The View from Hanoi: Historians from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
East Auditorium, George C. Marshall Conference Center
September 29, 2010
- Chair: Ronald Spector, George Washington University
- Ambassador Tran Van Tung, Director, Diplomatic History Research Center, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, "Vietnam - US Relations during the Vietnam War with Special Reference to the Role of Diplomacy and the Insights of some Turning Points"
- Dr. Nguyen Manh Ha, Vice Director, Military History Institute of Vietnam, Ministry of Defense, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, "Early Identification and Knowledge of the Opponent: An Important Advantage for Securing Victory in the Vietnam War"
- Commentator: Lien-Hang Nguyen, University of Kentucky
DR. CARLAND: Okay. Could we settle down? Welcome to the afternoon session of our conference on the American Experience in Southeast Asia 1946-1975. The panel we are about to start right now is called the View from Hanoi, Historians from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Before I introduce the chair, I want to say something about the origins of the panel. We knew when we began planning the program that we could put on a good conference about the United States and the Vietnam War, but we knew we could do a better one if we could obtain the participation from scholars from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Through the efforts of a large number of institutions in our government and the Government of Vietnam, the Historian’s Office here, the Education and Cultural Affairs Bureau, the Vietnam desk, Embassy Hanoi, the military Ministry of Defense in Hanoi, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Hanoi, and the Vietnamese Embassy here, it all worked out. And we are the recipients of all that hard work, and I think it’s going to be a wonderful session.
The person who’s going to chair and introduce the panel is Ronald Spector from George Washington University. Ron has had a distinguished career in the academic world, his research focusing mostly on the United States and Asia, and in the official world, working formerly at the United States Army Center of Military History, where I also worked at one time, and as the first civilian Director of Naval History. He’s the author of several books, among them, After Tet: The Bloodiest Year in the Vietnam War. Ron is currently Class of 1957 Distinguished Visiting Chair in Naval History at the U.S. Naval Academy. In addition to all this, he also served with the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam, 1968-69.
PROFESSOR SPECTOR: Thank you. Thank you, John. I’ve been asked to remind you that you – English is on Channel 1, and Vietnamese is on Channel 5 – 6 – 2. I was close. (Laughter.)
If I may begin this panel on a personal note, I’m one of those old people that Mr. Kissinger referred to who lived through the whole thing. I was in Vietnam in ’68-’69. I did not meet any policymakers. I didn’t know any celebrity journalists. But I did have the distinction of receiving an invitation from Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, who was the U.S. ambassador at the time. Ambassador Bunker decided to form a chapter of the Yale Club in Saigon. (Laughter.) And I was invited to an organizational meeting of the Yale Club in Saigon. At the time, I was about, I guess, 400 miles north of Saigon. But I was very pleased with this invitation and I took it to the sergeant, and I said, “Gunny, look. The ambassador invited me to Saigon. I have to go to Saigon.” And he looked at this thoughtfully for a minute or two, and finally he said, “Ah, you’re always coming up with crazy stuff like that.”
So I never did make it to Saigon. But I have to say that many of my friends and contemporaries who served in Vietnam who have, of course, many misgivings and unhappy memories and sometimes not very good feelings about the Vietnam War, I venture to say they would all still be pleased to know that the State Department Historical Office has completed this great task of compiling the official records of the United States in the war so that, for the first time, the American people can see in detail what was said, done, and what was not done.
With that, I’d like to go ahead and introduce our panel. Those of you who are historians working on the war know that one of the characteristics of American scholarship about Vietnam is the almost microscopic interest in American decision-making at the highest levels in Washington and Saigon. And if you read many of the books about the Vietnam War, it seems as if the important thing is presidential decision-making and events in Vietnam were sort of relegated to background noise, and then there’s certainly very little consideration of what the other side was doing. And I’ve – at a number of meetings, I’ve sometimes observed that the emphasis of American scholarship on Vietnam reminds me of the story about General Pickett, who was asked by a British diplomat after the Civil War to what he attributed the failure of the Confederates at Gettysburg. And General Pickett replied, “Well, I kind of think the Yankees had something to do with it.”
So today, we – I think we’ll hear the other, the other, perspective on the war, and it is a great pleasure to introduce Ambassador Tran Van Tung, who received his Bachelor’s Degree from Havana University in ’72. He entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in that year. And he has held various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also served abroad in Sri Lanka, India, Australia, and Myanmar. From 1996 to 1999, he was Vietnam’s ambassador to Australia, and from 2005 to 2008, he was the ambassador to Myanmar. Since 2009, he has been director of the Diplomatic History Research Center in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and he is coauthor of the forthcoming study, The History of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1945 to 2002.
AMBASSADOR TUNG: Mr. Chairman, distinguished (inaudible) ladies and gentlemen, may I first of all express my sincere thanks to the ECA [Economic and Cultural Affairs Bureau], the Department of State, for their kind invitation extended to me to participate in September conference on the American Experience in Southeast Asia 1946-1975. This gives me an opportunity to visit the United States of America and Washington, D.C. that has worldwide reputation with international flair and a rich cultural life, a capital that attracts worldwide attention in all times in view of its importance and stature.
The conference is significantly organized at a time when Vietnam and the United States just celebrated the 15th anniversary of the normalization of the relations between the two countries and the 10th anniversary of the signing of the bilateral trade agreement. Over the past 15 years, the multisided Vietnam-U.S. relations have developed very fast. With the visits and meetings of the leaders of the two nations from 1988 up to now, the United States has been the seventh biggest investor in Vietnam with U.S. dollars, 15.8 billion. And in 19 – and in 2009, it became Vietnam’s biggest investor. In terms of trade, the United States is Vietnam’s biggest importer among 200 countries and territories.
Along with this investment and trade, the United States has introduced into Vietnam a large amount, a large amount, of capital, namely the modern technology and science, the advanced management, and the industrial style of work, which would greatly be beneficial to Vietnam. With more than 1.5 millions of Vietnamese living in the United States and around 13,000 Vietnamese students studying here, and a large number of the U.S. visas to Vietnam annually, they all contribute significantly to the mutual understanding and the Vietnam-U.S. bilateral relations.
