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Note before starting: Tet starts on 10 February 2024. Here is a great explanation about its history and importance in Vietnamese society,
Jeff J Brown: Good morning. This is JB West on the D-Day beaches of Normandy. And I’ve got my good friend and partner, JB East James Bradley, on the show today. How are you doing?
James Bradley: Good. I’m in Saigon, Vietnam. The people think it’s Ho Chi Minh City, but it’s like saying Manhattan for New York, you know? No, Saigon is like the downtown center of Ho Chi Minh City, just as Manhattan is the downtown center of New York City. So, it’s JB East in Saigon. Hi, Jeff. How are you?
Jeff: I’m doing great. Hey, listen, many of our fans out there know that James is the author of four best-selling books. What a lot of people don’t consider is that behind all of his great writing are years and years and thousands and thousands of hours of research to connect all the dots between the people, places, and events that made those stories come alive. And James continues to be a master researcher, covering a wide variety of topics. During his ongoing investigations, he recently came across an event that shocked him and will shock you too, because it helped change the course of human events. So, please tell us, James, what you discovered.
James: Well, I’m in Vietnam. By the way, thank you for that great introduction. I would say instead of thousands and thousands of hours thinking it’s been mostly confusion so for the aspiring writer. But I’d like to title today’s episode, why were we surprised by the Tet Offensive? So, Jeff, as a civilian, not in Vietnam, I’d like to ask you a question. For the audience, what is the Tet Offensive? What would you say in a capsule? You live through it. You were 14, 15 years old. If I stopped you on the street and said, what was the Tet Offensive? What would you say?
Jeff: The North Vietnamese launched a surprise attack on South Vietnam.
James: Okay, in early 1968.
James: And then it’s called the Tet Offensive because Tet is their yearly New Year’s celebration. It’s Thanksgiving Christmas all rolled into one. People say, oh, it’s like the Chinese Lunar New Year. You’ll get shot if you say that here. No, it’s not, it’s Tet and it’s a Lunar holiday, but it’s totally unique. So, let me set the stage. First of all, Jeff and I were taught as kids that there was a North Vietnam and a South Vietnam. That’s not how the Vietnamese thought. So, if you live in California right now and let’s say the Spanish took the state over and they made a dividing line and they said, here are two countries.
San Diego is in South California and Bakersfield is in North Cal. That’s just not going to wash. That’s the Spaniards imposing a baloney border. So, the Vietnamese did not think in terms of North and South Vietnam. One guy said to me The New York Times and the United Nations drew a line across our country, and I needed a visa to go see my uncle all of a sudden. He said, no, no, no, no. So, the Vietnamese thought in terms of one Vietnam, number one. Number two, we were winning the war in 1967.
So, Tonkin Gulf happened in 1964. 1965, we started the bombing and committed troops. By 1967, we had half a million Americans in Vietnam. And Lyndon Johnson was facing an election in November of 1968. So just like creepy Joe Biden, he had an unpopular war and Americans were dying. And in 1967, he wanted to convince America that we were winning in Vietnam. So, he brought back General Westmoreland. This was Hollywood’s version of what a general should look like. General William Westmoreland, take a look at him, man.
There is a hunk of a John Wayne leader. And Johnson has him back to address Congress. And he says to Congress, hey, we’re winning. And he goes on Meet the Press. Hey, folks, we’re winning. Well, what were the measurements of winning? The strategy was that we were going to kill enough Attrit. Let me say War Of Attrition. We’re going to kill enough attrit enough that there will come a crossover point. So, this had never been dreamed up in war before. But now America was in the computer age, 1960s, the dawn of the computer age.
And we had this theory of the crossover point, and the crossover point was the line where this dumb guy named Ho Chi Minh would realize they’re killing more of me than I can resupply, and I cannot resupply. They’re killing at a rate higher than I can resupply soldiers. So, therefore, they’re going to attrit us down to nothing. So, I better give in and come to the negotiation table. And so, America believed that there was a crossover point. Well, we were going to reach the crossover point by sending troops out to search and destroy.
So, we were going to…. helicopter the troops out. They’re going to search. And then we’ll make contact. We’ll radio in. We found these guys over here are superior jets. Air powers were going to come in and bomb and napalm. And with our technology and control of the air, we’re going to kill so many of them that they were just going to give up. Okay, so it was a War of Attrition using search and destroy. And the metrics that Westmoreland presented to the country, you can look in the show notes for the exact numbers, but I’m not going to gunk this broadcast up by saying 248,326.
