Week 2: Akira Iriye, The Globalizing of America, pp. 1-18, 131-216

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Robert McNamara and Dean Rusk Assess the Tet Offensive, 1968

McNamara: “The North Vietnamese and the Vietcong have not accomplished either one of their main objectives: to ignite a general uprising or to force a diversion of the troops which the South Vietnamese and the US have moves into the northern areas of South Vietnam, anticipating a major Vietcong and North Vietnamese offensive in that area.”

Rusk: “I think there is a psychological factor here we won’t be able to assess until a week or two after the event, and I might say also that we know there is going to be some hard fighting ahead.”

Robert F. Kennedy Calls Vietnam an Unwinnable War, 1968

“A total military victory is not within sight or around the corner… the pursuit of such a victory is not necessary to our national interest, and is even damaging that interest.”

“The best way to save our most precious stake in Vietnam – the lives our soldiers – is to stop enlargement of the war, and the best way to end casualties is to end the war.”

Walter Cronkite Criticizes a Policy "Mired in Stalemate," 1968

“To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.”

“It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”

Earle G. Wheeler's Report on Military Prospects After Tet, 1968

“Enemy losses have been heavy; he has failed to achieve his prime objectives… however, his determination appears to be unshaken.”

“The initial attack succeeded in a dozen places, and defeat in those places was only averted by the timely reaction of US forces. In short, it was a very near thing”

“General Westmoreland has asked for a 3-division-15 tactical fighter squadron force. This force would provide him with a theater reserve and an offensive capability which he does not now have.”

A Communist Party Evaluation, 1968

“Great and unprecedented successes recorded in all fields during the first-month phase of the General Offensive and General Uprising.”

“The puppet troop proselyting failed to create a military revolt movement in which the troops would arise and return to the people’s side.”

“The replenishment of troops and development of political forces of the infrastructure has been slow and has not net the requirements of continuous offensives.”

A U.S. Air Force Nurse Remembers the Tet Offensive (1968), 1987

“The first two days of the Tet offensive, we worked something like thirty hours without sleep… You constantly had something or other going – you didn’t have time to stand around and wait for the next rocket attack. You just kept working as long as you could.”

Robert Komer Recalls Tet's Impact (1968), 1987

“I always felt the Tet Offensive was a desperate gamble on the part of Hanoi.”

“It cost them enormously… the enemy had sacrificed the core of his guerilla movement… But it also fatally weakened us at the center of out political structure.”

“It was the Tet shock to the American psyche that made me first think we might lose.”

“Westmoreland’s conditional requisition, which is based on A. calling up the reserves and B. letting him use these troops to go into the sanctuaries, none of that is ever mentioned by Wheeler to either the president or to McNamara.”

“Wheeler’s the evil genius of the Vietnam war in my judgement.”

Clark M. Clifford Remembers His Post-Tet Questions (1968), 1969

“’Will 200,000 more men do the job?’ I found no assurance that they would.”

“’Can the enemy respond with a buildup of his own?’ He could and probably would.”

“’What are the estimated costs of the latest requests?’ First calculations were on the order of $2 billion for the remaining four months of that fiscal year, and an increase of $10 to $12 billion for the year beginning July 1, 1968.”

“’What is the best estimate as to how long this course of action will take?’ There was no agreement on an answer.”

“I was convinced that the military course we were pursuing was not only endless, but hopeless.”

Johnson Calls for Negotiations, 1968

“Tonight I renew the offer… to stop the bombardment of North Vietnam. We ask that talks begin promptly, and that they be talks on the substance of peace.”

“I have ordered our aircraft and our naval vessels to make no attacks on North Vietnam, except in the area north of the demilitarized zone where the continuing enemy buildup directly threatens Allied forward positions.”

“One day, my fellow citizens, there will be peace in Southeast Asia.”

A Cripplng Defeat for the United States, Robert Buzzanco

Robert Buzzanco seeks to puncture what he calls the “myth of Tet.” Rather than a severe military defeat for the North Vietnamese and Vietcong, as it is commonly portrayed, the Tet Offensive in reality constituted a crippling strategic and political defeat for the US and its South Vietnamese allies. The Pentagon, Buzzanco asserts, clearly understood at the time the catastrophic consequences of the Tet attacks for the US.