Most recently, Secretary of State, her – Secretary Hillary Clinton, visited Vietnam. Her visit ushered in a new stage to enhance the U.S.-Vietnam relations to a new dimension that would be wider, stronger, and deeper. Just a few days ago in New York, President Nguyen Minh Triet and President Barack Obama co-chaired the U.S.-ASEAN partnership meeting aimed at heightening the U.S.-ASEAN cooperation to a new level. This speaks for all and manifests the will of the Vietnamese and American peoples to close the past and to forge ahead their bilateral relations to a new momentum in the interests of the two nations, and of peace and cooperation in the region.
As time passes, the Vietnam War became the past forever. In the light of this spirit, I wish to present my paper relating the past war, which is aimed at drawing lessons for a young generation in both countries to avoid this episode. My paper is Vietnam-U.S. Relations During a Turning Point of the Vietnam War. The relations between the DRV and the United States of America from 1946 to the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975 was basically hostile except a short period in 1945 and 1946. There was a limited cooperation between the two countries in disarming the Japanese troops in Indochina.
By that time, the United States implemented the noninvolvement policy while the provincial government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam wanted the United States to recognize its independence, to extend its scientific and technological assistance to Vietnam, and to support Vietnam’s admission to the United Nations. All the then-efforts of the DRV were, however, not turned out as Vietnam expected to get. The United States and Vietnam were loggerheads with each other in a new and strange world, which had had no precedence in the contemporary history of war. That was a war between a small, poor, and backward country against the mightiest country, which was absolute superior to Vietnam in terms of economy, defense, science, and technology.
Within the limited framework of my paper, I have no ambition to present the overall relations between Vietnam and the United States during the Vietnam War. Instead, I wish to mention partial relationships in a turning point when both countries changed their respective strategies to put an end to the war, in keeping with each other’s strategic attempts to enter into talks, to seek political settlement for the Vietnam issue, namely in 1965, 1966, and 1967, and a part of the Paris talks on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam.
The situation in the United States, in Vietnam, and in the world during the period from 1964 to 1967 was routed with various corridors that so attracted the world’s attention, especially those historians specializing in writing war history. In the United States, the economy by then was very strong. The society was stable. Both the houses [i.e., the Senate and the House of Representatives] had attitudes in favor of the policy of the President Johnson’s government. With overwhelming military force, the U.S. Government held that they would easily win the war. No sooner succeeding President Kennedy and throughout 1964 had President Johnson prepared a plan to step up and expand – to expand to the war in Vietnam.
In February 1964, President Johnson approved a secret reconnaissance plan to grasp the situation in North Vietnam. In March 1964, National Security Advisor Rostow worked out a plan to – for escalation of war to North Vietnam. In June 1964, the White House key advisors met in Honolulu to discuss military and political measures to be taken against North and South Vietnam, including a plan to bomb North Vietnam by air force and introduction of 5,000 military personnel into South Vietnam.
In November 1964, the National Security Council worked out a plan to attack Laos and North Vietnam. This plan was approved by President Johnson and his key advisors in December, 1964. In order to carry out the aforesaid plans from February 1965, the United States shifted from the Special War to the Local War. This marked a change of strategy in the Vietnam War by the United States.
During three years of 1965, 1966, and 1967, the United States introduced massively the U.S. and its allied troops, consisted of South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, into South Vietnam to engage in direct combat. There was over half a million of troops at the peak of the war. The United States stepped up war of destruction against North Vietnam by air and labor forces, with an attempt to diminish fighting strength of the South Vietnamese people, to break the Viet Cong’s backbone, to erase the role of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, to strengthen the Saigon army, and to decrease aid from North to the South to create position of strength, to intensify where, when necessary, and when necessary to conduct talks on the position of strength, thus forcing Vietnam enter into talks in accordance with the U.S. conditions.
The U.S. intensification of the war was not only aimed at not allowing South Vietnam fall into the hands of Communists, but also showing the Soviet Union and China its resolve to prevent Communism from spreading to Southeast Asia. Vietnam was, in reality, not the U.S. important strategic area. The United States, however, sent a big military force to this region, and accompanying them were all kinds of the most sophisticated weapons by that time, except A-bombs, a large amount of money, and even the U.S. prestige, for the sake of the U.S. global strategy. That is to say to prevent Communism from spreading to South Asia, to crush the national liberation movement of which Vietnam was the leading flag.
The United States was therefore resolved to win. If it suffered military failures, it would make strong impact on the U.S. internal affairs, and it would affect seriously its global strategy. The United States stepped up and expanded the war to both North and South Vietnam in the context where the United States have already suffered defeat in the Special War in South Vietnam, and it was compelled to push up the war to a new stage. By stepping up and expanding the war, the United States had to put an eye to reaction from China, the Soviet Union, the world public opinion, and the U.S. opinion. Coupled with military operations, the United States opened up the biggest and the longest peace campaign during President Johnson’s presidency, which started by the president’s speech at Baltimore in April 7, 1965, and demanded unconditional talks. The peace campaign was, in reality, to make capital of the USSR-China contradictions, the psychology of fear of the U.S. might [unclear] perception regarding President Johnson’s peace campaign, with a view to covering up the activities of intensifying and expanding the war, forcing Vietnam to talk according to the U.S. conditions.
In the world in this period, contradictions and differences of viewpoints in the international Communist and workers movement, chiefly between the USSR and China, were very grave, leading to this interpretation, especially the differences on the Vietnam issue effect that no less small on the resistance war of the Vietnamese people. In October 1964, Secretary General Khrushchev was brought down. The new leadership in the USSR paid more attention to the Vietnam issue. The USSR and other East European countries, although supported Vietnam, they feared that Vietnam could not stand up the war enriched by the United States. They had even no confidence in Vietnam to defeat the American militarily. They advised Vietnam not to fight, instead to enter into talks to find out peaceful solutions for the Vietnam issue.
In the same year, China made public new diplomatic policy, whose salient substance was that if the United States did not touch China, China would not touch the United States. The newly independent countries like Ghana, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Uganda, et cetera had similar viewpoints with the USSR and the other East European countries. The opinion of the Western countries was that they feared Vietnam could not stand up [to]the U.S. military might, especially when the hawks threatened to turn North Vietnam to the Stone Age. They held that the United States had – possess A-bombs. If the United States used tactical A-bombs, Vietnam was doomed to total destruction.
