Classic Quotable: Edward G. Lansdale on how Americans are seen “Through Foreign Eyes” (1963)

Saturday, April 8th 2017

Major General Edward G. Lansdale (1908-1987) – an Air Force intelligence officer whose career included service in the Philippines during the Huk Rebellion and in Vietnam during that war – was a major thinker and practitioner in counterinsurgency.  He emphasized “hearts and minds,” psychological operations, and civic actions.  When William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick wrote their influential novel, The Ugly American, “Colonel Hillendale” was modeled on Lansdale.


A memorandum that Lansdale penned in 1963 is frequently cited by scholars, but it has not been available on the web.  Lansdale wrote the memorandum for military advisors in Vietnam, but its profile of the images, traits, and behaviors of Americans – touching on professional competence, language skills, accessibility, empathy, directness, enthusiasm, adaptability, patience, humor, temper, and politics -- is evergreen.  So is his counsel to “know the country” and “be a good guest.”


Title:              MEMORANDUM, From Maj. Gen. Lansdale, Subject: Through Foreign Eyes


Author:         Major General Edward G. Lansdale, USAF


Date:             October 7, 1963


Source:         History 463 Reader, Unconventional Warfare, USAF Academy Department of History, 1970

Scan-Lansdale.pdf614.45 KB

Donald M. Bishop is the Bren Chair of Strategic Communications at Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia. 

Mr. Bishop served as a Foreign Service Officer – first in the U.S. Information Agency and then in the Department of State – for 31 years.  Specializing in Public Diplomacy, political-military affairs, and East Asia, he attained the rank of Minister-Counselor in the career service.  He was President of the Public Diplomacy Council from 2013 to 2015 and is now a member of the Board of Directors. authors name for more info

Author: Donald M. Bishop

We welcome comments from our readers that advocate and shed light on the subject of public diplomacy. We avoid discussion that is politically partisan, commercial in nature or offensive. To prevent inappropriate comments and spam we screen each comment before publishing it, so please excuse us if you do not see your remark right away.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <h2><h3><h4><h5><h6><a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <u> <span> <p class=""><img>

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Stay Connected

Follow the Public Diplomacy Council on Facebook and YouTube and share your opinion about up-to-date issues with us. 

For more public diplomacy events, check out PDAA's website.