Huntington University History Professor Published in Peer-Reviewed Journal

Dr. Tim Smith examines mid-20th-century British military officers’ diplomacy and business interests in “Vacation Diplomacy and Business Fracas.”

HUNTINGTON, Ind. — Dr. Tim Smith, professor of history at Huntington University, has published a new article about retired British military officers’ diplomacy and business interests related to Vietnam, Cambodia and Pakistan.

Smith’s new peer-reviewed article considers the advantages and disadvantages of using retired British military officers to enact “unofficial” soft-power diplomacy in areas of Cold War international turmoil — in particular General Sir Douglas Gracey’s 1951 tours of Vietnam, Cambodia and Pakistan.

Gracey’s visits to the battlegrounds in Cambodia and Vietnam were highly profitable and provided the British military with valuable insights concerning the French management of the First Vietnam War (1945-54). However, Gracey’s business interests, and a proposed visit to Pakistan, were more contentious, as the legacy of the First Kashmir War (1947-9), and Gracey’s role therein, was still a source of acute tension in Anglo-Indian-Pakistan relations.

“General Gracey used various approaches to Allied peacekeeping and peace enforcement as the general responsible for managing the power vacuum in Cambodia and the south of Vietnam at the end of the Second World War,” said Smith. “He was also controversially responsible for the Pakistan Armed forces during the First Kashmir War. Despite several historians taking an interest in Gracey’s role in these conflicts none appear to have spotted his later efforts at ‘unofficial’ retirement diplomacy. This piqued my interest, and it revealed not just the benefits of using a retired general in a conflict zone for British diplomacy but also the inherent weaknesses of doing so depending upon the circumstances.”

Dr. Tim Smith, FRHistS, joined the University faculty in 2007. He previously taught history at the University of East Anglia in the UK. He has produced four books concerning imperial and diplomatic history in Asia. 

“Vacation Diplomacy and Business Fracas: General Sir Douglas Gracey’s Tours of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Pakistan, in 1951” was published in volume 20 of the Historical Yearbook and is available through the Central and Eastern European Online Library at