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Thread: Vietnam War Collection: books plus

  1. #141
    Council Member Sigaba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeterJensen View Post
    Has anybody heard of the new book "A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq" by Mark Moyar? And does anyone know which approaches Moyar uses in his new book? And how he regards counterinsurgency through the period?

    Thanks in advance.
    Peter--

    FWIW, Yale University Press has a page for the book available here. From the blurbs, one may gain a sense of Moyar's trajectory of inquiry. YMMV.
    It is a sad irony that we have more media coverage than ever, but less understanding or real debate.
    Alastair Campbell, ISBN-13 9780307268310, p. xv.
    There are times when it is hard to avoid the feeling that historians may unintentionally obstruct the view of history.
    Peter J. Parish, ISBN-10 0604301826, p. ix.
    Simple answers are not possible.
    Ian Kershaw, ISBN-10 0393046710, p. xxi.

  2. #142
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    Thanks Sigaba
    I have read the blurbs and know from other references, that he focuses on leaderhip and character, but does anyone know more about Moyar's approaches in his new book?
    Peter Agerbo Jensen

  3. #143
    Council Member MattC86's Avatar
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    My boss has an advance copy, I've been bugging him about it for days, but he despises Moyar, and hasn't really looked at it.

    Will offer some insights ASAP.

    Matt
    "Give a good leader very little and he will succeed. Give a mediocrity a great deal and he will fail." - General George C. Marshall

  4. #144
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    MattC86: Thanks mate.

    I have made a pre-order of the book on Amazon UK, but it is first realeased on the 27th of November. It would be very convenient to know other readers opinion of his new book.
    Peter Agerbo Jensen

  5. #145
    Council Member MattC86's Avatar
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    Got it. . .will post some thoughts this weekend.

    Judging from a quick skim-through, I would say save your money, but that's a very first impression. . .

    Matt
    "Give a good leader very little and he will succeed. Give a mediocrity a great deal and he will fail." - General George C. Marshall

  6. #146
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    Default Moyar's Book

    Has taken a lot of heat from the community of professional historians. It is a fine revision in that no one can rightly say that the US won the VN War (58K KIA, God only knows how many WIA, 1M+ VN dead, our economy thrown in the toilet, and our ability to contain communism--the stated aim of the war) so Moyar decided to write that we should have won the war. Well, I should have done a lot of things in life, but I didn't. Very few historians are taking this book seriously and have identified Moyar as a player in the Culture Wars. I recommend Andy Wiest's excellent book if you wanted to understanding the thinking of historians about the VN War. BTW, how do you write a book on how we should have won the VN War without reading a single Vietnamese source? We should have won the war, perhaps. But didn't the Vietnamese (NVA, ARVN, NLF, VC, etc) also get a vote?

  7. #147
    Council Member Sigaba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Grenier View Post
    Very few historians are taking this book seriously and have identified Moyar as a player in the Culture Wars.
    FWIW, on the other side of the coin, John Prados's Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945-1975 (2009) has drawn criticism for its presentism and political biases.

    As the saying goes, the comprehensive, definitive history of the Vietnam War remains to be written.
    It is a sad irony that we have more media coverage than ever, but less understanding or real debate.
    Alastair Campbell, ISBN-13 9780307268310, p. xv.
    There are times when it is hard to avoid the feeling that historians may unintentionally obstruct the view of history.
    Peter J. Parish, ISBN-10 0604301826, p. ix.
    Simple answers are not possible.
    Ian Kershaw, ISBN-10 0393046710, p. xxi.

  8. #148
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    'Victory has a thousand fathers and Defeat is an orphan.' As a Vietnam War infantry soldier I subscribe to the critiques of U.S. Army Infantry combat operations in Vietnam by LTC Anthoney Herbert and COL David Hackworth.

  9. #149
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default If we're talking about if...

    Quote Originally Posted by AGBrina View Post
    If...If...If...If !!!

    If the ports of Haiphong and Vinh Thinh had been closed by the U.S. Navy in 1965, and not left open until 1972....

    If the B-52s had leveled North Vietnam's Transportation and Power Distribution networks in 1965, and not limited to low risk missions over South Vietneam and Laos until after the election of 1972....

