STANTON SHARP TEACHING SYMPOSIUM
Saturday, February 9, 2008
8:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Sponsored by the Clements Dept. of History
Southern Methodist University
1:45-3:15 p.m. SESSION III
"Facing up to the Vietnam War in the Classroom"
Professor Thomas Knock
156 Dallas Hall
Nearly 33 years have passed since American air and ground forces pulled out of Vietnam after having fought a war in that country for some fifteen years. During that time, three presidents (Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon) spent at least $150 billion and dropped on the small country two-and-a-half times the tonnage of bombs dropped by all belligerents in World War II. Out of the two-and-a-half million American troops who served, 58,000 lost their lives, and at least 1.2 million Southeast Asians lost theirs. Nevertheless the United States lost the war, and it continues to hammer a wedge in our politics and foreign policy. For those reasons—there are others—the American experience in Vietnam is not an easy subject to teach. Participants in this Workshop thus will have the opportunity to consider how the country became involved in the war in the first place, why it sustained the effort for so long, whether the United States was really bound to fail, the consequences of the failure, and the lessons that we may, or may not, have learned from it.
Thomas Knock teaches courses on the history of 20th century American politics and foreign policy at SMU. He is the author of To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order and has published numerous articles on various aspects of the Progressivism and the First World War. More recently his published work and teaching have focused on the era of the Vietnam. He is writing a biography of former Senator George McGovern, the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in 1972.