Tet and the Media, William Hammond

William Hammond explores the nature and influence of the media’s coverage of US policy in the immediate aftermath of the offensive. The consistently gloomy reports emanating from the media about US prospects in Vietnam following Tet, according to Hammond, helped shape American decision-making. Negative stories in the press and on television reinforced doubts about US policy within the Johnson administration itself, and ultimately contributed to LBJ’s decision in March 1968 to opt for a partial bombing halt and to pursue negotiations with North Vietnam.
Week 9
Beijing and the Vietnam Conflict 1964-1965: New Chinese Evidence
This articles gives a history of Beijing’s aiding with Hanoi and provides an analysis of its motives for doing so.
China’s Role in Vietnam 1954-63

  • Helped Ho Chi Minh with Anti-French War resulting in 1954 Geneva Accords

  • Giap takes several trips of China to “reach agreement on principal issues” in 1955

  • 24 December 1955, Chinese Military Advisory Group is withdrawn from Vietnam and replaced by a smaller one

  • Troung Chinh, VWP Secretary was accused of imposing China’s land reform model to Vietnam, which caused major problems and lead to Chinh’s dismissal.

  • Hanoi had serious food supply problems because of its failure to unite Vietnam so it still relied on Chinese ideas for improving production.

  • 1958 – China sought to promote a “national and democratic revolution”

  • Kennedy’s increase in size of MAAG in Spring 1961 and replacement of MAAG with MACV in 1962 aroused Chinese concern

  • Two schools of thought in Chinese FP: 1) adopt policy of peace and don’t give foreign aid that China can’t afford  Wang Jiaxiang // 2) Militant Line choosing confrontation with US  Mao (Mao’s policy won)

  • 1963- PRC and DRV agree that if US forces cross 17th parallel China would send combat troop into North Vietnam

  • Between 1956-73 China provides 270,00 guns and 10,000 pieces of artillery

China’s Reaction to US escalation

  • PRC trains North Vietnamese pilots in response to Gulf of Tonkin Incident and subsequent bombings

  • 2 April 1965 Pakistani President presents 4 point message to US on behalf of Beijing: 1) China will not provoke war 2) China will not stand for US imperialism 3) War means war including nukes 4) No boundaries of war – China will not sit here and wait to die

  • DRV secures Chinese troops to rebuild infrastructure destroyed by US bombings in 1965

  • June 1965 China agrees to match the support the US gives to SVN with its own assistance to NVN

  • 320,000 troops from Beijing ended up in Hanoi between 1965-73

  • The chance of Chinese intervention as in Korea shaped LBJ’s gradual approach

Explaining PRC support for DRV

Sense of Insecurity:

  • Mao was very concerned with prospect of war with US

  • Launched 3rd front project in 1964 to invest heavily in remote SW China to create an industrial base to serve as a strategic reserve in case of war with US

  • Mao believed that PRC needed to defend against paratrooper invasion in interior

  • April 9, Mao rescinds 6 point directive ordering Chinese Air force not to attack US airplanes in Chinese airspace

Commitment to National Liberation Movements

  • desire to form broad international front against US and USSR

  • Wanted to create intermediate zones of developed and developing countries to exist between superpowers

  • For Mao the Vietnam conflict was part of a broader challenge to imperialism across Asia, Africa and Latin America

  • Worked closely with 3 national liberation heroes (Castrom HCM and Ben Bella [Algeria])

Criticism of Soviet Revisionism

  • Post Khrushchev meetings went badly

  • Brezhnev was pro-intervention in DRV creating tension in China as PRC felt like it was DRV’s main supporter – now Hanoi could play them off against each other.

Domestic Need to Transform Chinese State and Society

  • Mao wanted to prevent Sec of State Dulles’ appraisal of peaceful evolution in socialist world

  • Problem of succession preoccupied Mao

  • Used US threat to intensify anti-imperialist feeling and mobilize population against revisionist giving rise to the Cultural Revolution.

