Harold K. Johnson, Army Chief of Staff 1964-1968
The 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty, may become a critical treatise in the area of military ethics. The research was
extensive (some 5 years), although it was primarily descriptive without incisive analysis or critique. Ironically, that may be the
most powerful aspect of the book. The facts and information are systematically laid out, and there is no doubt that the added
information will provide insights in both policy and military perspectives; the facts add weight to a number of previous theories.
Now, we may have a new theory--the Vietnam War would never have been fought if it had not been for the Joint Chiefs of
Staff (JCS): "The disaster in Vietnam was not the result of impersonal forces but a uniquely human failure, the responsibility for
which was shared by President Johnson, and his principal military and civilian advisors." The book illuminates the critical
importance of strong and honorable character for military leaders, especially senior military leadership: "The military engaged
in a mutually deceitful relationship, in that they did not question a strategy that they knew to be fundamentally flawed and instead
went along with the game." It appears that some in the JCS went along "with the game" to protect the opportunity to further
the interests of their own service over the welfare of the nation, while other JCS members were misguided by conflicts of
Interest in Dereliction of Duty has spread throughout military circles, with an unprecedented degree of attention and
influence. Many Air Force members have purchased this book, especially after a Wall Street Journal article stated that it
had a significant influence on General Ronald Fogelman's decision to resign. According to Air Force Major General (Ret)
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