1

The Better War That Never Was

The Better War That Never Was

Mini Teaser: The "better-war" thesis blames generals for failed wars and misses the crucial role of faulty strategies. William Westmoreland's Vietnam ordeal offers a case in point. He deserves better than this latest assault by Lewis Sorley.

by Author(s): Gian P. Gentile

The essential insight from Vietnam is that the crucial elements in war are not smarter tactics, better generals or more malleable popular support but clear-headed thinking about policy and strategy that aligns ways, means and ends relative to national interests, national will and the enemy’s potential. In Vietnam, the United States failed that test. Sadly, it has failed again in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Colonel Gian P. Gentile directs the American History Program at West Point. In 2006, he commanded a combat battalion in West Baghdad. He holds a PhD in history from Stanford University.

Pullquote: The essential insight from Vietnam is that the crucial elements in war are not smarter tactics, better generals or more malleable popular support but clear-headed thinking about policy and strategy.Image: Essay Types: Book Review