The popular psychology prevailing in the world in those days was a threat of U.S. might, a threat of the Vietnam War would be expanded to world war. In Vietnam, immediately after President Johnson entered the White House, and especially in the wake of the Tonkin Gulf incident in August 1964, in September 1964 the Politburo of the Vietnam Workers’ Party arrived – met and arrived at an assessment that currently, our people were facing a danger of the adversary’s aggression. The whole country had to concentrate all strengths to defeat the adversary. The diplomatic activities had to win over solidarity of all forces opposing aggression, to befriend more people. Support and solidarity of the entire socialist camp were of paramount importance.
Regarding the state of war, the Politburo reaffirmed that sooner or later, the United States would expand the war to the North and advocated to defeat the Saigon puppet army before the U.S. jump in. The party Central Committee already reviewed a general offensive plan, however. By that time, the military and political forces were not able to meet the demands for a general offensive. The plan was therefore cancelled.
From December 1964, the United States actively explored the Vietnam’s attitude. The party Central Committee advocated not to have contacts with our adversary, to keep top secret our strategic intention, and at the same time to express our idea to the Americans to get to know the Vietnamese people’s determination to fight against them through to the end. In the North, the year of 1965 was the best year in terms of economic production, chiefly the agricultural production and the local industries. Those achievements helped increase the North’s capability to give aid to the South.
In South Vietnam, by beginning of 1965, the United States met with failure in the Special War. The Saigon administration faced a danger of collapse. The United States had to send its troops and the allies ones to take part in direct combat. In face of that situation, the Politburo came to an estimation that the whole country embarked on a state of war. The South was the great vanguard front; the North was the great rear area.
The North should shift from peacetime economy to wartime economy, doing production while fighting. Ideology and organization should be reorientated to be adaptable to wartime situation. That constituted a new stage in the Vietnamese revolution, a grave ordeal for the Vietnamese people. The party Central Committee asserted that military victory in the battlefield would be decisive. The whole nation was resolved to fight the adversary’s will of aggression. The Vietnamese people were determined to fight and to defeat the adversary troops, both in South and North Vietnam.
We fought in the three fronts all together – military, political, and diplomatic. In doing so, Vietnam should always be cautious and was prepared to fight any kind of war, but also to keep the war within limitation and to be master of our strategy, be resolved to fight and to win. And at the same time, we did not want to make anyone worried. Only in doing so could we be able to win over sympathy and support of all. The diplomatic activities should be focused to expose the adversary’s crimes and to show our stern attitude not to mention talks.
In April 10th, 1965, at the National Assembly’s legislature, President Ho Chi Minh called upon the entire Vietnamese people to stand up to fight the adversary. Prime Minister Pham Van Dong presented his report on the four-point position of the DRV’s government. This four-point position should be a ways for a correct political solution to the Vietnamese issue. With the statement of President Ho Chi Minh and the four-point position, Vietnam was prepared to accept an imbalanced fight against the richest and the mightiest country in the world, to accept the U.S. challenge.
During the three years from 1965 to ’67, the war entered into the fiercest stage. It was also the time that the United States urged Vietnam to accept its unconditional talks proposal, and presently campaigned many countries and people to put pressure on Vietnam to accept talks. The U.S. position in those years was to stop bombing North Vietnam with conditions. That is to say North Vietnam stop its military operations in South Vietnam. The United States withdraw its troops from South Vietnam with conditions, too. That is, the North had to withdraw its armed forces from the South, the Liberation Army ought to be disbanded, the United States ought to be ensured that they fully controlled the Saigon administration.
With regard to the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam and the Saigon administration, the National Liberation Front could participate in the talks, but not because of that. It was on an equal footing position with the Saigon administration. It must be concluded that there were two key issues in the U.S. position, namely the armed forces and the administration. When the United States introduced its massive troops into South Vietnam, and – which were of destruction against North Vietnam, the Vietnamese people were prepared to accept a longer, harsher, and more sacrificed war. Their determination was to fight through to the end, to fight until no invader was present on the Vietnamese side. They were resolved to defeat the adversary. That was a strategic intention of the entire Vietnamese people. The United States wanted to defeat Vietnam in South Vietnam. And Vietnam was determined to defeat its adversary in South Vietnam. That was a fierce rival with regard to the will and resolve of a small nation against a superpower to gain independence, freedom, and to defend national sovereignty.
By defeating the adversary, Vietnam would contribute to the struggle against imperialism and say regard of world peace, would come to a conclusion for the national liberation movement from the Vietnamese practice, would clear doubts from many countries, including a number of the socialist countries. They were doubtful whether Vietnam could defeat the adversary. By defeating the adversary within the Vietnamese territory, Vietnam could dismiss fear that Vietnam War might be expanded to world war.
With regard to Vietnam from beginning of 1965 to 1967, the Central Committee of the Vietnamese Workers Party adopted three resolutions, namely Resolution 11 in February 1965, Resolution 12 in December 1965, and Resolution 13 in January 1970 – ’67. Each resolution marked a milestone of diplomatic attack. Those resolutions of the party Central Committee assigned Vietnam diplomacy with tasks for this period. That is to say, to make correct assessment of the situation. The strong (inaudible) of our adversary to wage struggle against them, so as to lend support to the military and political activities of the South Vietnamese people. By this time, the MOFA’s [Ministry of Foreign Affair’s] observation was the current situation did not allow the United States to use all their economic and military power for the war against Vietnam. The U.S. fundamental witness was political field. Diplomatic activities put into practice the guideline to incorporate Vietnam in the world.
The Vietnam diplomacy’s leading task was to consolidate its strategic allies to win over great – and assist great support and assistance of the USSR and China, the socialist countries, despite the fact that the contradictions between the USSR and China were to the extent of hostilities, to unite the three Indochinese countries, to mobilize broad support of the world people to the Vietnamese people’s struggle. The Central Committee Resolution 11 stated that efforts had to be made to contain and to defeat the adversary in the Special War in South Vietnam. Forces had to be concentrated to gain decisive victory in the South and, at the same time, to defeat the Local War in the South. Defense had to be fostered.
We determined to defeat war of destruction and blockade by the air and naval forces against the North. We prepared to defeat the adversary in case they conducted local war in both North and South Vietnam. All endeavors ought to be made to give aid to the South and the Laotian revolution. In 1965, the United States pushed up our special war to momentum. It was, in reality, the local war. The Vietnam Workers’ Party’s First Secretary Le Duan said that we were not afraid of the Americans. We were even resolved to fight the Americans, but also knew how to talk.
