IAS/SIR Speaker Series: The War that Dare Not Speak its Name, Thinking about the Vietnam War as a Civil War
What kind of war was the Vietnam War? Many scholars and commentators have long depicted the Vietnam War as a war of national liberation. Others insist that it was a Cold War conflict born of communist aggression. Historian Edward Miller argues for a different framing: the Vietnam War as a civil war. Drawing on South Vietnamese state records and the testimony of individual South Vietnamese, Miller shows that the war that began in the Mekong Delta in the late 1950s and early 1960s was rooted in the longer history of civil warfare in the region. This interpretation suggests alternative ways of thinking about the political and military history of the war and the use of particular forms of violence in the war—including the violence later employed by American military forces in Vietnam.