Vladimir Putin’s Threat to Europe and the Battle of Khe Sanh of 1968

What is the relationship between the current threat to Europe posed by Vladimir Putin and the Battle of Khe Sanh of 1968? As I see it, there is much that we can learn from the US victory in the battle of Khe Sanh in 1968. The lessons gleaned from 1968 in Vietnam can help us plot a successful course in dealing with Mr. Putin in 2014.

The Battle of Khe Sanh: the End of Communism

In the perspective of world Communism, the Battle of Khe Sanh of 1968 was supposed to have unleashed the end of the world as we knew it. The attack on Khe Sanh in January 1968 was the beginning of the so-called Ted Offensive. It was followed ten days later by a massive attack by North Vietnamese forces and South Vietnamese Communist Forces on one hundred cities of South Vietnam.

Faced with an avalanche of Communist soldiers descending from North Vietnam and an avalanche of anti-war criticism coming from back home in the United States, US forces fought a treacherous attack on the Holy Day of Tet. In spite of horrible odds, US forces were able to regain every inch of territory conquered by the Communist attackers, dealing a definitive defeat.

The famed General Vo Nguyen Giap, the so-called Red Napoleon, saw his hopes dashed of inflicting on the US forces the same kind defeat he had dealt French forces years earlier. The defeat of Gen. Giap, seen from the benefit of hindsight, dealt a lethal blow to Communist aspirations all over the world. It was just a matter of time before the whole Communist bloc would come tumbling down.

Lessons from the  US Victory over Communism

Two lessons come out of the US victory at the Tet Offensive, which can be useful in dealing with the current crisis with Russia:

1. Nothing shows resolve more clearly than the willingness to fight at the cost of one’s life. For many years Communist leaders had been saying that the US was a paper tiger. When the US showed the willingness to commit its own precious young people to the battlefield to fight Communism, the rhetoric of paper tiger stopped. Thus, the willingness to fight for a cause at the cost of one’s own life makes a huge difference.

2. The second lesson is that nothing shows resolve more clearly than boots on the ground. Mighty ships can surround; fast airplanes can fly above; and missiles can go by–but it is only boots on the ground that show real resolve. In the case of Vietnam, the US was willing to place boots on the ground. Seen from the benefit of half a century of hindsight, it was th US resolve in the battles of the Tet Offensive of 1968 that dealt the deathly blow to Communism.

How does all this relate to Mr. Putin’s problem with the Ukraine? In order to stop Mr. Putin’s grab at power in the Ukraine and other countries, the United States of America needs to show real resolve to standby its allies. Only this clear resolve will stop Mr. Putin’s effort to grab power in the world.

Thank you.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, United States of America
April 28, 2014


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