Gareth Porter

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Gareth Porter
Gareth Porter on RT.jpg
Gareth Porter during a February 2012 interview on RT
Born (1942-06-18) June 18, 1942 (age 80)
Independence, Kansas, United States
Alma materCornell University
AwardsMartha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism (2012)

Gareth Porter (born June 18, 1942) is an American historian, investigative journalist, author and policy analyst specializing in U.S. national security issues. He was an anti-war activist during the Vietnam War and has written about the potential for peaceful conflict resolution in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.[1] In the late 1970s Porter was a defender of the Khmer Rouge (KR) against charges that the KR was pursuing genocidal policies against the Cambodian people. Porter's books include Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam (2005), his explanation of the United States involvement in the Vietnam War.[2]

Education and early career[edit]

Porter was raised as a member of the Church of the Brethren and attended Manchester College in Indiana (a Brethren School) for three years before transferring to the University of Illinois, where he graduated in 1964.[3][4] 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.[5][6] He has taught international studies at the City College of New York and American University in Washington D.C., and he was the first Academic Director for Peace and Conflict Resolution in the Semester program at the university.[1]

Porter was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, and was a chairman of the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars at Cornell.[7] From 1970–1971, he served as the Saigon Bureau Chief for Dispatch News Service International,[8] and later, he was the co-director of the Indochina Resource Center, a research and education organization opposed to the Vietnam War which was based in Washington, D.C.[1]


Porter reported on political, diplomatic and military developments in the Middle East for Inter Press Service between 2005 and 2014.[9] His analysis and reporting appeared from the 1970s to 1990s in Foreign Policy,[10] Foreign Affairs,[11] and The Journal of Environment & Development,[12] and later for Al-Jazeera English,[13] The Nation,[14] Salon,[15] The Huffington Post,[16] CounterPunch,[17],[18] The American Conservative[19] and Truthout.[20] He is a director of Consortium News.[21]

Since 2006, Porter has been investigating allegations made by the U.S. and Israel about Iran's nuclear program,[22][23][non-primary source needed] and has reported on U.S. diplomacy and military and intelligence operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.[24]

Porter is the author of many books, including Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam,[25] 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 book, Perils of Dominance, analyzes the role of the military in the origins of the Vietnam War.[25]


In a series of articles and academic papers, Porter challenged 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,[26] he questioned the assertion by Indochina expert Bernard Fall that 50,000 may have died in North Vietnam's land reform program and the estimates of others alleging the mass execution of hundreds of thousands of people. His analysis estimated that the real number of casualties was between 800 and 2,500. These conclusions have been challenged by several writers, including Daniel Teoduru,[27][28] Robert Turner,[29] and Hoang Van Chi.[30] Scholar Edwin Moise later estimated a death toll of 13,500.[31]

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."[32] A 1970 report by Stephen T. Hosmer utilizing Viet Cong documents suggested that at least 2,800 persons were killed.[33] Porter stated 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 different.[32]


In 1976, George C. Hildebrand and Porter, then directors of the antiwar Indochina Resource Center, published a study in September 1975 challenging claims that the evacuation of Phnom Penh had been an “atrocity” causing famine. Instead they said it was a response to Cambodians’ “urgent and fundamental needs” and “it was carried out only after careful planning for provision of food, water, rest and medical care.”[34]

In 1976, Hildebrand and Porter author a book titled Cambodia: Starvation and Revolution, which compared the ways the U.S.-backed Khmer Republic and the administration of the Chinese-backed Communist Party of Kampuchea.[34] Pol Pot was then secretary general and prime minister by Fall 1977, the party's cadres were colloquially known as the Khmer Rouge.[35] The authors challenged the prevailing media accounts of ideological fanatacism and cruelty by the latter,[36] and argued instead that the Democratic Kampuchea program constituted a rational response to the serious problems confronting the Cambodian nation: disease, starvation, economic devastation, and cities swollen with millions of refugees after years of American bombing.

Testifying before Congress in May 1977, Porter read a prepared statement which began:

The situation in postwar Cambodia has generated an unprecedented wave of emotional—and at times even hysterical—comment in the United States and Western Europe. The closing off of Cambodia to the foreign press, making the refugees the only source of information used by the media, and the tendency of many refugees to offer the darkest possible picture of the country they fled have combined to provide a fertile ground for wild exaggeration and wholesale falsehood about the government and its policies. The result is the suggestion, now rapidly hardening into conviction, that 1 to 2 million Cambodians have been the victims of a regime led by genocidal maniacs....the notion that the leadership of Democratic Kampuchea adopted a policy of physically eliminating whole classes of people, of purging anyone who was connected with the Lon Nol government, or punishing the entire urban population by putting them to work in the countryside after the "death march" from the cities, is a myth."

