Review of "Withdrawal: Reassessing America’s Final Years in Vietnam" by Gregory Daddis

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Book Review

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Choice Reviews Online




Daddis (history, Chapman Univ.) has completed his tripartite examination of US strategy in the Vietnam War, e.g., Westmoreland's War (CH, Jul'14, 51-6359), with this new book. The author methodically takes apart the myths surrounding the latter years of the war, including that General William Westmoreland’s replacement as commander of MACV, General Creighton Abrams, developed a more successful strategy that, were it not for the failure of US political will at home, would have won the war by late 1970. Daddis convincingly shows that far from developing a new strategy, Abrams instead continued Westmoreland’s multifaceted approach of pacification, political development of the South Vietnamese government, building up South Vietnamese military forces, and security stabilization through aggressive military operations designed to attrit Vietcong and NVA forces. Abrams changed very little, and the stalemate continued. Ultimately, political decisions by the Nixon administration predetermined the outcome of the war. As Daddis has previously argued, US military strategy in Vietnam was too complex for politicians in Washington to fully understand. Moreover, US policy in Vietnam was bad to begin with; even good strategy cannot overcome bad policy.