At the onset of the Vietnamese new year holiday in 1968, the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong forces, launched well-coordinated attacks on various regions in South Vietnam. Directing their ambush on civilian command and military centers, the Tet Offensive, also known as the General Offensive, has been termed as one of the most extensive and daring military campaigns in the Vietnam War. It is widely argued that the uprising played a significant role in shaping the U.S. public opinion (Dailey 914). The paper would critically analyze the part played by the Tet Offensive in weakening the support of the U.S. citizens on the war in Vietnam. Although the U.S. might have won the battle, the psychological loss on the war was massive.
The Tet Offensive was one of the bloodiest battles witnessed in the Vietnam War. Close to 4,000 Americans and South Vietnamese lost their lives (Woods). The number of enemy soldiers killed in the battle almost hit 45,000. Earlier, the U.S. President, Lyndon Johnson, had indicated that the communists were not strong enough to offer any significant attacks (Dailey 915). The Tet Offensive, however, made the Americans realize that the war was not being won with ease, as it was earlier thought, thus shaping the public opinion in the U.S.
The media played a central role in shaping the opinion of the Americans regarding the war. For instance, the televising of the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Saigon by the Viet Cong symbolized susceptibility of America’s stance in Vietnam. As a result, the masses lost faith in their President’s ability to emerge victorious in the war. Although the U.S. forces claimed victory, it appeared that the Communists and the North Vietnamese had a steady supply of soldiers. This eventuality also shaped the president’s decision not to run for a second term.
Dailey, Jason I. “U.S. Army Psychiatry in the Vietnam War: New Challenges in Extended Counterinsurgency Warfare.” The American Journal of Psychiatry, 2015, pp. 914-915.
Woods, Alan. “The Tet Offensive: The Turning Point in the Vietnam War.” In Defense of Marxism, 2018, www.marxist.com/tet-offensive-part-one.htm. Accessed 29 August 2018.