The morale project grew out of the Pentagon's great problem in the early part of the Vietnam War. The US Air Force was bombing North Vietnam because they wanted to stop the North Vietnamese communists from supporting the insurgency in South Vietnam led by the Viet Cong.
The idea was to break the will of the North Vietnamese. But the Pentagon didn't know anything about the North Vietnamese. They knew nothing about Vietnamese culture, Vietnamese history, Vietnamese language. It was just this little speck in the world, in their view.
Everyone believed what Goure said, with one exception - Konrad Kellen. He read the same interviews and reached the exact opposite conclusion.
Years later, he would say that his rethinking began with one memorable interview with a senior Vietcong captain. He was asked very early in the interview if he thought the Vietcong could win the war, and he said no.
But pages later, he was asked if he thought that the US could win the war, and he said no.
The second answer profoundly changes the meaning of the first. He didn't think in terms of winning or losing at all, which is a very different proposition. An enemy who is indifferent to the outcome of a battle is the most dangerous enemy of all.
Now why did Kellen see this and Goure did not? Because Goure didn't have the gift.
Listening is hard because the more you listen, the more unsettling the world becomes. It's a lot easier just to place your hands over your ears and not listen at all.
- Malcolm Gladwell is a journalist and author
- Hear more on this story in Radio 4's Pop-Up Ideas, broadcast on Tuesday 9 July at 09:30 BST and repeated on 10 July at 20:45 BST
- Born 1913 in Germany
- Fled Nazi Germany for New York aged 20
- Worked for US Army intelligence unit in WWII and awarded the Legion of Merit
- Policy analyst at Rand Corporation in California
- In 1969, he and Rand colleagues wrote an open letter to the US government recommending US troops be withdrawn from Vietnam within a year
- Died aged 93 in 2007