I’m going to round things off so it’s understandable. When you do numbers in a podcast, it’s deadly. So, I’m going to round off numbers basically 600,000 and 300,000. So, what were the numbers? Westmoreland was telling the United States, hey, there are 300,000 enemies in South Vietnam. What he didn’t understand was that they were in the People’s War. They believed there was a North-South Vietnam and most of these South Vietnamese if they have their heads screwed on right, love Americans.
And so, they’re all our friends here. And there’s just this Vietcong, this VC infrastructure. There’s these termites. And if we just kill these Vietcong termites, then all these democracy-loving people will just naturally love us Americans. Folks, can you imagine this? Can you imagine if Germany invaded your state, Montana, Florida, New York, or whatever it is, I’m from Wisconsin. I couldn’t imagine that if a foreign army showed up in Wisconsin, I would think, oh, boy they have guns and helmets and they rape my sister.
And I think I want the German system. They’re my friends. No, they’re the enemy of everyone in Wisconsin. But Americans were dreaming that we’re the good guys. There’s a South Vietnam. Most South Vietnamese would want to love us if we just got rid of these Viet Cong termites. So, the Viet Cong termites were estimated by Westmoreland to be about 300,000. And he was saying to Johnson and the country, look it 300 termites in South Vietnam. Now do you get me, folks? There are millions.
Every grandma, grandpa, young kid, buffalo boy, girl, they all hated the Americans. It was a people’s war. They were all against the Americans. But we had computer geeks and statisticians estimating the number of enemies 300,000. And look at President Johnson. We’ve killed them down to 250,000, 240,000. We’re killing them, killing them faster than they can replace. Well, what about the Ho Chi Minh trail? That Ho Chi Minh trail goes from north to south along the border of Laos. Triple canopy jungle, that route that we’re bombing and they’re secretly infiltrating.
Well, no, don’t worry. Westmoreland said they’re only bringing in about 5,000 a month. So, it’ll take them five months to get 25,000 in. We’re killing 50,000 at a clip. Don’t worry. The war is almost over. So, Westmoreland says in 1967, comes back on this victory tour, this propaganda tour. Hey, we’re going to be home by next Christmas. We’re attriting the Vietnamese from 300,000 down to 250,000. They’re only bringing in 5,000 a month, and we’re killing the bejeebers out of them. And America’s going to win.
And the popularity of I don’t want to say popularity, but the belief in the war that we were winning went up as a result of this victory tour. And folks, this was not 1968, the summer of love. In 1967, people didn’t know who Janis Joplin, Jimi Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix were. This was still crewcuts and salute and respect your elders time 1967. So, we were going to win the war. So, even if you were against the war, so what? We’re going to win soon. Well, what happened? Immediately in January of 1968, the biggest battle of the war erupts at the border.
What’s the border? It’s the demilitarized zone between the mythical North and South Vietnam. We drew a line across there and said, that’s the demilitarized zone. There’s a mountain up there called Khe Sanh. The number one biggest battle of the entire war erupted as the Vietnamese surrounded the mountain of Khe Sanh. And 6,000 Marines were up there, and it was on TV every single day. Jeff will remember this, that, 30 to 50% of all American news programs were focused on the Battle of Khe Sanh.
With these Marines, they’re stranded on the mountain. Will they make it out? They’re bringing in supplies. Oh, will the supply. Oh, they shot down the plane bringing supplies. Oh, they’re shelling the marine. Will the marine day after day after day, Khe Sanh was on everyone’s mind. Then what happened at the end of January was the Tet holiday. At Tet, everybody took a break because Tet was such in so ingrained in Vietnamese culture that the country traditionally slowed down. And Americans relaxed.
The South Vietnamese army relaxed. People went on leave, went to the beach, got ready for Tet, and got their new clean shirts out. And then on the eve of Tet, boom, boom, boom, boom, the Vietnamese launched a surprise attack. What was the surprise? Vietnam’s long and narrow. And the propaganda the Americans believed was that all the cities near the coast were safe. They were pacified, and there were just some termites out there in the jungle, but they really didn’t have any power, and they were too afraid to come into the cities.
So, then all of a sudden, the Viet Cong attacked all of the cities. Saigon’s a battlefield. There were American cooks and typists who all of a sudden were grabbing guns in street battles in downtown Saigon. Way the ancient capital Danang, which was full of marines, all the cities along the coast were attacked simultaneously. Folks, it’s like the George Washington Bridge in New York, and the San Francisco Golden Gate went down in the same second. It’s like all the cities across the United States got attacked at the same time.