    If the U.S. Marines had been used as a mobile amphious force to interdict and destroy up and down the Vietnamese coastline, rather than to defend the DMZ....

    But most of all...

    If the Marxist-sympathizing and Democratically-controlled Congress had allocated just a fourth of the funds lavished on the Israelis in 1974 toward the South Vietnamese instead....
    Here's an even bigger if... what about IF we'd actually listened to these rather prescient conclusions from 1951 (cited by jmm on another thread):

    In October 1951, the student conclusions to their study of US policy in Southeast Asia were presented to the college. Although opinions were somewhat divided, a large majority opposed any major US involvement. The conclusions of the majority could be summarized as follows:

    (1) The United States had probably made a serious mistake in agreeing with its allies to allow French power to be restored in Indochina. As a colonial power, France had done little to develop indigenous civilian and military leaders and civil servants in preparation for the countries' eventual independence.

    (2) Indochina was of only secondary strategic importance to the United States. The economic and military value of Vietnam, the most important state in the region, was not impressive. Politically and socially, Vietnam was obviously entering an unstable period with uncertain consequences. In any event, it did not warrant the commitment of US forces to its defense.

    (3) General war planning by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) envisioned a strategic defense in the Pacific, drawing the US forward defense line to include Japan, South Korea, and the offshore island chain (Okinawa-Taiwan-the Philippines). But in Southeast Asia, the line was drawn through the Isthmus of Kra on the mainland, excluding all of Indochina and most of Thailand. Thus, the Strait of Malacca and populous, richly endowed Indonesia were considered to be the prime strategic targets of the region.

    (4) Militarily, the region in general and Vietnam in particular would be an extremely difficult operational area, especially for US forces. Unlike the relatively narrow Korean peninsula, Vietnam presented very long land and coastal borders that would be almost impossible to seal against infiltration and difficult to defend against overt military agression. Much of the region was covered with dense jungle and much was mountainous. Weather, terrain and geographic conformation combined to present formidable obstacles for military operations and logistic support.

    (5) Politically and psychologically, the United States, if it were to become involved, would have to operate under severe disadvatages, for it would inherit the taint of European colonialism. The United States should not become involved in the area beyond providing materiel ["-iel", not "-ial"] military aid.

    "US Policy in Southeast Asia". Reports of Student Committees #13-17 (Carlisle Barracks, Pa: US Army War College, 1951), cited in Bruce Palmer Jr, The 25-Year War (1984) - with HT to Ken White for suggesting this book.
    The bold portions are added by me, emphasis probably unnecessary. At least somebody was looking at the situation clearly. Pity nobody listened.

  10. #150
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    There a chapter in Cold War Hot which basically applies Westmoreland's "plan" and posits a US victory. There's also an alternative COIN plan based upon Thompson's recommendations that leads to a US victory.

  11. #151
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
    There a chapter in Cold War Hot which basically applies Westmoreland's "plan" and posits a US victory. There's also an alternative COIN plan based upon Thompson's recommendations that leads to a US victory.
    The realm of the hypothetical is a marvelously flexible place.

  12. #152
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default True Dat.

    Alternative history leads to really dangerous fantasies...

  13. #153
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    As does cherry-picking historical analysis to find one opinion that you happen to agree with.... Especially these days, when every two-bit joker with a blogspot account is suddenly considered an expert...
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  14. #154
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    Default Westmoreland's own analysis ...

    of Vietnam (about a decade after the fact) is found in his forward to Infantry Magazine (Garland), A Distant Challenge:

    A Distant Challenge: The U.S. Infantryman in Vietnam, 1967-1972
    Infantry Magazine
    LTC Albert N. Garland, USA (Ret.)

    Foreward

    Indeed, history may judge that American aid to South Vietnam constituted one of man's more noble crusades, one that had less to do with the domino theory and a strategic interest for the United States than with the simple equation of a strong nation helping an aspiring nation to reach a point where it had some reasonable chance to achieve and keep a degree of freedom and humanv dignity. It remains a fact that few countries have ever engaged in such idealistic magnanimity; and no gain or attempted gain for human freedom can be discounted.