Sino-Soviet Discord

  • ­Efforts to court DRV caused tension

  • Shared common ideological outlook (PRC, DRV, USSR)

  • 1968 Beijing and Hanoi’s strategic interests differ: Beijing sees US as counterbalance to USSR

  • PRC never acknowledged its sizable force in DRV and LBJ’s gradual approach was justified

Changes in Mao Zedong’s attitude to Indochina War 1949-73

  • Mao’s revolutionary theory of armed struggle to sieze power and class struggle complete the PRC worldview

  • After CCP won in China is sought to help communist parties elsewhere in Asia achieve the same goal  Vietnam (mainly ideological/ not geopolitical)

  • CCP military units in S China instructed to aid Ho Chi Minh as much as possible, which wasn’t much and HCM was angry but CCP was also angry as HCM had disguised his ideology in 1945 to try to get independence from France

  • Mao felt military victory in Vietnam was crucial despite USSR banner of peace in Indochina  bickering at Geneva, 1954

  • Mao began to give support to PAVN for Dienbenphu campaign before Geneva Conf but backed off when Dulles threatened to intervene if USSR/PRC sought to impose their political systems in SE Asia

  • China became a key-player in making HCM sign the Geneva Agreement, because of China’s new desire for peaceful reunification

From Preferring Peaceful Coexistence to Advocating Cold War Coexistence

  • Mao believed Geneva concessions were temporary and tactical as PRC had not been consolidated and DRV couldn’t achieve complete victory

  • China’s own domestic needs undermined Mao vision for revolution in the early years - building national power was highest priority  3rd force/5yr plan

  • Formation of SEATO was aimed at China, but Mao didn’t change his attitude, still focused on peaceful coexistence (Zhou Enlai promised China would not export revolution – even to Burma where it was gaining strength)

  • Mao used peace offensive to try to win over SEATO countries like Thailand and Malaysia

  • Even though Mao emphasized compromise and peace, he hadn’t changed his views on revolution and war.

  • Mao reemphasized ware and revolution after Khrushchev denounced Stalin claiming that capitalism could develop socialism through “peaceful transition”

  • Sino Soviet Dispute intensifies by end of 1950s – Mao most angered about USSR unwillingness to continue the (violent) revolution, which Mao viewed as key to the success of China

  • Mao declares that cold war coexistence replaces peaceful coexistence after guerilla wars in Algeria, Philippines, Paraguay and Cuba.

  • Wang Jiaxing ideas rejected by Mao (explained in prev article)

  • CCP claimed that China occupied centre of world revolution  open break in sino soviet dispute, which became issue of whether to continue the revolution

  • Implications for DRV as they need the support of both PRC and USSR!!

  • Mao wanted VWP on their side

From Opposing US-DRV Peace Talks to Aligning with US against Moscow

  • VWP wanted USSR/PRC harmony to further its goal of national reunification as it would jeopardize support for stuggle against US

  • DRV felt if it allied with China it would be in a bad position w.r.t. US thus was inclined to try to make USSR and PRC both cooperate

  • Kruschev’s willingness to cooperate with the US (Cuban missile crisis) and he refused to publicly support armed struggle in South Vietnam  DRV resenetment against USSR

  • VWP increasingly relied on PRC support to match US escalation

  • Dec 1964 agreement to send 300,000 troops to DRV so PAVN could focus on war in South against US  official start of direct PRC involvement

  • Brezhnev replaces Khrushchev leading to change in USSR stance which would provide all support necessary to DRV publicly

  • 1965 - PRC allows USSR aid to be transported through China to DRV

  • Dilemma – wants to support Hanoi but doesn’t want USSR weapons in its territory – compromising national security – a key theme for mao

  • CCP had concluded that USSR was opposed to revolution ideologically it had suspicions about why it supported DRV

  • Disputes of transport of weapons through PRC increased

  • PRC sought to smash DRV-US peacetalks (brought about by Rolling Thunder’s effects on DRV) by sending troops to restore DRV infrastructure

  • Mao believed that USSR and US would launch a joint attack on PRC

  • 1966 – CCP And Japanese Communism Party (JCP) agree on condemnation of revisionism

  • Mao claims USSR is using its assistance to DRV to hide its betrayal of the Vietnamese people

