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New book available! David Kaiser, A Life in History

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lessons of the Fall of Saigon

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Unknown said...

Military forces most often enter a tactical battle with a plan that predicts what the end state must look like for success, and even though the plan exercises branches and sequels as the battle transpires in the fog of war, the end state or objective is always clearly in the minds of a disciplined, well trained military force. Operational and strategic plans should be no exceptions, but they have been. Operationally in Gulf War II, there was no "consolidation on the objective" phase, so the Iraqi forces, which had no intention of impaling on superior armed US forces, were allowed to establish insurgent safehavens and arm themselves from Iraqi military stores. In Iraq and Afghanistan, and Libya as well, the primary lesson of the Vietnam War you point out in your latest Time article, was lost on strategic planners. That is, after the military engagement is complete, who or what will remain as a stabilizing, i.e., governing force. If that cannot be determined, then the use of US power to effect regime change is a very bad idea. Bad for the people of the countries for whom the stability of their former governments now look inviting, for life for them is now worse for them than before, and bad for the US which has squandered human capital and other national assets without accurately assessing the checkmate move.

Bozon said...


Great post, and very interesting comment.

My own view is that our traditional and naive Western liberal conceptions of international politics, and particularly of regimes as the main structures for political actors, including the long standing Cold War opposition between communist versus capitalist regimes, has not been very informative compared to a civilizational paradigm.

all the best