Robert Thompson, Counter-insurgency, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Vietnam
Counter-insurgency scholars have long been familiar with Sir Robert Thompsonís classic work Defeating Communist Insurgency, which combined analysis of the insurgencies in Malaya and Vietnam with advice for counter-insurgents that emphasised the drawn-out nature of insurgency and the importance of focusing on population security. While historians have called attention to his role with the British Advisory Mission in South Vietnam and his later criticism of the US counter-insurgency campaign in Vietnam in his various books, less has been written about his subsequent role as a pacification advisor to the Nixon administration. This article explores Thompsonís relationship with Kissinger and Nixon and his views on the war in Vietnam from 1969 to 1974. An examination of Thompsonís thinking on Vietnam in the Nixon years reveals a theorist whose optimism on US prospects there was based on assumptions about elite and public patience for lengthy wars that were ultimately misplaced.