This study begins with some attention to the political scene and leadership in Great Britain and the United States during the periods of conflict in Malaya and Vietnam, respectively. However, this section is not intended to substitute for a serious reading of original studies of these periods. Rather, the purpose is to identify several critical features that serve as a general guide to the political landscape linking Malaya to Great Britain and South Vietnam to the United States. Only in such a context can the full import of the conflicts be understood and properly analyzed.
It is a difficult proposition for a democracy to provide direct assistance to a Third World state engaged in counterrevolutionary warfare. The very nature of democracy--its free press and pluralistic politics--precludes visible involvement in counterrevolutionary efforts without considering the impact on domestic public opinion, the role of major domestic political actors, and the credibility of the domestic governing system. It follows that any examination of the counterrevolutionary efforts of Great Britain and the United States be placed in the context of domestic politics--issues moving the public, the national will, and political resolve of the times. Too often, political analysts and academics neglect this issue and presume that there is no relationship between the political issues of the day or the domestic scene and temperament and the ability to engage in counterrevolutionary efforts.