Ironic: Vietnam decision-making system worked

Les Gelb, a former Brookings fellow and co-author of the 1979 Brookings Institution Press book The Irony of Vietnam: The System Worked—which is being re-released this month as a Brookings Classic—discusses the influence the Vietnam War has had on how the U.S. handles wars and the need for American pragmatism in foreign policy decision-making today. “What made this country great was Americans using their pragmatism, solving problems, and realizing there were certain problems they couldn’t solve–at least, not solve them right away,” Gelb says.

In the podcast, Gelb also explains the “domino theory” that guided U.S. policymakers during the Vietnam conflict. “Vietnam was the essential domino and if it fell to communism, if it fell to the Soviet Union and China, in effect, [then] all of Asia would fall right behind it.”

Also in this episode: another installment of “Steve Hess Stories” with Senior Fellow Emeritus Stephen Hess; and hear more from the Brookings event Examining Charter Schools in America.

Show Notes

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Thanks to audio engineer and producer Zack Kulzer, with editing help from Mark Hoelscher, plus thanks to Carissa Nietsche, Bill Finan, Jessica Pavone, Eric Abalahin, Rebecca Viser, Brionne Smith, and our intern Sarah AbdelRahim.