Vietnam War

Why We Ended the Program That Worked

“There is nothing more difficult than military combat.” — Sun Tzu, “The Art of War,” Chapter 7 In 1966, roughly 6,000 people lived in the village of Binh Nghia, a series of hamlets strung out along the Tra Bong River in far northern Vietnam, near the coast of the South China Sea, a mere 40 …

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Ignoring What We Knew

“One who excels at sending forth the unorthodox [army] is as inexhaustible as heaven.” –Sun Tzu, “The Art of War,” Chapter 5 In the case of Vietnam, we don’t need to speculate about how Gen. Sun Tzu would have conducted the war, for the simple reason that the U.S. military already knew how to conduct …

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How We “Lost” Vietnam

Happy New Year! After all the stupidity, all the lies, all the inflated body counts, all the unnecessary deaths, in spite of it all, by 1968 an American victory in Vietnam was within easy grasp. Even Westmoreland could have managed it. Why? Because the enemy had made a spectacular and unforced error: the Tet Offensive. …

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The Unknown History of Vietnam

“No country ever profited from protracted warfare.” –Sun Tzu, “The Art of War,” Chapter 2 Now that we’ve Sun Tzu-ized Korea, let’s take a look at America’s most destructive proxy war since World War II—indeed, more destructive than all the proxy wars in American history put together. Vietnam Since the beginning of the American Republic, …

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What Will Millennials Tell Their Grandchildren?

Coming out of the restaurant we nearly collided with him—a compact, bearded man in a wheelchair, oxygen delivered to his nose from the tank tucked beside him. His scraggly gray-black beard rested against his chest; the liveliest part of his face was the bright blue of his eyes. When I apologized for almost bumping into …

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We Are Forever Grateful for Your Sacrifices

“Thank you to all of our alumni veterans for your service. We are forever grateful for your sacrifices.” – Email received on Veterans Day by Your Humble Blogger from Harvard Law School When that email landed in my inbox I was at first both surprised and pleased. After all, Harvard University has been, for half …

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Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life: The Conclusion

It was now late winter of 1971 and I was running the traffic division at the 226th MP Company at Fort Benjamin Harrison, outside Indianapolis. In those days Fort Ben was the headquarters of the Army Finance School and the location of the Army Finance Center. The building that housed the Center was the second largest …

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Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life, Part II

So there we were, in late 1970, having graduated from the U.S. Army Military Police Correctional Specialist Academy, the best-trained prison guards in the world. We had been assigned to one of the worst prisons in the world, the stockade at Long Bình, Vietnam, better known as the Long Bình Jail, or LBJ. Our job …

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Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life

A few weeks ago, in a post about J. D. Vance’s book, “Hillbilly Elegy,” I mentioned in passing that I was convinced that having spit-shined my Army combat boots may have saved my life. I didn’t elaborate, and since then several dozen people have inquired about that brief aside. So here’s the story. To understand what …

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