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The War That Never Ends

New Perspectives on the Vietnam War

edited by David L. Anderson and John Ernst

Publication Year: 2014

More than three decades after the final withdrawal of American troops from Southeast Asia, the legacy of the Vietnam War continues to influence political, military, and cultural discourse. Journalists, politicians, scholars, pundits, and others have used the conflict to analyze each of America's subsequent military engagements. Many Americans have observed that Vietnam-era terms such as "cut and run," "quagmire," and "hearts and minds" are ubiquitous once again as comparisons between U.S. involvement in Iraq and in Vietnam seem increasingly appropriate. Because of its persistent significance, the Vietnam War era continues to inspire vibrant historical inquiry.

The eminent scholars featured in The War That Never Ends offer fresh and insightful perspectives on the continuing relevance of the Vietnam War, from the homefront to "humping in the boonies," and from the great halls of political authority to the gritty hotbeds of oppositional activism. The contributors assert that the Vietnam War is central to understanding the politics of the Cold War, the social movements of the late twentieth century, the lasting effects of colonialism, the current direction of American foreign policy, and the ongoing economic development in Southeast Asia.

The seventeen essays break new ground on questions relating to gender, religion, ideology, strategy, and public opinion, and the book gives equal emphasis to Vietnamese and American perspectives on the grueling conflict. The contributors examine such phenomena as the role of women in revolutionary organizations, the peace movements inspired by Buddhism, and Ho Chi Minh's successful adaptation of Marxism to local cultures. The War That Never Ends explores both the antiwar movement and the experiences of infantrymen on the front lines of battle, as well as the media's controversial coverage of America's involvement in the war. The War That Never Ends sheds new light on the evolving historical meanings of the Vietnam War, its enduring influence, and its potential to influence future political and military decision-making, in times of peace as well as war.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

This anthology of essays on the complex and continuing historical significance of the American war in Vietnam is dedicated to my colleague and friend Professor George C. Herring of the University of Kentucky. His book Americas Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975, currently in its fourth edition, has served as the basic textbook on the war for thousands of students since it...

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Introduction: Why Vietnam Still Matters

Marilyn Young

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pp. 1-12

In 1965, the Pentagon released a documentary entitled Why Vietnam, a sequel to the World War II series Why We Fight.1 James C. Thomson Jr., then on the staff of the National Security Council, wrote the script. "As I recall;' Thomson told an interviewer many years later, "Mac Bundy told me the President wanted to put out something in the next couple of weeks...

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1. No More Vietnams: Historians Debate the Policy Lessons of the Vietnam War

David L. Anderson

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pp. 13-34

It has been thirty years since the end of the Vietnam War, and historians of American foreign relations are still vigorously debating the historical questions of why the United States chose to persist in a major military campaign in Vietnam for so long and why, ultimately, that costly and controversial intervention failed to achieve Washington's stated objectives....

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2. The United States and Vietnam: The Enemies

Walter LaFeber

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pp. 35-54

In U.S. foreign relations, future deadly enemies have often initially appeared as people hoping to be friends. Japan was a valued informal American ally during the 1890s, but a half century later the two nations fought a bloody four-year war. At the end of World War II, the defeated Japanese withdrew from the empire they had seized by force in Southeast Asia. In...

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3. With Friends Like These: Waging War and Seeking "More Flags"

Gary R. Hess

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pp. 55-74

In fighting regional wars since 1950, the United States has sought the support of other nations. Besides providing troops and other material benefits, allies are also significant diplomatically in that they lend international legitimacy to the war effort. That in turn helps sustain popular backing at home. In both the Korean War and the Persian Gulf War,...

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4. The Perspective of a Vietnamese Witness

Luu Doan Huynh

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pp. 75-104

I have often agonized over why Vietnam has, in the years since World War II, been perceived as a pariah state and, hence, the sufferings inflicted on it by both the West and the East. As far as relations with the United States in particular are concerned, many Vietnamese initially held out hope for friendship, but that hope turned first to disappointment, then to despair, ...

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5. Ho Chi Minh, Confucianism, and Marxism

Robert K. Brigham

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pp. 105-120

The Vietnam War ended thirty years ago, yet a number of important questions remain unanswered. Not the least of these is how Vietnam's Communist Party won peasants to its cause. To many Western observers, the war was all about winning the hearts and minds of Vietnam's rural poor.1 These same scholars and journalists claim that Vietnamese traditions dictated...

