More than fifty years after the end of America’s long war in Vietnam, strong debate continues over numerous, vital questions: If the United States lost, why? Who was to blame? If Americans had a better strategy, could the war have been won? Often overlooked in these debates, however, is an evaluation of the language used by key political and military leaders in discussing what ultimately was a Vietnamese civil war. This colloquium presentation relates that language of the Vietnam era to today’s persistent wars in regions like the Middle East and Central Asia, with important considerations for current US foreign policy. In the end, how we talk about war matters.