The Myths Of Tet Sample Paper

Introduction

The Tet Offensive is the first large-scale offensive by communist forces during the Vietnam War in 1968. It was the war’s turning point, after which public opinion in the United States lost faith in the possibility of victory in Vietnam. In the country, Tet is the main holiday of the year; it has a long history and is associated with deceased ancestors’ worship, whose memory is especially revered by the Vietnamese.

Tet is celebrated with the new year’s onset according to the lunar calendar, so every year, its date is different and falls at the end of January or February. In 1968, the Tet holiday began on January 31. By this time, a fierce civil war had been going on in South Vietnam for almost a decade. The United States directly intervened in 1965, sending a large military contingent to the country, reaching 500 thousand people by the end of 1967 (Định, 2018).

During the Vietnam War, The Viet Cong, also known as the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, annually declared a unilateral truce on the Tet holiday; the South Vietnamese government and the American command did the same (Định, 2018). Numerous armed incidents accompanied the ceasefire, but neither side conducted primary operations at this time.

Composition

In early 1968, the American and the South Vietnamese armed forces outnumbered The North Vietnamese People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) by a significant margin. PAVN consisted of 58,000 fighters, 10% of whom were instructors from the ranks of the Viet Cong (VC) (Moïse, 2017). VC troops are difficult to estimate; according to the US, it consisted of 300,000 people (Moïse, 2017). In 1962, President John F. Kennedy decided to send troops to South Vietnam in more than 16 thousand (Moïse, 2017).

Kennedy’s successor – President Lyndon B. Johnson – was steadily increasing the contingent to continue the mission called Search and Destroy, an operation conducted by the US Army in rural Vietnam that killed thousands and destroyed hundreds of villages. The United States, by 1968, brought the number of its forces in Vietnam to 480 thousand fighters (Moïse, 2017).

Besides, small contingents of Australian and South Korean troops participated in the war and the army of South Vietnam itself. However, the Americans themselves recognized half of the divisions as unreliable and poorly trained. The total number of defenders of the Saigon regime exceeded one million people. The military commanders and the US public expected the imminent end of the war.

Leadership

General William Westmoreland commanded the American forces. From mid-1952 to mid-1953, Westmoreland fought in the Korean War as a commander. After the Korean War had ended, he spent the next five years as a staff member at the Pentagon. Westmoreland’s offensive strategy to wage war in South Vietnam was a war of attrition (Rabel, 2018).

It was supposed to inflict losses on the enemy that he would not have time to replenish with reinforcements from North Vietnam or recruiting the local population. The tactic for achieving this result was named “search and destroy” (Định, 2018). South Vietnamese’ leaders were Nguyễn Văn Thiệu and Cao Văn Viên.

Hồ Chí Minh was the chairman of the Communist Party of North Vietnam. General Võ Nguyên Giáp – Minister of Defense of North Vietnam – led the offensive in January 1968. He took part in the first Indochina and Vietnam wars. Võ Nguyên Giáp was directly involved in South Vietnam’s military operations, where regiments and divisions of the North Vietnamese army were covertly sent along the Ho Chi Minh trail (Định, 2018). During the Vietnam war, Võ Nguyên Giáp defended the need for a protracted guerrilla war to exhaust the enemy.

Mission

The Tet offensive pursued several goals; from a military point of view, it was supposed to inflict as crushing blows on the Americans as possible and lead to the defeat of their South Vietnamese enemies. Politically, Hanoi and the Viet Cong admitted and counted on the possibility of a general uprising. On January 31, Radio Hanoi announced a call on Saigon’s entire population and revolutionary forces to resist decisively and attack the enemy relentlessly to ensure complete victory (Moïse, 2017).

The rebel committee called on compatriots from the regions temporarily controlled by Nguyễn Văn Thiệu to fight terrorism firmly and vigorously, to help the revolutionary forces form patriotic and neutral forces to help liberate the city.

As in previous years, both sides announced a truce in advance at Tet 1968. According to Moïse (2017), however, since mid-1967, the leadership of North Vietnam was developing a plan for a large-scale offensive in the South, which, as expected, would lead to a popular uprising against the unpopular regime of Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. The overthrow of the Thiệu regime would practically be a victory in the war, followed by the unification of the two parts of Vietnam into a single country under the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Vietnam, a communist platform.

