What is Ball’s advice concerning an appropriate U.S. policy toward Vietnam? What does he suggest is the best solution? George Ball's Dissenting Opinion on Vietnam (1965)

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ball's advice was simple:  Withdraw, withdraw, withdraw.  His views could be summed up quite nicely in his writing:  "Of the two possibilities I think humiliation would be more likely than the achievement of our objectives--even after we have paid terrible costs."  Ball believed that it would be better to endure a short term humiliation than experience a full out loss in a conflict that he believed that the Americans were destined to lose.  Ball was able to reason that the conditions (which he termed as "hostile," referring to both the fighting and the external conditions faced by soldiers), the style of fighting, and the fact that objectives could not be clearly defined would be a ready made recipe for American defeat.  He also believed that public sentiment would not be strong enough to withstand the experience of so many casualties and such a stinging loss in the conflict.  Ball believed that the process would be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse once American commitment reached a full- tilt level, which is why retreat and passing on participation might have been one that brought about a sense of humiliation, but was a much better alternative than what was going to be endured with a high level of commitment.  Ball believed that the real challenge was in Europe, and fighting for Western Europe, and that Vietnam, as well as the Asian rim, should constitute a small portion of US efforts.