  • DRV did not agree with Mao’s argument that one must oppose both imperialism and revisionism – DRV wanted to impose imperialism but was happy to support USSR revisionism as it gained support from them

  • Mao saw Vietnam war as way to expose “Deception of soviet revisionism” but found it hard to force other communist parties to separate themselves from USSR

  • Mao happy with unrest in Burma and Thailand and now publicly supported their communist parties

  • Sought to align with US to resist USSR

  • In 1971-72 met with Kissenger to urge US withdrawal from Vietnam

  • Mao lauded DRV-US peace talks but this didn’t improve relations with DRV because of revisionism disputes


1st stage – 1949-53  supported Vietnamese resistance against France (ideological beliefs dominant)

2nd Stage – 1954-57  endorsed peace and democracy and favored end of armed struggle in Vietnam

3rd Stage – 1958-69  supported DRV’s anti-American war and opposed peace talks between Hanoi and Washington (Change caused by development of nationalist sentiment of humiliation)

4th Stage – 1970-73  approved DRV-US peace talks as buffer against USSR

  • Mao maintained his revolutionary impulse that allowed him to sieze power

  • Willing to place support of revolution above nat’l sec, and economic development showed his commitment to revolution

  • Only didn’t support war when he was forced to face the realities of power politics in 1954-57 and after Sino Soviet Border war in 1969 which threatened the survival of his regime

Week X (4/12 and 4/14)

America’s Lost War, Charles Neu

Chapter 7 and 8
Chapter 7: Nixon’s War 69-70 p. 155

New Administration Takes Hold

  • Nixon enters the White House and there is great mistrust of him and his inability to lead nations, to deal w domestic and foreign policy

  • But, he was a shrewd, intelligent, and experienced man.

  • He wanted to be remember for foreign policy success  needed a strong national security adviser.

    • Selected Kissinger, a man known for his suspicion of people and inst; he loved secrecy

  • Nixon wanted a more pragmatic approach to the Cold War; wanted to create linkages with Communist ctrys

June 25, 1969

  • Nixon Doctrine emerges  Am wild rely on more allies in fighting Communism; Am wld no longer try to do everything, to try to save the whole world alone (this rhetoric differed v much from the grand language of JFK)

p. 157

Vietnam Dilemma

  • Nixon promised peace w honor, but peace wasn’t really his intention

    • Didn’t want to lose

    • He misunderstd the war. Thought it was all abt Communist aggression and didn’t realize the indigenous aspect of the struggle

  • The number one chllge of his presidency was Vietnam: he proposed Viet’tion, to wdraw Am troops and expand the role of the SVA.

  • He proposed bold diplomacy to the northern leaders  wanted to make them think he was a madman willing to do anything. Nixon was filled w gr optimism abt his ability to end war in 1yr

p. 158

No Quick Exit

  • Pple were v divided in Washington over how well the war was really going. But everyone agreed the Thieu cld not handle the Communists without US aid

  • In March, Nixon started bombing enemy bases in Cambodia  meant to be a sign of Am’s seriousness to the north

  • Antiwar campaigns on Am’s campuses increased

    • Spring 69: hard for Nixon to visit many colleges

  • Thieu was worried abt Viet’tion; Kissinger was also worried abt it bc he feared Hanoi wld never agree to negotiate if Am troops were wdrawing and no longer a threat.

    • Nixon somehow calculated that a combination of threats, intl isolation, Viet’tion wld force Hanoi into negotiations.


Threats and Maneuvers

  • In July, Nixon felt v pressured for time and to do smthg  Congress wld reconvene in Sept, and college students wld also be back.

  • Needed to increase pressure on the north; decided to use more force

  • Duck Hook was going to be extensive attack on the north  it eventually did not happen bc protests in Am became so strong.

    • Oct 15: Vietnam moratorium: protests had now moved from just college campuses to the mainstream. Nixon stunned.

  • Nov 3: Nixon gave speech abt “silent majority” that he hoped existed. “we cannot lose; let us unite for peace”

    • But then My Lai happened, Life magazine printed the photos, and the extent of the ugliness of this war was exposed and confirmed.

  • In 69, 115,500 troops were wdrawn.