The offensive consisted of a series of strikes against densely populated areas to establish control over major cities, including Saigon and Hue’s strategically important town. To divert the American command’s attention from these areas, in the fall of 1967, North Vietnamese troops initiated the so-called border battles (Moïse, 2017). Many American units were deployed to border areas far from the country’s main cities to stop the enemy operating there. US intelligence warned of an impending major offensive but did not have information about the possible start time and scale.

Area

The battles were carried out simultaneously in several cities, which produced a surprise effect. According to Rabel (2018), the partisans lined up in a chain, and each held a mortar mine in the hands. Then the partisan ran up to the mortar, lowered his mine into the barrel, and rushed to the attack – the advancing infantrymen appeared at the enemy’s positions almost simultaneously with the mines’ explosions. Mortar and rocket fire struck targets, after which assault groups, with the support of sappers, broke through the defensive barriers.

On the attacked bases, the aluminum armor of burning light armored vehicles melted and leaked. Through the streets of the city Hue, about 10 thousand fighters were moving; the US Marine Corps initially went to fight. Nevertheless, advancing with a battle through the old city’s narrow streets was unsuccessful (Rabel, 2018). Actions for each house brought heavy losses and ended for parts of the United States only on February 23.

Major Phases

The main strikes during the Tet offensive were delivered by the National Liberation Front units of South Vietnam. The North Vietnamese army received a combat mission only near Hue. The offensive in the northern part of South Vietnam began a day earlier than the planned time – on the night of January 30, 1968, due to which the factor of surprise was partially lost (Định, 2018). After the first attacks, the American command announced the ceasefire’s cancellation, and increased combat readiness was reported in all US units in South Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the South Vietnamese army was not ready for battle, since many soldiers were on holiday leave and did not manage to return to their units before starting the offensive’s main phase. The most famous action of the NLF in Saigon was the attack on the US embassy. It failed since, in the very first minutes, the embassy guards managed to kill both commanders of the attacking group (Định, 2018). After the surviving partisans, who were not previously familiar with the plan of action, took up defensive positions in the courtyard and fired back before American reinforcements arrived.

The first attacks stunned the Americans and the South Vietnamese. The attackers achieved the only major success in Hue. Large forces of the North Vietnamese army held the city for about three weeks until they were driven out of there by the joint efforts of the US Marine Corps and the South Vietnamese army. During its northerners’ occupation, approximately three thousand people were killed, called the Massacre at Huế (Rabel, 2018).

However, there were no other towns that were captured, although, in some places, the clashes took on a fierce character. Damage from shelling and ground attacks on American bases was significant, especially in fighting around the US military base in Khe Sanh, but no base was captured. Street clashes continued in Saigon for about a month. Elsewhere in South Vietnam, all attacks were repelled in the first few days. On February 17-18, a second, smaller series of attacks were carried out.

Outcomes

The losses of the sides during the Tet offensive are challenging to assess. Only in the zone III corps for the period from January 29 to February, about 20 thousand soldiers of South Vietnam, its allies, and 15 thousand soldiers of the PAVN were killed (Hanson, 2017). By the beginning of March, the Tet offensive was over.

There was no popular uprising in South Vietnam; the Thieu regime was not overthrown. Moreover, it became more consolidated in power, taking advantage of the nation’s rallying in the face of the enemy attack, breaking the truce during the holy holiday for the Vietnamese (Hanson, 2017). Faced with American troops’ superiority in firepower, the PAVN suffered significant losses that, according to American experts, did not play a vital role until the end of the war, having ceded it to the North Vietnamese army.

Militarily, the Tet Offensive was a significant defeat for the communist forces, but politically the propaganda effect they achieved was enormous. By the end of 1967, anti-war sentiments began to predominate in American society as there was no apparent progress (Hanson, 2017). President Johnson and the commander of the troops in Vietnam, General Westmoreland, were forced to make statements that the enemy was exhausted.

