chapter  4
The renaissance of American strategic thought
Pages 29

The traumatic effect of the Vietnam War upon the American military and upon society at large mirrored the impact of the First World War upon the democracies of Western Europe. Fortunately for the Americans, an intellectual effort began to absorb the lessons of Vietnam and therefore to prevent the slide into demoralisation and pacifism that had afflicted inter-war France, for example. The comparisons with 1914-18 do not end there. The US officer corps was emaciated by the conflict. One officer who was commissioned in 1966 later recalled that half of his colleagues on the basic officer’s course died during the Tet offensive. Of those who survived, two-thirds were victims of a post-war purge. “Any history of the Army after the Vietnam War that does not address the social and cultural stresses experienced by those who stayed on will be incomplete.”1