ABSTRACT

In 1995, the Vietnamese people were preparing to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon in the spring of 1975. In the United States, major TV networks, newspapers, and newsmagazines are focusing attention once again on the Vietnam War and on the multiple effects it exerted on a generation of Americans. The nature and shape of this victory had already attracted considerable attention from scholars, journalists, and government officials, and a number of studies on the subject had appeared in Western languages. The Vietnam War has had a searing effect on the American political culture and the American consciousness. The case of Vietnam also convincingly demonstrated that United States firepower has limited effectiveness when applied with restraint against a determined and well-organized adversary. But in some ways, it is probably unfortunate that the Vietnam War has served as a touchstone for every foreign policy challenge that the United States has faced in the past two decades.