It has been more than 39 years since the last
The fall of the RVN was a result of various global and
domestic political factors. Adding
insult to injury, four star North Vietnamese People’s Army General Van Tien Dung, a textile worker in Ha Noi, North Viet Nam who joined the communist
party in 1945 and was promoted by Ho Chi Minh to two star general in 1948 without
any officer or military training, shamelessly trumpeted this event as a “Big Spring Victory” in his 1976 book
published in Ha Noi. Here, the
Communist General used this publication as a springboard to arrogantly and
falsely boast; “A year
has passed since the general attack and uprising in the Spring of 1975 that
achieved complete victory, totally defeated the aggression war and the
neo-colonial rule of the American imperialist and liberated the entire
On Memorial Day 2012, I write “The Truth of the
of the so-called “
by Hoi B. Tran
In July 1976, the
People’s Army Publisher compiled all stories that the communist general
Van Tien Dung had recounted to the People’s newspaper and published a
book titled “Big Spring Victory.” The book’s veracity is quickly established
in the introduction. Fraught throughout the book with typical communist
propaganda, the publisher ignominiously wrote; “The
book Big Spring Victory was published to help us understand clearly the serious
leadership, the lucidity, the determination, the flair of the Party’s
Central Politburo and the Party’s Military Central Committee, policy and
excellent art of war of our Party, at the same time encouraging our military
and our people to bring into play the heroic tradition, enhance the pride, the
belief, go forward to achieve many more new victories for the cause of
defending and building socialism for the whole nation.” And
right from the preface, Dung falsely
boasted: “A year has passed since the general attack and
uprising in the Spring of 1975 that achieved complete
victory, totally defeated the aggression war and the neo-colonial rule of the
American imperialist and liberated the entire
As history bears witness,
the publisher and Dung foolishly thought that this book full of valueless
propagandistic verbiage would be accepted as truth with the passage of time. Not
even 36 years is enough time to make General Dung’s gibberish or the
communist party’s ranting seem even remotely credible. The truth about the struggle between the
Nationalist and the Communists from 1954 to 1975 would no more be hidden than the injustices the Communist Party in Ha Noi
attempted to hide in their blatant violation of the Paris Agreement and
subsequent barbarous invasion of the Republic of Viet Nam (RVN) after
deceivingly signing the Agreement in Paris on January 27th,
Albeit desperately seeking to avoid culpability, the Communists used the ruse of the necessity of forcibly invading the RVN under the cover of fighting the American imperialist to “liberate the South.” After the war ended,
While writing this essay,
some of my Vietnamese brothers-in-arms suggested that we should forget the
past. With fanatical nationalistic ideology they like to just leave the
past conflict ambiguously so that in the future, the Vietnamese people would be
famous as history would record that
One truthful fact that
history cannot deny is the fact that had the Japanese not
overthrown the French on
undeniable painful reality is the RVN suffered many disadvantages since the
In terms of the just cause, the
an opportunity to use the slogan “Fight the American to save our country” to
- Psychologically, American people were shocked with heavy military casualty
and the cost to
support half a million
the presence of the U.S. MACV Headquarters in
the past two decades, innumerable
advantage of the 1969 Sino-Soviet border conflict, the
I returned to Ha Noi in the summer of 1998 to visit my mother after 44 years of
separation. During this period I
had the opportunity to meet some retired high-ranking people’s army
officers and numerous Ha Noi residents in their early sixties. Among these
officers some had fought in the
a former soldier of the RVN resettled in the
above mentioned “Memorandum of Conversation” is rather long and
covers many global issues. Some of
these global issues may be irrelevant to the
(1) New Perspectives on
(2) Apprentice of War - Memoir of a Marine Grunt by Gary L. Tornes. Page 247, Base pay: $155.00. Combat pay: $75.00. Overseas pay: $45.00. Total gross: $275.00. This was 1967.
Global Financial Data in Aug 1965, the official rate in the RVN was: US $1.00
dollar = $118.00 VN piastres. At this rate this
Air War Against
Chapter IV, page 1. “The president retained such firm control of the air campaign against the North that no important target or new target areas could be hit without his approval.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
TOP SECRET / SENSITIVE /
EXCLUSIVELY EYES ONLY
MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION
PARTICIPANTS: Prime Minister Chou En-lai
Vice Foreign Minister
Chang Wen-Chin, Assistant Foreign
Minister (second part only)
Tang Wen-sheng, Interpreter
Chi Chao-chu, Interpreter
Dr. Henry A. Kissinger,
Assistant to the President for National
Winston Lord, NSC Staff
John D. Negroponte, NSC Staff
Hall of the People,
(Below is the discussion
and negotiation on the future of the
Want to manipulate matters. That is their feeling – I don’t know their reason for this.
