By Marvin Kalb, Deborah Kalb
"'By God, we have kicked the Vietnam syndrome,' crowed President George H. W. Bush while he repelled Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1991. He used to be incorrect. The Vietnam debacle maintains 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, exceptionally, 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, till 1975, while it used to be pressured to escape Saigon in humiliation after wasting to what Lyndon Johnson referred to as a "raggedy-ass little fourth-rate country." The legacy of this primary defeat has haunted each president because, specifically at the determination of no matter if to place "boots at the flooring" and dedicate troops to war.
In Haunting Legacy, the father-daughter journalist staff of Marvin Kalb and Deborah Kalb offers a compelling, obtainable, and highly very important historical past of presidential decisionmaking on one an important factor: in mild of the Vietnam debacle, below what conditions may still the U.S. visit war?
The sobering lesson of Vietnam is that the USA isn't really invincible—it can lose a war—and hence it needs to be extra discriminating in regards to the use of yank energy. each president has confronted the ghosts of Vietnam in his personal means, although each one has been cautious of being sucked into one other unpopular warfare. Ford (during the Mayaguez obstacle) and either timber (Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan) deployed tremendous strength, as though to assert, "Vietnam, be damned." however, 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 yank firepower in Libya whereas nonetheless engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The authors spent 5 years interviewing countless numbers of officers from each postwar management and accomplishing vast learn in presidential libraries and documents, and they have produced perception and data by no means earlier than released. equivalent components taut heritage, revealing biography, and cautionary story, Haunting Legacy is needs to examining for a person attempting to comprehend the facility of the earlier to persuade war-and-peace judgements of the current, and of the longer term.
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Additional resources for Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama
27 Ford felt that “all of a sudden” the gloom that had descended over the nation after the Vietnam defeat seemed to lift. His poll numbers shot up 11 points, which could do wonders for any politician’s mood. ” But Ford admitted that he was “disturbed . . indd 38 4/25/11 2:44 PM Ford and the Mini-Challenge of the Mayaguez 39 aspects of the rescue operation. Casualties, for one. Forty-one Americans had been killed during the operation, and another fifty were wounded. ” Second was “high-level bumbling at the Defense Department,” an extraordinary admission by a president.
S. planes—F-4 Phantom fighters, A-7 Corsair light-attack bombers, and F-111 fighter bombers—streaked out of Utapao Air Base, despite the prime minister’s objections, and attacked eight Cambodian gunboats leaving Koh Tang for the mainland, first by firing across their bows and then, when they did not change course, directly at them, sinking three of them and damaging four others. Late that evening, an American pilot spotted another gunboat leaving Koh Tang Island, presumably for the mainland. 8 The pilot radioed for guidance.
Martin, a flinty, highly experienced diplomat who had lost a son in the war and who cared deeply about the Vietnamese people, picked the same day to send Kissinger a cable claiming that no American was in imminent danger. It often seemed in those final days that Martin in Saigon was pursuing one policy while Kissinger in Washington was pursuing another. For example, Kissinger, using back channels to the Kremlin, tried to negotiate an understanding with North Vietnam allowing the United States to evacuate its citizens from South Vietnam in a safe and orderly way.