It was coordinated. It was hundreds of thousands of well-armed troops. It was unbelievable. And we watched it all on TV. All Johnny Carson was bumped, bulletin from Saigon late-breaking news let’s go to Jeff up in Danang and that’s all America was focused on was boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Okay. What happened? What happened was Hanoi Ho Chi Minh in his genius planned a Tet offensive. Folks, if the Americans had studied Vietnamese culture, they would have seen that the Vietnamese did this twice to the Chinese in ancient times.
They used the facade of the Tet Offensive to launch these offensive pasts in their history. America should have been on guard, number one. Number two, Khe Sanh. Where’s Khe Sanh? It’s up in the north. Westmoreland was a big Army military guy. So, he looked at Khe Sanh and thought, here’s the big battle. 20,000 Vietnamese troops gathered in my Marines and this is the big battle, like in Germany. And he was totally focused on Khe Sanh. So, was the White House. So, was America. So, were all of our correspondents.
I told you it was soaking up all the news time. Well, that was a fake. I played football. I was a fullback. I carried the ball. Well after I carried the ball a couple of times then we would do a fake with me and I would fake that I had the ball to draw off tacklers. So, Khe Sanh was a fake and the US military was looking north as Ho Chi Minh came in and hit all of the cities. Now, how could this possibly happen? Well, this is very interesting. When Westmoreland flew to America, he was lying back in the spring of 1967, and in the fall, a CIA analyst named Sam Adams was in the embassy in Saigon in 1967.
And they captured some documents in one province. And these Vietnamese documents said that they had 10,000 troops hidden in this one province. So, Sam Adams goes and he looks at the ob., the order of battle. That means Westmoreland’s army said, there are this many enemies here. There’s this. And they were supposed to total 300,000 going down to 250. Right? So, Sam Adams looks and says, well, these Vietnamese documents say they have 10,000 in this province. How many do we say they have there? Oh my God, we say they have 5,000.
So, he looks at more captured documents and we’re underestimating by at least 50%. So, he presents this to Westmoreland and Westmoreland “CIA far from the battle. We’re an army. We know what’s going on. CIA sitting in the office, what do you know?” And the CIA said, “Hey, general, look at this is the Vietnamese documents. We’re not making this up.” “CIA.” So, he goes to Washington and lies. He comes back. And the first day he’s back, his army head of intelligence, a general, and a corporal.
So, I’ll just call him General A and Corporal B. You can look at the show notes for all the names. I don’t want to get involved in McLaughlin and McLaury and Doolittle, you know. But General A and Colonel B say to Westmoreland when he comes back from America on his victory propaganda tour. “Hey, general, we agree with the CIA. We captured more documents. We don’t think there are 300,000 termites in the country. We think there’s over 600,000.” So, Westmoreland just blurts out.
“Well, what would I tell the president in Congress? That’s a hot potato.” So, General A is an honest guy, an Army guy, and he continues to bug Westmoreland. Hey, there’s 600,000 out there. We have 500,000 troops fighting, 250,000 termites. If there are 600,000 troops, we need a million. We have to tell Washington. So, Westmoreland, being a West Point guy on his ring, says honor and integrity. He fires the general. Get rid of the bad news. And then, Colonel B, says, “I’ll promote you if you lie and say there’s only 250 rather than 600,000.”
So, Colonel B salutes and says, “Yes, sir.” So, there’s the CIA is raising a ruckus back in Washington. Hey, we need to tell the president there’s 600,000, but Westmoreland saying no, no, no, there’s like, only 250 pounds. The CIA says we got all these documents. There’s 600,000. So, they have a meeting of, like, the Supreme Court of the CIA back in Washington. And Sam Adams truthfully says, lays out the case. There are 600,000 plus Vietcong termites out there. And Colonel B says privately to Sam Adams of the CIA, “I agree with you. There’s over 600.”
Then when the meeting starts, he says, “There are only 250. The command position is there’s only 250.” Sam Adams of the CIA can’t believe it. Colonel B is just lying. But Colonel B was doing his duty. He wanted to keep his job. He wanted his pension. So, he agreed with Sam in the bathroom. Yeah, there’s 600,000 plus. But in front of the people, judging everything he said, “Oh, no, there’s only 250.” Just an outright lie by the US Army. Folks we knew. Okay, there’s a little more to the story.
Then there are all these different silos in the army headquarters in Saigon. There are CIA silos and different military silos. Well, in one silo, a colonel, I’ll call him C finds these Vietnamese notes. Oh, my God, they’re planning a huge offensive in the New Year. They’re going to hit all the cities. But he’s looking at this information and thinks, this can’t be true. Folks, he’s got Vietnamese documents that are announcing the Tet Offensive. They have captured documents but he thinks they only have 250,000 troops here.
