The Vietnam War – Lessons Learned and the Moral Centre of Gravity. These are just the show notes – Listen to the podcast of Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your favourite Android podcast player, for much greater detail. A great privilege to interview someone who I consider one of the best 20th Century military historians. Sir Max not only was in Vietnam, but he also had access to key decision-makers during and after the war and his book, Vietnam, An Epic Tragedy, shows the grand strategy along with the personal stories of a myriad of people caught up in the war. This is a strong tale of moral centers of gravity and how they interacted overtime to lead the war to its conclusion.
This is Part II of our interview with Sir Max Hastings, the author of Vietnam, An Epic Tragedy. These are the 5 questions I put to Sir Max.
- There were stark contrasts between the way that the US and North Vietnam handled the media. What lessons are there for military operations about the handling of information?
- You discuss the almost disbelief of the riches that PAVN troops saw as they entered Saigon and the dismay as the South Vietnamese realised what life under a Communist government would mean. It seems as though if more PAVN troops understood the opulent lifestyle possible for some in South Vietnam more would have deserted and the South Vietnamese would have fought harder if they understood what was at stake. Why do you think there was such a big difference between the populations and armed forces of both countries?
- The Battle of Fire Support Base Mary Ann highlights a significant decrease in the quality of the US Army. What do you think were the factors that lead to this decline?
- At what point was Vietnam lost? Could the United States have ever avoided defeat, or even won, or was the damage already done by the time that the French left? If the US had more people like John Paul Vann and David Hackworth, could the outcome have been different?
- Do you think there were lessons from Vietnam that have been forgotten in more recent struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan?