Advance 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
– Mark Atwood Lawrence, University of Texas at Austin, author of The Vietnam War: A Concise International History
Andrew Gawthorpe is Lecturer in History and International Studies at Leiden University’s Institute for History. His research centres on the history of the United States in the world from 1945 to the present day.
Andrew’s first book, To Build as well as Destroy: The American Experience of Nation-Building in South Vietnam, is forthcoming from Cornell University Press. Drawing on research in over ten archives, the book is a first of its kind: a thorough case-study of a hubristic nation-building effort whose narrative stretches from the Washington agencies in which policy was designed down to the individual villages in which it was implemented. For more information and to receive updates as the book progresses towards publication, click here.
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.
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.