Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Why We Lost Vietnam, Revisited

Why We Lost Vietnam, Revisited

  • February 21, 2013
Mackubin Thomas Owens

Editor, Orbis

Senior Fellow, FPRI

Lewis Sorley

Author of Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam

COL Gian Gentile

Author of Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency

Thomas E. Ricks

Author of The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today

Gregory A. Daddis

Author of No Sure Victory: Measuring U.S. Army Effectiveness and Progress in the Vietnam War

You can watch this event on the CSpan website.

Nearly four decades after the last American soldier left Vietnam, a debate still rages concerning the cause of the American defeat in that war. An influential narrative holds that the United States could never have won in Vietnam given the nature of the war and the commitment on the part of the Vietnamese communists. But over the past 20 years, a number of observers have called this narrative into question.

Some military writers have argued that the US defeat in Vietnam can be traced to a flawed national strategy, which they blame mostly on civilian policy makers. But more recently, influential analysts, both military and civilian, have indicted the military itself for the failure, blaming military leadership for adopting a defective operational strategy.

This FPRI/ROA workshop addresses the latter argument by assessing the issue of Army generalship in Vietnam. The four panelists are well equipped to undertake this assessment. Three are soldier-scholars, combat veterans with PhDs who have grappled with this topic for many years: Lewis Sorley, Gian Gentile, and Gregory Daddis. One is a seasoned national security journalist who has spent decades observing the US military during war and peace, Tom Ricks. While the discussion will not resolve the debate, it will certainly enable reasonable observers to refine their own views. 

Link to video of this event on CSpan website:

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Why We Lost Vietnam, Revisited (Audio)