Synopses & Reviews
Most of what Americans know about the Tet Offensive is wrong. The brief 1968 battle during the Vietnam conflict marked the dividing line between gradual progress towards an ill-defined victory, and slow descent to a humiliating defeat. The fact that the enemy was, in fact, handily defeated on the ground was immaterial; that they could mount an attack at all was deemed a military triumph for the Vietcong. At least this is the received wisdom of Tet.
In This Time We Win, James S. Robbins at last provides an antidote to the flawed Tet mythology that continues to shape the perceptions of American military conflicts against unconventional enemies and haunt our troops in combat. Indeed, Americas enemies recognize and find inspiration in the prevailing Tet narrative.
In his thorough re-examination of the Tet Offensive, Robbins examines the battle in the familiar frameworks of terrorism, war crimes, intelligence failure, troop surges, leadership breakdown, and media bias. The result is an explosion of the conventional wisdom on this infamous battle, one that offers real lessons for todays unconventional wars. Without a clear understanding of these lessons, we will find ourselves reliving the Tet Offensive again and again.
"Robbins, a senior editorial writer for foreign affairs at The Washington Times, invokes Osama bin Ladin to argue that the guerilla warfare tactics of American enemies has historically lead to the U.S. losing fights against inferior troops; Vietnam, Robbins believes, was winnable, and so is Afghanistan. The author argues that America would have seen victory in Vietnam if President Johnson had controlled access to the battlefield the way George W. Bush did in Iraq and had removed naysayers like Robert MacNamara from battle zones. Robbins, executive director of the American Security Council Foundation, blames the usual suspects: the left-wing media (particularly Walter Cronkite and Noam Chomsky), John Kerry, and others. Johnson is criticized for believing in the efficacy of negotiation, and Robbins excuses American excesses by comparing the My Lai Massacre to atrocities committed by the North Vietnamese. The raid on the U.S. embassy in Saigon during the Tet Offensive was not, in his opinion, a clear illustration of the enemy's ability to infiltrate the heart of our positions; like all polemics, Robbins's version of the tale will please some and madden others.
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About the Author
James S. Robbins is senior editorial writer for foreign affairs at the Washington Times and executive director of the American Security Council Foundation. A former special assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Robbins is a frequent commentator on national security issues on national and international television and radio. He holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.