Blogs > Cliopatria > Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam: Or, How Not to Learn From the Past, ed. by Lloyd C. Gardner and Marilyn B. Young

May 3, 2007 4:02 pm


Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam: Or, How Not to Learn From the Past, ed. by Lloyd C. Gardner and Marilyn B. Young



[From the Publisher]

Leading historians tease out the connections between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War—and point to the many lessons that went unlearned.

"All the wrong people remember Vietnam. I think all the people who remember it should forget it, and all the people who forgot it should remember it.—Michael Herr, author of Dispatches

From the launch of the "Shock and Awe" invasion in March 2003 through President George W. Bush's declaration of "Mission Accomplished" two months later, the war in Iraq was meant to demonstrate definitively that the United States had learned the lessons of Vietnam. This new book makes clear that something closer to the opposite is true—that U.S. foreign policy makers have learned little from the past, even as they have been obsessed with the "Vietnam Syndrome."

Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam brings together the country's leading historians of the Vietnam experience. Examining the profound changes that have occurred in the country and the military since the Vietnam War, celebrated historians Marilyn B. Young and Lloyd Gardner have assembled a distinguished group to consider how America has again found itself in the midst of a war in which there is no chance of a speedy victory or a sweeping regime change.

Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam explores how the "Vietnam Syndrome" fits into the contemporary debate about the purpose and exercise of American power in the world. With contributions from some of the most renowned analysts of American history and foreign policy, this is an essential recovery of the forgotten and misbegotten lessons of Vietnam. Contributors include: Christian Appy, Andrew J.Bacevich, Alex Danchev, David Elliott, Elizabeth L. Hillman, Gabriel Kolko, Walter LaFeber, Gareth Porter, John Prados.

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Tim Matthewson - 6/3/2007

I had hoped, at the time of the Vietnam war, that the 58,000 plus solders how died in the war, would not have died in vain and that their would be some meaning to their sacrifice. But as we learn more and more about the policy of the Bush adm. toward Iraq, it's is apparent that the administration and its NeoCon (aka Militaristic) allies have not learned anything.
At the time many commentator said that a principal part of the legacy of Vietnam should be that the US should not go to war without the US population being solidly behind the war, that the administration should do everything possible to maintain that support, and that it should not continue the war should that domestic support falter.
Obviously the Bush administration, just like the Johnson administration ramrodded the war thru congress and had committed so many blunders in the prosecution of the war that the populace of the US, except for the diehard radical right, has turned against the war, as in the case of Vietnam.But Bush seems both stubborn and desperate to maintain the war effort if for no other reason than to protect his honor and legacy (How many soldiers have to die to protect the honor and legacy of George Bush?).
Henry Kissinger's essay on the "Lessons of Vietnam", reprinted at HNN, deceptively calls for bipartiship but masks that call in a vicious attack on the antiwar movement, the Demcrats, and Democratic politicians. As it the case with Dubya, bipartisanship to Bush and Cheney and Kissinger amounts to all Americans rejecting opposition to the war in Iraq, as he called for the same in Vietnam. Bush, Kissinger, Cheney, John Gaddis, Ronald Radosh, the Weekly Standard, and their ilk, tremble at the thought of the US loosing a second war and the democratic implications that such a defeat might have for the American republic.

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