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Program in British Studies

'The British and Vietnam'

Marilyn Young, New York University

Fri, January 29, 2010 | Tom Lea Rooms, HRC 3.206

3:00 PM

To the Americans at the time, the British dimension of the war in Vietnam was famous, or infamous, for two reasons.  The first was the success of the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, in evading a troop commitment.  Consequently Dean Rusk said that next time there was an invasion of England 'we wouldn't do a damned thing about it'.

The second, which will be the focus of this lecture, was the advice given by Sir Robert Thompson, head of the British Advisory Mission to Vietnam.  Thompson was the leading authority on counter-insurgency in Malaya.  He advised the creation of strategic hamlets similar to those that had been effective in bringing the emergency in Malaya to a close.  He was, according to one of the prominent American critics of the war in Vietnam, Noam Chomsky, 'one of Britain's gifts to the Vietnamese people'.

Marilyn Young is Professor of History at New York University.  A graduate of both Vassar and Harvard, she brings to the subject of the British in Vietnam a distinctive Brooklyn voice.  One prominent member of the American establishment recently referred to her as a 'flaming radical'.  In addition to her numerous works on Vietnam, her books include The New American Empire.

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