Max Boot: The War Over the Vietnam War






Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam
By Lewis Sorley
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 416 pages, $30)
 
September 2006. Violence levels are spiking in Iraq. Every day brings reports of more suicide bombings, more IEDs, more death and destruction. So bad has it gotten that the Washington Post reveals that a senior Marine intelligence officer has concluded "that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there."
 
This was the situation when I was among a dozen conservative pundits escorted into the Oval Office for a chat with President George W. Bush. I asked him why he didn't change a strategy that was clearly failing. He replied that he had no intention of micromanaging the war like Lyndon Johnson, who was said to have personally picked bombing targets in Vietnam. This commander in chief vowed to respect the judgment of his chain of command.
 
Within a few months, of course, Mr. Bush did change defense secretaries, generals and strategies. We can only speculate how events might have unfolded if he had subscribed to a different interpretation of Vietnam—one that did not blame political interference for our defeat. Could violence levels have been reduced earlier, saving untold numbers of American and Iraqi lives?...


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