    Although in the end a political default, it is now clearly evident that there was an ironic strategic dividend to our presence in Vietnam; namely the impact of the American military "holding the line" for ten years against communist pressures on Southeast Asia thus provided for the Asian countries (Philippines, Malasia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand) a shield and hence a breathing spell toward development of greater political matrurity and self confidence as nations. It encouraged Indonesia in 1966 to throw out the Russians and, as time passed, unhappy events in Indochina showed to the people of Southeast Asia the real ugly face of communism and the inadequacy of the communist system. Consequently, the countries of Southeast Asia now seem to be staunchly a part of the non-communist world.

    William C. Westmoreland
    April 1983
    Leaving aside the rhetoric, GEN Westmoreland came to see Southeast Asia (Philippines, Malasia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand) as the prize, which Vietnam helped to preserve from communism.

    PS: We won the Southeast Asian War Games.

    Regards

    Mike

  15. #155
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    So Mark Moyar's argument that the war in Vietnam kept Indonesia non-Communist (incidentally causing the deaths of nearly a million people in Indonesia) was originally a Westy canard? Good to see he was still trotting out the domino theory even in the 1980s.
    Last edited by tequila; 09-09-2010 at 05:10 PM.

  16. #156
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    Default tequila

    Canard = An unfounded or false, deliberately misleading fabrication, a false report, rumour or hoax.

    What specific language in Westmoreland's 1983 piece is a canard ?

    What variant of the "domino theory" do you assert that Westmoreland was following in 1983 ?

    His description of SE Asian geopolitics appears to be more like such:

    Domino_theory.jpg

    Should we call this the "almost domino theory" ?

  17. #157
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default That's not what the quote said...

    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    So Mark Moyar's argument that the war in Vietnam kept Indonesia non-Communist (incidentally causing the deaths of nearly a million people in Indonesia) was originally a Westy canard? Good to see he was still trotting out the domino theory even in the 1980s.
    It reads:

    "It encouraged Indonesia in 1966 to throw out the Russians and, as time passed, unhappy events in Indochina showed to the people of Southeast Asia the real ugly face of communism and the inadequacy of the communist system. Consequently, the countries of Southeast Asia now seem to be staunchly a part of the non-communist world. Bold emphasis in original, underline added by me / kw)"

    Agree with JMM -- no canard there. If you choose to think '"...events in Indochina..." refer solely to the Viet Nam war, your prerogative. Throwing out the Russians was due to the USSR attempting to muscularly support the PKI to the exclusion of Sukarno who disagreed with that idea. The PKI and the Confrontation were more significant catalysts to the 1965 coup regardless of Westmoreland's statement -- which may or may not be what he really thought. Those two items and Suharto's desire for power mean Viet Nam was really only a peripheral event.

  18. #158
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    Default Vietnam War historiography

    There is plenty of literature about the Vietnam War.
    Despite that, can any of you readers of SWJ recommend works (books, articles, etc) concerning the Vietnam War historiography with a specifically focus on COIN and how the American decision makers viewed and applied between COIN versus conventional warfare during the conflict?
    I am very interested in the different positions in the historiography.
    Thanks in advance.
    Peter Agerbo Jensen

  19. #159
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    This is actually something of a "bone of contention" among historians at the moment. One of the more balanced treatments, even though it is older, is Palmer's The 25 Year War. Nagl's "Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife" is interesting mainly for the way it examines how the Army learned (or failed to learn) from Vietnam. It is NOT a history of the Vietnam War, but rather an examination of organizational learning. Krepinevich and "The Army in Vietnam" takes an opposing view, seeing the war as mostly a COIN-type effort that was ignored by Big Army.

    My advice? Start with Palmer and then work your way around.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  20. #160
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    Default A good start, Palmer ...

    somewhat akin to the 1000 lawyers in chains sinking to the ocean floor.

    Palmer's book is, however, written from a high level, starting at an O-5 & O-6 level in the early 1950's when he was at the Army War College (with an excellent analysis then made by him and others re: the Indochina War and the relative unimportance of Indochina in the larger US-scheme of things). It mostly deals with the O-7 through O-10 levels.

    Here are four SWC threads with links to a number of resources.

    Resources on the French defeat in Indochina?

    CIA Vietnam Histories

    CORDS / Phoenix: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Vietnam for the Future

    McCuen: a "missing" thread ?

    This stuff may or may not help - it depends on what you are looking for.

    Cheers

    Mike

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