Naval War College Review

Article Title

Misunderstanding Vietnam


Jeffrey Record has synthesized the vast body of Vietnam war literature into a concise analysis of why the United States lost in Vietnam, who was responsible, and whether defeat was avoidabke. Record lists five major causes for the American defeat. The first was the U.S. government's misunderstanding of the naturre and significance of hte war for both America and Vietnam. A succession of American administrations failed (in what Clausewitz describes as "the first, the supreme" act of strategic judgement) to " establish the kind of war on which rthey are embarking;neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is aliento its true nature."