By Donald Kirk
It’s become fashionable among intellectuals from left and right to talk about the Vietnam War in terms of “lessons learned.” Better yet, critics of U.S. policy write and talk about “lessons not learned.” One of the latter emailed asking me to tell him “in a nutshell” what would be the “lessons not learned” from Vietnam. I told him I couldn’t possibly answer that question so quickly but added I was pretty sure he believed he had all the answers.
Yes, that response was rather sardonic. In fact, the person at the other end of the dialogue called me a “wise guy.” The reason for my sarcasm was that he obviously believes one lesson learned from Vietnam is that the U.S. should not dabble in foreign wars in relatively small countries for some ideological reason that is not worth upholding. He believes George W. Bush during his presidency made a huge mistake in getting involved in driving Saddam Hussein from power and then propping up a regime and an army that seems not too effective in fending off ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Read more