Small Wars Journal

The War Over the Vietnam War

Sat, 10/08/2011 - 8:01am

The War Over the Vietnam War - Wall Street Journal book review by Max Boot of Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam by Lewis Sorley.

A new biography puts an end to the idea that we could not win… Among historians, the biggest division has pitted those who think that the Vietnam War was immoral and unwinnable against those who think it was a worthy effort that could have been won with different tactics and strategy…

It was Westmoreland—not Lyndon Johnson or even Robert McNamara—who decided to fight a "war of attrition," sending large and cumbersome American formations to thrash through the jungle and rice paddies in search of elusive enemy units. It was Westmoreland who kept demanding more American troops and who encouraged them to fire as many artillery rounds as possible—even if they lacked specific targets. It was Westmoreland who made "body counts" the key metric of the entire war effort in the futile hope that the United States could inflict enough casualties on the Communists to make them cry "Uncle!" He did not seem to realize or care that in the process he was inflicting lesser but still considerable casualties on American forces—and that a democracy like the United States was much more casualty-averse than a one-party dictatorship like North Vietnam…

Comments

White vs. Gentile, plus their various supports. Now I know what I will be reading this weekend.