The American War in Vietnam: Lessons, Legacies, and Implications for Future Conflicts

By Lawrence E.Grinter; Peter M.Dunn | Go to book overview

6

Harry G. Summers, Jr.


A Strategic Perception of the Vietnam War

There is a famous Jules Feiffer cartoon in which one of the characters, having just made what he believes to be the telling point of a long and involved argument, is devastated by the riposte “Now let us define your terms.” To avoid such a fate, it is best to define your terms in advance, and for this particular argument the main term to be defined is strategic, for there is a fundamental difference between strategic perceptions of the Vietnam War and historical perceptions of that conflict.

Military strategy is officially defined as “the art and science of employing the armed forces of a nation to secure the objectives of national policy by the application of force, or the threat of force.” 1 Strategic appraisal of the Vietnam War, therefore, would properly involve an examination of that war through the application of theoretical principles to both the military means employed and the political ends that were to be achieved, not only to account for success or failure but also to revalidate the principles themselves. Karl von Clausewitz, that master theoretician on the nature and conduct of war, labeled this process “critical analysis, ” a procedure that involves three different intellectual activities.

The first of these is “the discovery and interpretation of equivocal facts... historical research proper.” Then there is “the tracing of effects back to their causes.” Up to this point, historical and strategic analysis travel the same path, for most military historians would agree that these first two intellectual activities accurately describe the nature of their profession. But with the next intellectual activity the paths diverge. The third process is “the investigation and evaluation of means employed, ” and Clausewitz went on to say that “critical analysis is not only an evaluation of the means employed, but of all possible means…

Reprinted with the permission of Colonel Summers and Parameters. Originally published in Parameters, June 1983, Volume XIII, No. 2, pp. 41-46.

-87-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The American War in Vietnam: Lessons, Legacies, and Implications for Future Conflicts
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 166

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.