Gareth Porter (born June 18, 1942) is an American historian, investigative journalist, author and policy analyst specializing in U.S. national security policy. He was active as a Vietnam specialist and anti-war activist during the Vietnam War, serving as Saigon Bureau Chief for Dispatch News Service International from 1970-1971, and later, as co-director of the Indochina Resource Center. He has written several books about the potential for peaceful conflict resolution in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, the most recent of which is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, an analysis of how and why the United States went to war in Vietnam. He has been criticized for his writings about the Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia. Porter has also written for Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Inter Press Service, The Huffington Post, and Truthout, and he was the 2012 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, which is awarded annually by the Frontline Club in London to acknowledge reporting that exposes propaganda.
Education and career
Porter graduated from the University of Illinois. He received his master's degree in International Politics from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in Southeast Asian Studies from Cornell University. He has taught international studies at the City College of New York and American University, and he was the first Academic Director for Peace and Conflict Resolution in the Washington Semester program at American University.
Porter was active as a Vietnam specialist and anti-war activist during the Vietnam War. From 1970-1971, he served as the Saigon Bureau Chief for Dispatch News Service International, and later, he was the co-director of the Indochina Resource Center, an anti-war research and education organization based in Washington, D.C.
Gareth Porter wrote a series of articles and academic papers challenging President Richard Nixon's statement that there would be a communist "bloodbath" in South Vietnam if the U.S. withdrew its forces. In his 1973 monograph The Myth of the Bloodbath: North Vietnam’s Land Reform Reconsidered, he challenges the assertion by Hoang Van Chi, Bernard Fall, and others that North Vietnam's land reform program caused the mass execution of hundreds of thousands of people. His analysis stating that the real number of casualties was much lower is supported by the scholarship of Edwin Moise, but has been challenged by several writers, including Daniel Teoduru, Robert Turner, and Hoang Van Chi.
In 1974, Porter wrote a detailed criticism of U.S. Information Agency official Douglas Pike's account of the "Massacre at Huế during the Tet Offensive." A 1970 report by Stephen T. Hosmer utilizing Viet Cong documents suggested that at least 2,800 persons were killed. Porter claimed that Pike manipulated official figures to make it appear that over 4,700 civilians were murdered by the Viet Cong, and the numbers and causes of death were actually much different.
Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge
In 1976, George C. Hildebrand and Porter wrote a book discussing accounts of starvation and mass killings by the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. This book, Cambodia: Starvation and Revolution, was criticized by author William Shawcross for using Khmer Rouge sources in their research. Testifying before Congress in May 1977, Porter said that "the notion that the leadership of Democratic Kampuchea adopted a policy of physically eliminating whole classes of people" was "a myth fostered primarily by the authors of a Readers Digest book." He said that eyewitness accounts of Khmer Rouge atrocities by refugees were hearsay and second-hand information.
Congressman Stephen J. Solarz called Porter's justifications of the Khmer Rouge "cowardly and contemptible" and compared them to those who denied the murder of Jews in the Holocaust. Shawcross commented that Porter's and his co-author's "apparent faith in Khmer Rouge assertions and statistics is surprising in two men who have spent so long analyzing the lies that governments tell." In response to Shawcross, Porter responded, "It is true, as Shawcross notes from my May 1977 Congressional testimony, that I have changed my view on a number of aspects of the Cambodian situation. I have no interest in defending everything the Khmer government does, and I believe that the policy of self-reliance has been carried so far that it has imposed unnecessary costs on the population of Cambodia. Shawcross, however, clearly does have an interest in rejecting our conclusions. It is time, I suggest, for him to examine it carefully, because it does not make for intellectual honesty."
In 2010, Porter stated "I've been well aware for many years that I was guilty of intellectual arrogance. I was right about the bloodbath in Vietnam, so I assumed I would be right about Cambodia."
Porter has regularly reported on political, diplomatic and military developments in the Middle East for Inter Press Service since 2005. His writing has also been published in Al-Jazeera English, The Nation, The Huffington Post, CounterPunch, Antiwar.com, and Truthout.
