True or False: By 1968, many people of the United States believed the war in Vietnam could be won with time.
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Many people, even before the 1968 Tet Offensive, wondered, "what are we fighting this war for?" People grew weary of the powers that be. People wondered when a decisive victory was possible and questioned the information the government gave them.
False. The year 1968 was a turning point in the opposition to the Vietnam War. The Tet offensive, which began in January 1968, convinced many people that the United States should get out of Vietnam. They were asking, " How could the enemy mount such a campaign if the war was being won?" One of the final blows to the Johnson administration came in February when Walter Chronkite the anchor of CBS news, the "most trusted man in America", said in a broadcast: "For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate." After watching Cronkite's broadcast, LBJ was quoted as saying. "That's it. If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America." By the end of March, Johnson announced he would not be running for another term as president.
I would suggest that this is true. The problem is "many." In 1968 (remember, I was there :)), the military might of the United States seemed overwhelming; in fact it probably was. Most of the people that I knew (and I was in college at the time, although it was not a hotbed of liberalism) had doubts about whether we SHOULD be involved in the War, but had little doubt that we could win the war if we would just apply the full military might of the country. When the plans for war shifted from the hands of the military, whose total interest would be in winning, to the hands of the politicans, who have a multitude of motivations one of which is staying in office, things changed. I am not saying that this was a good or a bad thing; history will judge that. What it did for many was to create a sense that a war fought not by generals but by politicans, could not be won. I guess if you look at it this way, it should have been clear that winning the war was not a possibility, but it wasn't all that clear as it was happening ... as most things are not.
In the minds of Americans over the age of 45, I don't think the Vietnam war has ended yet. Every time you hear a politician or a pundit talk about Iraq as a "quagmire," that's code for "remember Vietnam." Even though we didn't have 24-hour news networks back then, that war was so much a part of our lives and left a mark on everything we did.
In a way, yes, but like other conflicts Americans lost faith in in the 20th and 21st centuries, there was no simple way out, and we could not see the conflict as truly over until the last American soldiers had stepped onto the boat home.
What was over was the majority of Americans' support for the war effort, and with Walter Cronkite's saying the war was unwinnable, the mainstream media's as well.
True. And there are people today who still hold on to the idea that we could have won in Vietnam if the politicians had "let" the military win the war. I am not one of those people.
The anti-war feeling was certainly growing in 1968 and the voices of dissent were getting louder, and then screaming, but it was the dissenters who made the news. As I remember those times (and I wouild like to be able to forget them), the "silent majority" went about their lives being confused, frustrated, and pained by the war.
It is only now, in retrospect, that we are beginning to understand the monumental waste, the monumental tragedy, of the war. The facts that continue to emerge about what was really happening during that time serve to make that understanding clearer and clearer.
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