Following Ho Chi Minh: Bui Tin
Bui Tin who served on the general staff of North Vietnam’s army received the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam. Tin later became the editor of Vietnam’s official newspaper, the “Peoples Daily”. Tin then immigrated to Paris after becoming disillusioned with the fruits of Vietnamese Communism. Following Ho Chi Minh allows the reader to gain valuable insight into how the North Vietnamese forces planned and executed the war, through military and psychological strategies. Bui Tin effectively explains the decisions the United States made during the Vietnam conflict, their mistakes, and missed opportunities. Bui Tin accurately describes the emotion of the people in the Vietnam conflict, especially those in the south. Through Bui Tin the reader is able to gain an inside view of the Vietnamese people, learning more inside information than any western book could ever reveal.
The initial strategy with the Americans had been the same in dealing with the French previously. By fighting a long war which would break the Americans will, to help South Vietnam (Pg.57). Ho Chi Minh said, “We don’t need to win military victories, we only need to hit them until they give up and get out”. Bui Tin explains the initial mistakes on how the Americans planned to win the war. On the event of full out war, the U.S. planned to win as quickly as possible, using the least amount of troops as possible (Pg.57). The U.S. Believed such a small primitive enemy could not last long against one of the world’s superpowers.
Throughout the book Bui Tin explains how important the Ho Chi Minh trail was for the North in their efforts in the war. It was the only way to bring sufficient military supplies into the south. Building and maintaining the trail was a huge effort, involving soldiers, truck drivers, repair teams, medical stations, and communication units. Bui Tin explains due to the trails importance if the U.S. could have effectively cut the Ho Chi Minh trail off leading inside of Laos and effectively blocked it, the NVA could not have won the war.
Vietnam was known as the first televised war. With media coverage brought with it a damaging effect on the United States long standing values, justice and public support. The media showed the American public for the first time the horrors of war (ex: SV chief of police shooting a NV patriot in cold blood during the Tet Offensive). For the first time the American public could see American soldiers in the field. The media proved to create negative feelings and thoughts against the war within the American public. This would prove to work against the American Government in their efforts in Vietnam. Bui Tin explains the anti-war movement as essential in the NVA strategy. Support of the war was completely supported by the North Vietnamese public while the American public was uncertain and therefore vulnerable. Everyday top NVA leaders would gather information on the growth of the anti-war movement. The more U.S. citizens who rallied behind the movement only intensified the resentment of the war in Vietnam, giving the NVA the confidence to hold position on the battlefield. Tin explains their goal through the media was to affect the sense of right and wrong in America. Believed it to be part of America’s war making capability, Bui Tin along with the NVA, was turning the power into their favor. America lost the war because of its democracy; through dissent and public protest, America lost its ability to unite together and win.
Initially the Tet Offensive was to relieve pressure American forces were placing on the NVA, and to weaken American resolve during a presidential election year. The offensive was a great victory, psychologically. The NVA took advantage of the over confident Americans. Bui Tin explains the media played an integral role, exaggerating the damage caused by the offensive, which left negative feelings within the U.S. public, placing added pressure on the U.S....
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