In order to cope with the Americans on the military front, Vietnam was determined to foil the adversary’s attempt and the will of aggression so as to gain military victory in the battlefield. At the beginning of U.S. massive introduction of troops into South Vietnam, the high command of the Vietnam People’s Army held various (inaudible) to discuss on what measures to be taken on how to fight the U.S. troops. They were resolved to defeat the U.S. troops, but they did not arrive at conclusion on how to fight. General Nguyen Chi Thanh said that we would start – had to have fight and then draw experience later.
Then the South Vietnam repression armed forces decided to attack a number of American units as tests, including famous (inaudible) Thanh battlefield in May 27, 1965, where U.S. conventional company was wiped out. And then to Van Tuong in August 18, 1965, as most well know, mobile battlefield in November 22nd, 1965, where both sides engaged in division level combat. As result, the U.S. division suffered heavy losses. The Liberation Army also attacked various airfields, too. After conducting a number of fights as example, Vietnam arrived at a conclusion that the American army was not invincible. From then on, there rose up a movement to attack American troops throughout South Vietnam.
For diplomacy, the leading task was to get support and assistance from the socialist camp, and in April 1965, the party’s central secretary – first secretary Le Duan visited the USSR and China. In conclusion of those visits, joint statements in support of Vietnam were issued. Those visits meant the Communist parties in various Western countries changed their attitude in the direction of lending support to Vietnam. In October 1965, Prime Minister Pham Van Dong visited China and the Soviet Union, where he had discussions with the leaders of these two countries on aid and cooperation in the political struggle. In China, he asked for army volunteers. The Chinese leaders agreed to send personnel volunteers, not army volunteers. There was difference between army volunteers and personnel volunteers.
In the wake of the aforesaid visits, the material assistance and military aid from the Soviet Union, China, and the socialist countries increased. Coupled with the support and assistance from the socialist camp, Vietnam diplomacy had to make clear its strategic determination and tactics, and not let the war to expand beyond Vietnam border to forge the socialist solidarities. In the past war of resistance against colonialism, the Vietnamese leaders always attached importance to the solidarity among the Vietnamese – among the peoples of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Vietnam considered it a strategic issue.
On March 22nd, 1965, Vietnam organized Indochinese People’s Conference. Together with the strengthening of the strategic relations with Laos and Cambodia, Vietnam diplomatic activities were aimed at pushing up activities of the world people’s movement, including the American people, to support Vietnam. By this time, the Vietnam War became a big and leading issue in international political life. Vietnam diplomats see, therefore – always made clear that Vietnamese people’s struggle had closely been associated with the movement of the world people and with the national liberation movement in opposition to war of aggression. Diplomatic service campaigned for convening an international conference in solidarity with and in support to the Vietnamese people.
In March 22nd in 1965, the South Vietnam National Liberation Front issued a five-point declaration. Ultimately, this declaration contained only one point. That is to say, to fight through to the end, to fight until there would be no invader present in South Vietnam’s soil.
In April 8, 1965, the DRV government made public a four-point position. This four-point position was a strategy, a political solution to the issue of both North and South Vietnam. The key point of this four-point position was to liberate the South, not to repeat the state of affairs when the Geneva Agreement had been signed in 1954. When the Vietnamese Government’s four-point position was issued, the party Politburo gave directive to firmly keep the flag of independence and uphold the flag of peace. In April 1965, Prime Minister Pham Van Dong attended the 10th anniversary of the Bandung Conference, where he presented the Vietnamese Government’s four-point position. And in June 1965, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Duy Trinh paid visits to various African countries to present the four-point position and campaigned for recognition of the South Vietnam National Liberation Front, and praised highly.
Okay. Thank you.
All the matters had to be solved in accordance to the program of the South Vietnam National Liberation Front. In December, 1965, the party’s Central Committee adopted resolution. The fundamental substance of this resolution was to defeat – to defend the North, to liberate the South, and to reunify the country.
Well, I’m sorry. Mr. Chairman reminded me that there was a very short period of time. So I will cut short my paper. My paper is already in the network.
So with regard to the Paris talks, the Vietnam and the United States talks in Paris was the longest and the most difficult one in the history of the Vietnam diplomacy. By signing the Paris agreement on ending war and restoring peace in Vietnam, the United States was committed to withdraw all American troops from South Vietnam. Vietnam thus put into practice President Ho Chi Minh’s prediction to fight the American until they quit. And more than two years later, Vietnam brought down the Saigon administration by the Ho Chi Minh Campaign in spring 1975, and achieved complete victory, liberating the South and reunifying the country.
The situation at the start of 1967 showed that Vietnam should cope with the U.S. peace campaign. Vietnam was of the opinion that the U.S. unconditional talks proposal had been a diplomatic ploy. The United States wanted to – in reality, only to talk on the position of strength and in pursuance of their conditions. It did not really want to talk to reach a correct resolution, a solution to the Vietnam issue. The party Central Committee planned, therefore, to attack at the weakness of the United States, namely through South Vietnam.
In December 1967, the Central Committee still estimated that the adversary’s will of aggression not – had not been (inaudible). Its attempt to occupy South Vietnam had not been changed. That was why the specific conditions for talks were not ripe. However, through mutual exploration of attitude between the United States and the DRV, Vietnam did not rule out the possibility to conduct talks, provided that the principle of the ending decisive military victory in the battlefield should be ensured. The situation was not ripe because the United States had been too strong. Its will to crush the South Vietnamese people’s liberation movement had not been (inaudible). Talks would only be conducted when the military front gained victory. We could not achieve diplomatic success without military victory, said Resolution 12.
In March 1966, President Ho Chi Minh said diplomacy is very important, but the main capital is that we must defeat them and we must gain strength. From the very beginning to the end, Vietnam’s unswerving position was to gain decisive military victory in the battlefield and to foil the adversary’s will of aggression. By that time, among the socialist countries, first and foremost the Soviet Union and China, engaged in deep contradictions to the extent of hostility. They differed even measures to deal with the Vietnam issue. China asserted to fight only, not to talks. On the contrary, the Soviet Union maintained to talk, not to fight. In such a situation, the Politburo of the Vietnam Workers’ Party held various meetings and had lengthy and thorough discussions on the U.S.-China relations and came to unanimous agreement that Vietnam should handle, in the best manner, the relations between Vietnam and these two countries, chiefly with China. And Vietnam should seek common voice to forge socialist solidarity in the position to imperialism, not to fall into the adversary’s trap to divide the socialist camp, to keep balanced relations with both countries, and to firmly keep independent and self-reliant policy.
