General William Westmoreland, U.S. Commander in Vietnam, sounded a note of optimism on November 231, 1967. “A new phase is now starting. We have reached an important point when the end begins to come into view.” North Vietnam was also thinking about new beginnings. In late January, 1968-on the eve of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year-a coordinated, nationwide offensive of Viet Cong and Northern troops struck the major cities of South Vietnam, shocking the American public. The U.S. Embassy in Saigon was also a target of attack. Hue, the former capital city of South Vietnam was held for 25 days, and became the location of a counter-assault, leading to the heaviest fighting of the entire offensive. “Tet, 1968” examines the offensive and its political consequences for President Lyndon Johnson. HarryMcPherson, then counsel to the President, recalls cable traffic from Saigon reporting a decisive Viet Cong defeat, yet domestic television reports showed desperate battles in the streets of Saigon and other cities. “There were awful contradictions…It was very disturbing.” Former Secretary of State Dean Rusk elaborates upon how a military defeat became “a brilliant political victory for them [the communists] here in the U.S… “ Clark Clifford, a staunch Johnson supporter and former Secretary of Defense, tells how he and other “secret doves” collaborated, persuading the President to disengage U.S. forces from Southeast Asia. On March 31, 1698, Johnson delivered a conciliatory speech. He also announced he would not see re-election that year. Although Americans fought in Vietnam for five more years, Tet marked the end of the U.S. policy of military escalation in Vietnam.
Vietnam: A Television History - Tet, 1968, 1987, R. Mike Womack Collection, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University. Accessed 20 May. 2013. <http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/virtualarchive/items.php?item=1480VI1733>.