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

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Preview — Haunting Legacy by Marvin Kalb. Deborah Kalb Goodreads Author. The United States had never lost a war—that is, until , when it was forced to flee Saigon in humiliation after losing to what Lyndon Johnson called a "raggedy-ass little fourth-rate country. In Haunting Legacy , The United States had never lost a war—that is, until , when it was forced to flee Saigon in humiliation after losing to what Lyndon Johnson called a "raggedy-ass little fourth-rate country.

In Haunting Legacy , the father-daughter journalist team of Marvin Kalb and Deborah Kalb presents a compelling, accessible, and hugely important history of presidential decisionmaking on one crucial issue: in light of the Vietnam debacle, under what circumstances should the United States go to war? The sobering lesson of Vietnam is that the United States is not invincible—it can lose a war—and thus it must be more discriminating about the use of American power.

Every president has faced the ghosts of Vietnam in his own way, though each has been wary of being sucked into another unpopular war. Ford during the Mayaguez crisis and both Bushes Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan deployed massive force, as if to say, "Vietnam, be damned. Obama has also wrestled with the Vietnam legacy, using doses of American firepower in Libya while still engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. The authors spent five years interviewing hundreds of officials from every post war administration and conducting extensive research in presidential libraries and archives, and they've produced insight and information never before published.

Equal parts taut history, revealing biography, and cautionary tale, Haunting Legacy is must reading for anyone trying to understand the power of the past to influence war-and-peace decisions of the present, and of the future. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages.

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Nov 02, John Pappas rated it really liked it. The Kalbs' meticulously researched and well-argued treatise on how the specter of Vietnam still stalks the halls of the White House, as it has since , influencing presidential policy and action. Focusing largely on the application of the Powell doctrine, and the different ways each president confronted the use of force post-Vietnam, whether by going after small easy targets, avoiding boots on the ground at all costs, or using overwhelming force to try to win in as short a time as possible, t The Kalbs' meticulously researched and well-argued treatise on how the specter of Vietnam still stalks the halls of the White House, as it has since , influencing presidential policy and action.

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Focusing largely on the application of the Powell doctrine, and the different ways each president confronted the use of force post-Vietnam, whether by going after small easy targets, avoiding boots on the ground at all costs, or using overwhelming force to try to win in as short a time as possible, the book's argument - that Vietnam is still an omnipresent issue influencing decisions about even the latest strategies in AfPak and Iraq - is convincingly presented. The attention paid to public perception of conflicts and engagements, and how that influences politicians, is fascinating as well.

Jun 04, Terry Earley rated it really liked it Shelves: library-request. Kalb is a favorite, thoughtful commentator on our times. This summary is important in that we learn that Vietnam and its painful lessons will really never go away. Better to understand and deal with it.

US Presidents tried with varying degrees of success. Most seemed to fall into the same traps. Mar 01, Bruce rated it it was amazing Shelves: military-history , politics , us-history , world-history. Vietnam has been a little more than a peripheral interest for me. I got to spend a year late to late at US Army expense in what was at that time a war-torn country.


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Like many Vietnam veterans I have mixed feelings about it. I have read some books about it and, for my job before I retired, I got to read some papers drawing analogies from it. This book by the Kalbs discusses how the war affected decisions of Presidents and touches on possible affect on decisions of other groups and gove Vietnam has been a little more than a peripheral interest for me.

This book by the Kalbs discusses how the war affected decisions of Presidents and touches on possible affect on decisions of other groups and governments.

Marvin Kalb

After America withdrew from Vietnam many terrorist organizations and dictators thought America was a 'paper tiger. Using semi-biographical passages the authors provide an idea of how the war affected the people playing a part in the decision making process. The Detroit investigation had told of atrocities committed by US personnel in Vietnam.

One statement of his: "The country doesn't know it yet, but it has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence. Kerry's statements about the war came back to haunt in during his Presidential bid. No doubt about it. Whether you argue it was the result of faulty strategy or Congressional refusal to fund the war any further, the U.

The Vietnam Legacies | Perspectives on History | AHA

Some people argue that we also lost the War of We did not lose that war. In fact, after the British sacked Washington in , the U. The draft during the Vietnam War meant that many served in Vietnam against their will. Anti-war demonstrations spread from one anxious campus to another. President Nixon decided early in his administration to end the draft as one way of discouraging demonstrations.

War and the Presidency

An all-volunteer army was then created, and it is this volunteer army that has been fighting for the U. Very few anti-war demonstrations happen, principally because there is no draft. That is a very tough question. Congressional resolutions authorizing wars have become a convenient substitute. One reason is that a declaration implies a total dedication to fighting and winning the war in question, and no president wants to make such a commitment at this time—nor does the Congress.

Read More From Marvin Kalb

Why do you think our troops today are treated so much better than our Vietnam troops were when they came home? One reason is that during the Vietnam war the troops were fighting an unpopular war with rising casualties and little reward. It is patriotic to be fighting terrorists who hurt the U. In a way everyone was responsible.

No one understood Vietnam, its people, history, religion and culture. We stumbled into a colonial war run by France and converted it foolishly into an anti-communist cause, forgetting all the while that the Vietnamese were inspired by a strong sense of nationalism and a determination to unite as one country.

We saw Vietnam as part of the Cold War. When you visit the Vietnam wall, what do you tell those 58, names etched into black granite? I did not fight in Vietnam—I just covered the war. My war was Korea. What I tell the 58,plus who died in Vietnam is that I pray that next time an American president sends troops abroad to fight, it be for a clear goal, with a carefully thought-through strategy, with popular and Congressional support, and with the tools to do the job and with an exit strategy in mind that satisfies the interests of the American people. A timely reminder

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