Talk:Tet Offensive/Archive 1

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No one knows what PLAF means, and in any case it's a double-redirect. Viet Cong, yes. J. Parker Stone 00:10, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

People's Liberation Armed Forces, the army of the National Front for Liberation. Fifelfoo 01:44, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Recent Edits

I added LOTS to the article, but I think it's suffering from wandering off-topic. Help? Kaisershatner 17:52, 4 August 2005 (UTC)

Someone misspelt "other" in the "ARVN and US readiness" section, so I corrected it.--HistoricalPisces 17:56, 4 August 2005 (UTC)

The topic isn't wandering, its all cogent. Well written, well done. You might want to bring the external HTML links up to the wikipedia standards of typography (which I forget, its available through links off the Editing Help pages). Well done. Fifelfoo 04:12, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

I added a sentence to the bottom of the "American state of readiness" section. Atinoda 22:33, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

Ho Chi Minh was never the leader of North Vietnam. He was a political figurehead used to incite the masses while the military really ran things. He is basically the point man in the political struggle but general giap and others were calling the shots behind the scenes... Mike -History Major University of Michian

Leaving aside Mike's inaccurate statements regarding Ho Chi Minh, what is the deal with the wholesale changes made to the site today? What is with the citations all being directed to right-wing sources? I argued earlier that this site is not written from a NPOV, but now it is simply ridiculous. I wanted to help on this page, but the vandalism makes my interest wane.--Social theorist 22:56, 25 April 2006 (UTC)


The first sentence seems to be contradicted by the second sentence in the following quote. "The Tết Offensive resulted in a crushing operational defeat for the North Vietnamese, crippling the Viet Cong. The Tết Offensive is widely considered a turning point of the war in Vietnam, in which the NLF and PAVN won an enormous psychological and propaganda victory leading to the loss of popular support for the War in the United States and the eventual withdrawal of American troops." One sentence gives the reader the impression the Tet Offensive was a failure and then gives the impression it was a success in the second sentence.

You're quite correct. I've edited that paragraph to make it clearer. In fact, this contradiction is the fascinating thing about Tet. It was a crushing military defeat for the North, but also a huge psychological victory. KarlBunker 18:45, 7 June 2006 (UTC)


This article needs to be edited for NPOV; the reader comes away feeling that the author of this article believes that the United States was winning the Vietnam War and made a mistake in leaving. This may be the belief, after the fact, of certain military analysts, but it is certainly not a consensus position.

"Few military authorities would any longer dispute that the vaunted Tet Offensive of 1968 was a significant military defeat for the North Vietnamese, or that well into the early '70s the military balance on the ground had shifted in favor of the Americans and South Vietnamese." Peter R. Kann, former Vietnam war correspondant for the Wall Street Journal, in the WSJ 9/8/2005 p. A18. Kaisershatner 17:43, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

I'll follow that up. Read the Vietnamese accounts of the operational and strategic function of Tet, they are highly critical of the assumptions and decisions which led to Tet occuring, as Tet was a great disadvantage. Whether the RVN or the US were winning the war during this period... well, I'd say they weren't, they didn't have a conception of how the war could be won. Nor did they ever really approach such a conception. Fifelfoo 22:49, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

Viewed from a historical distance, the Tet Offensive is frequently seen as a major example of the value of propaganda and media influence in the pursuit of military objectives, a central tenet of late 20th-century and early 21st-century modern warfare, especially with respect to terrorism.... WHAT ABOUT THIS? LOL @ NPOV

I found the introduction to be misleading; though the NVA/NLF forces took heavy damages, over 3000 Americans died and damages to US/ARVN military hardware (planes especially) was also extreme. Not to mention that popular support for the NLF's presence in South Vietnam added to their ranks after the Offensive. There were poor parts of Saigon where literally all of the adult men below fifty had been recruited by the NLF. Atinoda 22:36, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

I added a NPOV tag; would be helpful to have a couple military historians review, discuss, & collaboratively edit this important article. Thanks to those who contributed & those who served. Billbrock 05:21, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

I was the one who revised the casualty figures, which had received woefully inadequate treatment before. Operational strength, as we all know (or as we SHOULD know), is dependent upon total casualty count, as in the total number of soldiers taken out of combat and unable to fight--not just the number of soldiers killed. The United States and its allies may have only suffered a few thousand dead, but that was largely due to the medical care that prevented more of the 16,000 WIAs from dying. If you count total casualties, the USA and its allies traded losses at a rate of 1:3-5, which is what you would expect from a high tech, high firepower force against a much less well-equipped foe. To paint the Tet Offensive as a trifling pushover with only spurious ripples in the media is at best arrogance and at worst sheer stupidity. Also, as the only information regarding VC/NVA casualties comes from various American news sources, which are by default prone to overclaiming (just as NVA estimates of American losses are), the actual losses could have been lower than reported. That's why I gave a range for the VC/NVA casualty count, as I really cannot say for sure. --3, 23 December 2005

Just to follow up on this, there is also quite a bit of discussion in the literature about the accuracy of the body counts used on the American side as well as precisely who was killed. According to authors such as David Hunt and Marilyn Young, dead bodies were allegedly counted twice in some instances and anyone who was considered VC (a very broad term in Vietnam) was also added to the body count. At best, it is unclear what the totals actually are. Theoryhead 01:20, 1 January 2006.

