Tet 14

Warnke read the draft to Clifford at a meeting on March 1 attended by Wheeler and others, and it painted an unalluring picture of the situation. Since the Communists could match any increase in American troop strength, it said, the escalation suggested by Wheeler and West¬moreland promised “no early end to the conflict. ” Instead, the strategy would “entail substantial ... Read More »

Tet 13

Tall, dapper, charming and eloquent, Clark Clifford was one of the most distinguished lawyers in Washington. A Kansan then in his early sixties, he had served as a young counsel to President Truman— quitting to start a private practice that now earned him a half-million dollars a year representing corporations, foreign regimes and other affluent clients. He owed his colossal ... Read More »

Tet 12

It now dawned on Westmoreland that he was being obliquely or¬dered to ask for more men, and, in soldierly fashion, he obeyed. Wheeler, interposing himself as Westmoreland’s surrogate, raised the issue with Johnson at a White House meeting on February 11, a Sun¬day. Wheeler explained that Westmoreland was not expressing a “firm demand” for additional troops and could cope without ... Read More »

Tet 11

Art Buchwald satirically deflated the news-management campaign from the start. His syndicated column of February 6 portrayed a con¬fident General George Armstrong Custer boasting that “the battle of Little Big Horn had just turned the corner,” and the Sioux were “on the run.” Other press comments were more somber. An unusually blunt editorial in the usually subdued Wall Street Journal ... Read More »

Tet 10

After the war, in an angry tirade against the press, General Westmoreland alleged that voluminous,’ lurid and distorted newspaper and particularly television reports of the Tet attacks had transformed a devastating Communist military defeat in Vietnam into a “psychological victory” for the enemy. Peter Braestrup, who covered Vietnam as a correspon¬dent for the Washington Post, contended in his book Big ... Read More »

Tet 9

Even so, Westmoreland and the U.S. military establishment in Viet¬nam were clearly caught off guard by the Tet offensive. A West Point textbook on the war, published years later, attributed the “complete surprise” achieved by the Communists to a U.S. “intelligence failure ranking with Pearl Harbor.” American intelligence specialists reached roughly the same conclusion in March 1968, after going to ... Read More »

Tet 8

Despite the obvious differences, the superficial resemblance between Khesanh and Dienbienphu was irresistible to American observers and officials alike. “The parallels are there for all to see,” Walter Cronkite informed a CBS radio audience in early February. Marvin Kalb, the CBS correspondent at the State Department, reported that the “his¬torical ghost” of the French disaster was “casting a long shadow ... Read More »

Tet 7

Westmoreland was delighted. The Communists were at long last waging his brand of big conventional warfare where he wanted to fight—in the hinterlands far from South Vietnam’s cities—‘and his stupendous military machine could show dramatic results. The fire¬power he brought to bear was unprecedented, awesome, almost be¬yond the bounds of imagination. At Conthien alone, nearly eight hundred B-52 flights dropped ... Read More »

Tet 6

His long-range strategy was to continue to bleed the Americans until they agreed to a settlement that satisfied the Hanoi regime. For that reason, the Communists were willing to endure terrible casualties during the Tet campaign, as they did throughout the war. The Tet offensive was not intended to be a decisive operation, but one episode in a protracted war ... Read More »

Tet 5

During the fight for the citadel, as in the other battles for South Vietnam’s towns and cities at the time, ubiquitous television crews were present—filming for overnight transmission to millions of American viewers the extraordinary drama of their husbands, sons and brothers in action. In one segment, showing Harrington’s com¬pany firing from behind a stone wall at an unseen enemy, ... Read More »

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