Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 1.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Remarks at a June 1968 conference on lessons and mis-lessons from Vietnam. Our 1965 escalation followed not from a theory of limited war but from the American way of war, reliant on bombing and shelling. The lesson is, a nation that pleads for U.S. military support in a conflict is inviting great destruction of its territory and society. Public revulsion to the Vietnam war is not a result of cyclical change in American attitudes toward war in general, but rather is a response to this war: to the way we entered it, the way we are conducting it, and our evident lack of progress or prospect of success. The American bureaucracy must bear substantial responsibility for our failure in Vietnam. Initially there was great ignorance about the society and problems of Vietnam, which the bureaucracy has not corrected. Moreover, we persist in denying and disguising our failures there. This suggests the folly of U.S. intervention in areas and problems of which we know little. It is essential to study the governmental and military learning process to discern its limits and ways to speed it up.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.