    • It was sig achievmt, but the quick exit plan had clearly failed.

    • Still, Nixon was somehow optimistic that in 70, his approach to ending the war wld succeed.  but Nixon contd to misunderstd the will of NV leaders and their sense of sacred duty to win their cause.

p. 165

One War

  • Abrams in SV was charged with trying to shift the war focus: away from destroying the enemy and to preparing ARVN for taking over combat.

  • Many pblms w shifting more responsibility to ARVN:

    • Thieu and Diem had both relied on patronage in army to build support  many commanders were inept, but their loyalty was more impt than their competence. Thieu refused to remove the incompetent ones bc he feared losing all his support in the ARVN

    • ARVN relied heavily on Am mil training and logistical support; it cld not manage without Am equipment; ARVN commanders didn’t really know how to lead lg scale operations.

    • Desertion rate was v high in ARVN; fighters not getting paid or food  lack of will to fight

p. 168

Enemy regroups

  • For Communist revolutionaries, Tet Offensive was miscalculation.  Life for the Viet Cong fighter became harder after the Offensive; American damage was getting more intense

  • Balance between southern and northern soldiers fighting in SV changed. By 1969, more NVA soldiers in VC units. But Communists forces were not doing v. well in SV anyway; decided to regroup.

  • June 1969: NLF and other neutralists in SV formed Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) for time when there were serious negotiations; the group would represent “legitimate interests” of SV’ese.

  • HCM died Sept 2, 1969. Little change in NV’s policies. Le Duan leader of DRV; Pham Van Dong remained premier.

  • Growing tensions between southern and northern comrades  southern revolutionaries concerned about their autonomy upon victory.

p. 171

The Cambodian incursion

  • Jan 1970: Nixon sent team to assess progress of Vietnamization in SV. Mixed report, although it was clear that the enemy was showing no signs of giving up, and SV leaders were pessimistic, fearing Am retreat.

  • Sec Def Laird and Sec St Rogers wanted more disengagemt; Kissinger worried that troop wdrawals would leave no incentive for Hanoi to negotiate. Nixon still somehow optimistic that w/ threats, mil moves, pwr diplomacy, and Vietnamization, Hanoi would yield. Nixon expected war to end in late 70 or early 71.

  • Feb-Apr 1970: Kissinger held secret talks with Le Duct Tho, top negotiator for NV. Neither side willing to budge.

  • Nixon contd to nurture heroic fantasies about ending the war firmly and decisively.

  • Late Apr: Nixon reported to US that Viet’tion was working v. well; 150,000 more troops to wdraw in 1970.  still, many more troops remained. Nixon’s optimism unfounded and delusional.

  • Spring of 1970: Nixon turned to Cambodia, where NVA troops had long been stationed, w Prince Sihanouk trying to stay uninvolved and accepting this presence. P. Sihanouk overthrown by Cambodian mil, and Gen Lon Nol chllgd NVA in Cambodia. NVA responded with push westwards.

    • Nixon wanted big offensive in Cambodia to defeat NVA there.

    • April 70: Nixon announced Cambodian invasion to Am w/ sweeping grand rhetoric about pwrful, brave Am doing what was right, preventing totalitarianism in this free world, and defeating the enemy.

    • But Cambodian invasion sparked great protests. Student strikes on 350 campuses  Kent St (May 4, 1970) four students killed; Jackson St (May, 70) two more students killed.

    • Am’s approval of war and Nixon’s handling of it plummeting.

  • By the end of 1970, Nixon’s dilemma in V. had gotten worse. With smllr no. of forces in SV, Nixon had less leverage against Hanoi, and Hanoi seemed unthreatened by Am diplomacy. All Nixon cld hope for was to strengthen SV forces enough to keep the north at bay.

p. 175

A Changing War

  • A new phase of the war: although there were still 385,000 Am troops in SV, their role had chgd. The focus was pushing Viet’tion, reducing number of Am troops consistently, lower Am casualties. Focus was no longer mil victory—ARVN units assumed more responsibilities in the field.

  • New mood of Am troops—more rebellious, more adamant abt not dying needlessly.  decrease in offensive operations and obvious decision by Am leaders not to seek a mil victory led to decline in troop morale and discipline.

