July 18, 2005


Vietnam-Era Commander Westmoreland Dies (BRUCE SMITH, July 18, 2005, The Associated Press)

The silver-haired, jut-jawed officer, who rose through the ranks quickly in Europe during World War II and later became superintendent of West Point, contended the United States did not lose the conflict in Southeast Asia.

"It's more accurate to say our country did not fulfill its commitment to South Vietnam," he said. "By virtue of Vietnam, the U.S. held the line for 10 years and stopped the dominoes from falling."

He would later say he did not know how history would deal with him.

"Few people have a field command as long as I did," he said. "They put me over there and they forgot about me. But I was there seven days a week, working 14 to 16 hours a day.

"I have no apologies, no regrets. I gave my very best efforts," he added. "I've been hung in effigy. I've been spat upon. You just have to let those things bounce off."

Later, after many of the wounds caused by the divisive conflict began to heal, Westmoreland led thousands of his comrades in the November, 1982, veterans march in Washington to dedicate the Vietnam War Memorial.

He called it "one of the most emotional and proudest experiences of my life."

The key to civilian leadership of the nmilitary is to cycle through the generals until you get to one who grasps the war you're actually fighting, instead of past ones. In Vietnam, that happened not to be General Westmoreland.

GEN. WILLIAM C. WESTMORELAND | 1914-2005: A Commander Caught in the Mire of Vietnam (Eric Malnic, July 19, 2005, LA Times)
-General Westmoreland Dies at 91; Led U.S. in Vietnam (ERIC PACE, July 19, 2005, NY Times)

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 18, 2005 11:40 PM

I'll Grant you that.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 18, 2005 11:48 PM

Should have listened to Krulak.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at July 19, 2005 5:04 AM

One of my ROTC instructors had been an aide to GEN Westmoreland just before Westmoreland was posted to Vietnam. The instructor said that before, Westmoreland looked 10 years younger than his age. After a couple of years in Vietnam, he looked 10 years older.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at July 19, 2005 9:56 AM

America didn't have to commit the fight physically in Vietnam but JFK and his cohorts wanted to control the theater militarily and polictically, so they have overthrown Diem's government through the use of ARVN generals, since Diem's government opposing the American's troop present. After that, Marines landed in Vietnam and the rest is history. This is problem #1.
When things went sour domestically, they sold their allies to the wolf. Exactly when we got a chance to win the war. That's problem #2.

The consequences of these problems is no one (more specifically people with skin colors less than white) can trust America as their allies. I would speculate one of the problem about the Moslem moderates today indifferece to the current war caused by the un-trustworthy of American in Vietnam war because they don't know when American would leave them open and vunerable, espcially when you deal with the fanatics demanding total commitment. American has to die more to regain the confidence or when the final confrontation will force everybody to take side or else. Everything has consequences and no such thing is free.

Posted by: Lan Nguyen at July 19, 2005 12:06 PM