The Control War: The Struggle for South Vietnam, 1968–1975

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University of Oklahoma Press, Apr 26, 2018 - History - 392 pages
The Vietnam War—a conflict defined by an ever-evolving mixture of conventional and guerrilla warfare and mass politics—has often been called a “war without fronts.” In fact, Vietnam had a multitude of fronts, as insurgents and counterinsurgents wrestled for control throughout 44 provinces, 250 districts, and more than 11,000 hamlets. In The Control War, Martin G. Clemis focuses on South Vietnam, where a highly complex politico-military struggle fragmented the battlefield along countless divergent points of conflict as both sides sought spatial and political hegemony.

Complicating the conventional view that the Vietnam War was about winning “hearts and minds,” Clemis argues that both sides were more interested in asserting control over the people—and resources—of the countryside. As in other revolutionary civil conflicts, the key to winning political power in South Vietnam was to control the physical world of territory, population, and resources, as well as the ideational world of political organization and long-term legitimacy. Despite their countervailing purposes, both insurgency and pacification provided the means to exert this control. Proponents of each approach pursued the same goals, relying on a blend of military force, political violence, and socioeconomic policy to achieve them.

Revealing the unique spatiality of the Vietnam War, The Control War analyzes the ways that both sides of the conflict conceptualized and used geography and the environment to serve strategic, tactical, and political ends. Clemis shows us that the operational environment of Vietnam, both natural and human-made, was far more than a backdrop to two decades of war.

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List of Maps
The Road to Tet Mau Than
Pacification and Counterinsurgent State Building
Competing and Incompatible Visions
Violent Pacification and Revolutionary Repression
Peace Politics and the Transformation of the Second
Allied Ascendance and the Crisis of the Insurgent State
The Tenacious Revolution and Revival of the Insurgent
Triumph of the Insurgent State 19721975

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About the author (2018)

Martin G. Clemis is Assistant Professor of History and Government at Valley Forge Military College and a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey. His articles have been published in Army History Magazine and Small Wars and Insurgencies.

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