- Vietnam's Battles
- Full Title:
- Vietnam's Battles
- Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection
- Other Creator(s):
- Cartography Publishing Co., publisher; Xinhua Bookstore, distributor
- Date posted:
- ID Number:
- Other War & Peace
Communism & Cold War
- (cm, H x W) 46 x 23 on sheet 53 x 26
- Collector's Notes:
- This remarkable broadside celebrates the "success" of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese in the Tet (Vietnamese New Year) Offensive of 1968, a turning point in the War in Vietnam. The attacks began on January 30, 1968, and stunned the South Vietnamese and U.S. forces with their unprecedented size, scope and intensity. The attack was directed at a wide range of targets, including Saigon, most of the provincial capitals, scores of smaller cities, military facilities throughout the country, and every major airfield. The communist forces seized control of several cities, including Hue, a city of significant strategic and cultural importance. There were substantial casualties on both sides.
In the end, the U.S. and South Vietnamese forces achieved a military victory but suffered a public relations loss that hastened the end of the war. The events of the Tet Offensive were widely reported in the U.S. press and vividly covered on U.S. television. President Johnson and others in his Administration could no longer effectively defend their repeated previous optimistic statements about the course of the war and the eventual victory of the U.S. CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite, "the most trusted man in the U.S.," told his audience on February 27 that, "we have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds" and concluded that, "we are mired in a stalemate" that could only be ended by negotiation, not victory. The following day, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara resigned. On March 31, President Johnson unilaterally ended most of the bombing in Vietnam and announced that he would not seek reelection; three days later, the North Vietnamese announced that they would negotiate in Paris for an end to the war. At the lower right of the verso is an unmistakable caricature of President Johnson labeled simply "US," wearing cowboy boots and with a handgun strapped to his waist. He is on his knees, with both arms raised in surrender.
This broadside is dated February 1, 1968, but in details refers to the period January 29 - February 4. The map on this side shows the various attacks across the country and details the casualties claimed by the Communist forces. Most significant is a statement by Chairman Mao: "You have fought well! Under difficult circumstances, and relying on your own strength, you have routed the world’s most horrible American imperialists, and driven them from pillar to post; this is a great victory. The Chinese people have only the greatest respect for you. Once again, your triumph proves the fact that no matter how big or small a country is, as long as the people are sufficiently mobilized, you can depend entirely on the people to carry out a people’s war, and any enemy, no matter how big, can be defeated." Mao Zedong. In fact, Mao had strongly opposed the plan for the Tet Offensive as premature. Mao's view of revolutionary strategy called for a much longer and more intense period of guerrilla war in the countryside and small towns before the "third stage" use of massed forces to attack major cities and bases. Garver 2016, 250-51, 289. While he correctly foresaw the severe military defeat of his allies, it seems unlikely that at the time this poster was published, immediately after the initial attacks, he anticipated the public relations triumph ahead.
The verso contains another map, this one entitled "The people’s war has unmatched power; the New Year [Tet] victory was absolutely sublime and majestic. The South Vietnamese [sic] soldiers and people’s great victory; A map of the enemy airfields attacked during the Tet Offensive." The large box at the left of the map says "During the Tet Offensive, the South Vietnamese [sic] attacked 30 enemy airfields, including 11 of the 14 large airfields managed by the fake American organizations, i.e. Da Nang, Chu Lai, Nha Trang, Tuy Hoa, Bien Hoa, Tan Son Nhat, Quy Nhon, Play Ku, Can Tho, . . . and 19 other airfields . . . . Over 1500 enemy aircraft were destroyed." In the box below the map are "The South Vietnamese soldiers and people’s glorious combat performance (battle results) in destroying the enemy in the course of six days, 29 January—4 February 1968: Enemy soldiers killed: over 50,000. Among the above, the number of American invaders killed: over 10,000. Number of fake troops who fled or surrendered: over 200,000. Enemy aircraft destroyed: over 1,500. Enemy military vehicles destroyed: over 4,000. Sunk or destroyed enemy ships and [barges?]: over 50." While casualties were certainly high these numbers are substantially overstated.
The foregoing translations are courtesy Don J. Cohn.
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- Private Collection of PJ Mode
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About the collection
This is a collection of “persuasive” cartography: maps intended primarily to influence the opinion of the viewer -- to send a message -- rather than to communicate geographic information. The collection reflects a variety of persuasive tools: allegorical, satirical and pictorial mapping; selective inclusion or exclusion; unusual projections, graphics and text; and intentional deception. Maps in the collection address a wide range of messages: religious, political, military, commercial, moral and social.