To What Extent Can the Tet Offensive of 1968 Be Described as the Key Turning Point in the Vietnam War 1968-75?

In: Historical Events

Submitted By willford1997
Words 907
Pages 4
To what extent can the Tet Offensive of 1968 be described as the key turning point in the Vietnam War 1968-75?

A ‘turning point’ of the Vietnam War could be interpreted in different ways. For example, the Tet Offensive, which took place January 31st, 1968, could be understood as a turning point in the US state of the war (were they winning at this point?) as well as entirely changing the opinion of the US public – literally splitting them in two as to whether the war could be justified. Alongside the Tet Offensive, several other factors could also be interpreted as a turning point in the war. The Cambodian Offensive, of 29th March 1970 could be used alongside President Richard Nixon’s resignation and the entire withdrawal of soldiers in Vietnam.

As the largest set of battles during the course of the War, causing severe losses to the communist side of the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and Viet Cong, the Tet Offensive was the first majorly reported part of the Vietnam War and thus changed many people’s opinion on the war after realization of the tragic event. Approval rating of current president Lyndon B. Johnson plummeted by almost 20%. Despite Walter Cronkite’s interview stating that the war was “unwinnable”, opinion on the war had changed long before. Violent protests took place in Washington during 1968, forcing Johnson to stop the sending of 200,000 troops – this effectively marked the end of the gradual escalation policy in Vietnam. Tet could be argued as a severe turning point in the change of America’s long-term realization and changing opinion of the War and the start of many protests taking place in every major city in America during the next 7 years. Tet showed a limit to US power, which had not yet been achieved.

Another military circumstance, which one may believe to be considered as a turning point during the war, could be the Cambodian Offensive…...

Similar Documents

American Involvement in the Vietnam War

...American Involvement in the Vietnam War Late 1940’s: America began sending aid to the French fighting in Vietnam and the rest of Indochina. France was fighting the Communist rebels led by Ho Chi Minh. 1954: Ho Chi Minh defeated the French. America became officially involved trying to stop Communists in Vietnam. Financial aid and military advisors were sent to help the South Vietnamese fight Northern Communists as they fighting in the South. The U.S. worked with Ngo Dinh Diem and other leaders to set up a separate government in the South. The U.S. worked with Ngo Dinh Diem, the South Vietnamese Premiere, to create separate governments in the South. President Dwight Eisenhower expressed concerns over Domino Theory. He believed that if Vietnam fell completely to Communism, then Communism would spread elsewhere, like how if the first domino falls, the rest follow. The Domino Theory is the central reason for America’s involvement in Vietnam. 1954-1964: U.S. involvement in Vietnam continued to increase. Eisenhower sends military advisors to South Vietnam to train South Vietnamese Army. 1964: August: North Vietnam attacked the USS Maddox in international waters. Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that allowed President Johnson to increase America’s military involvement. It allowed him to "take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack...and to prevent further aggression." 1965: Pleiku Raid: Viet Cong attacked a Marine barracks killing eight and injuring over......

Words: 472 - Pages: 2

Tet Offensive

...  2 Dear Journal, I have been fighting this war since January 30th, 1968. There was supposed to be a cease fire in place, but the Viet Cong attacked the attacked the forces of the Republic of Vietnam and us, Their U.S. ally. I heard on the radio that there was supposed to be a two-day cease fire to honor the Tet Lunar New Year, but they tricked everyone by attacking in the early morning on January 30th. We were blindsided by the power of 80,000 communist troops that were well coordinated and able to attack over 100 towns and cities from what I hear. This is the most action we have seen up to this point. We have done our best to try and beat back and contain this wave of Communist forces. I can’t believe I survived the month long Battle of Hue, with all the destruction our side did to the city. The inhumanity of the Viet Cong was unlike anything I could ever imagine witnessing. They executed thousands of residents in Hue; some of the guys are referring to it as the “Massacre at Hue”. I was weary of our commitment to this war before, but somebody has to stop them. I fought them for another two months when they transferred me to the combat base at Khe Sanh. We fought them back and were victorious after in spite of all their persistence. We may have won this battle, but we had many casualties and underestimated the abilities of the Communist to be able to stage such a large scale attack due to all the defeats we have handed them in the past. We were able to kill over......

