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A Time for PeaceThe Legacy of the Vietnam War$
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Robert D. Schulzinger

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195365924

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195365924.001.0001

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The Living Legacy of the Vietnam War

The Living Legacy of the Vietnam War

Chapter:
(p.183) Chapter 9 The Living Legacy of the Vietnam War
Source:
A Time for Peace
Author(s):

Robert D. Schulzinger

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195365924.003.0009

American leaders conducted their foreign and military policies from the 1970s to the early years of the twenty-first century with an eye to their unhappy experiences in the Vietnam War. Nearly everyone agreed on the obvious point that the war in Vietnam had gone badly for the United States, but beyond that, however, differences of opinion proliferated. Presidents from Gerald Ford to Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush often explicitly presented their foreign policies as contrasts to the failures and disappointments in Vietnam. The perceived lessons of the past are most compelling when the memories are troubling, and there is a nearly irresistible urge to avoid repeating mistakes. The divisions over Vietnam were so wide and the lessons learned so contested that the Vietnam War endures as the emblematic episode of contemporary American foreign policy.

Keywords:   Vietnam War, United States, American foreign policy, Vietnam, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush

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