What happened to putting up the NPOV tag? I would like to go through and edit some of the obvious unsubstantiated stuff on this page (such as the distinction made between an operational and a psychological victory, which is Westmoreland's distinction and no one else's), but am thinking that my edits will be excised. How about an NPOV tag first, then some work on this?--Social Theorist 08:24, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

The sources cited in this article are just awful. This would be a failing paper at the high school level. Surely someone could find sources from something reputable? I mean, really. How is a Reagan historian an expert on the Tet offensive? Caligi 14:16, 3 June 2006 (UTC)


This explains why polls during Tet showed declining approval for Johnson at the same time that support for the war remained steady or even rose (in some polls), as is typical in moments of national crisis.

and this
the Tet Offensive has also been seen as a turning point of the war in Vietnam, in which the NLF and PAVN won an enormous psychological and propaganda victory leading to the loss of popular support for the War in the United States and the eventual withdrawal of American troops
can these both be right? support for the war rose or it led to loss of support? or should this say that the Tet Offensive was incorrectly seen as a turning point?KAM 15:37, 2 November 2005 (UTC) 19:59, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

1. The number of people who believed that the war was a mistake based on Gallup polls was in slow but steady increase at the time of the T.O. At about that time it increased from 49 % to 51 % making it seem a watershed event?? However the T.O. did not change public support for the war and in fact increased support for short term.
2. According to Dereliction of Duty the Joint Chiefs of Staff knew, and told Johnson that the war was unwinnable at troop levels that were political acceptable. This miss-match between what Johnson knew and what he was telling the public is the root cause of the loss support for the war. The T.O may have forced an end to wishful thinking that perhaps the Joint Chiefs might be wrong.
3. the T. O. is widely but incorrectly seen as a turning point of public support for the war. It was a turning point for the press and for Johnson and the generals. They had to accept the fact that more troops were needed but such an increase may not have been politicly possible.
I would like to see some feedback on the above from someone more knowledge then myself.KAM 16:37, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

I would also like to add that nearly all the references listed for this article are written by far-right authors with an axe to grind on this issue. The author's bias would certainly make sense if he drew primarily from those sources. The author quotes partisan authors as if their arguments were objective, undisputed fact, and he fails to present any opposing viewpoint.

Adams Photograph's True Story

Terrific. Just a note to thank the poster for revealing the true story behind the infamous 'Adams Photo'. I just realized I spent the last 30 years believing the photo depicted the casual, summary execution of a suspected Viet Cong, carried out on the whim of a moment by a brutal thugghish ARVN General. Which, I suspect, was the impression I was supposed to get, at least according to the books and documentaries I saw where that photo and news footage was played. Not one of those books or documentaries pointed out the fact that the guy getting the bullet through his head was not only a Viet Cong, he was the leader of an assasination squad that had just murdered over 30 civilians. I am now determined to research this further and see what other facts have been convieniently left out when it comes to other well know events about this particular war. Manofaiki 08:37, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

WTF? The guy is clearly handcuffed, and not trying to escape or attack anyone. The General's actions were clearly murder, and unprofessional at best. If your accusations are true, the VC should have been handed to a court to be tried, not murdered by some drunken fool(Which is what R.F. McNamera called the general in the documentary The_Fog_of_War). And the pages on Nguyen_Ngoc_Loan and Nguyen_Van_Lem are inconsistent, as to whether the VC had in fact executed many people or not. Identity0 13:13, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
What the General did was perfectly legal. As Burkett says in his book Stolen Valour:

"The shooting occured during the 1968 Tet Offensive. Thousands of Viet Cong cadre in civilain clothes had infiltrated the city of Saigon and the surrounding area. A Viet Cong Leiutenant had executed a South Vietnamese police major and his entire family. When he was captured by Loan's military troops, who policed Saigon, Loan used the VC's own gun to kill him. The shocking image drew condemnation of Loan and America from around the world. LOOK WHAT THE LEADERS OF THE AMERICAN ALLIES IN SOUTH VIETNAM DO FOR FUN. Adams later expressed regret that his photograph had been used to discredit both General Loan and America's participation in the Vietnam War. The city was under martial law. Loan, as the head of the Saigon police, was within his authority to order the execution of an enemy soldier in civilian clothes who had murdered a family....... But similar executions have occured in other American wars. During the Battle of the Bulge, a special hand-picked unit of English-speaking German soldiers was outfitted in American uniforms and inserted into the midst of American units still reeling from the ferocity of the German attack. The German mission was to sow confusion and disorganization, changing road signs and giving improper instructions to American columns of vehicles. They partially acheived their objective; the Americans did not know whom to trust. Ultimately almost all of the German sabotuers were captured or killed. General Eisenhower almost immediatley issued orders to have the dozen or so prisoners executed without the benefit of a trial. On Christmas Eve, the Germans were blindfolded, trussed up to poles, and shot by firing squads. General Eisenhower was completely within his authority to order the executions. So was Genreral Loan. The difference in the two situations was the treatment by the press and the fact that Loan did not order someone else to perform the execution."

