The Struggle for South-East Asia, 1961-65

Volume 2
Smith, R.B.
Date published: 
November 1987

The second volume covers the period between 1961 and the decision of the Johnson administration to escalate the conflict in February 1965. In particular, reacting against the common tendency to regard counterinsurgency as merely the prelude to a larger war, it seeks to understand the Kennedy strategy in its own terms, placing Vietnam decisions into the wider context of Kennedy's almost idealistic awareness of the growing importance of the third world. The author re-examines the well-known crises and debates of those years and attempts to plot the sequence of Hanoi's decision-making. He also places Vietnam into its regional context, paying attention to successive crises in Laos and to Indonesia's policy of 'confrontation' against the Federation of Malaysia. Whilst the notorious 'domino theory' now appears much too simplistic a formulation, it is nevertheless clear that what was happening during the 1960s was in many respects a struggle for South-East Asia which the United States could not afford to lose. '...Dr Smith's second volume maintains the high standards of scholarship and lucidity set by his first, and it is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of international relations.' David Gillard, Times Higher Education Supplement