Yale Professor John Lewis Gaddis is the dean of Cold War historians and the authorized biographer of George Kennan, the intellectual father of the doctrine of “containment.” Professor Gaddis is also the author of a widely discussed book on the Bush Doctrine. His most recent book is a popular history of the Cold War that was reviewed by James Mann in the Post Book World this past Sunday. Yesterday Book World hosted an online discussion with Professor Gaddis. Here is an interesting exchange toward the end of the discussion:
Harrisburg, Pa.: Do you see any lessons from the Cold War, such as what we learned from fighting a guerilla nationalistic warfare enemy in Viet Nam, that could be useful in advising current policy makers?
John Lewis Gaddis: Sure, you can always learn things from history. The most important thing is to be clear on how the current situation is similar to, and different from, the Vietnam situation. One example of each. A similarity is that what happens on the home front will certainly affect our ability to fight the war in which we’re engaged. A difference is that it’s not the same kind of war: Iraq is not Vietman.