Academic journal article Military Review

UNRAVELING VIETNAM: How American Arms and Diplomacy Failed in Southeast Asia

Academic journal article Military Review

UNRAVELING VIETNAM: How American Arms and Diplomacy Failed in Southeast Asia

Article excerpt

UNRAVELING VIETNAM: How American Arms and Diplomacy Failed in Southeast Asia, William R. Haycraft, McFarland and Co, Jefferson, NC, 2006, 263 pages, $35.00.

Unraveling Vietnam is a revisionist work that attempts to refute the idea that the war was a result of flawed foreign policy. William R. Haycraft argues that the war was necessary and would have been winnable under better circumstances and with better leadership. His purpose is to provide comprehensive coverage of the period from 1946 to 1975, and to challenge the orthodox position that the Vietnamese Communists were nationalists fighting to unify Vietnam while the United States immorally supported a separatist South Vietnam.

As a basis for refuting the view that the Viet Cong were nationalists, Haycraft presents a plausible version of what the enemy might have been thinking. He uses the Democratic Republic of Vietnam's Resolution 15, which placed the highest priority on achieving unification by revolutionary war in the South, as evidence of the Communist North's control of the Viet Cong. This connection, however, is more implied than proven.

Although Haycraft tries to put both sides' actions into context, he periodically misses the mark. For example, when addressing Pham Van Dong's four points for negotiation, he makes no reference to President Lyndon Johnson's complementary speech at Johns Hopkins University. Haycraft also states that during Tet there were "some PAVN [Peoples Army of Vietnam] attacks around the DMZ [demilitarized zone]," but he does not discuss Khe Sanh. …

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