Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 1 MB

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


Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback22 pages $20.00 $16.00 20% Web Discount

A caveat against the mislessons and nonlessons that might be drawn from the Vietnam War, and a discussion of principal areas of disagreement about policy and objectives. Experience may be the worst rather than the best teacher, because, first, the truths of one situation are not always transferable to another; and, second, lessons may be found where none exist. Politically, it is uncertain how much the United States has influenced Vietnamese politics or social structure, whether "nationbuilding" is either desirable or feasible, how the united-front approach will affect our alliances, or whether the new information analysis techniques actually facilitate the conduct of the war or increase our understanding of either enemy or ally. Militarily, the Vietnam experience has discredited all strategies and tactics "learned" from prior wars — e.g., massive retaliation and flexible response. Moreover, it has demonstrated that the capacity for resistance depends on morale as much as on military might.

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.