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6. Vietnam during the Rule of Ngo Dinh Diem, 1954–63

Ronald B. Frankum Jr.

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pp. 121-142

There is little that escapes historical controversy or intrigue during the American experience in Vietnam. This should not be surprising, as America's longest war pushed the boundaries of political discourse, military strategy and tactics, cultural norms, and the fabric of American society, which appeared to unravel as the war progressed. It should also not be a...

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7. The Buddhist Antiwar Movement

Robert Topmiller

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pp. 143-166

In May 1963, a group of students marched through Vietnam's old capital, Hue, carrying Buddhist flags in defiance of a recent order by South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem. Security forces fired on the demonstrators and killed eight young people, leading Buddhists throughout the nation to take to the streets in protest.1 As antigovernment demonstrations...

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8. The Long-Haired Warriors: Women and Revolution in Vietnam

Sandra C. Taylor

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pp. 167-190

"When the invaders come, even women have to fight:' This traditional Vietnamese aphorism is repeated by Communist women while at the same time they stress their love of peace. Yet, as inhabitants of a small country adjacent to a large and powerful neighbor, the Vietnamese have been warriors many times.1 Since 1930 they have scarcely known peace,...

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9. Military Dissent and the Legacy of the Vietnam War

Robert Buzzanco

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pp. 191-218

The U.S. war in Vietnam that George Herring and others have described so well is being rewritten in politically motivated and disturbing ways, with a number of scholars now claiming that the American intervention was justified and appropriate; that the southern state that the United States created in Vietnam was legitimate and its early leader, Ngo Dinh...

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10. Unpopular Messengers: Student Opposition to the Vietnam War

Joseph A. Fry

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pp. 219-244

President Lyndon B. Johnson assured Undersecretary of State George Ball, "I don't give a damn about those little pinkos on the campuses; they're just waving their diapers and bellyaching because they don't want to fight:' Johnson's successor, Richard M. Nixon, agreed that student protesters opposed the Vietnam War not out of"moral conviction" but, rather, "to keep ...

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11. Vietnam Is Here: The Antiwar Movement

Terry H. Anderson

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pp. 245-264

In October 1967, during the events of Stop the Draft Week in Washington, DC, the activist Dave McReynolds declared, "Vietnam is here:' He was right; opinion polls at that time demonstrated that Vietnam had eclipsed civil rights as the nation's top problem. The war in Southeast Asia was overwhelming America....

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12. The Media and the Vietnam War

Clarence R. Wyatt

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pp. 265-288

The role of the news media remains one of the most controversial aspects of American involvement in Vietnam. Understanding what the press did (and did not do) and why is, of course, important to achieving a clearer sense of how and why American society approached the conflict in Viet This issue of the press and the Vietnam War also has implications for ...

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13. Congress and the Vietnam War: Senate Doves and Their Impact on the War

Kyle Longley

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pp. 289-310

"In our differences over Vietnam, we have let ourselves become hypnotized into self delusion;' Senator Albert A. Gore of Tennessee wrote in 1970. "We have gradually accepted the unholy, autistic reality that war creates. We have let Vietnam become a matter of partisan politics; and frequently we have devalued our moral currency to compound political...

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14. In the Valley: The Combat Infantryman and the Vietnam War

Yvonne Honeycutt Baldwin and john Ernst

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pp. 311-334

The American combat soldier's experience in the Vietnam War was, according to some, different from that in any other war in the nation's history.1 Chosen by a draft that selected the nation's poor and working-class youths, shaped by a troop-rotation system that focused on individuals rather than units or regiments, confronted by an enemy who was at once ...

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15. The War That Never Seems to Go Away

George C. Herring

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pp. 335-350

In March 1991, at the end of the First Persian Gulf War, President George H. W Bush exulted that the "ghosts of Vietnam had been laid to rest beneath the sands of the Arabian desert:" What he was saying, of course, was that America's smashing military success in the Gulf had finally overcome popular fears, left over from the war in Vietnam, of using military force ...

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16. A Speech for LBJ with Comments on George W. Bush

Howard Zinn

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pp. 351-356

In early 1967, two years after the escalation of the war in Vietnam by the United States, some of us in the movement against the war were calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam. But no major political figure and none of the major media were willing to support that idea. I...

List of Contributors

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pp. 357-360


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pp. 361-369

E-ISBN-13: 9780813145617
E-ISBN-10: 0813145619
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813124735

Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2014