Dr. Kissinger: It is not our intention. We have no intention of forming a condominium – it would take an extraordinary circumstance for us to do this. It is not our intention to create a condominium. We do have the intention of building walls against expansionism, either political ones or physical ones. Our primary concern with local conflicts is when a big power attempts to exploit for its own ends.
Prime Minister Chou: In the Soviet objections to our communique with you it appears that they particularly expressed objection to this common principle: “Neither should seek hegemony...” Do they think that was directed against them?
Dr. Kissinger: They didn’t say, but they seem to think it might be directed
against them. We took the position it was directed only against countries that
want to establish hegemony. I had an interesting query from
So I told them this was not true. I hope you are not offended.
Prime Minister Chou:
Dr. Kissinger: It’s been governed by foreigners through most of its history.
Prime Minister Chou: Yes, that might be one of the historical factors. And an additional one that there are such big competitions in the world.
Now let’s go on to the
Dr. Kissinger: The Prime Minister said he had some observations he would like to make to me. Maybe we should reserve the places and let him talk first.
Prime Minister Chou: These are questions on which there are disputes, and we would like to listen to you first to see your solutions of the problem.
Dr. Kissinger: Is the Prime Minister’s suggestion that after he’s heard me I will be so convincing the disputes will have disappeared, and there will be no further need for him to make observations?
Prime Mininister Chou: I have no such expectations, but I do hope the disputes will be lessened.
Dr. Kissinger: I will make our candid assessment. I know it doesn’t agree with yours, but I think it is useful for you at any rate to understand how we see the situation. And I will take the situation from the start of the North Vietnamese offensive on March 30.
I believe that I have
explained to the Prime Minister what our general objectives in
When President Johnson put
American troops into
So that the
mere fact that we are sitting in this room changes the objective basis of the
original intervention in
So from the time we came into office we have attempted to end the war. And we have understood, as I told you before, that the Democratic Republic
Prime Minister Chou: What they are paying attention to is your so-called Vietnamization of the war.
Dr. Kissinger: But they have a curious lack of self-confidence. What have we tried to do? Let’s forget... they are masters at analyzing various points and forgetting the overall concepts. We have attempted to separate the military outcome from the political outcome so that we can disengage from the area and permit the local forces to shape their future. Curiously enough, the North Vietnamese have tried to keep us in there so that we would do their political work for them.
Last May 30, for example, we proposed that we would withdraw all our forces if there were a ceasefire and the return of prisoners. May 31 it was, not 30. Where would the North Vietnamese be today if they had accepted this? In a much better position than they are. But they didn’t accept it. Why? Because they want us to overthrow the government and put their government in. We are not negotiating. I am trying to explain our thinking. The practical consequences of our proposals have been to get us out; the practical consequence of their proposals have been to keep us in.
They have asked us...
there’s only one demand they have made we have not met and cannot meet
and will not meet, no matter what the price to our other relationships, and
that is that we overthrow ourselves the people with whom we have been dealing
and who, in reliance on us, have taken certain actions. This isn’t
because of any particular personal liking for any of the individuals concerned.
It isn’t because we want a pro-American government in
Prime Minister Chou: You say withdrawal of forces. You mean total withdrawal of Army, Navy, Air Forces, bases and everything?
Dr. Kissinger: When I was here last year the Prime Minister asked me that question. I told him we wanted to leave some advisors behind. The Prime Minister then made a very eloquent statement on the consequences of what he called “leaving a tail behind.” Largely as a result of that, we, within a month, changed our proposal so it now involves a total withdrawal of all our advisors in all of the categories which the Prime Minister now mentioned. We are prepared to withdraw all our forces.
Prime Minister Chou: How about your armed forces in
Dr. Kissinger: We are not prepared to remove our armed forces from
To explain what I mean by this act of betrayal, even though I know this is somewhat painful, Mr. Prime Minister, but I want to explain: If when I first came here in July the Prime Minister had said, “we will not talk to you until you overthrow Chiang Kai-shek and put someone in there we can accept,” then, dedicated as I am to Sino-American friendship, we could not have done it. It would have been impossible. The secret to our relationship is we were prepared to start an evolution in which the Prime Minister has expressed great confidence. Such an act would totally dishonor us and make us a useless friend of yours, because if we would do this to one associate we would do it to anybody.
return to the question about
Prime Minister Chou: The outcome of Dulles’ policy was the conclusion of a number of pacts and treaties, but now you want to abide by them. Isn’t that a continuation of his policy?