Also in those years, there exists that fear psychology of the United States popular opinion prevailing in the world was a threat of war, and wanted to solve the Vietnam issue by peaceful means. Many people in the world, irrespective [of] their tendencies, had very high evaluation of the American strength, the American and the Saigon administrations’ military might in the south. Vice versa, they had low assessment on the struggle of the Vietnamese people, if not too low. The U.S. peace campaign caused difficulties for Vietnam diplomatic struggle, since the United States was able to make many countries, including a number of socialist countries, to have vague and elusive perception on the U.S. policy.
Okay. Time finished. May I just have two minutes?
The military fund, the political fund, and diplomatic fund have intertwined relationship. They could not be separated. In the war, military victory was decisive, yet the diplomatic struggle brought into active and full play the military victory, and in turn, to contribute to military and political triumph. In the theater, the army were a master of their strategy. It was the same with the political front. The diplomatic front had to be active in offensive position, drove the adversary into passive position.
May I conclude my paper by saying that the Vietnam War became the past forever. The history of Vietnam and U.S. relations turned to a new page. Recently in Hanoi, a seminar on Vietnam-U.S. relations was held to mark the 15th anniversary of U.S.-Vietnam relations. The participants – both sides expressed their firm confidence that Vietnam and the United States will not let such episodes happen. The new page of the bilateral relationship is and will be the page of friendship and cooperation with common endeavors to work for a peaceful world where everyone is entitled to live and to pursuit of happiness.
Last, but not least, I wish to mention one thing that those – the close associates of President Ho Chi Minh told that in his lifetime, from the very beginning to the end, President Ho Chi Minh never wanted war. In the past war of resistance against French globalism, President Ho Chi Minh’s only wish was to have peace with friends. That was why there was shortly latent with friends. For the United States, it was the same. President Ho Chi Minh wanted to win over support from the United States, but he failed, so he had to resist.
Thank you for your attention. Sorry, thank you. (Applause.)
PROFESSOR SPECTOR: Now, it is a great pleasure to introduce Colonel Nguyen Manh Ha. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in history from Hanoi State University, now the Vietnam National University, and received his PhD there in 1996. From 1997 [sic. 1977] to 1981, he was a research scholar at the Military Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Defense. And since 1981, he has been a research scholar at the Military History Institute of Vietnam. In 1998, he became the deputy editor of Vietnamese Military History Journal and he served as its editor from 2000 to 2007. Since 2007, he has also been deputy director of the Military History Institute of Vietnam. He is the author of two books, a study of the Tet Offensive, Mau Than: 1968’s General Offensive and Uprising, and Spring 1975’s Great Victory: the Spirit and Intelligence of Vietnam, as well as numerous articles in the Vietnamese Journal of Military History.
Colonel Ha. (Applause.)
COLONEL HA: (via interpreter) Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your nice words about my bio. I also want to apologize on my English. I have tried to prepare a piece of paper – my paper in English, but it would take me a long time to read, so I would like to simply say a few words in Vietnamese, so it will be faster.
We are very pleased and touched by – that we got invited by the Office of History and the visit that were organized by the Marine Center. And I would like to thank you, the Office of the Historian, and I have just a symbolic (inaudible) to this historian. And this is a very – it’s the decree to change the capital of Vietnam, that we will celebrate 1,000 year of the capital Thang Long, that we would celebrate for 10 days the 1,000-year history of Hanoi that was (inaudible). And I would like to present it to Mr. – the Historian.
Thank you. This is the decree ordering the change in the capital in English, in Vietnamese, and in Chinese. And it’s one meter long, symbolizing 1,000 years of history of Vietnam. (Applause.)
My paper today has this title that we need to assess the adversary in order to win the war, gain victory. We’re not talking about the actual battle between the two countries, but I only want to talk about the Vietnamese side, the observation by the Vietnamese, and in assessing the adversary, this – in order to gain victory, because if it – we compare between the two forces, we are the weaker side, and we needed to know our adversary and assess it in order to gain the victory. Our own population has been that we have – had set a history since the 3rd century. We have had 17 wars against foreign forces, and we have won 14 – 14 victories out of the 17. And we concluded that one of the reason that we got the victory was that we needed to know our adversary. That’s why we – my discussion has to do that we know the adversary.
And I would like to make into three area. From 1945 to 1954 is the first period that we’ve had some good relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam before our revolution in August. However, after we gained the control, our Chairman Ho Chi Minh had a lot of good feelings with Mr. Truman and – but we’ve – he send communication, have not received a response from Truman. And yesterday, I had an offer – I had an opportunity to visit the archives, and we got a copy of Ho Chi Minh’s letter to President Truman, and this is the Vietnam – Vietnam would like to have that document. And it’s proof that we really wanted to have good relationship with the United States. And because the U.S. has some other reasons not to have their rapprochement at the time, and this is why we – the U.S. given the signal for France to come back to Vietnam after the Second World War, and that’s why we are fighting the French and before 1954.
And what – U.S. have paid 73 percent of the cost of the war for France and the Indochina war. France had to sign the Geneva agreement and the United States did not – were not a signatory, is because the U.S. wanted to be changing – be replacing the French and brought President Ngo Dinh Diem. And also, instead of having election after two years, but with President Diem – Ngo Dinh Diem had refused to participate in the general election because we knew – they knew that if there was an election, Ho Chi Minh would have been the winner in – because that why we have fought against the intervention by the U.S.
Our Chairman Ho Chi Minh also recognized that winning over the French is only one small step and that we need to keep fighting and fight the U.S. because we knew what the intent of the U.S. at the time, and we felt that it’s important, and we read the U.S. intention way early. And that’s why we have a new way to reply.
Later, when the U.S. keep getting involved into Vietnam and with the so-called Special War, and so the Chairman Ho Chi Minh predict a new, more – from the – early on, the intent of the U.S. For instance, the whole incident of the Gulf of Tonkin is just an excuse to get Vietnam. And we all understood that whole – the intent of the U.S. Once when the U.S. wanted to bring more military forces into Vietnam and we felt that even if they brought in 200,000, 300,000, 400,000, we still have to maintain the same policy because the U.S. wanted to save the social – Special War, because even though the U.S. had brought in a lot of forces, they still have to have the pressure of the public opinion in their country. For instance, why coming over here on this long trip, about 16,000 kilometers from Vietnam here.
