Gareth Porter

Gareth Porter

Gareth Porter during a February 2012 interview on RT
Born (1942-06-18) June 18, 1942
Independence, Kansas, United States
Alma mater Cornell University
Occupation Journalist
Awards Martha 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 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,[1] including his 2005 book 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.[2] Porter's analysis and reporting has appeared in academic journals, news publications and periodicals for four decades, and in 2012 he was the winner of the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, which is awarded annually by the Frontline Club in London to acknowledge reporting that exposes propaganda.[3][4]

Education and early career

Porter graduated from the University of Illinois.[5] 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.[6][7] 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.[1]

Porter was active as a Vietnam specialist and anti-war activist during the Vietnam War, and was a chairman of the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars at Cornell.[8] From 1970–1971, he served as the Saigon Bureau Chief for Dispatch News Service International,[9] and later, he was the co-director of the Indochina Resource Center, an anti-war research and education organization based in Washington, D.C.[1]


Porter has regularly reported on political, diplomatic and military developments in the Middle East for Inter Press Service since 2005.[10] His analysis and reporting has appeared in Foreign Affairs,[11]Foreign Policy,[12] The Journal of Environment & Development,[13] Al-Jazeera English,[14] Press TV,[15][16] The Nation,[17] Salon,[18] The Huffington Post,[19] CounterPunch,[20],[21] and Truthout.[22]

Since 2006, Porter has been investigating allegations made by the U.S. and Israel about Iran's nuclear program,[23][24] and he has done reporting on U.S. diplomacy and military and intelligence operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.[25]

Porter is also the author of several books, including Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam,[26] 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.[26]


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,[27] He challenges 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 concluded that the real number of casualties was much lower. Scholar Edwin Moise later estimated a death toll of 13,500.[28] but has been challenged by several writers, including Daniel Teoduru,[29][30] Robert Turner,[31] and Hoang Van Chi.[32]

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."[33] A 1970 report by Stephen T. Hosmer utilizing Viet Cong documents suggested that at least 2,800 persons were killed.[34] 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.[33]


In 1976, George C. Hildebrand and Porter published a book titled Cambodia: Starvation and Revolution, which compared the ways the U.S.-backed Khmer Republic and Communist Party of Kampuchea administrations each dealt with the problem of starvation in Cambodia. It challenged the prevailing media accounts of ideological fanatacism and cruelty by the latter,[35] 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. This charge is based on a kernal of truth: There were undoubtedly large numbers of killings in the newly-liberated areas immediately after the war by soldiers of the victorious army, motivated by vengeance, and diseases such as cholera and malaria have taken a heavy toll. Moreover, it may well be true that summary executions have been used by local officials to punish foes of the regime as well as others who have violated regulations. But 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 fostered primarily by the authors of a Reader's Digest book which was given massive advance publicity through Time magazine and then again when the book was condensed in Reader's Digest. The charge is not supported by serious documentary evidence, and it is contradicted by a number of reports from refugees themselves. A careful sifting through the available evidence suggests that this charge, like the infamous "bloodbath" in North Vietnam from 1954 to 1956 is an historical myth.

He went on to provide detailed information on conflicting eyewitness accounts by refugees before stating, "Both Ponchaud's and Barron and 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.[36] When congressman Stephen J. Solarz asked if any of the experts could "explain why what happened in Cambodia actually happened", Porter responded, "I must say that I cannot accept the premise of your question, which is that it is a fact that 1 million people have been murdered systematically or that the Government of Cambodia is systematically slaughtering its people."[37]

Hildebrand and Porter were criticized in 1978 by author William Shawcross for using Khmer Rouge sources in their research.[35] 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." In response to Shawcross, Porter responded, "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 noted, "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."[35]

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."[38]


Porter has reported extensively on Middle East conflicts, and his investigations have included the Ghouta chemical attacks during the Syrian Civil War.[39] Porter reported in September 2013 on the origins and content of the intelligence report titled "Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013", noting that analysis by IPS and interviews with former intelligence officials indicated the report contained only White House-selected information, and did not accurately reflect the views of intelligence analysts.[40] He has further challenged the "assumption that it was a Syrian government-sponsored attack" put forth by the Obama administration and others, saying 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."[41]