Dr. Kissinger: It is on one level. But on the other, when we make an agreement in
Prime Minister Chou: If after you withdraw and the prisoners of war are
repatriated, if after that, civil war again breaks out in
Dr. Kissinger: It is difficult for me to answer partly because I don’t want to give encouragement for this to happen. But let me answer it according to my best judgment. For example, if our May 8 proposal were accepted, which has a four-month withdrawal and four months for exchange of prisoners, if in the fifth month the war starts again, it is quite possible we would say this was just a trick to get us out and we cannot accept this.
If the North Vietnamese, on the other hand, engage in a serious negotiation with the South Vietnamese, and if after a longer period it starts again after we were all disengaged, my personal judgment is that it is much less likely that we will go back again, much less likely.
Prime Minister Chou: You said this last year too.
Dr. Kissinger: Last year if they had accepted our proposal it would now have been a year. If the North Vietnamese could transform this...
Prime Minister Chou: You said last year after you have withdrawn and the prisoners of war have been returned then as to what happens then, that is their affair. In principle you mentioned that.
Dr. Kissinger: In principle we are attempting to turn... it, of course, depends on the extent to which outside countries intervene. If one can transform this from an international conflict in which major world powers are involved, to a local conflict, then I think what the Prime Minister said is very possible. But this is our intention and since we will be making that policy, it is some guarantee.
Now, the difficulty has been that, for very understandable reasons, the North Vietnamese -- for whom as I have said to the Prime Minister many times, I have great respect – are acting out the epic poem of their struggle for independence through the centuries and particularly re-enacting their experiences of 20 years ago.
Prime Minister Chou: If we counted from the end of the Second World War, 27 years, and President Ho Chi Minh died for this cause before it was conpleted. President Ho Chi Minh was a revolutionary, but also a humanitarian and a patriot. I was well acquainted with President Ho Chi Minh. I had known him for 50 years. I have joined the Communist Party now for 50 years and knew him 50 years.
Dr. Kissinger: I never met him, but I knew a Frenchman in whose house Ho Chi Minh lived. In fact, I sent that Frenchman to talk to Ho Chi Minh in 1967 -- that’s how I became involved in Indochinese affairs.
Prime Minister Chou: Mr. Salisbury has also been to
Dr. Kissinger: It is the one place I have not been secretly.
Prime Minister Chou: That shortcoming might be the reason it hasn’t been solved yet. Maybe if you had been there you might be more clear about the situation.
Dr. Kissinger: I am clear about the situation. It’s the solution I am not clear about.
Prime Minister Chou: You have a new expert. Mr. Smyser had intestinal troubles.
Dr. Kissinger: But he recovered just before you served Peking Duck. (laughter)
Prime Minister Chou: He is still with you?
Dr. Kissinger: No, he went back to the university for a year, but he will come back after the year.
Prime Minister Chou: This system of yours is good, to have your staff go away to a university for a year and then come back.
Dr. Kissinger: I don’t think Smyser will work again on
Prime Minister Chou: Not necessarily. The
Dr. Kissinger: I agree with the Prime Minister that what we face now in
Prime Minister Chou: You could shake yourselves free from it.
Dr. Kissinger: No. It depends on what the Prime Minister means by shaking ourselves free. The withdrawal we can do; the other demands we cannot do. Let me complete my analysis of the situation.
I recognize the problem is objectively extremely difficult, and I admit we have demonstrated for 20 years that we do not understand Vietnamese conditions very well, but the North Vietnamese Government has also made a solution extremely complicated.
First, I have negotiated 13 times now... eight times with Le Duc Tho; five times with Xuan Thuy. What is the primary use when I negotiate? My primary use is to be able to go to the essence of the problem and to get a big decision made – that is my primary use in these negotiations. I am useful for big decisions, not for a series of little moves. The little moves should be done by the diplomats.
In the 13 meetings I have had with them they have engaged me in a petty guerrilla war in which we were acting on the level of middle-level lawyers in which we were looking for escape clauses in particular phrases. Time and again I have said to Le Duc Tho – I know this is painful for you incidentally, Mr. Prime Minister, and I know you are a man of principle who will stick to his allies, but I am trying to explain – let us set an objective, say in six months we will do this and that, and then we will find a tactical solution. And time and again they have rejected this. Time and again they have done so for essentially two reasons. One is that their fear of trickery is such that they spend more time working on the escape clauses than on the principal provisions of any agreement. And it forces them to demand immediately what we might be prepared to have happen over a period of years.
And secondly, the nature of their strategy. What is their strategy? Their strategy is to pursue a
military campaign designed, on the one hand, to undermine the
This is the real reason that the May 2 meeting between me and Le Duc Tho failed. When they thought they were winning, their real strategy was to show the American people that there was no hope, and therefore to force us into a dilemma where we had no choice but to yield to their demands. This is why they deal with us about the prisoners, not through the government or the Red Cross, but through American opposition groups whose significance they don’t understand at all.
