As the Vietnam War moves to an uncertain conclusion, it is evident that the nation has undertaken an extensive re-examination of many heretofore unquestioned assumptions that have governed America’s foreign policy since the Truman Doctrine was enunciated in 1947. One of these assumptions—which has provided the rationale for the use of force throughout the post-World War II era and which is already in question—relates to the use of limited war as an instrument of foreign policy.
The outcome of this re-examination will have a heavy impact upon the kind of military forces we must maintain, as it will also influence such national security policy matters as our overseas base posture, our system of alliances, and the manner by which we will raise and maintain our military forces. These issues are even now being publicly debated. Let us therefore focus our attention first on the more fundamental question—that having to do with the future role of limited war as an instrument of national policy.