Recognizing a stalemate : Clark Clifford and the changing of American policy in Vietnam, 1965-1968
On January 30, 1968, the Tet Offensive changed the course of the Vietnam War. This event challenged basic assumptions of American progress in the war and prompted a large scale review of Vietnam policy. Clark Clifford, the newly appointed Secretary of Defense in 1968, was a critical participant in this re-evaluation. Through the deliberations of the Clifford Task Force, Clifford concluded that a military victory in Vietnam was not possible within the limited nature and objectives of the war. As he grew increasingly disillusioned with what he saw as a fundamentally flawed policy in Vietnam, Clifford became a leading advocate for a change in U.S. policy that shifted away from seeking a military victory and toward achieving a negotiated settlement. His continued advocacy for a change in policy tempered hardline policy makers within the Johnson administration and turned the direction of the American effort in Southeast Asia from escalation and military victory to de-escalation and negotiation.
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