Although everybody admits that the U.S. lost the Vietnam War, Americans are divided about the reasons for the United States’ failure. James William Gibson, who wrote The Perfect War, has provided a very compelling interpretation that does not blame the protestors for a decline of support. This author also does not credit the North Vietnamese with military genius. Instead Gibson looks closer to home and argues that the United States’ overconfidence in its superior technology and its scientific management led to an irrevocable failure. Since Americans strongly believed that the United States would inevitably win, defeat was unimaginable and even unthinkable. This overconfidence in supercilious technological ability allowed the United States to organize the bombing operation of Rolling Thunder in such an ineffective way. The misuse of American technology contributed to the defeat in the war.
The United States’ disillusionment of the result of the Vietnam War had produced important results. It was embarrassing for the United States government, which had started the war with the haughty confidence in its superior technology, to be disenchanted with reality of failure. Thousands of American soldiers and their family, military and civilian officers had suffered the consequences of war both psychologically and physically. Particularly, the failure of the Rolling Thunder Operation, which signified the United States’ superiority in air force technology, was hard to admit. However, Rolling Thunder taught the U.S. that the possession of superior technology and scientific management do not guarantee victory.
Because the question of how technology is utilized is so crucial a part of understanding a country’s military effort, it is important to look again at the experience of the Vietnam War.
Batshur Gootiiz, ’02 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Major: International Relations
Sponsor: Robert Givens