According to Hanson (2017), against such information’s backdrop, the unexpected offensive of partisans and soldiers of the North Vietnamese army throughout South Vietnam came as a shock to the American public. Live TV coverage from the battlefields in the early days of the offensive showed that the government and US forces had no control over the situation. The middle class of American society has concluded that the war cannot be won, and therefore, it is necessary to end US participation in it.

References

Định, T. T. (2018). The impact of Tet 1968 Offensive on reshaping US war strategy: A view from the other side’s generals and researchers. Hue University Journal of Science: Social Sciences and Humanities, 127(6B), 29-37. 

Hanson, V. D. (2017). The meaning of Tet. In J. H. Willbanks (Ed.), The Vietnam War (pp. 257-268). Routledge.

Moïse, E. E. (2017). The myths of Tet: The most misunderstood event of the Vietnam War. University Press of Kansas.

Rabel, R. (2018). Tet, 1968: Roberto Rabel looks back at the critical turning point in the Vietnam War. New Zealand International Review, 43(3), 24.

The Morality Of Freedom In Novel “Sula”

Introduction

Sula is a difficult and morally challenging novel focusing on the story of two girls Sula and Nel who grow up in vastly different upbrings within matriarchal households in a struggling African American community, ‘the Bottom.’ One of the major themes identified in the scholarly examination of this text is the juxtaposition between individual freedom and moral codes established by society. Sula lives her life to the full extent, largely ignoring rules and acting as she sees fit, pushing the limits of personal freedom that are viewed as immoral. Meanwhile, Nel follows social conventions and lives a mundane, locked-in life of broken dreams but is viewed by society as an exemplary, moral woman. This paper will seek to explore the concept of freedom exemplified by Sula and whether the actions reflect amorality. Freedom portrayed in Sula is the attempt of the protagonist to find self-awareness and identity in the midst of a chaotic upbringing but is also used as a symbol of breaking convention and rebellion which pushes boundaries of morality.

Problem of Freedom

Stein explains freedom as a concept that Sula adopts to defy social conventions and break free from any potential bonds such as family, relationships, and otherwise. She views herself as free from these societal expectations and defined constraints that African American women may face, instead, she can experience life to the fullest and be honest with herself and others, even if it means she will be hated for it (Stein 148). Stein’s article focuses on examining the story in the context of a traditional hero’s epic. It is common for heroes to defy norms and expectations as they seek the freedom to find themselves, and that freedom becomes a source of power. However, Sula takes on a different perspective of freedom. In a way she abuses it, as it ends up not serving much benefit to her. Her use of freedom to obtain knowledge, push her sexual boundaries, and experiencing life are either seen as mundane or even detrimental, leading to more loneliness and isolation. As Stein describes, Sula is “free but empty” (Stein 148). That is because she never ended up committing to a principle, her freedom ends up being an undisciplined and chaotic existence which bears little impact on herself, her few close relationships, or her community.

In many ways, Stein’s argument agrees with the author of this paper. The main problem is not that Sula defied social conventions and violated norms that led to such universal hate and distrust of her in the community, labeling her as an outcast and immoral. The issue is that Sula did not use that freedom to find a purpose. Even though she went and experienced life, the freedom that is emphasized that few in her community have or choose (including Nel, that always envied Sula for her bravery to venture out and experience the world that she always wanted to see), is not capitalized upon. Sula does not find the answers to her internal problems, she does not find peace, and she does not find self-development. To an extent, she has self-awareness, but when that awareness is not used for anything positive, it becomes redundant. The freedom which characterizes Sula is potentially liberating but it is in many ways self-destructive, regardless of the morality aspect, in her life it becomes a waste rather a true liberation from conventions.

Morality

Sula lives in a community that is devoid of means and outlets which Sula could use in her attempts to find herself, be curious, and being creative. She has no way of creating herself or finding understanding of the void and tragedy that has touched her early years. Therefore, she adopts a formula of survival that mimics one of her grandmother Eva, a self-destructive force, that also leads to her rebellion against the community and its values, which ironically produced the suffering that had affected her so much (NcNeer 23).