    • Racism, drug use, corruption, crime, fragging, desertion, etc all increased.

  • Although Am troops were pulling out, there was one impvt: in the countryside. Significantly, the Mekong Delta was more peaceful than it had been in years.

p. 176

Hau Nghia Province

  • Impoverished, densely populated area northwest of Saigon, bordering Cambodia. Had been a transit place for NVA and VA en route to Cambodia and SV. It was a v. contested region during the early part of war, by 1965, govt authority had collapsed.  ARVN troops prevented total takeover, and Am troops eventually arrived to help prevent its fall.

  • Although HN Province did not fall to the VC, the Am’s were also unable to totally pacify the VC mil units. Phoenix pgm, designed to root out insurgents in the shadow govt, failed to succeed bc govt officials were too scared of NLF assassination squads to aggressively root out NLF members.

    • This type of pblm was typical of the weak govt in Saigon. Govt officials there were not willing to risk v. much for their cause, while the Communist revolutionaries seemed much more committed to their cause.

p. 178

The Endless War

  • Fall of 1970: seemed like no end was in sight. Troops had been reduced by almost one-half, but dissatisfaction with the war was growing with no sign of letting up.

  • Nixon’s popularity dropped to below 50%; he had to continue w/drawing troops to satisfy domestic pressure.

  • He realized that he needed to figure out a way to wdraw and save face, but also to support the Thieu govt for long enough to make its continuance plausible.  Nixon’s ability to achieve what he needed in V rode on the success of Viet’tion.

Chapter 8: From Lam Son 719 to the Paris Peace Accords, 1971-73

p. 181

Lam Son 719

  • An attack on enemy supplies and installations in Laos had long been wanted. It was finally going to happen in 1971, but US advisers cld not accompany the ARVN troops bc in Dec 1970, Congress had passed the Cooper-Church Amendmt, prohibiting US troops from entering Laos or Cambodia.

  • ARVN carried out the attack, and it turned out to be a major failure of planning and execution. ARVN troops eventually retreated, defeated and demoralized, while Am public saw images of retreating ARVN troops on TV. Nixon, meanwhile, proclaimed the mission a successful test of ARVN troops and Viet’tion. He was obviously blind.


Pressure to End the War

  • Increased protest against the war, now from senators, Vietnam Vets, as well as college students.

  • Nixon still claiming that “Viet’tion had succeeded”

  • Impvd US relations with China and the Soviet Union, re: interncontinental ballistic missile launch sites.  Nixon and Kissinger hoped these two powers might pressure Hanoi to make some concessions.

  • No luck, as Kissinger tried to negotiate with Hanoi in May 1971, and Hanoi wld not budge.

  • Nixon started reaching out more to China—impving relations with China, once the great enemy that partially motivated the importance of the Vietnam War, suggested to Am that the war was no longer about global relations, but much more a matter of a local struggle.

  • June 13: Pentagon Papers published by Daniel Ellsberg, a Defense Dept analyst who leaked them to the NY Times.  Nixon shocked and outraged.  ordered group to stop the leakage.

p. 186

The View from Saigon

  • By the end of 1971, only 180,000 Am troops were left. Morale of these troops was super low, and they were pretty ineffective. Plans to expand and impve the SVA had been carried out  some people were optimistic abt the success of this Viet’tion of the war, others were far more critical.

  • As Am presence in SV decreased, the resentment and open criticism of Ams in SV increased.

  • Thieu contd to rule the ctry w patronage politics.

p. 188

Hanoi’s Calculations

  • Hanoi decided that it was better to attack in 72 than 72

  • Hanoi was leaning less on China for assistance and war materials (as relationships had soured) and was depending more and more on Soviet aid.  Am talks with China and SU made Hanoi nervous.

  • Leaders of Hanoi wanted to end the war with one decisive blow, to show Soviet and China NV’s strength, to show Viet’tion’s failure.

p. 190

Nixon’s Maneuvers

  • Nixon planned and announced trips to China and SU in 1971 for 72. despite diplomatic successes, he had his own political future to worry about—critics of the war were suspicious that the “success” of Viet’tion was at the cost of leaving SV and the Thieu govt out to dry. Nixon claimed that this wld not be the case.

p. 191

The Easter Offensive

  • March 30, 72: NV launched the Easter Offensive—massive invasion in SV  fighting lasted until June; many, many deaths.

