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Refighting the Vietnam War - Victor Davis Hanson


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American Greatness

Military historian and Hillsdale College professor Mark Moyar has just published Triumph Regained: The Vietnam War, 1965-1968, which is the second in what will become a massive three-volume revision of the entire Vietnam War. It is a book that should be widely read, much discussed, and reviewed in depth regardless of one’s view of that sad chapter in American diplomacy and conflict in Vietnam. 

The first book, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965 appeared in 2006. It gained considerable attention for its heterodox analysis of the postwar origins of communist aggression against the South, beginning with the disastrous French colonial experience and its transference to the Americans. Moyar described the Byzantine intrigue through which the Kennedy Administration inserted American ground troops into Vietnam, and why and how his successor Lyndon B. Johnson rapidly escalated the American presence.  

Moyar’s controversial argument in volume one centered on the disastrous decisions of these two administrations that ensured Americans would be sent into an uninviting distant theater of operations in the dangerous neighborhood of both communist China and Russia. Worse, they would be asked to fight under self-imposed limitations of the nuclear age in which their leaders could not achieve victory or perhaps even define it.  

Still, Moyar argued that there was nevertheless a chance to achieve a South-Korean-like solution at much less cost, one that was thrown away through a series of American blunders. Most grievous was the American support for the 1963 coup that removed South-Vietnamese strongman president Ngo Dinh Diem and led to his almost immediate assassination‚ even as he was evolving into a viable wartime leader.  

Moyar additionally deplored the biased and lockstep reporting of anti-war media, including its icons David “The Best and the Brightest” Halberstam and Neil “A Bright, Shining Lie” Sheehan, who operated on ideological premises far different from reportage in World War II and Korea. Both characteristically exaggerated American shortcomings consistent with their theme that Vietnam was an anti-colonialist war of liberation rather than a Cold War proxy fight over unilateral communist aggression. :snip:


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Finally, Moyar does not answer in this second volume the existential question that has haunted America long after the war; namely, was the price tag of 58,000 dead Americans and trillions of dollars in treasure worth the cost and effort of 10 years of war to keep South Vietnam autonomous and to check Soviet expansionism? Or would a far better-managed effort leading to a free Vietnam at even far less cost even have been worth it?


Americans like their was Short.

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