Theory Meets Practice: The Case of the Vietnam War
This chapter uses the Vietnam War as a case study to show the problematic nature of applying deterrence, coercion and modernization theory to the war. The chapter provides a historical narrative that, among other things, captures the evolution of U.S. policy from President Eisenhower to the Kennedy and Johnsons administrations. The chapter discusses U.S. strategy in terms of two aspects of the war: the conventional military one conducive for applying deterrence and coercion, and the pacification program more conducive for using some aspects of modernization theory. The chapter also describes the role of various theorists turned policy entrepreneurs like Walt Rostow from MIT and Thomas Schelling from RAND.