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Jacobs Questions Vietnam Strategy

Heights Staff

Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

In Southeast Asia, the United States defined its foreign policy through and based its fight against Communism on the extended conflict in Vietnam. While this is taken for granted now, professor Seth Jacobs suggests that this was not the necessary conclusion to America’s involvement in the region.

An associate professor in Boston College’s history department, Jacobs’ research is focused on United States foreign policy in the post-World War II era. His most recent book, The Universe Unraveling: American Foreign Policy in Cold War Laos, analyzes the decision to fight the advance of Communism in Vietnam instead of Laos, a country in which the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations spent considerable funds to back the Royal Lao Government.

Although the generally accepted reason that the U.S. fought in Vietnam over Laos is geographic, Jacobs suggests that there was a darker explanation underlying the decision. In a recent release from the Office of News and Public Affairs, he posited that the real reason was an “ethnocentrism, a poisonous contempt for an entire country.”
Jacobs suggested several reasons for this contempt, including the general mannerism of the leaders as passive and not strong enough to repel any attempt at a Communist takeover. While he said that this was not truly representative of the people’s ability to fight and defend their country, Jacobs said that it was this American perception that led to the eventual decision to fight in Vietnam instead of Laos.


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