  • Once again, Allied intelligence had been unable to predict exact nature and timing of these attacks from the north.  fierce fighting tested the limits of ARVN troops and leaders. Many were on the brink of total collapse; it was only when Thieu finally agreed to replace some incompetent field commanders that the South seemed capable of defending itself.

  • had it not been for US air power and advisers, it seemed clear that ARVN units would have been completely defeated.

  • Also, the NVA made some mistakes in deployment of forces  suffered maj casualties for that.

  • Still, NVA gained ground, experience, and put into question the “success” of Viet’tion

p. 194

Nixon’s Response

  • Nixon’s response was belligerent and aggressive. He was depressed at the idea of losing the VW and wldn’t really stand for it. He wanted all out effort from US to bomb NV, at least as much was politically possible. He announced decision to bomb mine waters off NV’ese ports and to bomb its rail and road links with China.

  • Republicans seemed to support Nixon’s hard stance, his refusal to lost the war, remove Thieu, or abandon the ARVN.

  • Democratic critics—particularly Sen McGovern—called his actions reckless and unnecessary.

p. 195

After the Battle

  • Early summer of 72, Gen Abrams and Amb Bunker contd to be hopeful abt the war. Both seemed convinced that Viet’tion had worked and SV cld now defend itself.

  • The mood in SV was more subdued—troops realized they had just barely escaped defeat

  • Hanoi also felt defeated. Easter Offensive had failed to shut down ARVN completely China and Soviet Union less anxious to see the war prolonged. Encouraged Hanoi to wait out Am’s departure (thus agreeing to Thieu’s retention) and then work to win SV when the Am had left.

p. 196

Politics and Diplomacy

  • Nixon was concerned about his chance for reelection, but then the Democrats ended up electing Sen McGovern as the pty nominee. McGovern was the extreme left of the pty’s wing, and Nixon was happy to be able to attack that extremism.

    • Most Americans seemed to still favor Nixon’s position to wdraw from Vietnam while still supporting the Thieu govt

  • Republican Natl Convention in Aug: Nixon had strong support; pty seemed unified.

p. 198

The Election of 72

  • Nixon leading McGovern by a lot in the polls.

  • Kissinger’s secret talks with Hanoi contd, and in Oct, he was ready to sign a deal with the north; Thieu had not yet been informed of the details.  this was Thieu’s greatest fear, that the US wld cut a deal with the north and then abandon the south.

  • Thieu, upon seeing the draft treaty finally, demanded many changes  Kissinger did not want to give in, and he wanted to go ahead and sign without Theiu’s consent. But Nixon was more ambivalent.

  • Kissinger reported “peace is at hand” and everyone was happy – but then some of the war critics looked more closely at the potential deal and wondered how it differed from anything that cld have been put together four yrs ago.

  • Nixon won most lopsided victory in Am history in 72 elections

p. 202

Peace at Last

  • Le Duc Tho wld not accept the changes proposed by Thieu; Thieu wld also not give in. Nixon decided to use bombs to pressure the north to giving in (when it was really the South that was the obstacle to signing this treaty)

  • Operation Line Backer II, the Christmas Bombings, began. No one—from Ams to other intl pwrs—cld understand why Am was bombing the hell out of the north; no one supported it, except maybe a few Republicans at home.

    • But Nixon was vicious and relentless. The bombs destroyed much of the north’s defense and ec.

  • Peace talks resumed  Kissinger and Le Duc Tho ready to sign an agmt that looked a lot like the one they had agreed on before the bombings started.

    • Thieu was still reluctant, but finally, in the 11th hr of Jan 22, he conceded to the terms.

    • Paris Peace Accords signed Jan 27, 1973  cease fire  this was supposed to be Nixon’s finest moment, but he felt apprehension abt the triumpj

    • Thieu felt even more apprehensive  it was a v. shaky peace, and the north cld resume its battle at any time, at which pt Nixon and Kissinger wld probably want to use air pwr again.

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