- Purchase/rental options available:
In this essay, I argue that an important yet understudied consequence of the Vietnam War was an imperial turn toward modern logistics management. I track how the US empire-state used the war as a crucible for forging new hybridizations of military and corporate logistics. Over the course of the war, imperial forces assembled a transpacific infrastructure for managing the just-in-time flows of commodities and bodies between the United States and South Vietnam. Drawing on prior US imperial experiences in Korea and the Philippines, American supply chain managers recruited a multinational workforce of Vietnamese, South Korean, and Filipinx nationals to labor along transpacific supply chains. I read archival sources to track how supply chain managers enmeshed these logistics workers in regimes of slow violence and death. As the war dragged on, logistics workers struggled to dismantle these sociospatial infrastructures of exploitation, devalorization, attrition, and control. What emerged out of this frictional politics of encounter was the blueprint for a new, more just-in-time form of imperialism.