Words: 396 - Pages: 2

World War Ii Events Through the 1970s

...Significant events World War II through the 1970’s Assignment 3 “World War II through the 1970’s” Tim Truster Professor Michael Curran 26 August, 2012 Abstract My history assignment 3 “World War II through the 1970’s” will identify two major historical turning points during this period and what impact they had on current society, economy, politics, and culture. It will also explain two reasons Americans in the late 1930’s wanted to stay out of the European conflict that became World War II. I will explain the role women played to help win World War II. I will describe two civil rights breakthroughs after World War II that moved the cause of African-Americans forward. An explanation to why the Vietnam War brought political awareness to a new generation of young Americans. Finally two programs under President Johnson’s “Great Society” agenda that are still with us today will be discussed. Two historical turning points during the period of World War II through the 1970’s I will discuss in my paper will be the ending of World War II by defeating Japan and the Civil Rights movement. World War II itself was a major turning point in history. In 1945, Japan was lightly defended against the American attack; huge firebombing of Japanese cities went unanswered. America estimated that an invasion of the Japanese home islands would cost 50,000 American casualties in the first phase of the attack. The battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa demonstrated the extent to which......

Words: 1597 - Pages: 7

Depiction of Vietnam War in Hollywood

...The Vietnam War was the longest lasting military conflict in American History. What was originally fear of communist expansion became one of America’s most expensive and strenuous efforts, consuming over fifty eight thousand American lives. As casualties increased throughout the 1960’s, so did the domestic opposition to the war. In turn, large-scale protests and a lack of trust between government and its people rose. Today many of the war’s details remain unclear; however, Hollywood has had its hand at depicting what occurred. This paper provides an analysis of the Vietnam War, as well as its depiction in the 21st century film industry. “The Deer Hunter,” “Born on the 4th of July” and “Casualties of War” are three different interpretations of the war in both foreign and domestic settings. Each film offers a different point of view, varying from social, political, and military perspectives. Following the Second World War, the French set forth an effort to regain their former colonial possession of Indo-China, which had been occupied by the Japanese throughout the war. After nearly a decade, the French were unable to establish a presence in what they called their “inheritance”, and as a result withdrew under the Geneva Accord in 1954. Meanwhile conflict within the regions of Vietnam created instability. A communist regime called the Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN), headed by Ho Chi Minh obtained power of the North. In contrast Ngo Dinh Diem established an interim government......

Words: 2039 - Pages: 9

Tet Offensive

...How accurate is it to say that the Tet Offensive of 1968 was the most important reason for US withdrawal from Vietnam? There are many reasons that lead to the US withdrawing from Vietnam, like the Tet Offensive which can be seen as the most crucial turning point in the war for America as it was the first wide-scale organised attack by the Viet Cong and raised doubt among American public about the causes and the outcome of the war. However it is not the only reason that could have led to withdrawal; the election of the tough President Nixon, the media’s unflattering coverage of US forces and influencing public opinion, the process of withdrawal and the decreased threat of communism due to the Sino-Soviet split. Without any one of these major events or situations I don’t think withdrawal from Vietnam would have been in 1973 but possibly later. The Tet offensive was extremely significant as it was first and foremost a moral boost for the NVA who saw the success if short-lived of strategic surprise on the US troops and bases in the South. The US troops did not understand the willingness the NVA were to die for their cause and so it was in huge contrast to their own feelings about fighting in Vietnam- the Viet Cong weren’t going to give up easily. It was more of a shock to Americans than a defeat as Tet is a national holiday in Vietnam and was typically a truce but using their large numbers and weapons; the Viet Cong did not succeed in maintaining any control in the Southern......

