Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-8-2012

Major Department or Program



Julie Charlip


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.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Mặt trận dân tộc giải phóng miền nam Việt Nam -- National Liberation Front of South Viet Nam -- Viet Cong, Vietnam (Democratic Republic) -- Quân đội -- North Vietnamese Army -- People’s Army of Vietnam, Tet Offensive (1968), United States Department of Defense, Clark M. Clifford (1906-1998), John Acacia -- Clark Clifford: The Wise Man of Washington, Walt Whitman Rostow (1916-2003), Vietnam War (1961-1975) -- Political aspects, Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) -- Administration, Vietnam (Democratic Republic), Vietnam (Republic), War--Vietnam -- Foreign policy, Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) --Military leadership -- Pro-war establishment, Military administration--United States, Communism--Southeast Asia, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2012 -- History Department

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Whitman Community Accessible Thesis

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