While researching on the news articles prior to the Tet Offensive I came across two articles that were very interesting. The first comes on November 14, 1967, just two and a half months before the Tet launched. Ellsworth Bunker is the U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam at the time. Bunker met with President Johnson and gave him a “cautiously optimistic report on American progress in Vietnam.” General Westmoreland also comes up in this article. He quotes that, “It is very, very encouraging. I have never been more encouraged in my four years in Vietnam.”
The second article I looked at was published on December 22, 1967. This article starts of by saying “Allies in Vietnam have made progress in the last eight months,” quoted from Bunker. It also quotes Bunker that “we can reasonably expect progress to accelerate.” By immediately starting the article off with such an optimistic outlook on the progress in Vietnam it puts a message in the mind of its readers that America is about to end this war. If I were reading this I would think we are about to make a huge move like invading the North or make an offer to end the war. In my notes I bolded a quote that Bunker says saying, “But I think it’s also a possibility that the North Vietnamese may come to a point where they are aware of the fact that they can’t win the war and therefore may want to negotiate the best kind of settlement they can.” This has to be one of the most confident stabs at the North Vietnam I’ve heard so far. He is basically questioning when they are going to give up. America is way to overpowering for you to keep up with your peasant army. He truly believes it is a matter of time before the allies come out with a victory in this war.
It goes onto say that Bunker reports the South Vietnam President Nguyen Van Thieu “Has the feelings they will try to hang on at least through the U.S. presidential elections, so that the chances for negotiations until then are not particularly good” Everybody believe the South is about to win this war. The reality is far from this. The North is planning something big and carries out these plans attacking several of the major cities in the South. The Tet Offensive definitely changed the war greatly.
This all ties to the background of the photograph of “Prisoner execution,” which was taken during the Tet Offensive. It is important to know how Americans felt about the war before Tet.