Words: 325 - Pages: 2

History of Vietnam War

...usually a formula for sure defeat. Therefore, the Battle of Hue City is an important engagement to analyze: there are many lessons that can be taken from its study regarding military operations in urbanized terrain (MOUT) and the effects of combat elements such as timing, heavy gunfire support, armor, communications, and geographic obstacles. 1968 was the pivotal year during the Vietnam War mostly because it was the year that marked the Tet Offensive, the turning point in the war. The Tet Offensive was an operation that the North Vietnamese conducted that called for a simultaneous attack on every major city in South Vietnam; its shock value would prove to be a major blow to American support for the war at home even though it was a great tactical victory for Allied forces. Perhaps the most significant victory for the Allied forces during the Tet Offensive was at Hue and the Allied victory there is truly a military marvel. The Battle of Hue City began on the night of January 30, 1968 during the Vietnamese lunar New Year, called Tet, and was the most important holiday and celebration in Vietnam. Therefore, most of the South Vietnamese military were on leave, and because a truce was traditionally observed with the New Year, the North Vietnamese caught everyone off guard when they launched the Tet Offensive on the night of January 30, 1968. The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) launched their attack at approximately midnight and by 1233 they had seized control of most......

Words: 536 - Pages: 3


...1968 With Tom Brokaw When people look back on past years and decades, they usually do so in a manner that summarizes how particular events helped define those years. People will often have says for each decade such as the Roaring’ Twenties, the GI Generation for the forties, and the 60’s may just have an endless list. One year in the 60’s though stood out from the rest; 1968 was quite possibly one of the most influential years in American History. A counter-culture tore through classic American Traditions, a controversial war segregated the population, protests, assassinations, and riots were front page news every couple of months. These were times of trouble yet growth in the American culture, and we are still feeling the effects of them today. 1968 With Tom Brokaw takes the viewer into the past by compiling footage and interviews with those who lived through the key events of 1968. Brokaw speaks with those who were first pioneers of the counter culture, those close friends and associates of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy (both assassinated), musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Arlo Guthrie, Michelle Phillips who experienced how influential music was to the counter culture, police and protestors alike who prevented and participated in riots, and the list continues. Each of these interviews gives us, the viewer, a better understanding of chaotic of a decade the 60’s were, and how many up and downs there were within the single year of 1968. Focusing......

Words: 631 - Pages: 3

Us Involvement in Vietnam

...Conflict in Vietnam, 1963-75 Revision Notes Part 1; Reasons for the US involvement in Vietnam What was the background to the Vietnam War? • Vietnam was ruled by the French till 1954. Then it was divided into two countries. • The communist ruler of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, wanted to unite the North and South under his control. He supported the Vietcong in South Vietnam. • President Diem ruled South Vietnam. He was strongly anti-communist, but was also a brutal and unpopular leader. Who were the Vietcong? • The Vietcong (or the National Liberation Front) were the communist guerrilla soldiers fighting to overthrow President Diem and his government. • By 1964, there were over 100,000 Vietcong in the South and they were killing thousands of South Vietnamese officials every year. Diem's army could not get rid of them. Why did the Americans get involved? • America said it wanted to ‘save’ the South Vietnamese people from the evils of communism. • But, remember that this was the time of the Cold War. Americans were obsessed with stopping Communism, both abroad and at home in the USA. • The Americans wanted to "contain" (stop) the spread of Communism in the world (the Truman Doctrine). The USA wanted to support non-Communist governments which were threatened by Communists. It knew that the USSR and China, both Communist-ruled, were sending aid to Communist North Vietnam. • The Americans also......

