Historiography essay

Topics: Cold War, Vietnam War, United States Pages: 5 (1208 words) Published: February 2, 2015
Adam Smith
4/23/2014
HST-122
Historiography Essay
Analysis of “Vietnam: A Necessary War”
“Vietnam: A Necessary War” is a summary of a book of a similar name by author Michael Lind. The book addresses the viewpoint that the Vietnam War was both moral and necessary for eventual victory in the Cold War. Michael Lind graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with honors in English and History, received an MA in International Relations from Yale University, and a JD from the University of Texas Law School. In 1990-1991 he worked as Assistant to the Director of the U.S. State Department’s Center for the study of Foreign Affairs. From 1991-1994 he was Executive Editor of The National Interest, and from 1994-1998 he worked for Harper’s Magazine, The New Republic, and The New Yorker eventually becoming Washington Editor of Harper’s Magazine. In 1998 he co-founded the New America Foundation, a non-partisan public policy institute in Washington, D.C., of which he is still an active member. Lind has an extensive bibliography of publications. He’s examined the tradition of American democratic nationalism associated with Alexander Hamilton in several publications including The Next American Nation (1995), Hamilton’s Republic (1997), What Lincoln Believed (2004) and Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States (2012). He had two books involving foreign policy The American Way of Strategy (2006) and Vietnam: The Necessary War (1999). He also published two pieces criticizing the American Right wing of politics in Up From Conservatism: Why the Right is Wrong for America (1996) and Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics (2004). His potential shortcomings are that he has a clear biased approach to more conservative views, and the he is clearly very patriotic, thus support for the things his country does is definitely more likely. He very clearly has experience writing on this kind of topic though, which should be taken into account. This piece examines a very famous controversial issue from America’s days in the Cold War: our involvement in Vietnam. Michael Lind takes the approach that this war was something America could not have avoided if we had any hope to eventually win the Cold War over the Soviet Union and emerge as the world’s number one super power. He acknowledges that the administrations involved with the conflict did little to clearly explain our involvement to the public, and would often change their reasoning over time. But he goes on to explain that we had a very real reason to get involved in a conflict that many believed did not involve us. To easily explain why, is to simply bring up credibility. “Credibility, in power politics, is a country’s reputation for military capability combined with the political resolve to use it in order to promote its goals.” (Lind, 1999) In a sense credibility, or perceived power, was one of the most important tools in the Cold War. Allies and small dependent countries had to believe that America would be able to support them in a crisis, and enemies had to be under the impression that we would be able to back up any threats. To back out of Vietnam would have only prepared America to enter another battlefield later. A main reason of entering Vietnam was to avoid a humiliating defeat to our own reputation as a powerful country. Keeping South Vietnam out of Chinese control and permitting the South Vietnamese to enjoy a freer lifestyle were lower down on the list. This has to do with the perceived bandwagon effect that the Cold War had. It was believed that the Cold War would most likely end up with a global diplomatic realignment with whichever superpower is perceived to be the most powerful and politically determined, something we saw happen when the Soviet Union ended up losing. Another reason to fight in Indochina was the strategic value that it held. This strategic value was more of an ideological one, rather than a physical one....

Cited: Lind, Michael. Vietnam: A Necessary War. Major Problems in American History: Documents and Essays / Edited by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Edward J. Blum, Jon Gjerde. By Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Edward J. Blum, and Jon Gjerde. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012. 439-48. Print.
McMahon, Robert J. Changing Interpretations of the Vietnam War. The Oxford Companion to American Military History. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999. N. pag. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. .
"Michael Lind | NewAmerica.org." NewAmerica.org. New America Foundation, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. .
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