I then realized the involvement 40 years ago, how it was such a big, large endeavor to bring those troops to Vietnam and all the forces. And we recognized that – and we understand what a commitment the U.S. had at that time. And therefore, we felt that the parties member as well as the military leadership wanted to fight the – in May of 1965, only two months after the – to – command of Vietnam went to Da Nang. And in 1965, we also fight in Van Tuong, which is near Laos. We were surrounded by us – by the U.S., but we were able to come out of the battle even though we also caused large damages to the U.S. Then the third one is (inaudible). In November in 1965, we also had a battle that lasted 100 days. And we felt that after those three battles that we were able to fight and come to victory, even though how – no matter how many troops the U.S. would introduce. And (inaudible) in 1965 and ’66 and ’67, in the dry season, the U.S. had advanced their forces, but we – they were still in the defensive position. And that’s why we started the Tet Offensive, so the U.S. would understand that they could not win in using the armed forces.
And so, in summary, I would like to tell you that my whole purpose of this is to see that the determination and the capacity of the party is to know the intent and the action step by step by the U.S. and (inaudible) and in order to stop what – the efforts. And we found that with our own forces, we wouldn’t be able to fight well against the U.S. But after the Tet Offensive, President Johnson had to determine to stop – reduce the bombing in the North and to gradual withdrawal to – from the – troops from Vietnam. And to quote the – one of the Chinese, if they say that – we say that if you know the enemy, then fight, you can win 100 fights, you will win a hundred fights.
And therefore, we do know that our history has demonstrated this. This is also a lesson for – not because of Vietnam but for – it’s a lesson for other issue – other situation as well. Once we need to recognize the situation who we opposing in order to either – I agree with Mr. McNamara that one of the reasons that Vietnam – that the U.S. did not win Vietnam is that the U.S. did not understand the determination and did not understand the enemy. The U.S. did not understand the enemy. This is why they did not win.
We do not want to point this out to see who is a victor, who’s the – who was defeated. But this is only to say that we will try to use this as a lesson in order to avoid actions that can harm the relationship between the two countries. And I would like to stop here and wish you well. (Applause.)
PROF. SPECTOR: Thank you, Colonel Ha. Our commenter today is Professor Lien-Hang Nguyen, who is assistant professor of history at the University of Kentucky, where she teaches courses on the history of U.S. foreign policy as well as the Vietnam War. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and her MA and PhD from Yale University, and she has held fellowships at Stanford, Harvard, and Yale University. Currently, she is completing work on her book manuscript, tentatively entitled The Dark Side of Victory: The War for Peace in Vietnam, 1968 to 1973.
PROFESSOR NGUYEN: That’s okay, if you can hear me. Well, I guess since everyone started off talking a bit about where they’re from, their time in Vietnam, I’ll just start that way as well. So I was born in Vietnam. My family, half of which came from the North, left in ‘54 from the North and resettled in the South. And the other half, my mother’s side, many joined the resistance. I left in ’75. You’ll ask, how old was I? I was only five months, so in fact, I didn’t leave but my family did, and I grew up in the United States. So I feel that, given my personal history, I can speak to all three sides because it’s been reflected in my family and my own personal experience. But with that, I still am very much a student of this war and still have much to learn.
Before I begin, and I’ll be very brief, I’d just like to thank John Carland and the Office of the Historian for putting together this great conference, and it’s a great honor to be here.
What I would just like to say – I mean, I have a lot of comments, and I had it prepared in a – it’s very lengthy, but I know that we have a lot of questions to ask. And commentators tend to do that. It’s one of these things where you think, of course, they just want to kind of keep it short because they didn’t prepare. But really in this situation, I think, because we have these panelists here, these scholars from Vietnam, it is an occasion that doesn’t happen every day, it doesn’t happen every conference. So we really should take advantage of their presence here. And their papers, which I had the honor to read, answered a lot of the questions that scholars in the West have of that war. And in particular, the questions that both of these papers address is: How and why did the Vietnamese revolutionary leadership win the war? And both of these papers address these two questions. And what I’ll just do really briefly, just so that we can concentrate our questions to Ambassador Tung and to Colonel Ha is first start with, in the order that chronologically what the papers address, not the order in which the papers were presented.
Colonel Ha does this great thing. He sets up his paper, as you know in this introduction, which places the second Indochina War, the Vietnamese resistance against the United States, within the longer duree of history. And here, he starts out with that the history of Vietnam is really a history of being able to resist foreign aggression, and of the 17 wars that Vietnam fought, that they had only lost three. And of course, the first is the 1,000-year occupation of the Chinese that began in antiquity to 939 AD, and then once again, under the Ming Dynasty, and then, of course, the French colonial occupation. And they were the only three times in which Vietnam had lost a war.
And then he goes on to say, but of the 14 times in which the United – Vietnam has won, it’s because the Vietnamese know their enemy. And this is really particularly the case with the anti-U.S. resistance struggle. And this is also in a way that – Colonel Ha is also arguing that the United States didn’t understand its enemy, and that’s why he ended with the quote from McNamara.
And what he does is he splits it up into three different periods. And he sees that during the French-Indochina War, the period from ’50 – from ’45 to ’54 – the North Vietnamese leadership was able to ascertain that it was really the United States that was behind that war of decolonization, that the United States supported the French. And so, from very early on, the North Vietnamese leadership was able ascertain that in the future, the United States would be the enemy of the Vietnamese Revolution and of the people.
The second period, he sees as the 1954 to 1964 – 1955 – 1954 to 1964. But here, he basically quotes never seen before documents, and this is in the edited volume called The Party Documents (inaudible). And this is a very valuable primary source that scholars who understand Vietnamese should really have used and should look at. And here, Colonel Ha sees that Vietnamese leadership was able to see very early on that the strategy of U.S., the Special War and then later on to local war, limited war, was bankrupt; it was going to lose because they couldn’t win the political war. So despite the United States being a militarily and economically stronger nation than North Vietnam and their allies in the South, that they were inevitably going to lose.
And the last period he looks at is ’64 to ’68. And here, he looks at certain key battles. And I love one of the quotes he didn’t read. And I think this was from Ho Chi Minh or Le Duan, which was just – and I think this was around the time of spring of ’65, that basically, Ho Chi Minh or Le Duan -- and you’ll have to tell me which one – is it said, basically: Just fight. Dare to fight. Resolve to fight. Then you will find out how to fight and eventually how to win. So basically, it was baptism by fire. The Vietnamese revolutionary forces just went kind of head on against the United States. And from that learning experience, they realized how to win the war.