Words: 3309 - Pages: 14

Vietnam War

...“Involvement in two world wars and the Cold War transformed America into a “crusader state” convinced of the superiority of its institutions and way of life and intent on imposing them on the outside world. ” Whether fought at home or abroad every war is to impact all parties involved. Such example of staggering influence on one country’s culture is no more evident then in America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Upon entering the war the USA’s government was convinced and assured the public of its confidence in very quick and consequences free resolution to their problem on the other side of the world. However, what it failed to predict which later was to prove crucial was the blowback that the war would have on the nation itself. The extent to which a superpower can be influenced by a smaller struggling and weapon lacking society has never been more evident and recorded than in America-Vietnamese case. The American culture has been shaken to its core. The following piece however aims to analyze and simplify those reasons due to which scars amongst society are being healed even now so many years since the war ended. Twenty five years have passed since the United States officially relinquished their involvement in Vietnam. Not since the Civil war had the country been so divided. Every American family was impacted, losing husbands, sons and daughters. Over fifty thousand Americans were killed and many more of those who returned suffered and still suffer deep physical and......

Words: 1252 - Pages: 6

A Turning Point in the Vietnam War Week Iii History Paper (1).Docx

...One Turning Point in the Vietnam War Valerie L. Kroll September 21, 2014 Professor Melissa Tennyson DeVry University There were quite a few events during the Vietnam War that can be considered “turning points.” One such event was the Buddhist crisis in 1963. The Buddhist crisis is a sorrowful and disheartening portion of history that could have very well been circumvented. Diem the president of South Vietnam provoked the Buddhist community. Diem operated his civilian and military organizations almost entirely with Catholics. Many had recently migrated south, and he saw to it that Catholic villages collected most of the U.S. aid funds (Moss, 2010). These strangers had exclusive pleasures; they did not speak the local languages, and did not understand their individual troubles. Southern Buddhist peasants begrudged having northern Catholics, who looked down on them and were not concerned to their well-being. The preferential treatment the Catholic’s received from Diem created impossibility for Diem’s administration to gain the confidence and devotion of many southern peasants (Moss, 2010). The government prohibiting the flying of the Buddhist flag prompted the Buddhist crisis (Moss, 2010). South Vietnam Buddhists started to gain attention around the world for their religious persecution through the circulation of writings in addition to demonstrations through hunger strikes, extreme acts that included of self-sacrifice, along with peaceful protests (Toong,......

Words: 708 - Pages: 3

A Vietnam War Turning Point

...Many of the incidents that occurred around the Vietnam War could be referred to as “turning points”. Included in this list is the coup against Diem, the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, 1963 Buddhist riots, and the 1964 United States Presidential elections. In addition, the attack on the U.S.S. Maddox in 1964 was also a turning point for America’s involvement in the war. On August 2, 1964, the Maddox’s radar detected five patrol boats. “When the boats were less than 10,000 yards away, the destroyer fired three shots across the bow of the lead vessel.” (Andrade & Conboy,1999) In response, the North Vietnam boat launched a torpedo. The Maddox fired again, this time to kill, and hit the second North Vietnam boat just as it launched two torpedoes. Badly damaged, the boat hobbled home. On August 4, 1964, the U.S.S. Turner Joy and the Maddox believed they were again the subjects of attacks by patrol boats from North Vietnam. It is believed today, that these attacks did not in fact occur and they were reports from jittery radar and sonar operators (Andrade & Conboy, 1999). These were considered to be the first two attacks by the North Vietnamese against the U.S. For this reason it would be considered a major turning point in the conflict. These attacks by the North Vietnamese against the U.S. boats was the first intentional act of violence against the U.S.. America responded to this by creating the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. This......

Words: 543 - Pages: 3

Vietnam War

...The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War,[32] and also known in Vietnam as Resistance War Against America (Vietnamese: Kháng chiến chống Mỹ) or simply the American War, was a Cold War-era proxy war[citation needed] that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955[A 1] to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War (1946–54) and was fought between North Vietnam—supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies—and the government of South Vietnam—supported by the United States and other anti-communist allies.[37] The Viet Cong (also known as the National Liberation Front, or NLF), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The People's Army of Vietnam (also known as the North Vietnamese Army) engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large units to battle. As the war wore on, the part of the Viet Cong in the fighting decreased as the role of the NVA grew. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery, and airstrikes. In the course of the war, the U.S. conducted a large-scale strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam, and over time the North Vietnamese airspace became the most heavily defended in the world. The U.S. government viewed......