He criticized the work of other writers with different views of the character of the Khmer Rouge, stating: "Both [François Ponchaud's and [John] Barron and [Anthony] Paul's books fail to measure up to even the minimum standards of journalism or scholarship, and their overall conclusions and general tone must be regarded as the product of overheated emotions and lack of caution. Moreover, there is enough evidence available from various sources, including material published by Ponchaud himself, to discredit the extreme thesis propounded by both books."[37][non-primary source needed]

When Congressman Stephen J. Solarz asked if any of the experts could "explain why what happened in Cambodia actually happened", Porter responded, "I cannot accept the premise of your question, which is that...1 million people have been murdered systematically or that the Government of Cambodia is systematically slaughtering its people." In response, Solarz characterized the scholars defending the Khmer Rouge, including Porter, as "cowardly and contemptible." Solarz called the actions of the Khmer Rouge government "monstrous."[38][non-primary source needed]

Hildebrand and Porter were criticized in April 1978 by British author William Shawcross in The New York Review of Books, who wrote that their "use of evidence can be seriously questioned". He accused them of writing "an extremely sympathetic, indeed approving, account". Shawcross commented that "their apparent faith in Khmer Rouge assertions and statistics is surprising in two men who have spent so long analyzing the lies that governments tell".[35] In response to Shawcross, Porter responded in the NYRB in July 1978: "As anyone who has seen the book will know, nothing could be further from the truth. We document the conditions under which the evacuation took place from Khmer refugee reports, as well as European and American eyewitness accounts." Porter further commented: "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." Shawcross responded: "it is a tribute to his own integrity that he now agrees that the Khmer Rouge have imposed 'unnecessary costs' on the Cambodian people. He should, however, be a little more careful before he accuses others of deliberately falsifying evidence and of intellectual dishonesty."[36]

In her 2002 book on genocide and its reporting, A Problem from Hell, Samantha Power wrote that

Without ever having visited the country, [Porter and Hildebrand] rejected atrocity reports. The city evacuations, they argued, would improve the welfare of Cambodians, whose livelihoods had been devastated by the Nixon years. They were convinced that American and European media, governments, and anti-Communists were colluding to exaggerate KR sins for Cold War propaganda purposes. This account was read widely at the State Department and received backing from Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman.[34]

In 2010, Porter said he had been waiting many years for someone to ask him about his earlier views of the Khmer Rouge. He described how the climate of distrust of the government generated during the Vietnam war carried over to Cambodia. "I uncovered a series of instances when government officials were propagandizing [about the Vietnam war]. They were lying," he explained. "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".[39]


Porter has written on the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war, including the Ghouta chemical attack which occurred during the Syrian Civil War.[40] Porter wrote in September 2013 about the origins and content of the White House intelligence report entitled U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government's Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013, commenting that analysis by Inter Press Service (IPS) and interviews with former intelligence officials indicated the report only consisted of White House-selected information, and failed to accurately reflect the opinions of intelligence analysts.[41][non-primary source needed] He queried the "assumption that it was a Syrian government-sponsored attack" by asserting that "significant new information has become available that makes an attack by opposition forces far more plausible than appeared to be the case in the first weeks after the event."[42][non-primary source needed]

In response to Porter's statements questioning the use of chemical weapons in Syria by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the British organization Bellingcat stated that Porter "relies heavily on ignoring the tests by the OPCW that detected Sarin in samples" and that "Porter relies on the usual chemical weapon truther claims that these results were from samples being tampered with in someway, without presenting any actual evidence it took place".[43]


Gareth Porter argues that "the analysis of Khamenei’s fatwa [against nuclear weapons] has been flawed" not only because the role of the "guardian jurist" in the Iranian political-legal system is not understood completely, but also because the history of Khamenei's fatwa is ignored. He also says that to understand Iranian policy toward nuclear weapons, one should refer to the "historical episode during its eight-year war with Iraq" which explains why Iran never used chemical weapons against Iraq when seeking revenge for Iraqis attacks which killed 20,000 Iranians and severely injured 100,000 more. Porter argues that this fact strongly suggests that Iran has sincerely banned developing chemical and nuclear weapons and it is "deep-rooted".[44][non-primary source needed]

In 2014, Porter attended an anti-Zionist conference in Tehran, New Horizons, which was reported to have been a platform for antisemitism and Holocaust denial.[45] Porter told BuzzFeed News that he would not have attended the conference if he had known the extremist views of other conference participants.[46]


In 2012, Porter was awarded the annual Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism at 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.[24][47][48] He has also been awarded a Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.[21]



