The Tet Offensive

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

7
My Recollections of the Tet Offensive

Ambassador Bui Diem

Time flies! The Vietnam War ended almost twenty years ago, the Tet attacks occurred twenty-eight years ago, and here I am, looking back at what happened then. I am, along with so many others, still trying to learn more about that war and the momentous event known as the Tet Offensive. In the process I hope something useful for the future may come out of this effort.

During the past few years, I have had the opportunity to participate in many seminars and conferences on the Vietnam War. I am convinced that with more facts, more research, more perspectives from each of us, historian, scholar, researcher or writer, all of us now have a better understanding of the many "whys" and "hows" of the war. But, as all of us know, facts are not all that count. In politics, quite often perceptions count more than facts and contribute in no small part to the making of history. The Vietnam War is not an exception in this respect, and the Tet attacks of 1968 are a perfect illustration of this particular fact of life. My brief chapter is about this special aspect of the war.

In 1968, during these critical days, I was a Vietnamese who happened, due to the circumstances of his professional career, to be an eyewitness to the actions and reactions of American leaders in Washington and Vietnamese leaders and citizens in Saigon. As such I would simply like to offer the reader some of my personal recollections on this episode of the war. I sincerely hope that, in some way, my memories will contribute to our quest for wisdom that, according to Henry Kissinger, "America owes to itself if Vietnam is to leave any useful legacy."1

This chapter is divided into three parts. First I will try to present briefly some facts about Tet I consider irrefutable, given the many books and

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The Tet Offensive
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations and Acronyms ix
  • Preface xiii
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • Notes 15
  • 2 - The Tet Offensive 17
  • Notes 43
  • 3 - The Tet Offensive and Sino-Vietnamese Relations 45
  • Notes 59
  • 4 - The Nlf and the Tet Offensive 63
  • Notes 69
  • 5 - Giap and Tet Mau Than 1968: The Year of the Monkey 73
  • Notes 85
  • 6 - The Tet Offensive and Its Aftermath 89
  • Notes 119
  • 7 - My Recollections of the Tet Offensive 125
  • Notes 134
  • 8 - The Tet Offensive and Middletown: A Study in Contradiction 135
  • Notes 141
  • 9 - The Warning That Left Something to Chance: Intelligence at Tet 143
  • Notes 163
  • 10 - Don't Bother Me with the Facts; I've Made Up My Mind: The Tet Offensive in The Context of Intelligence and U.S. Strategy 167
  • Notes 179
  • 11 - Tet Beyond the Wire: TCK/TKN, the General Offensive/General Uprising 181
  • Notes 189
  • 12 - The Battle of Khe Sanh, 1968 191
  • Notes 210
  • 13 - President Johnson and the Decision To Curtail Rolling Thunder 215
  • Notes 228
  • 14 - The Myth of Tet: American Failure and The Politics of War 231
  • Notes 249
  • Selected Bibliography 259
  • Index 269
  • About the Authors and Editors 283
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