Words: 759 - Pages: 4

Vietnam War

...involvement in the conflicts in Vietnam? Involve- * Bibliography * 1 Primary source – 1950’s/1960 * 5 books – Secondary sources * Watch films, documentaries and videos. * Historians point of views(opinions) Geneva Agreement – election to be held in 1956 to reunify Vietnam but did not happen because Ngo Dinh Diem cancelled it because he knew he would not win it. If Ho chi Minh wins 1956 elections: * Vietnam will re-unify as a communist country * Other surrounding countries will follow – communism will spread ‘Domino Theory’ (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, and India. Geneva Agreement – election to be held in 1956 to reunify Vietnam but did not happen because Ngo Dinh Diem cancelled it because he knew he would not win it. If Ho chi Minh wins 1956 elections: * Vietnam will re-unify as a communist country * Other surrounding countries will follow – communism will spread ‘Domino Theory’ (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, and India. Communist Communist Vietnam was split into North and South in 1954 – Geneva agreement officially split into North led by Ho Chi Minh and South ruled by Ngo Dinh Diem. Vietnam was split into North and South in 1954 – Geneva agreement officially split into North led by Ho Chi Minh and South ruled by Ngo Dinh Diem. Capitalist Capitalist Primary Sources Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the "falling......

Words: 771 - Pages: 4

How Far Was the North Vietnamese Government, in the Years 1964 to 1968, Responsible for the Escalation of the War in Vietnam?

...Vietnamese government, in the years 1964 to 1968, responsible for the escalation of the war in Vietnam? (24marks) Following the assassination of Kennedy and Diem in 1963, the Vietnam War began to escalate at a rapid rate. This escalation can be blamed on the North Vietnamese in Hanoi as they coordinated attacks and through use of the Ho Chi Minh Trail which had no limit on the expansion of the trails use. However the escalation cannot only be blamed on the North Vietnamese as at this time the situation in South Vietnam was very volatile and this caused the us officials to believe escalation was necessary to keep Vietnam under control. The North Vietnamese Government were not responsible for the escalation of the Vietnam War in the years 1964-1968 as the threat from the North continued and the South remained weak especially due to its chaotic government in place at the time with corrupt military officers who were appointed for political rather than military reasons. The US believed that it ad to strengthen its resources there to be able to achieve success, in 1965 Johnson authorizes an additional 100,000 troops to be sent to Vietnam. Another reason explaining why the North Vietnamese weren’t responsible for the wars escalation was that Johnson believed that ground troops were key to the strategy and beating the North and the US would win as long as the US remained strong and to go back on this policy. Source B backs up this point as it states ‘if our gradual approach......

Words: 1163 - Pages: 5

Vietnam War

...Vietnam War IP2 Alicia Stephens AIU   Abstract In this paper it discusses the Vietnam War and some consequences of it. It also provides information about the war and the impact that it had on the United States, the reason for the war and the results of it. It also discusses the outcome weather it was beneficial or detrimental to the United States. It also describes details about the war and things that happened during this war/conflict.   Vietnam War The Vietnam War was the longest most unpopular war in American History, The toll they paid wasn’t just monetary, it cost the people involved dearly, physically and mentally; causing suffering, sorrow and national turmoil because of bad press meant that Americans divided ( war). During the Vietnam War the U.S. forces were made up of draftees, whose average age was 19 years old. They were inexperienced and unwilling to fight; they would spend about a year in Vietnam and then return home. During the war over 200,000 were killed. Vietnam went from a major exporter of rice; to a country that couldn’t feed itself. Large areas of countryside were ruined. Many traps were left, and still are there in many cases ( War). Staggering influence on one country’s culture is no more evident than in America’s involvement upon entering the war the United States government were convinced and assured the public of its confidence in very quick and consequences free resolution to their problem...

Words: 1780 - Pages: 8