  1. ^ a b c "Gareth Porter". Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  2. ^ Porter, Gareth. "Perils of Dominance", University of California Press.
  3. ^ Horton, Scott (2019-06-17). "6/14/19 Interview #5,000: The Life and Times of Gareth Porter". The Libertarian Institute. Retrieved 2019-06-22.
  4. ^ "Gareth Porter". 1942-06-18. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  5. ^ Biographical profile Archived 2014-12-31 at the Wayback Machine; George Mason University; October, 2005
  6. ^ "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". Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  7. ^ 800 Attend Indochina Teach-In; The Cornell Daily Sun; Monica Reiss; April 14, 1972; pp.. 1, 9
  8. ^ "North America – Inter Press Service". Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  9. ^ " – Gareth Porter articles Archived 2012-06-20 at the Wayback Machine"
  10. ^ Time to Talk with North Korea; Foreign Policy; No. 34 (Spring, 1979), pp. 52–73
  11. ^ Cambodia: Sihanouk's Initiative; Foreign Affairs; Spring, 1988
  12. ^ Trade Competition and Pollution Standards: “Race to the Bottom” or “Stuck at the Bottom”; The Journal of Environment & Development; June 1999; Vol. 8 no. 2 133-151
  13. ^ "Gareth Porter – Profile". Al Jazeera English. 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  14. ^ Gareth Porter (2 April 2010). "Gareth Porter". The Nation. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  15. ^ Arming our own enemies in Iraq; Salon; June 6, 2008
  16. ^ "Huffington Post – Gareth Porter articles"
  17. ^ "Former Insiders Criticize Iran Policy as U.S. Hegemony » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names". CounterPunch. 2013-02-27. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  18. ^ "In Rush to Strike Syria, U.S. Tried to Derail U.N. Probe by Gareth Porter –". 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  19. ^ "Gareth Porter Responsible Statecraft". Responsible Statecraft. Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  20. ^ "Gareth Porter". 2013-08-08. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  21. ^ a b Whitaker, Brian (2018-01-20). "Prizes galore! Assad supporters win awards for 'integrity' – with help from a piano tuner in California". Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  22. ^ Porter, Gareth. "Burnt Offering Archived 2008-04-17 at the Wayback Machine", The American Prospect. May 21, 2006.
  23. ^ "Cracks Open in Iran Nuke Charges". Consortiumnews. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  24. ^ a b "IPS – Inter Press Service News Agency » Blog Archive » Gareth Porter wins Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism". 2012-06-16. Archived from the original on 2012-06-20. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  25. ^ a b Perils of Dominance – Gareth Porter – Paperback – University of California Press. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  26. ^ Porter, Gareth. "The Myth of the Bloodbath", Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars. September 1973.
  27. ^ "Appendix 1: "Official" Hanoi Sources" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  28. ^ "The Vietnam Center and Archive: Search Results" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
  29. ^ "Appendix II : Expert Punctures 'No Bloodbath' Myth" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  30. ^ "Appendix III : Mr. Daniel Tdodoru letter" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-12.; Moise, pp. 205-222; "Newly released documents on the land reform", Vietnam Studies Group, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2016-06-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), accessed 3 Oct 2015
  31. ^ Land Reform in China and North Vietnam (1983)
  32. ^ a b The 1968 'Hue Massacre', Indochina Chronicle 33 (June 24, 1974), 2–13 Archived May 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ Stephen T. Hosmer, Viet Cong Repression and its Implications for the Future (Rand Corporation, 1970), pp. 72–8.
  34. ^ a b c Power, Samantha (2002). A problem from hell : America and the age of genocide. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-06150-1. OCLC 48221415.
  35. ^ a b Shawcross, William (April 8, 1978). "The Third Indochina War". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  36. ^ a b Porter, Gareth; Shawcross, William (July 20, 1978). "An Exchange on Cambodia". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  37. ^ Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Human Rights in Cambodia; The Vietnam Center and Archive
  38. ^ "Hearing Before the Subcommittee on International Organizations of the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, Ninety-fifth Congress, First Session, on: Human Rights in Cambodia, 03 May 1977, Folder 02, Box 12, Douglas Pike Collection: Unit 11 – Monographs, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University, pp. 32-35 Accessed 6 May. 2014. <>, Archived 2016-03-16 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ Brinkley, Joel (2011). Cambodia's Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land. PublicAffairs. p. 49.
  40. ^ "Syria: How Newsweek Fell Prey to Chemical Weapons Disinformation". EA WorldView. 2018-02-10. Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  41. ^ Obama’s Case for Syria Didn’t Reflect Intel Consensus; IPS News Agency; September 9, 2013
  42. ^ Porter, Gareth (29 April 2014). "New Data Raise Further Doubt on Official View of August 21 Gas Attack in Syria". Truthout.
  43. ^ Higgins, Eliot (2018-02-09). "Newsweek Engages in Easily Debunkable Syria Chemical Weapon Trutherism with the Help of Ian Wilkie". Bellingcat. Retrieved 2019-02-13.
  44. ^ Porter, Gareth (16 October 2014). "When the Ayatollah Said No to Nukes". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  45. ^ Gray, Rosie (2014-10-01). "Antiwar Activists, 9/11 Truthers Gather In Tehran For Anti-Zionist Conference". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  46. ^ Gray, Rosie (2014-10-06). "U.S. Journalist Regrets Attending Conspiracy Conference In Tehran". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  47. ^ Tim de Ferrars. "The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism". Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  48. ^ "Truthout Contributor Gareth Porter Wins Prestigious Journalism Award". 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  49. ^ Porter, Gareth (1993). Vietnam. ISBN 0801421683.

Further reading[edit]

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