, who had just suffered a catastrophic defeat in battle, to salvage a "psychological victory" for themselves.45 General Tra called such words "naive" and "blind xeno[phobia]."46Giap would have agreed with this conclusion. He knew as well as anyone the extent of Communist losses. He had argued against TCK/TKN, foreseen its dangers, and proclaimed it folly. He had risked his own career by his stubborn opposition to the plan.

Yet all the sacrifice finally accomplished certain major goals for the Communists. On March 31, President Lyndon Johnson ordered a partial (and temporary) halt to the bombing of the North and declared, "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president." He further offered truce talks, accepted by Hanoi on April 3. Johnson replaced Westmoreland with General Creighton Abrams, who quickly fell in line, following the fall election of Richard Nixon as the new president, with the new policies of Vietnamization and de-escalation of the war. In America's highest military and political echelons there were now those ready to admit that the earlier U.S. approach to the conflict in Vietnam had failed. They were ready to recommend that the United States seek a negotiated settlement and end the contest in Southeast Asia.

On these points, Giap and his fellows could all take pride in the accomplishments of Tet. There was now a political victory to be gained from the Tet Offensive, and although the military road ahead was still long and hard, it had to be pursued vigorously for whatever advantage it might give.


NOTES
1.
See Peter Macdonald, Giap: The Victor in Vietnam ( New York: W. W. Norton, 1993), p. 262. I have elsewhere described this work as "without redeeming historical, literary or biographical merit, riddled with errors, lacking understanding, and misleading in its text." See my review essays of this book in Conflict Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Summer 1993), pp. 64-75; Vietnam Generation (Spring-Winter 1993 [ The Big Book]), pp. 409-410.
2.
Janos Radvanyi, Delusion and Reality (South Bend, Ind.: Gateway Editions, 1978), p. 6.
3.
Carlyle A. Thayer, War by Other Means: National Liberation and Revolution in Viet-Nam, 1954-1960 ( Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1989), pp. 156- 157.
4.
Ibid., p. 196; Robert F. Rogers, "Policy Differences within the Hanoi Leadership", Studies in Comparative Communism, Vol. 9, Nos. 1-2 (Spring-Summer 1976), pp. 108-128 passim.
5.
These charges by Le Duan were set forth in a review essay of MacDonald Giap by Lam Le Trinh, "Vo Nguyen Giap: Victory without Triumph", in Vietnam's People (Huntington Beach, Calif., 1993). He quotes from Bui Tin's two-volume memoir, Hoa Xuyen Tuyet [Snowdrop] (n.p., Calif.: Nhan Quyen Editeur, 1991); Mat That [The Real Face] (Irvine, Calif.: Saigon Press, 1993).

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