Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

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.

Discussions - 5 Comments

Kudos to the manly Mac.

You go, Mac.

There aren't enough real men like you (old – well, not that old! – Marines) who articulate war strategy and informed historical analysis with your trademarked brand combining nuanced passion, firsthand combat experience, and thoughtful courage.

Regardless of Perlstein’s suggestion to the contrary: Honor always wins in the end.

You didn't win no sissy peace prize. You won the Real Kick-Ass American Prize. I'd take that any day of the week.

Speakin of attacks on Mr. Owens, nothing will ever surpass the beat down that Sam Francis administered you in his dismantling of your fanciful "nationalist" interpretation of the Constitution. (Click on link above.) I bet you're still smarting from that one.

At least you’re not a Chicken Hawk like a lot of your imperialist brethren, but I'm sad that you didn't learn the lesson from your time in the Corp that Smedley Butler did. "War is a racket." Don’t get me wrong though. I am no pacifist. I enjoy a good intellectual drubbing as much as the next guy. That is why I so miss Sam. He was so good at puncturing bloated Jaffaites.

Billy Bob

The point Moyar is making, and I am just finishing his book, is that the coin fight was being won when an agenda driven press, state department and ambassodor(s) decided to play God. The war was being won by the South Vietmanesse by the way. Lack of control of State by Kennedy was also a major problem, but State seems to think it exists in a vacuum and always has the correct answer, a typical condition of the left for some reason.

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