When you are in a war zone, and you are fighting for one side, BUT you are not in uniform, or even worse, you are wearing the WRONG uniform, you are not a lawful combatant and no Geneva rules of warefare apply to you. You can't even be classified as a POW if they should decided to hold you since you aren't a recognized soldier under any flag. For this reason, when General Loan and his militia are busy fighting HUNDREDS of VC who are dressed in civilian clothes all over their city and they catch one committing atrocities against civilians, he doesn't even qualify for POW status. In many wars, just being caught out of uniform would get you summarily shot; now factor in targeting civilians while out of uniform.

This notion that context allows for summary execution is incorrect. The Geneva Conventions spell out the terms under which designated a combatant, whether regular or guerilla, can be dealt. The man Loan shot was neither operating under a false flag (wearing an ARVN uniform) nor was he an outside agitator (he was Vietnamese). The only way that your implicit argument that Convention Three, Article Four (regarding a fixed symbol) should obtain is if this conflict were considered "international". I reject that notion since the War primarily was an intranational conflict (a civil war) in which the United States, and some of its SEATO allies, intervened. Therefore, Geneva Convention Three, Article Three, obtains in this instance. I won't even get into how the 1954 Geneva Conventions were ignored by the US and the RVN in the run-up to this conflict.

Furthermore, although some governments such as the current Bush Administration likes to claim that the unwritten law regarding particular "unlawful combatants" allows for license to do with them what one will, the lack of an international regulation regarding "grey area cases" does not mean that, as a result, individuals have license to act as they please. Loan's act, though arguably practical, was neither legal nor moral. Social theorist 23:04, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

The 'village quote'

Okay, can someone get a more reliable source for the claim that the 'village quote' was made up? I don't know this Burkett fellow, but I am familiar with Mona Charon, and I do not find her a reliable source. She is more a commentator than a journalist, on the level of Al Franken or Anne Coulter. If I have to choose between her and Peter Arnett, I am generally going to trust Arnett, despite his later problems with CNN. Identity0 12:54, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

Arnett didn't just have a problem with CNN. He's been fired from several jobs since then since it's been revealed that he has.....well.... this prediliction to making stuff up. The infamous Baby Milk Factory, the Tailwind story, and yes, one of the most famous quotes to come out of the Vietnam War. To this day Arnett has yet to name the supposed American military officer that said this to him.

sources POV

a signifigant majority of the sources cited are not authoritative. that steven Hayward book the Age of Reagan cited several times..that guy is a rabid pro reagan historian if you can call him a historian. the rest of his books are about how awesome Reagan is. is that a reliable source about the vietnam war? alot of what i am assuming are mr Haywards opinions are stated as fact. if you want to put ridiculously absurd opinions in there you are going to have to note that it is his opinion. for example 'it is the opinion of noted rabid pro reagan historian Hayword that the north vietnamese leadership were a bunch of incompetant delusional wackos". alot the other sources do not rise even to that level. alot of personal web pages, alot of them vietnam vets, 25th battalion? one of those pages cites as a source for fact the freedom house... the freedom house is an pro u.s.government think tank that is practically a part of the u.s. government. so all in all the article is extremely to the far right end of the u.s. government point of view. the article completely goes out of it's way to dismiss the south vietnamese insurgency or even deny that it existed.

for example:

'The DRVN leadership had an almost irrational belief that it was popular and had widespread support within the cities of the south. Contributing to their delusions as well was their fanatical belief in the certainty of communist revolutionary principles.'

this is not a fact, maybe not even an opinion but a fabrication? is this from Hayward? if it is it's pretty bad scholarship. the north vietnamese may have been irrational or delusional but there's no way you could know that in order to state it as fact this way.

this article needs a more diverse and hopefully mainstream array of sources. Stephen Hayward cited many times likes to throw his opinions around alot without citing evidence. i took out the part where it says it is erroneous to conclude that the u.s. population became more anti war. i'm not saying the population was more anti war after the tet offensive, i'm saying Stephen Hayword or whomever doesn't or couldn't know based on the 0 evidence that was produced.

cleanup tag added

I'm about to add the "cleanup" tag to the article. There is no introduction paragraph; the article just dives into background material, using acronyms like NLF and PLAF without a wikilink or definition. I expect there are other elements of the article that could use attention; I found and fixed a couple of small ones in a quick skim. KarlBunker 01:43, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Hm, I see now that the absence of an introduction I was complaining about above was just the handiwork of some industrious vandal. I tried to check for that possibility before I added the cleanup tag, but I missed it. The article could still use some improvement of course, but I don't see any glaring deficiency, so I'm going to remove the cleanup tag. KarlBunker 19:18, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

POV photo

Why is the main photo of USMC Captain Franklin P. Eller? He wasn't on the offensive, he was on the defensive. the main photo of this article should be of the vietcong. Kingturtle 05:47, 4 June 2006 (UTC)