Tet: Victory at Last

(Guest blogger: Joan of Arggh! from Primordial Slack)

It didn’t happen in a day, actually, but it started in earnest on January 31, 1968.

I was just a wee Miss Argghh! back then, but I remember my parents watching Uncle Walter Cronkite every evening. I remember not quite understanding what my brother was doing on the Newport News. I vaguely remember the outrage people felt during that time and the grim and long faces on the evening news.

Little did I know how it would take 40 years for the truth to out. The MSM has been better at obfuscating and hiding the truth than any Congressional committee could ever dream of being.

Arthur Herman had a great essay recently in Commentary Magazine entitled, “Who Owns the Vietnam War?” I present the salient points therein regarding the Tet Offensive and the media manipulation of it:

Today even the New York Times has had to concede that Tet was an overwhelming American victory. But, like many others, it still refuses to acknowledge the implications. Tet not only destroyed the Vietcong as an effective political and military force; together with the siege of Khe Sanh, it also crippled the NVA. Like the Somme or Verdun in World War I, these big battles exacted a price in “a lost generation” of North Vietnamese youth. Small wonder that in mid-1968 General Giap made the fateful decision to scale back NVA operations to hit-and-run raids while relying more heavily than ever on the sanctuaries in Laos and Cambodia.

In the meantime, in the South, as Lewis Sorley notes in A Better War (1999), the Tet offensive “radically changed the outlook of South Vietnam’s populace.” Instead of provoking an uprising in favor of the Communists, its effect was “just the opposite—general mobilization in support of the government.” By the end of 1969, over 70 percent of South Vietnam’s population was rated as under government control, compared to 42 percent at the beginning of 1968. The new government of President Nguyen Van Thieu followed with a sweeping land-reform law that cut Vietnam’s tenant-farmer population from 60 percent to 7 percent by 1973.

To be sure, all this made no impression on the American public. That was because the press had presented the Tet offensive as a stunning Communist success and a signal that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. The suddenness of the attack had caught not only the American military by surprise, but also the American media. After the war, one of their own, the Washington Post’s Saigon bureau chief Peter Braestrup, documented exactly how the major media proceeded to turn the reality of American victory into an image of American and South Vietnamese defeat.1 Basing themselves on that image, Walter Cronkite and others clearly felt they now had definitive grounds for mistrusting their government’s word and for concluding that, just as the antiwar movement had declared, victory in Vietnam was not and never had been a possibility.

Others went beyond this conclusion. In March 1969, the executive producer of ABC News told his Saigon bureau: “I think the time has come to shift our focus from the battlefield . . . to themes and stories under the general heading, ‘We are on our way out of Vietnam.’”

[emphases mine]

Go read the whole thing and let your lingering guilt and doubt about your government’s motives be balanced with a new reason to feel guilty about our collective willingness to trust our media operatives and their motives above those of our government and military leaders.

Dear folks, I have just about the same amount of ego as Uncle Walter. I’m pretty sure I know better than the amassed mental forces of our military and government. But only in my mind. Only on my stupid blog. Here at home, in front of my computer screen, I am a goddess, wise and wonderful. And then I turn the comments on and find out I’m not all that. And I laugh and laugh and get busy doing more research before the next time I smack the keyboard keys with any sort of confidence.

I suspect that’s what’s been missing from the MSM, and why they hate blogging and bloggers, and are reticent to jump in and let other thinking people challenge them. The echo chambers in big editorial offices may be comfy, but instant feedback and challenges keep the discussion robust, the intelligence progressive, and the possibility of horrible consequences to a minimum. Instead, so many innocents died after we left Vietnam prematurely, pressured by Uncle Walter and the rest.

You simply must ask why?

Who died and left the MSM in charge?


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3 Responses to “Tet: Victory at Last”

  1. Bob Agard Says:
    January 31st, 2008

    Wonderful post, from beginning to end. We live in better times, for sure.

  2. joated Says:
    February 1st, 2008

    Great post.

    Yeah, Dear Old Walter and Dan and now Katie have done a remarkable job in shredding any confidence we as consumers have in their reporting. They, of course, are not alone. 60 Minutes, The New York TImes, Newsweek, Time…. They are all complicit in the demise of the MSM.

    Once upon a time I was a glutton for news. I would watch local and national news for 2 hours each night. I would read three newspapers each morning. I would sit spellbound by 60 Minutes every Sunday night. No more.

    I peeked behind the curtain and saw the wizard for what he/it was. False reports on exploding cars, evil guns, Viet Nam, and so much more. Outright partisanship in “news” stories and off the Op-Ed pages.

    Now I’ve plenty of time to get my news from the internet. No more subscription to Newsweek. (The money there went to an NRA membership.) And, since I have no need to by any newspapers–no bird, you see–a couple more dollars in my pocket each day.

  3. Joan of Argghh! Says:
    February 1st, 2008

    Why thanks, gentlemen!


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