The Logic of Failure
A Vietnam Lesson
Download Free Electronic Document
|PDF file||0.3 MB||
Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.
Purchase Print Copy
|Add to Cart||Paperback10 pages||$20.00||$16.00 20% Web Discount|
Our experience in Vietnam has exposed a major flaw in the usual theories concerning limited war. The flaw lies in a failure to acknowledge and elaborate a basic difference between "limited" and "total" war: limited war entails the appreciable chance of a limited outcome or even failure. Unlike the polar case of total war, such an outcome may be preferable to accept even though means exist for altering it that are not used. A nation may initiate and conduct a limited war while resolved to prefer defeat rather than go beyond a certain level of "cost." The costs defining this boundary may be measured in various units and they may be current or accumulated costs. A mathematical representation of the choice among limited and less-limited options is appended.
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.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
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.