History of Vietnam

Topics: David Petraeus, United States Army, Princeton University Pages: 1 (373 words) Published: August 31, 2013
Lessons of History and Lessons of Vietnam DaviD H. Petraeus This article was first published in the Autumn 1986 issue of Parameters. One of the few unequivocally sound lessons of history is that the lessons we should learn are usually learned imperfectly if at all. —Bernard Brodie1 Trying to use the lessons of the past correctly poses two dilemmas. One is the problem of balance: knowing how much to rely on the past as a guide and how much to ignore it. The other is the problem of selection: certain lessons drawn from experience contradict others. —Richard Betts2 Of all the disasters of Vietnam, the worst may be the “lessons” that we’ll draw from it. . . . Lessons from such complex events require much reflection to be of more than negative worth. But reactions to Vietnam . . . tend to be visceral rather than reflective. —Albert Wohlstetter3 Of all the disasters of Vietnam the worst could be our unwillingness to learn enough from them. —Stanley Hoffman4 In seeking solutions to problems, occupants of high office frequently turn to the past for help. This tendency is an enormously rich resource. What was done before in seemingly similar situations and what the results were can be of great assistance to policy-makers. As this article contends, however, it is important to recognize that history can mislead and obfuscate as well as guide and illuminate. Lessons of the past, in general, and the lessons of Vietnam, in particular, contain not only policy-relevant analogies, but also ambiguities and paradoxes. Despite such problems, however, there is mounting evidence that lessons and analogies drawn from history often play an important part in policy decisions.5 Major David H. Petraeus is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences, US Military Academy. He is a graduate of the Military Academy and the US Army Command and General Staff College, and he holds an M.P.A. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Major...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Vietnam Essay
  • Conflict Theory in Vietnam Essay
  • Good Morning, Vietnam Essay
  • Essay on Vietnam Software Industry
  • Essay on Domestic Products Are Consumed Less Than Foreign Goods in Vietnam
  • impact of french imperialism on indochina Essay
  • History Vietnam Essay
  • women in vietnam Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free