And then let me now move briefly just to Ambassador Tung’s paper, which covers a longer timeframe. And here, what he does is he basically sets up this very interesting thing which we really don’t see in the historiography, which is that Vietnam was fighting not just the United States and the RVN but they also had a struggle against their allies, the Soviet Union and China, also within the Communist world, and even the Third World. And here, the question he poses is that – and this was asked of Vietnamese leaders – how will you win? There is no possible way that the Vietnamese could defeat the United States. And so in setting up his paper in this way, he shows that what the Vietnamese – the North Vietnamese leadership with their allies in the South had to do was overcome, basically, world opinion that there was no way to defeat this hegemonic power.
And what he does is he addresses the relationship between the military, diplomatic, and political struggles. And what he argues here is that, even within the diplomatic struggle, which was a very important aspect of the North Vietnamese war effort, that it was – there was a consensus within the Vietnamese leadership that there had to be victory on the ground. And then that would then reflect within negotiations, but that basically, the war had to be won on the ground.
And I wish that Secretary Kissinger were here because he also has this great piece in his paper in which he says, why was it that Le Duc Tho was chosen for the job? And especially given the comments earlier today by Secretary Kissinger, this would answer his question and also help him understand why it was that Le Duc Tho was able to defeat him in Paris and why he had aged so greatly.
But let me just read a segment of this paper in which he discusses Le Duc Tho. “Le Duc Tho was converged” – oh, and by the way, he was recalled by Ho Chi Minh, so Ho Chi Minh was the one who chose him for this task for Paris – “Mr. Tho was converged with necessary characters of a negotiator: hard and soft, firm and yielding, highly disciplined. He had admirable revolutionary background that had been tested through and through. Whatever tasks had been assigned to him, he had always done successfully.” There was no way Kissinger was going to win that fight. (Laughter.) So really, that’s the basic bare-bones summary of their talks.
I only have a few questions. The first is to Colonel Ha. The picture that you portray is that basically, the North Vietnamese had a firm grasp of the situation in the United States, of the policy in the United States, and the strategy formation and why it was going to be wrong. I just wonder, were there any other – were there dissenters within this group? Were there any military debates that said no, we can’t take this lesson out of Van Tuong or Ia Drang, that in fact, there were too many casualties and that victory wasn’t inevitable? So the first is just what was – were there any debates within the military that were more somber and wasn’t just we were definitely going to win; we only had to fight and keep fighting and learn? Were there any voices that said no, we need to negotiate?
And this is connected, then, to my question to Ambassador Tung, which is just: Was there a faction within the diplomatic sphere that wanted peace? In your paper, you talk about Johnson’s peace campaign that greatly hurt the DRV and the war effort, and in particular because of East European communist allies and other third parties pressuring North Vietnam to start talks. My question is were there any within Hanoi, within the MOFA, within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who also were ready to start talks before 1968?
And then a question just for both of you, and I think this is an ongoing – especially in the earlier remarks by Kissinger and Negroponte – were there any missed opportunities on the North Vietnamese side, within the Communist leadership? Were there decisions that were made then that when scholars look at now or even officials who are – who have started making comments saying no, we should have done this differently, we could have won the war earlier, we could have settled it in a different way, we could have avoided war with the United States? So just this question of missed opportunities, which is something that scholars of the Vietnam War love to engage in. I wonder if the same debates are going on in Vietnam. And if so, what are these missed opportunities?
And the last is the question I know that you both don’t have an answer, but when will the archives be opened? (Laughter.) Because I think that some of these questions could be answered through that. But your papers definitely go a long way in getting us to understand that war and the proper lessons that should be drawn from it. Thank you.
PROF. SPECTOR: I’m going to give the participants a brief period to respond to Professor Nguyen’s questions. And then if we have any time, we can open it up for questions from the floor. So beginning with Ambassador Tung.
AMB. TUNG: Well, very interesting question. Because of the time limitations, I will give a very short brief. With the peace campaign, in order to carry out, to intensify the war and also stopping another war to the North Vietnam, President Johnson also work out a very, very long and very thoughtful, very careful peace campaign in order to put pressure on Vietnam. For the United States here, the President sent envoys to more than 40 countries to campaign for his peace plan. And he also got in touch with more than 145 countries, and also he made hundreds of initiatives in order to put pressure on Vietnam to come to the table. And at the same time, he also used different channels to mediate – to get mediators from the socialist countries, namely from the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, (inaudible) and also Bulgaria.
And you see during those days these socialist countries visited Vietnam and even the deputy minister for foreign affairs, Poland, came to Vietnam to put pressure on President Ho Chi Minh, and also on Foreign Minister Nguyen Duy Trinh about the U.S. threats, U.S. military might and U.S. A-bombs, et cetera. That is why President Ho Chi Minh got – sat up and he criticized the Polish, the minister for foreign affairs. He said, “Well, comrades, you are wrong” – he got angry and said.
So – and at the same time, the United States also mediate, brought mediators from the newly independent countries from Africa and some Asian countries to persuade Vietnam to come to talks and to reach peaceful resolutions to the Vietnam issue. And in this time, we had many difficulties, especially for the diplomatic activities because of the contradictions between the Soviet Union. So we not only have to fight against the Americans but also to persuade our allies from the Soviet Union, from the East European socialist countries, to believe because they did not believe Vietnam could be able to defeat America militarily. That is why one of the very difficult tasks to Vietnam is to persuade these countries to believe that Vietnam could defeat American militarily.
And at the same time, they also afraid that the war will be expanded to world war. So we have to, again, to persuade them that we will limit the war within the territory of Vietnam. This is also very difficult task for Vietnam. And by that time, because of the USSR and China and traditions – so in terms of the aid and assistance given by the Soviet Union and the socialist countries via China, again, as far as transportation is concerned, we had some difficulties also. We have to consult with the Soviet Union, we have to consult with China, on how to transport smoothly the aid and assistance, including weapons, to Vietnam. And of course, by that time the railway line of China was very short and limited. That is why they had to transport the aid from the socialist countries via China, and they had to give more money, more hard currency, why they also have difficulties. These – one of the diplomatic activities that we had and we also resist the pressure from different quarters also.
Thank you. I don't know whether I can answer fully questions. That’s it.
