Andrew Gawthorpe is Lecturer in History and International Studies at Leiden University’s Institute for History. He is a historian of the United States. From September 2020, he will be a member of Young Academy Leiden.
Andrew’s first book, To Build as well as Destroy: The American Experience of Nation-Building in South Vietnam, was published by Cornell University Press. The book is a history of American attempts to alter the political, economic and social fabric of South Vietnam as part of the Vietnam War. By demonstrating that even the most well-resourced and intensively-planned nation-building effort in American history failed, the book stands as a warning against pursuit of the hubristic and unrealistic goal of transforming foreign lands.
Andrew received his graduate training at the University of Cambridge and King’s College London before receiving his PhD from the latter institution in 2015. He was then a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the International Security Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Andrew also previously served as a Teaching Fellow at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, the UK military’s premier institution of higher education, and as a British civil servant in the Cabinet Office.
Andrew is a strong advocate of academic engagement in the public sphere, and his writing has appeared in media outlets on every continent. His popular writing focuses on world affairs and the contentious point where domestic politics meets international relations. He tweets regularly at @andygawt.
Praise for To Build as well as Destroy:
“Andrew Gawthorpe’s book is an excellent study of the CORDS program implemented by the United States in Vietnam between 1967-1973. I know of no other book that covers the pacification effort in such detail. This work is a significant contribution to the literature on American nation-building efforts in Vietnam.”
– Gregory A. Daddis, Associate Professor of History, Chapman University, and author of Withdrawal: Reassessing America’s Final Years in Vietnam
“Andrew J. Gawthorpe brilliantly and convincingly demonstrates that Vietnam was no lost victory. In To Build as Well as Destroy, he shows that, despite the assurances of counterinsurgency technocrats, T.E. Lawrence folklorists, and nation-building soldiers, pacification proved to be a failed doctrine for a failed war.”
– Douglas Porch, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Naval Postgraduate School, and author of Counterinsurgency: Exposing the Myths of the New Way of War
“Andrew Gawthorpe draws on prodigious research to uncover the little-known history of American efforts to build a durable South Vietnam during the peak years of U.S. military embroilment in Southeast Asia. This elegant study is essential reading for students of the Vietnam War and anyone interested in the challenges of nation-building.”
– Mark Atwood Lawrence, University of Texas at Austin, author of The Vietnam War: A Concise International History
“To Build As Well As To Destroy is a step forward for scholarship on international nation—and state—building interventions. This is a major entry in the burgeoning literature on the Vietnam War’s later years, and a welcome addition to the debate over international interventions.”
– Paul D. Miller, Senior Fellow, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council, and author of American Power and Liberal Order
This essay argues that Western counterinsurgency theory has failed to grasp the problems posed to it by the concept of political legitimacy. While COIN is based on the idea that legitimacy dynamics can be altered in a foreign society, a substantial body of research on legitimacy demonstrates otherwise. As a result, both top-down and bottom-up attempts to legitimate foreign allies through COIN are unlikely to be effective.
This essay changes our understanding of the famous political thinker Samuel Huntington’s views on and involvement in the Vietnam War. While he is most famously remembered – and derided – for suggesting a policy of “forced-draft urbanization” might help the U.S. win the war, this essay shows his public stances were at odds with both his scholarship and private advice to the U.S. government. Huntington was in fact a relative dove who counselled disengagement from what he saw as an unwinnable war.