Well, it’s not the Nobel Peace Prize, but I too was honored recently. I am proud to report that I was attacked in the pages of
The Nation by one Rick Perlstein. Since I don’t normally read this august publication, I heard of the honor from a friend. He began by asking me if I had stolen Rick Perlstein’s girlfriend. I replied, "not that I know of....who is Rick Perlstein?"
Perlstein is going after the Vietnam revisionists, i.e. those who reject the Vietnam narrative of the left--that the United States was preordained to lose the war. Folks like Mark Moyar and Bob Sorley--and myownself--argue that we lost because of our strategic and poltical failures, not because of some imperialistic original sin.
Perlstein goes after me because I praise both Moyar’s Triumph Forsaken and Sorley’s A Better War. Here is his final paragraph:
Here is one of conservatism’s first-call "experts" on military history. He seems to have brazened out the only job requirement: If a book suggests America can never lose, except when meddling liberals forsake the triumph, then that is an "objective analysis," functionally identical to all other such objective analyses. Denial and bargaining are the order of the day. Does Owens teach this at the Naval War College? Does Moyar at the Marine Corps University? I can only imagine they do. I do know that the former head of Central Command in Iraq, Gen. John Abizaid, is said to have read and heeded A Better War. Is it any wonder they can’t make sense of their loss?
When it comes to military affairs, I don’t think of mysels as "conservative." I think of myself as someone who takes strategic reasoning seriously and who thinks we have a lot to learn from military history. What I teach at the Naval War College is simple. Strategy matters. A better strategy is more likely to result in success than a worse one. The key point is that countires are not preordained to win or lose. The choices that both sides make determine the outcome.
What really bothers Perstein is that some have dared to question the conventional (left-wing) wisdom regarding Vietnam. His line seems to be "Don’t mess with my narrative." Sorry, pal. Your time is up.