U.S. Department of Defense



Mark Moyar

Date of this Version



Published in Acad. Quest. (2008) 21:37–51.


By the early 1990s, when I began studying the Vietnam War, the American public had largely lost interest in the history of that conflict. The Civil War and World War II were the wars that historians were advised to cover if they wanted to reach the public. Among government officials, military officers, and political scientists, Vietnam was considered irrelevant, because the United States would never get caught in protracted counterinsurgency warfare again. Iraq changed all that. Ever since the outbreak of insurgency in the former empire of Saddam Hussein, people of all persuasions have been mining the history of Vietnam for information that will support their preferred Iraq policies. Hundreds of thousands of American troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan have received more instruction on Vietnam than on any other historical subject.