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Media And American Withdrawal From Vietnam

2231 words - 9 pages

Media and American Withdrawal From Vietnam

The history of Vietnam is characterised by struggles for independence
since French rule in 1859 after the French took Saigon, and a great
ability in warfare and continual determined resistance to foreign

Major military involvement by American armed forces came after events
such as Russian communist revolution in 1917 and the Korean War in the
1950's; these events put the America people in a period of moral panic
with McCarthyism, and domino theory. After the French defeat and the
following Geneva conference in 1954, where only a verbal military
truce was agreed. Signs of further fighting and ...view middle of the document...

These attacks were called the Tet
offensive because it came in the ceasefire during the Asian Tet
holiday. The Tet offensive became a watershed news story, seemingly
changing not only military realities but also America culture and
journalism. Coming at the beginning of 1968, which for the America
people was filled with tragic events such as the assassinations of
Martin Luther King and, Sen. Robert Kennedy.

The Tet offensive was seen as a turning point for the whole war. It
was seen to signalise the end of America's 'Big Win'. The phrase, 'The
Big Win' was a slogan used by leading American military and political
officials in an attempt to encourage volunteering and confidence in
the public eyes of an American victory. The images of the Tet
offensive attacks were shocking and very distressing to the American
people, they saw images of Viet Cong guerrillas breaching the American
embassy at Saigon and two marines dragging a wound and bloodied buddy
from fighting in Hue. Don Oberdorfer a Washington reporter and author
of the book called "Tet!" said

"There's no doubt Tet was one of the biggest events in contemporary
American history, within two months the, American body politically
turned around on the war. And they were significantly influenced by
events they saw on television".

The Tet offensive was in direct reaction to operation 'Rolling
Thunder'. The systematic attacks on every city above the border, in
the north signalled to the American and international press that the
war was now unwinnerable. American press icon Walter Cronkite's
broadcast in February 27th 1968 saying the war was

'Mired in stalemate' and the 'only rational way out would be to
negotiate nor as victors, but as honourable people…'

Before the Tet offensive the America army officials had been
conducting operation 'Rolling Thunder' which was heavy bombing of
North Vietnam. Also America officials had said that America efforts in
Vietnam had 'turned a corner' in Vietnam. However after the Tet
offensive, the press portrayed it as a severe loss for American and
South Vietnamese troops and claimed the war was now unwinnerable.
After this statements and damaging reports by the press, the facts
show that although the North Vietnamese attackers timed their attacks
to catch the American troops off guard during ceasefire. Nonetheless,
they suffered more then 58,000 deaths and suffered serious military
setbacks in the succeeding weeks. US troops, on the other hand only
suffered losses amounting to a mere 3,895 in comparison in the
following 12 weeks, and still the American press saw the loss on the
side of America.

After the Tet offensive the media began to attack the American
involvement in Vietnam. It became clear to the American public that
there was no clear way to win the war; they saw thought the...

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