Prime Minister Chou: But it wasn’t right for you either to raid their prisoner of war camp.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, first of all, I think that’s a different proposition, and I would be glad to debate this with the Prime Minister, but I am not saying every move we have made in the war has necessarily been right. I am saying we are facing a situation now which needs solution. But I admit – though I don’t in this case – but we have made mistakes. This is why now they are making a tremendous issue about resuming plenary sessions, and yet any thoughtful person realizes that it doesn’t make any difference whether there are plenary sessions when we have nothing to talk about. Until there is a program to negotiate at the plenary sessions, they are pure propaganda and mean nothing.
We are prepared to resume plenary sessions just to finish that particular issue, but they will fail certainly if we do not get a new basis for negotiating, and if they do not change their tactics. We attempt – and the Prime Minister will have his own judgment on this -- we believe that in dealing with other countries if one does not deal with a country morally and honorably, even if one gains tactical advantage, one loses in the long run. But it is difficult to negotiate if one is engaged with a country which is subverting your authority.
let us talk about the North Vietnamese offensive. Without that offensive we
would have withdrawn more and more troops, and more and more aircraft. We had
no intention whatever of increasing the scale of our military activities. On
the contrary, we would progressively have reduced them. But the North
Vietnamese offensive put us in a position in which they wanted to use the fact
of an election in the
what is the situation today? I know what has to be said in propaganda, but it
is my judgment that the North Vietnamese offensive is effectively stopped and
has no military prospects this year. They have not succeeded in generating this
tremendous protest movement in the
So where are we? The only hope for the North Vietnamese is a victory for McGovern in November. We do not believe that this will happen. The latest polls show the President 20 points ahead of McGovern.
Prime Minister Chou: Even if McGovern were to be elected, could he get rid of Thieu?
Dr. Kissinger: I am not sure.
Prime Minister Chou: Not necessarily.
Dr. Kissinger: Not necessarily.
Prime Minister Chou: My view is the same as yours.
Dr. Kissinger: And don’t forget we will be in office seven more months.
Prime Minister Chou: That is another matter. Even if he were to be
elected would it be possible for him to give up supporting the
Dr. Kissinger: It is easier to talk about it than to do it.
Prime Minister Chou: It is a pitfall which was created by you which is difficult for you to get out of.
Dr. Kissinger: That is true.
Prime Minister Chou: Whether it be President Nixon or McGovern or Ed Kennedy. Even if you were to be President it would be difficult. But it is a great pity you are not qualified.
Dr. Kissinger: Let us run Miss Tang.
Prime Minister Chou: Even she could not get out.
Dr. Kissinger: If she ran and made me her advisor maybe we could do something together.
Prime Minister Chou: One knot tied into another, and most disadvantageous.
Dr. Kissinger: That is true. But the forces that would elect
McGovern would bring about a reorientation of American policy not only on
therefore, any intervention in our domestic politics has two consequences.
First, it forces us to react much more violently than we would have in normal
circumstances, and second, it has consequences which go far beyond
And therefore, we believe that the war must now be ended for everybody’s sake. If the war continues, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam will surely lose more than it can possibly gain. Its military offensive has stopped; its domestic situation is difficult; and we are forced to do things to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam that go beyond anything that is commensurate with our objective. We don’t want them to be weak. And I see no prospect for them to reserve the situation. And we want to end the war because it requires now and effort out of proportion to the objectives and because it involves us in discussions with countries with whom we have much more important business.
we could talk to them the way we talk to you, Mr. Prime Minister – I
don’t mean in words but in attitude -- I think we could settle the war.
As a practical matter, we think the quickest way to end it now is on the basis
of ceasefire, withdrawal, and return of prisoners. That’s the least
complicated and leaves the future open. We are prepared in addition to declare
our neutrality in any political contest that develops and in terms of foreign
policy we are prepared to see
can also go back to our proposal the President made last January 25 and which
was formally presented on January 27, and perhaps modify this or that provision
and that involved political discussions also. But in practice, political
discussions take forever. And the practical consequence of any political
solution is either it will confirm the existing government in
we should find a way to end the war, to stop it from being an international
situation, and then permit a situation to develop in which the future of
The Prime Minister caught me on a particular loquacious day. (Laughter)
Prime Minister Chou: So let us conclude today. As for tomorrow morning, I
will first consult our Vice Chairman, Yeh Chien-ying, and then maybe tomorrow
morning you will have some discussions with him. I heard that you would like to
have a picnic at the
Dr. Kissinger: I was asked what I wanted to see in addition to the