PLEASE READ CAREFULLY. These are 2 grad school discussion responses. The professor will mark down responses if they are not concise and do not address the root of the question with sources. Responses must include AT LEAST 6 references WITH PAGE NUMBERS after each question to be copy and pasted later (Chicago style, bibliography not required) and all references must include page number. Responses must be 600-700 words long not including references. The professor will mark down responses if they are not concise and do not address the root of the question with sources for justification. Sources are attached. Question 1 is due tomorrow evening (the 21st) and Question 2 is due the 23rd of Oct.
Question 1: Summarize Nagl’s argument and evidence for the failure and successes of US military assets as learning machines during the Vietnam War. Is this as persuasive as his arguments on Malaysia? Why?
Question 2: Gentile’s arguments are seen as counterpunches to Nagl’s work. Are those counterpunches warranted? Offer three examples
Jonathan Nagl, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 115-190.
Nagl continues to employ his doctrinal focus to how the US Army failed to learn as it shifted from an advisory (1954-1965) to combat role (1965-1975) in Vietnam. You will see arguments made on factors that led the Army to resist changing to a COIN strategy, even when it was ordered and championed by President Kennedy, and when tactical successes in COIN were being demonstrated by the Marines and CIA operations. Consider his assertions on how and why doctrine was changed in name only, and how this differed from efforts by the Marines, the CIA, and combined civil/military organizations. Ask yourself if how this contrasted with the British example last week.
Gian Gentile, The Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency (New York: The New Press, 2013) 59-84.
Gentile again offers a critique of what he sees as master-narratives of the war that helped COIN appear more useful than he considers it to actually be during Vietnam. When reading his critique of the “better war” theory, consider what evidence and analysis Gentile is bringing to not only the US experience but the totality of the concept of COIN. Is he more interested in the “master narrative” and its impact, or the factors that led to US failure (and perhaps the impossibility of US victory)?
Other Required Readings
Stephen Peter Rosen. “Vietnam and the American Theory of Limited War,” International Security Vol. 7, No. 2 (Fall, 1982), pp. 83-113.
Rosen, who, as we read last week, was a leading authority on innovation theory, offers a look on “limited war” theory matched against the Vietnam war. Key to these discussions are the nature of domestic and international influence on strategy, and what the assumed goals of the war were and how they impacted the means of that goal (communicating a diplomatic message, say, compared to a decisive confrontation with the North Vietnamese armies). Consider Rosen’s dialog on how the war changed, and how these eras reflect an embracing or rejection of limited war theory.
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