US Collective Memory, Intervention and Vietnam
The Cultural Politics of US Foreign Policy since 1969
By David Ryan
Routledge – 2014 – 256 pages
Series: Contemporary Security Studies
The Vietnam War has generated significant diplomatic and cultural influences on US foreign policy. This book explores the construction and interaction of US collective memory with the politics of US intervention since the late 1960s.
On the one hand, the United States drew lessons that after Vietnam it had to demonstrate its resolve and credibility through the continued use of force, yet there were considerable domestic constraints to doing so generated from collective memories. On the other hand, military power was one of the areas in which the US still remained supreme and this was especially important at a time when economic competition was felt more acutely. It depended on continued engagement and intervention, just at a time when its collective memory and external opposition was growing.
The author looks at the formation, sites and reception of US collective memory, situated within the debate on the politics of identity. The significance of this concerns the power of the US to intervene and at times to go to war (beyond the strict constitutional remit). But it is also about the evolution of strategies adapted by the United States to deal with the collective memory of defeat in Vietnam.
US Collective Memory, Intervention and Vietnam will be of great interest to students of US foreign policy, US politics and strategic studies and international relations in general.
Introduction Part 1: Collective Memory, Vietnam and US Post-War Strategy 1. On Collective Memory & Vietnam 2. Counterpoint: War and Historiography 3. Vietnam: Strategic Implications Part 2: US Intervention Since Vietnam 4. 'We Will Not be the Paper Tigers of Saigon': Ford and the Immediate Aftermath 5. 'We Are Now Free of that Inordinate Fear': Carter and Non-Intervention 6. The United States of Amnesia and the Reagan Doctrine 7. We've Kicked the Vietnam Syndrome? Bush and the Gulf War 8. Clinton's Criteria: The Crisis of Intervention and Cultural Adjustments 9. 9/11: The War on Terrorism and the End of the Vietnam Syndrome? 10. Iraq. Conclusions