Do you see what I mean? Westmoreland lied. So, everybody thought the number was only 250 and he didn’t let the 600,000 number out. So, this analyst is looking at the documents that are announcing the Tet Offensive. And he’s thinking, this can’t be true because they don’t have enough troops in the country. Now, Westmoreland, remember, said, well, they’re only bringing 5,000 a month down the Ho Chi Minh trail. Well, Sam Adams of the CIA documented they were bringing down 25,000 troops a month on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Folks, in four months, Westmoreland was telling Johnson in the public, “They can only get 20,000 troops in four months.” The CIA was saying they could get 100,000 troops in four months. They’re bringing them in like you can’t believe. And, folks, this doesn’t count the millions of supporters among the ordinary Vietnamese. So, we always say 9/11 we got the intelligence was faulty. Iraq WMD, the intelligence was faulty. This October 7th with Hamas against Israel, while the intelligence…
These intelligence organizations are a bunch of bureaucracies. And Westmoreland was able to just lie. He didn’t want the political red face of saying that he was wrong. So, he suppressed the truth throughout the bureaucracy. And the Tet Offensive should have been known. We should have been prepared for it. But we weren’t because the top guy lied and he got a bunch of other guys to lie so we would pay their pensions and they all got off scot-free. So, that’s why we were surprised at the Tet Offensive. Why is this important?
Folks, I’m writing a book on the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War, the American involvement lasted from Harry Truman in 1945 to Gerry Ford in 1975. It was a 30-year American war. But if you look at the Tet Offensive the few months before in 1967, when we thought we were winning, the Tet Offensive of January, February 1968, you’ll see that Johnson then resigned. Everybody, the rats flee the sinking ship. Westmoreland gets kicked upstairs, Johnson doesn’t run for president, and the steam is out.
And that’s when we lost the war. It continued on for years. 20 more thousand dead. Nixon bombing. Kissinger lying. But the real stuff, the real awareness of the Vietnam War. Take a look at the Tet Offensive, and then you can see how America lost. And that’s why we just did this podcast entitled “Why America Was Surprised by the Tet Offensive”. So, Jeff, unless you have some questions that’s my summary.
Jeff: Wow. You just proved the point, James, that the first casualty of war is the truth. Unfortunately, this big lie cost well, millions of lives in Vietnam for the Vietnamese and the Southeast Asians and tens of thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of American casualties. And thank you for that incredible lesson. When is your book going to come out?
James: Oh, man, I’m just on the second draft. I hope to get it to an agent this March. Nobody knows about this book, so I’m not saying the title. And, I mean, I’ve got to get it to my agent, but 2025 is the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Vietnam from the Vietnamese perspective, the fall of Saigon from the American perspective. So, I’m looking to have the book and movie for 2025.
Jeff: Can’t wait to read it and can’t wait to see it, James. Thank you very much for a fascinating interview.
James: Jeff, you don’t have to read it, but you got to buy it.
Jeff: Hey, I bought all your others.
James: No, that’s really you know as an author, that’s the inside truth, right?
James: I went to the library and read your book. Oh, no, no, no, no. Go to the bookstore. Buy the book, please.
Jeff: Hey, James. Wonderful show, troubling, disturbing 9/11, Iraq. The Tet Offensive, the Gulf of Tonkin false flag, it just seems to be a part of our Western DNA. And it’s troubling. But we need to know the truth in order to look for a better future for the United States and the rest of the West. So, thank you for shining a light on a very sad passage.
James: Here just a minute. I don’t think it’s sad. What Eisenhower talked about was the Military-Industrial Complex in Vietnam was a profit center. It was a success for Lockheed. The open border is a huge success for Lockheed. The Israeli war, the Ukraine war those are not failures. We always talk about them is like how can we continue these failures. Well, go rent a car and drive around Washington, D.C., and look at all the McMansions.
A real estate agent makes 6%. What did the account executives do? What are the commissions on $100 billion worth of armaments? These are profit centers. That’s why they continue. And I don’t mean to say that, like, in a sad way, that’s how many looks at it. And that’s how that will continue. There’s one thing let’s just let’s build bridges in the United States and let the rest of the world do whatever.
Jeff: Thank you, James. This is JB West on the D-Day beaches of Normandy. Wishing everybody a wonderful, happy, healthy, and safe 2024 Year of the Dragon. Signing out.
James: Okay, happy Tet everybody. James Bradley, JB East saying goodbye.
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