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Conference on The American Experience in Southeast Asia, 1946-1975

September 29-30, 2010
U.S. Department of State
George C. Marshall Conference Center
Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Historian is pleased to invite you to a conference on the American Experience in Southeast Asia, 1946-1975, which will be held in the George C. Marshall Conference Center at the U.S. Department of State.

The conference will feature a number of key Department of State personnel, both past and present. Those speaking will include:

  • Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger
  • Former Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte
  • Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard C. Holbrooke

The conference will include a panel composed of key print and television media personnel from the Vietnam period discussing the impact of the press on public opinion and United States policy.

There will be a number of scholarly panels, where leading scholars will present thought-provoking papers.


The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Historian
Presents an International Conference on:
“The American Experience in Southeast Asia, 1946–1975”
East Auditorium, George C. Marshall Conference Center
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC
September 29–30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

8:00–9:30 Registration and Refreshments: Enter at 320 21st Street NW at Virginia Avenue
9:40–9:45 Welcome and Introductory Remarks: Ambassador Edward Brynn, The Historian, U.S. Department of State
9:45–10:00 Opening Address by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (Video and transcript)
10:05–11:00 Address by Dr. Henry A. Kissinger (Video and transcript)
11:05–12:00 Keynote Address by Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke (Video and transcript)
12:00–2:00 Lunch

The View from Hanoi: Historians from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Video and transcript)

Chair: Ronald Spector, George Washington University

  • Ambassador Tran Van Tung, Director, Diplomatic History Research Center, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, "Vietnam - US Relations during the Vietnam War with Special Reference to the Role of Diplomacy and the Insights of some Turning Points"
  • Dr. Nguyen Manh Ha, Vice Director, Military History Institute of Vietnam, Ministry of Defense, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, "Early Identification and Knowledge of the Opponent: An Important Advantage for Securing Victory in the Vietnam War"

Commentator: Lien-Hang Nguyen, University of Kentucky

3:30–4:00 Break

Senior Scholars’ Interpretations of the American Experience in Southeast Asia (Video and transcript)

Chair: Thomas Schwartz, Vanderbilt University

  • David Elliott, Pomona College
  • George Herring, University of Kentucky, Emeritus
  • John Prados, National Security Archive
5:30–6:00 Refreshments

Media Roundtable Discussion: Convened by Assistant Secretary P.J. Crowley, Bureau of Public Affairs (Video and transcript)

Moderator: Marvin Kalb, Murrow Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

  • William Beecher, Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland
  • Edith Lederer, Reporter, Associated Press
  • Morley Safer, Correspondent, “60 Minutes”
  • Barry Zorthian, Partner, Alcalde & Fay
7:45–9:00 Reception: Benjamin Franklin Room

Thursday, September 30, 2010

8:00-8:45 Registration and Refreshments: Enter at 21st Street
8:55-9:00 Welcome
9:00–9:55 Address by Ambassador John D. Negroponte (Video and transcript)

With Friends Like These: The United States and its Allies (Video and transcript)

Chair: Erin Mahan, Chief Historian, Office of the Secretary of Defense

  • Edward Miller, Dartmouth College, “Vanguard of the “Personalist Revolution”: Ngô Đình Diệm, Ngô Đình Nhu and the Rise of the Cần Lao Party”
  • Effie Pedaliu, University of the West of England-Bristol, “When ‘More Flags’ Meant ‘No European Flags’: The U.S., Its European Allies and the Vietnam War, 1964–74”
  • Andrew Wiest, The University of Southern Mississippi, “Anatomy of a Flawed Alliance: The Nature of the U.S. Alliance with the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces during the Vietnam War”

Commentator: Fred Logevall, Cornell University

11:30-1:15 Lunch

Fighting While Negotiating: Force and Diplomacy in the Vietnam War (Video and transcript)

Chair: Edward Keefer, Historian, Office of the Secretary of Defense

  • Harish Mehta, University of Toronto and Trent University, “‘People’s Diplomacy’: The Diplomatic Front of North Vietnam during the War against the United States, 1965-1972”
  • Stephen Morris, Johns Hopkins University SAIS, “The Effectiveness of Military Force in Achieving a Desired Diplomatic Outcome in Vietnam: From the Cambodian Incursion to the Easter Offensive, 1970- 1972.”
  • Stephen Randolph, National Defense University, “Turning on Both Sides: The Linebacker II Air Campaign, December 1972”

Commentator: Robert McMahon, Ohio State University

2:45-3:00 Break

The Battle for Hearts and Minds: Counterinsurgency and Reconstruction Programs in Vietnam (Video and transcript)

Chair: Richard Hunt, Historian, Office of the Secretary of Defense

  • Elie Tenenbaum, Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), and Jean-Marc LePage, Karraoul High School, “French-American Relations in Intelligence and Counterinsurgency during the First Indochina War”
  • Geoffrey Stewart, University of Western Ontario, “Community Development, Modernization and Exceptionalism in South Vietnam, 1957-1963”
  • Robert Kodosky, West Chester University, “To Forgive and Forget: The Forgotten Lessons of Dai Doan Ket, a Program for National Reconciliation in Vietnam, 1967–1972”

Commentator: Pierre Journoud, Institute for Strategic Research, École Militaire, French Ministry of Defense.

4:30-4:45 Break

Ours to Reason Why: Intervention in Vietnam, Reaction in America (Video and transcript)

Chair: Donald Ritchie, Historian, Senate Historical Office

  • Frank Cain, University of New South Wales, “War for the Asking: How America Became Involved in the Vietnam War”
  • Fabian Hilfrich, University of Edinburgh, “Contesting Patriotism: The Meanings of Patriotism and Dissent in the Debate on the Vietnam War (1964-1968)”
  • Stephen Griffin, Tulane Law School, “The Legal Justification for the Vietnam War: Backwards and Forwards with Nicholas deB. Katzenbach”

Commentator: David Anderson, California State University, Monterey Bay

Vietnam Photo Gallery

The Conference has assembled a rich gallery of photos relating to the people and events covered by the conference.

Background Materials

The following information is a brief overview, by no means complete, suggesting where one may begin to review and read up about U.S. policy in Southeast Asia during the 1946 to 1975 period in advance of the conference.

Post-Conference Reviews

On July 27, 2011, H-Diplo published two reviews of the conference by Jeffrey P. Kimball (Emeritus, Miami University) and Mark Moyar (Independent Scholar), introduced by Thomas Maddux (California State University, Northridge). The introduction and reviews are available from the H-Diplo Conference Reports, Reviews, & Papers website.