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Vietnam and the New American Way of War

By       Message Brian Downing     Permalink
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opednews.com Headlined to H3 5/30/11

Here was a new generation . . . grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken.


F Scott Fitzgerald



Baghdad falls to US forces.


2003 headline



When Saigon fell and the last Huey was pushed overboard into the sea, Americans looked back with dismay on their many foreign entanglements that had culminated in the recent calamity.  Those who cared to look ahead saw little prospect of war.  Surely, they thought, the nation had learned from a war that had brought so much turmoil, cost fifty-eight thousand lives, and ended in defeat.  


But Americans settled into a period of inwardness and few saw the new way of war coming into being.  The military rebuilt itself, largely independent of the breadth of society, and became the most fearsome army in the world.  War-making, in astonishing contrast to post-Vietnam sensibilities, became a de facto presidential power, legitimized by invocation of national security arguments only desultorily debated.  This power was ceded by congress and endorsed by a gratefully uninvolved nation.  



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Brian M Downing is a political-military analyst, and author of The Military Revolution and Political Change and The Paths of Glory: Social Change in America from the Great War to Vietnam.


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