Item Number: 992AU0763 (Record 92308)
Interview with General Earl Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - May 7, 1970
Douglas Pike Collection: Audio / Moving Images
2 Track Stereo (3.75)
This is a continuation of an interview with General Earle G. Wheeler (Chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff) by Dorothy McSweeney. During this interview Wheeler discusses Vietnamese Tet Offensive and Johnson's decision not to seek reelection. Wheeler states that the United States knew that the North was planning an offensive but the military did not know when and did not believe that the North would attack during Tet. As a result, nearly half of the South Vietnamese forces were on leave during the Tet holiday. Wheeler believed that the North had three objectives for Tet which were: to fragment and destroy the South Vietnamese forces, to instigate uprisings against the government of South Vietnam, and to destroy US logistical systems as well as the command and control structure. General Wheeler feels that militarily the Tet Offensive was a defeat for the North, yet politically it was a success. A discussion about the requirement of calling up reserves shortly after Tet to reinforce and establish a strategic reserve in the U.S. He also addressed the betrayal of American individuals leaking plans to repulse the Tet offensive. The second topic Wheeler addressed were the reasons of Johnson's decision not to run for a second term. Wheeler stated that before making his decision he asked General Westmoreland if the morale of the troops would be affected if he were not reelected (he did not let Westmoreland know he was thinking of not running). He also cited Johnson's health as a factor in his decision. He discussed Johnson's heart attack as well as the strain of the office on the president (Lady Bird Johnson was very concerned about this). General Wheeler also discusses the manner in which President Johnson operated, especially how he made his decisions during the discussions at the Tuesday lunches. General Wheeler strongly believes that President Johnson wanted to be known as a peace president, but due to circumstances was not able to get the peace he wanted in Vietnam. The topic of General Wheeler's heart attack and President Johnson's refusal of his resignation of his position. On an unrelated subject, Wheeler discussed Arab-Israeli War of 1967. General Wheeler also discusses the decision to intervene in the Dominican Republic, and whether it was a communist, or a public uprising. General Wheeler closes with a remark that President Johnson always wanted solid conclusions, and asked difficult question.
Interview with General Earl Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 07 May 1970, Douglas Pike Collection: Audio / Moving Images, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University. Accessed 20 May. 2013. <http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/virtualarchive/items.php?item=992AU0763>.