The Truth about Vietnam’s Tet Offensive-and the Myth that Still Inspires Terrorists... and Haunts U.S. Troops
"This book is a wonderfully detailed chronicle of how North Vietnam's crushing military defeat at Tet was converted into a political victory in the US which would sap the American will to win. It is a truly great account of this critical period."
-John O’Neill, Author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Unfit for Command
Washington, DC- The nearly 8.6 million American soldiers who returned from one of the most grueling wars in U.S. history were shocked to discover that their battles were far from over. Their battlefield victories-in particular, the 1968 Tet Offensive-were distorted by politicians and reported by media as crushing defeats. In his groundbreaking new book, This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive, national security expert and Washington Times senior editorial writer James Robbins shatters the myths surrounding Tet and sets the record straight.
Tet is remembered as the turning point in Vietnam War and the battle that crushed public support. Robbins reveals that in fact, the public had become disillusioned with President Johnson's war policies long before Tet. But far from wanting to pull out of Vietnam, the majority of Americans wanted to escalate the effort and finish the job. The Tet Offensive intensified this desire to win, but President Johnson ignored those advocating for a vigorous counter-attack against a weakened enemy. Instead, he hesitated until the opportunity for victory had passed, called for negotiations with the communists, and declined to run for another term of office. Meanwhile, the press had settled on a story line that transformed a battlefield victory into a political defeat.
Robbins explains, "The Tet 'defeat' lies in wait when U.S. forces engage weak, unconventional enemies who lash out under exceptional circumstances and briefly capture media attention. Terrorists such as Osama bin Laden view Vietnam as an example of the victory they are seeking: a vicious attack on the American spirit that will result in demoralization at home and full-scale retreat abroad. This is how, even today, Tet continues to haunt us."
This Time We Win reveals:
- The conventional wisdom that Tet was merely a symbolic attack originated with the CIA; in fact the communists were seeking total victory. By unilaterally redefining enemy intentions, the U.S. handed the North Vietnamese a victory they never sought; it was the worst intelligence failure of the war.
- Three weeks into the Tet Offensive, the percentage of anti-war activists-doves-in the country was less than half the number of pro-war activists-hawks-and was still two points below the 28% of Americans who thought the U.S. should "win a military victory in Vietnam using atom bombs."
- In May 1967, at the onset of the Summer of Love and Flower Power, hawks outnumbered doves on college campuses 49% to 35%, and among draft-age young men the pro-war edge was even greater.
America’s enemies well understand the Tet dynamic. The myth is a standing challenge and a continuing source of inspiration to its foes. They all want another Tet, but only America can give it to them.
James S. Robbins is senior editorial writer for foreign affairs at The Washington Times and executive director of the American Security Council Foundation. He holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
For more information or to schedule an interview with James Robbins, please contact
Jen Allen at Jen@kaspublicity.com or 920.676.7625