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Vietnam the Necessary War

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Table of Contents

Preface Preface Acknowledgments Chapter 1 The Indochina Theater The Cold War in Southeast Asia, 1946-89 Chapter 2 Why Indochina Mattered American Credibility and the Cold War Chapter 3 Inflexible Response The U.S. Military and the Vietnam War Chapter 4 The Fall of Washington The Domestic Politics of the Vietnam War Chapter 5 Disinformation Vietnam and the Folklore of the Antiwar Movement Chapter 6 Credibility Gap The Myth of the Presidential War Chapter 7 Was the Vietnam War Unjust? Chapter 8 The Genuine Lessons of the Vietnam War Notes Index

About the Author

Michael Lind lives in Washington DC and is the Washington Editor of HARPER'S magazine. He is the author of five previous books, including THE NEXT AMERICAN NATION (0684825031) and UP FROM CONSERVATISM (0684831864). His work has appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST and THE ALTANTIC MONTHLY. He holds a master's degree in international relations from Yale and a law degree from the University of Texas.


As they say, it's all in the timing. Twenty years ago, this thoroughly documented book would have rocked the publishing world. Today, though full of new sources and insights, it is a document of that time, when the world was trapped between intransigent ideologies and nearly trampled under our giant boots at every confrontation. Lind argues that the war in Vietnam, however horrifying, had to be fought not to extend ideology but to preserve the military and diplomatic credibility of the United States. Indeed, he seems almost nostalgic for the Cold War, reluctant to acknowledge that only by modifying this insistence on credibility could the major powers move beyond the their intransigence. Foreign policy study has moved beyond Lind's stance, but his considerations, however simplifying, should be examined. Though partisan and a throwback, this is still one of the best short historical analyses of the Cold War in recent years.ÄMel D. Lane, Sacramento, CA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

In a very opinionated and sharply reasoned attempt to debunk three decades of conventional wisdom about Vietnam, Lind (The Next American Nation), the Washington, D.C., editor of Harper's, attacks both the right-wing contention that the U.S. could have won the war if only the politicians hadn't interfered with the military and the leftist orthodoxy that maintains the U.S. should never have become involved in the first place. Lind treats Vietnam as simply another battle in the Cold War, no different in principle from Korea or Afghanistan or any other Cold War confrontation. As such, it was both necessary and proper to intervene in Vietnam; a failure to do so, he asserts, would have permitted the Soviet Union and China to tighten their grip on the Third World. But once the U.S. committed itself, Lind argues, presidents Johnson and Nixon were obliged to fight a limited war in order to avoid the very real possibility of China entering the fray (just as it had done in Korea). If anything, Lind says, "the Vietnam War was not limited enough." Johnson allowed the U.S. military commanders to wage an expensive war of attrition that killed too many U.S. soldiers too fast and eroded public support for both the conflict in Vietnam and for the Cold War in general. The principal culprits in Lind's analysis are Johnson, General Westmoreland and other U.S. military commanders for their misguided tactics; Nixon, for his quixotic attempt to salvage "peace with honor," during which an additional 24,000 soldiers died needlessly; and the antiwar left, which swallowed much of Ho Chi Minh's propaganda. Lind's arguments, if not always persuasive, are always provocative. His book, with its intelligent analysis of U.S. intervention in Kosovo and other current foreign policy quandaries, is likely to shift the debate on Vietnam and to color future debates about U.S. military intervention abroad. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

John Patrick Diggins Distinguished Professor of History, City University of New York Graduate Center Most Americans prefer to forget the Vietnam War. Lind compels us to remember it in all its complexity and tragedy and to consider military and diplomatic possibilities that almost no other author or statesman has though of raising. Moving through the pages of this richly provocative book is an agitated originality. Fareed Zakaria managing editor, "Foreign Affairs" A quarter century after its bitter end, Vietnam remains America's most controversial war and Michael Lind's book is sure to set off new sparks about it. Looking at the war from the heights of grand strategy and the inner reaches of domestic politics, Lind makes a fresh, highly intelligent, and passionate case for rethinking the conventional wisdom. Agree with it or not, it is compelling reading. Dan Rather CBS News Michael Lind is one of the smartest and most gifted writers I know of. He is also one of the bravest, unafraid to tackle the most controversial subjects. Now he turns his formidable attentions to the Vietnam War, and the results will dazzle you. More importantly, this book will make you think. Even if, ultimately, you don't agree with every single provocative analysis Michael Lind provides, I guarantee you will be challenged to reassess and reinvigorate every idea you have received, stockpiled, and taken for granted for three decades. "Vietnam: The Necessary War" is a necessary book -- for anyone who really wants to understand one of the most difficult periods in our history.

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