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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Dereliction of Duty by H. It was lost in Washington, D. McMaster from the Conclusion Dereliction Of Duty is a stunning new analysis of how and why the United States became involved in an all-out and disastrous war in Southeast Asia.
Fully and convincingly res "The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field, nor was it lost on the front pages of the New York Times or the college campuses. Fully and convincingly researched, based on recently released transcripts and personal accounts of crucial meetings, confrontations and decisions, it is the only book that fully re-creates what happened and why. It also pinpoints the policies and decisions that got the United States into the morass and reveals who made these decisions and the motives behind them, disproving the published theories of other historians and excuses of the participants.
Congress and the American public. Sure to generate controversy, Dereliction Of Duty is an explosive and authoritative new look at the controversy concerning the United States involvement in Vietnam. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published May 8th by Harper Perennial first published May 21st More Details Original Title. Robert McNamara , Lyndon B. Arthur Goodzeit Book Award Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about Dereliction of Duty , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Sep 10, BlackOxford rated it really liked it Shelves: war , vietnamese , history. The Presidential Psycho-drama of Fear War originates from psychosis. If not in individuals then certainly in groups. Particularly in groups of men in which each individual attempts to establish his will as dominant.
Each fears failure and loss of affection, and yet the will to dominate causes failure and loss of affection, thus increasing fear. This is McMaster's story about the prosecution of the Vietnam War from start to finish by the American government. It is a compelling story, made more so The Presidential Psycho-drama of Fear War originates from psychosis.
It is a compelling story, made more so by the fact it was written by a career officer on active duty. McMaster does have an axe to grind, but it is one that is sharp to begin with. His thesis is that the exclusion of the military leadership from decision-making by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, led to incoherent and contradictory actions that were compounded as the war progressed. In short his argument is that "The intellectual foundation for deepening American involvement in Vietnam had been laid without the participation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
But McMaster also conveys another message, perhaps inadvertently, which is relevant for more than historical reasons, namely that deceit and duplicity have been embedded in the Executive Branch of the government of the United States long before Donald Trump made them so apparent through his political inexperience. McMaster shows, as have others, that lying to the press and the public about Vietnam was routine for every administration from Eisenhower through Nixon.
However this propagandistic lying was the tip of an iceberg of duplicity. All the key players - the President, his staff, successive ambassadorial and military leadership teams in Vietnam, the Secretary of Defence, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and virtually every executive agency involved in the war severally and collectively lied to each other consistently as a matter of policy. This deeply ingrained duplicity is documented repeatedly in McMasters' research of minutes, messages and statements made by the senior members of each department.
This is more than merely disfuntion. Persistence suggests something systematic, a self-defeating but self-inflicted group-inability to perceive or act on reality. Largely there are institutionalised motivations for this continuing inability to cope with the existential situation. The self-interested departmental rivalries among the military and intellectual arrogance by the civilians running the Department of Defence for example seem endemic.
And not just during the Vietnam era. Certainly the dissonance between domestic political and international military objectives continued to be problematic during US involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. However, what McMaster demonstrates without ever making the point explicit is that the systematic deceit by the administration is not something of narrow historical relevance to the war in Vietnam, or even to the wider issue of the organisational effectiveness of the executive branch.
The central problem arises from attempting to successfully wage any sort of limited but extended warfare in a democratic society. Essentially: it can't be done successfully. It is a psychotic symptom to act as if this were not the case. American democracy is established on the idea of separation of powers. In itself this concept promotes tension and duplicity, particularly between the President and members of Congress who, as has been shown recently, have no necessary commonality of interests.
The next election looms over all decisions. This separation of powers is also a political fact within the executive branch in which personal ambitions, professional experiences, and abiding animosities and friendships dominate policy-making.
It is not just Trump who has had problems with staff rivalries, embarrassing leaks and dissident agents. Only Trump's inexperience allows these to become as public as they have done. In such an environment deceit becomes a necessity for the creation of almost any policy from war, to welfare, to justice. Perhaps this is true for all forms of government.
But the motivating factor which seems to be unique to democracy is fear by the man at the top. A common trait that seems to run from Kennedy, through Johnson and Nixon to Trump is fear, fear of failure, of rejection, of being found to be inadequate, in a real sense of loss of love. Presidents, it seems, are very insecure people.
They appear ready to turn psychotic at any moment. This fear is, I think, an inherent part of democratic politics, which are never stable and which don't provide an effective means for the Executive to reduce them.
He can't imprison or execute his foes; he can't form a reliable alliance with legislative politicians; he can't be explicit about his goals lest he be held politically to account; he can't even get rid of his own people without the risk of them spilling the beans on his real actions and motivations.
One of the democratic leader's, and his minions', few options therefore is to lie. Lying, even when it is unnecessary and irrational becomes the norm. This is the bleak message I take from McMaster. He may be right. Let's see how much truth-telling he engages in as Trump's National Security Advisor. View all 24 comments. Apr 18, Howard rated it really liked it Shelves: jfk , american-history , military , nonfiction , war , politics , american-government , lbj , favorite , viet-nam.
Today, he risks becoming one. He is one. Michael Flynn ret. On January 20, President Trump appointed him to the position of National Security Adviser; on February 13, Flynn, under a cloud of suspicion, resigned from the position. His tenure was by far the shortest ever served by a National Security Adviser.
A week later, the President appointed Lt. He continues to say that Flynn was a good guy and should never have been forced to resign and, privately, that McMaster is a pain…. All too often advisers are hesitant to disagree with presidents or even give them bad news.
McMaster, on the other hand, has a reputation of being a tough-talking, straight-shooting military officer, who has never hesitated to say what he thought even if it meant criticizing the military establishment and running the risk of being passed over for promotion.
And that brings us to Dereliction of Duty. A decorated hero of the first Iraqi war, McMaster was a young major studying for a Ph. He faults them for knowing that the policies advocated by Johnson and McNamara were fatally flawed and would never lead to victory in the conflict, but due to several reasons, the principal one being turf battles between the different branches, the JCS failed to openly state their concerns to the President and his Secretary of Defense. After all, two decades had passed since the war ended.
However, as soon as it was announced that McMaster had been selected to replace Flynn, the general had a best-seller on his hands. And it was then that I decided to take a second look at the book.
Dereliction of Duty Reconsidered: The Book that Made the National Security Advisor
McMaster , at the time a major in the United States Army he subsequently became National Security Advisor in after having risen in rank to lieutenant general. The book presents a case indicting former U. President Lyndon B. Johnson and his principal civilian and military advisers for losing the Vietnam War. McMaster claims that his principal motivations for authoring Dereliction of Duty came from his experience reading the accounts of Vietnam War soldiers while studying as a West Point cadet and his experience as a field commander in Operation Desert Storm. McMaster would later rise to the rank of lieutenant general and serve in the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan before being appointed to the position of National Security Adviser by President Donald Trump in February
Dereliction of Duty is a serious book. Thoroughly researched, carefully argued, it tackles a big subject: Who is responsible for the debacle that is the Vietnam War? McMaster concludes that everyone in political and military leadership was: Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. The book begins with the debacle that was the Bay of Pigs, which soured Kennedy on the judgment of his military leadership. Not long after, the Cuban missile crisis saw the military completely excluded from decision making. By the time the administration got to Vietnam, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were marginal to policy formation and major decisions.