by Colonel Gian Gentile
Thanks to Senator Kerry for his excellent and very accurate article in Newsweek, "Beware the Revisionists," on the serious flaws of a certain strain of Vietnam War history. This flawed history coalesces around a number of highly problematic assumptions like the war could have been won if the United States had not lost its political will because by 1972 pacification was working, or that more troops could have done the trick, or that better tactics and methods earlier applied in 1965 could have won the war. Senator Kerry's points concerning this flawed Vietnam history is actually supported by a general consensus of scholarly historians that still is in line with one of the most well known and respected of them all, Professor George Herring of the University of Kentucky, who states in his book The Longest War that for the United States:
...the war could [not] have been 'won' in any meaningful sense at a moral or material cost most Americans deemed acceptable.
Herring's clear and profound observation of the Vietnam War is still correct and supported by a consensus of historians. Yet there has been this incorrect interpretation of the history of Vietnam that argues that when the wrong General (Westmoreland) was removed after the Tet Offensive in 1968 and the right General was put in place (Abrams) things then turned around on a dime, the American Army started doing classic Coin and had actually pacified the South—had essentially won the war through better Coin tactics—but the American people and their political leaders lost their will and therefore the war. No, this interpretation is dubious.
The author is a serving Army Colonel. He commanded a Cavalry Squadron in West Baghdad in 2006.