Since 2006, Porter has been investigating allegations made by the U.S. and Israel about Iran's nuclear program, and he has done reporting on U.S. diplomacy and military and intelligence operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Porter is also the author of several books, including Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, Vietnam: History in Documents, Vietnam: The Politics of Bureaucratic Socialism (Politics & International Relations of Southeast Asia), Global Environmental Politics (Dilemmas in World Politics), Cambodia: Starvation and Revolution, and A Peace Denied: the United States, Vietnam, and the Paris Agreement. His most recent book, Perils of Dominance, analyzes the role of the military in the origins of the Vietnam War.
In 2012, Porter was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, an award given annually by the Frontline Club in London to acknowledge reporting that exposes official propaganda, for a series of articles about U.S. policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- A Peace Denied: the United States, Vietnam, and the Paris Agreement (1975) – This book is an analysis of the negotiation and implementation of the 1973 Paris Peace Agreement on Vietnam.
- Cambodia: Starvation and Revolution (1976) - This book challenges claims that mass killings were being carried out by the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia.
- Vietnam: A History in Documents (1981) – Porter originally edited this documentary history of the war in a two-volume hardcover edition published in 1979, and it was reissued in paperback under the above-mentioned title.
- Vietnam: the Politics of Bureaucratic Socialism (1993)
- Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam (2005) – This book challenges the liberal interpretation that the Vietnam war was the result of exaggeration of the Communist threat, and emphasizes the role of overconfidence that came with a decisive U.S. power advantage over the Soviet Union and China. Historian Andrew Bacevich, reviewing Perils of Dominance in The Nation, called it "without a doubt, the most important contribution to the history of U.S. national security policy to appear in the past decade."
- "Gareth Porter". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- Porter, Gareth. "Perils of Dominance", University of California Press.
- "Truthout Contributor Gareth Porter Wins Prestigious Journalism Award". Truth-out.org. 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
- Tim de Ferrars. "The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism". Marthagellhorn.com. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
- "Gareth Porter". Fanoos.com. 1942-06-18. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- Biographical profile; George Mason University; October, 2005
- "Obama MidEast Diplomacy Derailed by his Propaganda War, Gareth Porter in Washington, D.C., and Muhammad Khurshid in Pakistan : Dori Smith : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- "North America - Inter Press Service". Ipsnorthamerica.net. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- Porter, Gareth. "The Myth of the Bloodbath", Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars. September 1973.
- Land Reform in China and North Vietnam (1983)
- "Appendix 1: "Official" Hanoi Sources". Virtual.vietnam.ttu.edu. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- "Appendix II : Expert Punctures 'No Bloodbath' Myth". Paulbogdanor.com. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
- "Appendix III : Mr. Daniel Tdodoru letter". Paulbogdanor.com. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
- The 1968 'Hue Massacre', Indochina Chronicle 33 (June 24, 1974), 2-13
- Stephen T. Hosmer, Viet Cong Repression and its Implications for the Future (Rand Corporation, 1970), pp. 72-8.
- "An Exchange on Cambodia", New York Review of Books, July 20, 1978, accessed 25 May 2013
- Brinkley, Joel (2011). Cambodia's Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land. PublicAffairs. p. 49.
- "IPS.org - Gareth Porter articles"
- "Gareth Porter - Profile". Al Jazeera English. 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- Gareth Porter. "Gareth Porter". The Nation. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- "Huffington Post - Gareth Porter articles"
- "Former Insiders Criticize Iran Policy as U.S. Hegemony » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names". CounterPunch. 2013-02-27. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- "In Rush to Strike Syria, U.S. Tried to Derail U.N. Probe by Gareth Porter - Antiwar.com". Original.antiwar.com. 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
- "Gareth Porter". Truth-out.org. 2013-08-08. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- Porter, Gareth. "Burnt Offering", The American Prospect. May 21, 2006.
- "Cracks Open in Iran Nuke Charges". Consortiumnews. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
- "IPS – Inter Press Service News Agency » Blog Archive » Gareth Porter wins Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism". Ips.org. 2012-06-16. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- "Perils of Dominance - Gareth Porter - Paperback - University of California Press". Ucpress.edu. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- "Truthout Contributor Gareth Porter Wins Prestigious Journalism Award". Truth-out.org. 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- Antiwar.com Gareth Porter archives
- Stories by Gareth Porter for the news agency Inter Press Service
- Interview with Gareth Porter at Talk Nation Radio
- The Myth of the Hue Massacre, Herman, Edward and Porter, Gareth (1975), Ramparts (May–June 1975)