The Eternal Question of Counterinsurgency
What are historians to make of the phrase made famous during the Vietnam War, "hearts and minds"? With the advantage of distance in time and the cooling of passions, it seems clear that the phrase reflected a tactic of counterinsurgency characteristic of the European colonial empires as well as the American attempt to find a solution to the war. The rediscovery of counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan is not only a military tactic but also something that approaches an ideology--and something well worth discussing in the context of the war in Vietnam.
Marilyn B. Young is professor of history at New York University, where her courses include Third World Women and Gender. A native of Brooklyn, she is a graduate of Vassar and Harvard. Her books include The Rhetoric of Empire: American China Policy, 1895-1901; The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990; and (with William G. Rosenberg) Transforming Russia and China: Revolutionary Struggle in the Twentieth Century.
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