There is a responsibility of the writer and a trust from the reader that the news presented will be factual, it’ll be truthful. As such, journalistic integrity and professional pride became a former byline to every story. Then came the sixties and the need to distort, revise or fabricate the event.
Gone were the stubborn facts which impartially informed one and all. The year was 1968 when the media realized that one major event called for the ransacking of any remaining journalistic shackles. To do otherwise would inspire confidence and promote American might. Sadly, this revisionist style of reporting has today engineered an enthusiastic following.
In hindsight, it is not enough to report that the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive was falsely reported. No, the question should be, why would this be, and to what purpose did it serve? Since this false accounting has become an accepted part of our historical landscape, it’s time to set the record straight.
The incredible results from this falsifying agenda must be finally addressed. In short, it transformed victory into defeat while tearing apart our country’s internals. It invigorated the defiant, gave strength to our enemies and betrayed our military sacrifice.
We need to understand that contrary to what is generally perceived as a losing effort, the Vietnam War was close to being won, despite of all that was aligned against us, which ultimately included our own government.
Perhaps the most difficult task facing average America is the realization that what is believed for so long is not necessarily true. Instinctively, this goes against our sense of freedom. Naturally, our thinking is positive, from the information we consume down to the air we breathe. Just think about how much ridicule we assign to those dreadful “conspiracy theorists?” This generated ridicule blends in well with the flow of misinformation and the deceptions which are routinely available.
Few have heard of Colonel Bui Tin, and that’s to be expected, since most readers were born after the Vietnam War. He was the enemy; a very able officer and one who accepted Saigon’s surrender. His book entitled, “Following Ho Chi Minh: Memoirs of a North Vietnamese Colonel” is very informing but also is very contradictory of what was reported to be an American defeat during the 1968 Tet Offensive.
Of that battle, Col Tin confirms that it was a definite American military victory. Col Tin states in his book that, “our losses were staggering and a complete surprise. Giap later told me that Tet had been a military defeat, though we had gained the political advantages when Johnson agreed to negotiate and did not run for reelection.” (Giap was General Giap, North Vietnam’s top commander)
Finally, this Colonel writes that, “If Johnson had granted Westmoreland’s requests to enter Laos and block the Ho Chi Minh trail, Hanoi could not have won the war.”
Now, this Tet Offensive was no small effort. The enemy committed more than 250,000 North Vietnamese regulars, in addition to roughly a 100,000 man force (and women) of Viet Cong guerillas.
As a discharged Vietnam veteran, I was elated and shocked that the enemy would challenge our overwhelming advantage of firepower. Up until that point, the initiative was always the enemy’s and his tactics were hit and run, booby traps or ambush. All very frustrating while also negating our capable and overwhelming firepower.
All this seems like yesterday. Here I was, back in civilian life and listening to the news broadcasts, which I instinctively knew to be inaccurate. A short time later, returning veterans told me of their one sided victory.
Rummaging through some of my news clippings from years past, I came across a Wall Street Journal editorial from February 6, 2008 which undressed the media slant of that battle and the war itself.
If I may, that piece, simply entitled, The Lies of Tet, put the journalistic rubber back onto the road of truth, if ever so briefly. It also corresponds with Col.Tin’s conclusions. Just a few excerpts will relate the truth, a truth which the media from that time considered not worthy of our viewing or reading. To quote Mr. Arthur Herman, “The Tet offensive came at the end of a long string of communist setbacks. By 1967 their insurgent army in the South, the Viet Cong, had proved increasingly ineffective…” I might add that after Tet, the Viet Cong (VC) ceased to exist as an effective force. It’s decimation was practically total!
In the aftermath of that surprise attack, Mr. Herman writes, “the number of Americans dying in Vietnam steadily declined – from almost 15,000 in 1968 to 9,414 in 1969 and 4,221 in 1970…” Equally important, from a military standpoint was the fact that, “By the end of 1969 over 70% of South Vietnam’s population was under government control, compared to 42% at the beginning of 1968.” This reveals that the North was losing operational ground and local support.
We’ve often heard the veteran claim that “we never lost a battle.” The usual the retort is, “how then did you lose the war? Well, aside from the two major combatant forces, one other element was at play. Not only did this force receive favorable coverage of their demonstrations at home, the supposed “best and the brightest” controlled the war’s conduct.
Again, the question arises: why, why did the American press report in such a negative fashion about this monumental and pivotal American victory? As Mr. Herman pointed out, “…editors at home, like CBS’s Walter Cronkite, seized on the distorted reporting to discredit the military’s version of events.”
While some will say that “all this is history,” the reply should be, “is it?” What were those supposed “lessons learned from Vietnam” and how is it that the same no win, no declaration policies remain in play? One thing is for certain. Congress, even Presidents, have become proficient and even calloused when calling out the military. However, prior to their knee jerk reactions, it would seem incumbent upon these public servants to also abide by their sworn duties so as to legalize the military’s coming effort and sacrifice.
Also, this bypassing of a defined Constitutional mandate sends an uplifting message to those that would align against us. They see this as a weakness in effort and realize that our time could be predetermined and limited.
As startling as this may seem, this trashing of what was essentially a great American victory of many years ago may spark our curiosity, our need and duty to question. Today’s news is now a stranger to the truth. In addition, we are being inundated with positions that we supposedly rile against. Just think of the saturation of recent events. While it’s inescapable, it’s repetitious nature certainly isn’t “news breaking” and in most instances, not even deserving of nation airtime.
The printed word has become a fixed weapon since its value and bold execution was first employed long ago in the sixties. The reason it changed victory into a defeat is that the media fueled the homegrown fire of rage and protest. It was the order of the day to further emphasize the war’s futility. Or so it was reported and assumed. No thought, just emotional reactions.
In hindsight, and now with some awareness, today’s questioning of “why,” and/or “what purpose did it serve” screams for answers!
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com