Friday, February 18, 2005

Well, third base at least...

I'd like to make a second book plug, this time for "All The Way With JFK? Britain, the US and the Vietnam War" by Peter Busch (full disclosure: Dr Busch teaches contemporary security issues at King's).

I stumbled upon the book in Borders in York over the weekend and recognising it as both by a member of staff and about a subject in which I have no small degree of interest, I bought it.

It's excellent. It deals with, pretty obviously, Britain's involvement in Vietnam and takes a somewhat revisionist stance arguing that British involvement was far more enthusiastic than previously recognised.

This is a valuable line of inquiry in itself. Dr Busch sets upon two main strands, the first being British concerns to maintain great power status and credibility in the eyes of both the USA and the Asian Commonwealth, the second being a general embrace of the "Domino Theory". I am yet to be entirely convinced on the second point, as it files in the face of other well researched works I have encoutered that argue strongly that British strategic thought was broadly unconvinced on this count. However, that is not to say that I am rejecting the notion - but I will have to revisit various older texts and have a plough through the footnotes and see how the two theories hold up against each other, something I have not had the chance to do at the time of writing.

Perhaps more exciting for me is the fact that the book deals in some depth with the workings of the BRIAM and it's head, Sir Robert Thompson. There have, of course, been various studies that have taken into account the BRIAM's work in the past, as well as the theories of Sir Robert Thompson. However, "All the Way with JFK" does an excellent job of placing the BRIAM's presence and activities into a broader context and looking into how this sometimes served to distort its work and dilute its effectiveness.

If Vietnam is your thing (or counterinsurgency for that matter), you could do far worse that getting hold of a copy.

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