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Origin of the phase "win the hearts and minds of the people"

Posted by James Briggs on April 12, 2003

In Reply to: Origin of the phase "win the hearts and minds of the people" posted by Martin Bogue on April 11, 2003

: I see this phrase popping-up all over I remember it's usage as pure propaganda used on the American people. I don't think they dared trying it on the worn torn seen and heard it all Veitnamese. I am just curious if its been around in one insidious form or another for alot longer than century.

There was an account in the Times within the past week or so of the start of the use of this phrase in its current context. Sadly, my newspaper is now in the recycling process! However, I think I recall that the first use in this context was by a British politician (?Harold MacMillan) in relation to the Communist insurgency was of the 1950s in Malaya, as it was then. There was a great deal of guerilla type activity in which many villagers helped the Communists. In order to stop this it was stated that 'we have to win their hearts and minds'. This, to the best of my memory, is the essence of the background.