Gareth Porter argues that "the analysis of Khamenei’s fatwa 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".[42]


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.[25][43]



  1. 1 2 3 "Gareth Porter". Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  2. Porter, Gareth. "Perils of Dominance", University of California Press.
  3. "Truthout Contributor Gareth Porter Wins Prestigious Journalism Award". 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  4. Tim de Ferrars. "The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism". Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  5. "Gareth Porter". 1942-06-18. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  6. Biographical profile; George Mason University; October, 2005
  7. "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.
  8. 800 Attend Indochina Teach-In; The Cornell Daily Sun; Monica Reiss; April 14, 1972; pp.. 1, 9
  9. "North America – Inter Press Service". Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  10. " – Gareth Porter articles"
  11. Cambodia: Sihanouk's Initiative; Foreign Affairs; Spring, 1988
  12. Time to Talk with North Korea; Foreign Policy; No. 34 (Spring, 1979), pp. 52-73
  13. 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
  14. "Gareth Porter – Profile". Al Jazeera English. 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  15. Israel using US Congress to stop deal with Iran; Press TV; November 10, 2013
  16. "PressTV-'US, Israel rift deepens over Iran'".
  17. Gareth Porter. "Gareth Porter". The Nation. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  18. Arming our own enemies in Iraq; Salon; June 6, 2008
  19. "Huffington Post – Gareth Porter articles"
  20. "Former Insiders Criticize Iran Policy as U.S. Hegemony » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names". CounterPunch. 2013-02-27. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  21. "In Rush to Strike Syria, U.S. Tried to Derail U.N. Probe by Gareth Porter –". 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  22. "Gareth Porter". 2013-08-08. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  23. Porter, Gareth. "Burnt Offering", The American Prospect. May 21, 2006.
  24. "Cracks Open in Iran Nuke Charges". Consortiumnews. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  25. 1 2 "IPS – Inter Press Service News Agency » Blog Archive » Gareth Porter wins Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism". 2012-06-16. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  26. 1 2 "Perils of Dominance – Gareth Porter – Paperback – University of California Press". Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  27. Porter, Gareth. "The Myth of the Bloodbath", Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars. September 1973.
  28. Land Reform in China and North Vietnam (1983)
  29. "Appendix 1: "Official" Hanoi Sources" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  30. "The Vietnam Center and Archive: Search Results" (PDF).
  31. "Appendix II : Expert Punctures 'No Bloodbath' Myth" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  32. "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,, accessed 3 Oct 2015
  33. 1 2 The 1968 'Hue Massacre', Indochina Chronicle 33 (June 24, 1974), 2–13
  34. Stephen T. Hosmer, Viet Cong Repression and its Implications for the Future (Rand Corporation, 1970), pp. 72–8.
  35. 1 2 3 "An Exchange on Cambodia", New York Review of Books, July 20, 1978, accessed 25 May 2013
  36. Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Human Rights in Cambodia; The Vietnam Center and Archive
  37. "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. 34 Accessed 6 May. 2014. <>.ns, May 3, 1977, pp. 33–35
  38. Brinkley, Joel (2011). Cambodia's Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land. PublicAffairs. p. 49.
  39. In Rush to Strike Syria, U.S. Tried to Derail U.N. Probe; IPS News Agency; August 27, 2013
  40. Obama’s Case for Syria Didn’t Reflect Intel Consensus; IPS News Agency; September 9, 2013
  41. New Data Raise Further Doubt on Official View of August 21 Gas Attack in Syria; Truthout; April 29, 2014
  42. Porter, Gareth (16 October 2014). "When the Ayatollah Said No to Nukes". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  43. "Truthout Contributor Gareth Porter Wins Prestigious Journalism Award". 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  44. "Vietnam".
  45. "Perils of Dominance". University of California Press.

External links

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