Sample Essay

The Engagement, deals with the militaries actual conduct of the war. Here, the only questionable element is Summers’ focus on the war as a conventional conflict and the North Vietnamese as a conventional military threat. The question of the conventional or unconventional nature of the war is the central question in the analysis of the war. The Kennedy administration’s focused on counter-insurgency was a distraction from the more important preparation and conduct of the conventional war.  Summers saw the war as a failure of the army to adapt to the unconventional situation it was presented with. He pointed out the army’s institutional dislike to counter-insurgency. He analyzed the military strategy in Vietnam in detail which is the strongest part of his argument.  The strategy failed the ultimate test, for, as Clausewitz said, the ends of strategy, in the final analysis. He explained how the American military failed to translate it strategic victories into a strategic effect.

    The communist regime of North Vietnam wanted the Americans out more than the Americans wanted to stay. The inability of half a million American troops with billions of dollars and ten years to alter that showed the war was fundamentally a military failure. It could be argued that the political decision to enter the war was flawed or the political leaders of that day did not do enough to energize the national will, but neither is the prospect of the military. The only national will the US military needed to concern itself with was that of the Vietnamese.

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