COL. HA: I would like to add on these question – to the question, how did we understand the U.S. that well? We wanted to say that in 1919, when Chairman Ho was very young – he was only 29 – he came to Boston, Massachusetts, and he went to France. He live in France for a long time. And he live in these two countries and understand the thinking of and action of the U.S. and the French. With regard to the war, even in 1945, Chairman Ho had worked with the OSS Office and also to fight against the Japanese and he knew – he understood the Americans, and we – it was – the U.S. was openly helping the French and we – the Chairman know that the U.S. will replace the French in Vietnam, and that was also another thinking that the President Eisenhower thought that there was a domino theory, which is really – didn’t work – didn’t turn out to be true, and that the U.S. also recognized the domino theory as – they really – the U.S. wanted to get involved in Vietnam in order to stop the domino effects.
And Mr. Holbrooke this morning – Ambassador Holbrooke said that it was the domino theory only applied to Indochina, to Cambodia and Laos only. So one by one, we tried to assess the view of the French and the U.S. And we also understand that U.S. – that so many of our allies, including China, advised us not to fight. But our party leadership wanted to keep fighting and that we would need to find a way to fight. If we didn’t fight, we would never – perhaps and we might lose at the beginning, but eventually we’ll find a way to fight them. That was the – what the idea that we were following in order to keep following, that we said the (inaudible), the three battles that I referred to this morning, that we fought the U.S. Army, and that’s how we – step-by-step, we did it.
And I would like very much take your questions and have exchanges with you.
PROF. SPECTOR: And – yes, sir?
QUESTION: Do you have a microphone?
PROF. SPECTOR: I don't know. I think we do. I think I see the microphone approaching.
QUESTION: Back again. Thanks to all three of you for your excellent talks. Four speakers earlier today all commented on the relationship that Vietnam and the U.S. have formed, despite this terrible history. And my question is, in view of all the death and the destruction, the casualties, how were you able to do this? What is it about the Vietnamese people, the Vietnamese culture, perhaps the Buddhist religion? What is it in your nature that enabled your people to be so gracious, to be so welcoming? I not only heard it from the speakers this morning but from friends of mine that have been to Vietnam, ex-soldiers, ex-veterans, who have been there and amazed by the way they were welcomed and received. And remember, I’m from the State of Georgia. Our civil war was 145 years ago, and hell no, it ain’t over. (Laughter.)
AMB. TUNG: Well, answer your question – may I put this? I want to come to the tradition of the Vietnamese nation, of the Vietnamese culture. Our people are very peace-loving people, and our tradition is patriotism and also tolerance and friendship with all nations. That is why – but our tradition also teaches us that we have to maintain our independence and self-reliance. And in order to preserve these precious values, we have to show the – our opponent that on the one hand, we have to defend our territory; on the other hand, we have to show our friendship and peace with our – with people outside our territory. That is why.
You see, during the war against our northern invaders in the feudalist country, when we defeated them, once we have to – you see to make a statue of those enemies that we killed, and we send these statues to the respective countries. And we also put red carpet and send food along together with them to – when they were defeated. We give them food and everything necessary for them to leave the country. That is – we would like to come to our tradition. The tradition is important and the culture is the national base of the strength of a nation.
PROF. SPECTOR: Yes?
QUESTION: If either of the Vietnamese – would ask if the leadership in the military, the government, made any mistakes over the course of the war?
COL. HA: (via interpreter) Your question is a question that we’re studying right now. In the past, our leadership (inaudible) on carrying out the war there, so mistakes made by our own leadership. For instance, the Mau Than, the Tet Offensive of 1968, we felt like we – the victory was about the strategic and political. But the first time – but when we keep continuing that, the offensive, and then we lost a lot and from the General Giap to Chairman Le Duan we all study this whole series of battle, and we need to – we then realized that after 1968 Tet Offensive, and we had a lot of difficulties after the Tet Offensive. We went through three years of difficulties because the Southern National Liberation Front needed to move to Cambodia. And then in 1972 we returned to Vietnam in order to solidify our position. And that was one of the lesson, one of the issue that our leadership felt that we made mistakes when we keep pushing in 1968. And we do recognize this is very open. In 19 – we had lost seven – 11,000, meaning actually 110,000.
AMB. TUNG: May I add one thing. With regard to this – the Politburo worked out a plan. I think, strategically, it was quite correct. But the measures to be taken later, when we engaged in direct combat, that was because of the – too eager to win the decisive victory and too much ambitions that we conceived. That is why the measures to be taken was not proper to the real process of the national liberation process and also of the political and armed forces. But strategically, it was quite correct because in a war of resistance, we have two – three turning points. The uprising in 1960, what we call – Vietnamese, we call (in Vietnamese) the uprising – this is a very strategic victory. And the second one is Tet Mau Than. And the third one, the final one, was the Ho Chi Minh campaign in 1975. So during the war of resistance, we had three very correct strategic turning points. But with Tet Mau Than, because we were too eager to win decisive military victory while our process had not prepared to gain final victory yet. That’s it.
PROF. SPECTOR: Yes, sir? Mr. Kalb.
QUESTION: Ambassador, you mentioned a couple times the concern that you had about the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons (inaudible) and repeated it again. And I’m wondering what that (inaudible).
PROF. SPECTOR: Did everybody hear the question?
PROF. SPECTOR: Okay. The question was the ambassador mentioned on several occasions the Vietnamese concern about the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons. And Mr. Kalb’s question was: What was the basis for this apprehension about nuclear weapons?
AMB. TUNG: Well, you see, the United States presently asked a number of countries to put pressure on Vietnam. And these countries, even the leader, some leader of these countries ask – threaten us that the U.S have A-bombs; be careful. If you are too aggressive, that they might use that. That is the threat --
QUESTION: Did you take that seriously?
AMB. TUNG: Pardon?
QUESTION: Did you take that seriously?
AMB. TUNG: We did not take it seriously because we were against the pressure. We did not – we were not pressurized. That is why. We said that while the United States was a superpower, was the mightiest country, but they also have some difficulties, and they [were] limited. That is why. The diplomatic assess is that the U.S., because of their strategies in Europe, in – with their relations with their allies, and their process was threatening mutiny in all of the world, so their process was very (inaudible). And they could not use all mighty – might, military might to defeat Vietnam. That was our assessment.
PROF. SPECTOR: Well, I’d like to thank the panelists and the audience for a very interesting session. And we will now have a break, have a short break. (Applause.)