Morrison takes the approach of breaking the traditional primordial dualism of good and evil and juxtaposing them in a manner where it is ambiguous. The character of Sula represents the evolution of this idea. On one hand she is both egoless and egoistic, she has no knowledge of self and refuses to recognize much herself. However, she has a doubting and questioning nature. Sula demonstrates certain antagonism towards Manichean ethics, which is seen in her dialogue with Eva when she challenges the perspectives of good and evil in Christianity, “Which God? The one watched you burn Plum?… Whatever’s burning in me is mine!” (Morrison 89). Much of Bottom’s community was built on these ancient Christian morals and African-American culture that valued concepts of Christianity, family, community, and others. Sula challenges this notion, undermining not only the juxtaposition of good or evil, but the substantiality of evil itself (Nedaee and Salami 120).

It can be said, “sometimes good looks like evill sometimes evil looks like good – you never really know what it is” (Middleton 369). Sula chose to live her life exploring her own thoughts and emotions, giving in to them and feeling no obligations or the need to please anyone unless it directly affected her pleasure. She was willing to feel pain and pleasure, as well as to give it, it was an experimental life. From a philosophical standpoint, it was an approach that almost reflect solipsism, to the extent that she violated social conventions (Middleton 376). However, was this free and careless approach amoral? In many ways, yes as she seems to have an absence of moral reference and rejection of absolutes. She opposes the brand of morality established by the community, due to her personal experiences. Furthermore, her individualism is driven by the introspective contemplation of emotions which reject exterior ethical principles (Nedaee and Salami 121). At the same time, the Boom community is the only place where Sula can exist. Both Nel and Sula end up in Bottom because one never leaves while the other comes back because she does not fit in anywhere else. Due to Sula’s unorthodox beliefs and amorality, she is not welcome anywhere else at this time in the mid-20th century when conservative values were highly prevalent. However, her hometown allows her to exist, not only because of familial ties but also of her role as giving the community an opportunity to unite against her (McNeer 26).

The very alienation that Sula is provided in the story makes her an appealing character. She is independent and fierce, leading away from traditional themes of powerless virtue or sentimental pathos, she is not tragic or pathetic. Furthermore, from both white and black perspectives, she does not represent the established literary stereotypes. This is the complexity which makes the morally ambiguous and eccentric character that is seen in Sula (Nedaee and Salami 120).

Connection to Girlhood

Sula was an outcome of her upbringing in many ways. She was a combination of Eva’s arrogance and her mother Hannah’s self-indulgence. The trauma that she experienced such as bearing the guilt of Chicken Little’s death, watching her mother burn to death, and witnessing many other instances of that very amorality or immorality from her family and community when it benefited them led to certain psychological issues in Sula. The idea of freedom that Sula pursues is actually part of her strive to fill a void inside her, created by her growing up. She was missing the comfort, love, and care that a child needs, and grew up to be a spirit of self-reliance, something she carried to her death. This includes having her own moral codes and disregarding conventions (Nedaee and Salami 121). She travels where she wants, sleeps with whom she chooses, and virtually does everything to define the values in which she grew up. However, this is also done as a matter of desperation to find meaning to her life. Just like when Sula seduces Nel’s husband Jude, she does so not to spite her friend, but because for a moment Jude filled some part of her void and lonely existence. It may have been an immoral act, but because in her freedom Sula has become amoral, it makes no difference as her existence is so self-oriented because of the experiences of her childhood.

Making the Right Choice

In its larger concept, Sula is a novel of ambiguity as it contrasts the concepts of good and evil, morality and amorality, social conventions and breaking them. Neither does it ever provide a solid answer or conclusion. Towards the end when Nel visits Eva, the grandmother reflects on Chicken Little’s death, “You. Sula. What’s the difference? You was there. You watched, didn’t you?” (Morrison 157). Nel realizes gradually that she is just as much guilty and ‘evil’ as Sula was. The problem is that Sula had the capacity to realize and admit it, she was self-aware, and lived her life to the very end with this passionate freedom. Sula cared little for social convention as her freedom meant so much to her, but it also allowed her to face life and her inner demons. In a manner of speaking, she atoned for her evil by facing it.

