Defeats that Weren’t
I would like to thank Mackubin Thomas Owens and James S. Robbins — the former for reviewing This Time We Win (“The Tet Myth,” December 20) and the latter for writing it. When certain of my friends discuss the Vietnam War, two items that are always brought up are the Tet Offensive and the siege of Khe Sanh.
To hear these liberals tell it, both battles were major American defeats. But in the case of Tet, the people didn’t rise up for the Communists, and when it was over, the Viet Cong had been so badly reduced that they never posed a serious threat for the remainder of America’s involvement in Vietnam; the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army managed to hold no territory for longer than a couple of weeks. In the case of Khe Sanh, when two under-strength Marine battalions hold — and then, with the help of the Navy and Air Force, break — two North Vietnamese divisions, it is not a defeat but a victory. What turned these victories into “defeats” was the bleating of media pundits who had no combat experience themselves.
In the movie Heartbreak Ridge, Gunnery Sgt. Tom Highway summed up the situation very well when he observed that we may have lost the Vietnam War, but we won all of the battles. America lost Vietnam because it lacked a military objective and had no political will to win, not because it was defeated by the enemy’s military force. I worry a similar process may unfold in Afghanistan today, and fear for our soldiers there.
Kevin D. Williamson’s “Welcome to the Machine” is an updated and way cool version of Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. If a December 31 edition of NR could be wrapped around a rock and tossed through the window of every regulator’s office, the broken-window fallacy might be refuted.
St. Augustine, Fla.
Kevin D. Williamson replies: Aim for their heads.
I have just read with great pleasure Allen C. Guelzo’s article “Mr. Lincoln’s Economics Primer” in the December 20 issue of National Review. What wonderful insight Mr. Guezlo brings about our 16th president’s free-market beliefs. I have long considered this aspect of Honest Abe’s career neglected. Congratulations to Mr. Guelzo on a job well done.
Donald R. Fields