In the Hall of the Vulcans

We thought the lessons of Vietnam could never be unlearned. But Washington warmongering heeds no warnings, plunging America into the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan. The depths of dysfunction behind these decisions seemingly know no bounds.

Issue: Nov-Dec 2011

Marvin Kalb and Deborah Kalb, Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2011), 355 pp., $29.95.

Dov S. Zakheim, A Vulcan’s Tale: How the Bush Administration Mismanaged the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2011), 320 pp., $32.95.

[amazon 0815721315 full]FOUR DECADES on, Vietnam remains America’s only major lost war. As prominent journalists Marvin and Deborah Kalb write in their new, quite gripping historical survey, this is a memory that has haunted U.S. policy makers ever since. Indeed, the defeat remains critical to the calculations of the Obama administration as it tries to extricate the United States from Afghanistan while preserving at least the appearance of some success—and the avoidance of obvious failure.

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