Read e-book online Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from PDF

By Marvin Kalb, Deborah Kalb

ISBN-10: 0815721315

ISBN-13: 9780815721314

"'By God, now we have kicked the Vietnam syndrome,' crowed President George H. W. Bush whilst he repelled Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1991. He was once improper. The Vietnam debacle keeps to hang-out America's political leaders, army males, and inhabitants. Marvin Kalb and Deborah Kalb's account of this phenomenon is studiously researched, vividly narrated, and, chiefly, hugely readable. it is going to stand as a big contribution to the subject."—Stanley Karnow, writer of Vietnam: A History, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

the U.S. had by no means misplaced a war—that is, until eventually 1975, whilst it used to be pressured to escape Saigon in humiliation after wasting to what Lyndon Johnson known as a "raggedy-ass little fourth-rate country." The legacy of this primary defeat has haunted each president due to the fact, specially at the choice of even if to place "boots at the flooring" and devote troops to war.

In Haunting Legacy, the father-daughter journalist workforce of Marvin Kalb and Deborah Kalb offers a compelling, available, and highly very important heritage of presidential decisionmaking on one the most important factor: in gentle of the Vietnam debacle, below what situations may still the USA visit war?

The sobering lesson of Vietnam is that the us isn't really invincible—it can lose a war—and therefore it has to be extra discriminating concerning the use of yank strength. each president has confronted the ghosts of Vietnam in his personal manner, notwithstanding each one has been cautious of being sucked into one other unpopular warfare. Ford (during the Mayaguez problem) and either timber (Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan) deployed huge strength, as though to claim, "Vietnam, be damned." nevertheless, Carter, Clinton, and Reagan (to the shock of many) acted with severe warning, conscious of the Vietnam event. Obama has additionally wrestled with the Vietnam legacy, utilizing doses of yankee firepower in Libya whereas nonetheless engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The authors spent 5 years interviewing enormous quantities of officers from each postwar management and accomplishing wide study in presidential libraries and data, and they have produced perception and data by no means prior to released. equivalent elements taut heritage, revealing biography, and cautionary story, Haunting Legacy is needs to studying for someone attempting to comprehend the ability of the previous to steer war-and-peace judgements of the current, and of the long run.

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Extra info for Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama

Example text

Ford never learned why, though he asked more than once. “I was anxious to find out who had contravened my authority,” the president later wrote. “The explanations I received from the Pentagon were not satisfactory at all, and direct answers kept eluding me. ”28 Not quite. The widespread assumption at the time was that Schlesinger had been less than forthcoming in explaining Pentagon actions to the president and that Ford was simply uncomfortable with him as secretary of defense and displeased with his overall performance during the crisis.

Had it lost its will to lead and, if necessary, to fight? indd 29 4/25/11 2:44 PM 30 Ford and the Mini-Challenge of the Mayaguez German newspaper, ran a front-page editorial with the eye-catching headline, “America—A Helpless Giant,” which reflected growing European doubt about America’s willingness to defend its global interests. ”2 And yet on this beautiful Monday morning in springtime Washington, someone was indeed fishing in “troubled waters” off the coast of Cambodia, and Ford was suddenly faced with the first serious challenge of the post-Vietnam era.

But it cannot be achieved by refighting a war that is finished,” he declared. ”46 Ford was deliberately putting distance between his view of the war and the Nixon-Kissinger view. Nixon had always argued that the United States could only walk away “with honor,” or else its international reputation and leadership would be irreparably harmed. Not so, Ford concluded; the country would survive its bloody and embarrassing defeat in Vietnam and once again flourish. Nixon had traditionally taken a more gloomy view of Vietnam, Ford a more optimistic one.

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Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama by Marvin Kalb, Deborah Kalb


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