How did the Tet Offensive affect American politics and the course of the war in Vietnam?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Tet Offensive changed American politics and the course of the Vietnam War by making more Americans be unalterably opposed to the war.

In the years leading up to the Tet Offensive, the US government had continually reassured the public that the war was being won.  It had claimed that the enemy was just about to collapse.  The Tet Offensive seemed to show that this was a lie.  It clearly showed that the enemy could launch an offensive that would be both widespread and coordinated.  If the enemy could do this, it seemed, it clearly was not about to fall apart. 

Even though the Tet Offensive ended up being a military loss for the Vietcong and North Vietnamese, it was a strategic win.  It substantially decreased American public support for the war.  Seeing this, President Johnson announced that he would not run for another term in office.  The fallout from this helped ensure that Richard Nixon would be elected as the next president.  In these ways, the Tet Offensive’s impact on American politics also impacted the course of the war.  It ensured that the US would seek an end to the war.

Thus, the Tet Offensive hastened the end of the war by turning American public opinion against it.

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