The war in Vietnam may now be described as typical of a pattern that limited wars might follow in the future: an ill-defined beginning, an intense "hot" phase, and an inconclusive ending. The United States made no formal declaration of war; there was no all-out mobilization of the country's resources to support war, or no national political consensus to defeat the enemy decisively and force his surrender. The hot phase seems to have happened as a consequence of many individual decisions by at least three, and some will argue, four successive presidents of the United States.
"Victory over Ignorance and Fear: The U.S. Minelaying Attack on North Vietnam,"
Naval War College Review: Vol. 35
, Article 3.
Available at: http://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/nwc-review/vol35/iss1/3