Meanwhile, Nel put on a mask her entire life, living in deception both to others and most importantly herself. She lacks the freedom that drove Sula, and towards the end realizes the contempt she may have experienced of watching Sula be the cause of the drowning accident. Freedom that pushed Sula towards ‘immoral’ social conventions was also her element of accepting responsibility for her actions and life. She may not have shown public remorse over the tragedies such as the boy’s death, the burning of her mother, or even seducing Jude, but in many ways suggests she has a subconscious awareness of her wrongs. In the end, Sula believes that she had made the right choices and accepting the full consequence of their outcomes, which by all consideration, is a strong indication of a strong moral compass.

Conclusion

One of the main themes presented in Sula is the conflict between individual freedom and group moral codes. Sula who is highly independent and self-reliant is viewed by society as highly amoral. An examination of the personal freedom that the character exemplifies shows that she does push boundaries of what is acceptable and potentially moral in society. However, there is a certain ambiguity to morality in the context of this freedom, and as Sula defies the shallow moral codes, she no longer fits into that definition of the ‘evil.’ By all accounts, Sula has no moral reference, but that does not make her immoral, but rather a complex and ambiguous character that struggles with internal demons of her past while acting in amoral ways by ignoring convention. Morrison intentionally never defines the moral of the plot nor the specific morality of each character, emphasizing the inherent ambiguity of the concept and the need for each individual to decide for themselves to what extent they are willing to balance social moral conventions and personal freedom.

Works Cited

Middleton, Victoria. Sula: An Experimental Life. CLA Journal, vol. 28, no. 4, 1985, pp. 367-381.

Morrison, Toni. Sula. Vintage, 1973.

NcNeer, Elizabeth B. The Search for Completion in Toni Morrison’s “Sula.” 1996. William & Mary. Master of the Arts Thesis. W&M Scholar Works.

Nedaee, Naeem, and Ali Salami. Toward an Affective Problematics: A Deleuze-Guattarian Reading of Morality and Friendship in Toni Morrison’s Sula. Atlantis – Journal of the Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies, vol. 39, no. 1, 2017, pp. 113-131.

Stein, Karen F. Toni Morrison’s Sula: A Black Woman’s Epic. Black American Literature Forum, vol. 18, no. 4, 1984, pp. 146-150.

Cultural Diversity In The Workplace

The critical idea of promoting cultural diversity in the workplace is to employ people of different religions, races, nationalities, native languages, genders, and ages. The most apparent benefit of cultural diversity is that colleagues with different worldviews propose different solutions to the same problem. This, in turn, could lead to the maximization of a companys performance. Nonetheless, it is rather challenging to unite people of different cultures because prejudices based on gender, race, or age are still flourishing in modern society.

Indeed, the study conducted by Patrick and Kumar (2012) reveals that the most widespread barrier to establishing cultural diversity in the workplace is discrimination followed by prejudice and ethnocentrism. The possible reason for this is that people of different gender and age have different attitudes toward inclusiveness per se. For example, Patrick and Kumar (2012) argue that women are more willing to accept new customs, and traditions and learn foreign languages in contrast to men. It is also easier for the employees 21 – 25 years old to work in a culturally diverse team than for the older ones (Patrick and Kumar, 2012). Nonetheless, there is a way to develop cultural competencies among the employees.

According to Arthur (2000), it is crucial to teach team members of stress management skills and decision-making strategies. Other effective strategies that allow solving troubles at the workplace are raising “personal awareness about views of conflict, moving beyond blame and viewing cultural norms as the source of conflict” (Arthur, 2000, p. 211). From this, it could be inferred that a critical component of establishing a productive atmosphere in the workplace with diverse employees, it is necessary to explain to them that their diversity is not a challenge but a great opportunity. Respect and freedom from prejudices are an inalienable part of the successful operation of a culturally diverse team.

References

Arthur, N. (2000). Career competencies for managing cross-cultural transitions. Canadian Journal of Counselling, 34(3), 204-17.

Patrick, H. A., & Kumar, V. R. (2012). Managing workplace diversity: Issues and challenges. Sage Open, 2(2), 1-5.

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