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316. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Report of Hanoi Reaction to U.S. Moves in Cambodia

From a source who has been in touch with the North Vietnamese in Paris, our Defense Attaché in Paris has sent in a report on Hanoi's reaction to the U.S. operations in Cambodia. We consider that this report rings true, and may be a good indication of what Hanoi actually thinks about our Cambodian operation. It makes these points:

  • —The most upsetting factor to the North Vietnamese was that the U.S. behaved unpredictably in the Cambodian operation.
  • —The North Vietnamese estimate that to date they have lost about 30 percent of the supplies they had in Cambodia.2
  • —The North Vietnamese were also hurt by Cambodian actions against their agents. Many political cadres were lost. Others were ordered to fade into the environment and avoid capture. Hanoi will now attempt to work through the Khmer Buddhists who are presently unfavorable to the North Vietnamese.
  • —The North Vietnamese feel about 12 percent of the Cambodian population actively support them.
  • —Hanoi was disappointed by the lack of Soviet support and that Moscow had not broken with Phnom Penh. This has moved Hanoi closer to Peking.3
  • Le Duan was dressed down by the Soviets who told him that they had invested large sums in his support but could not go beyond the present degree of commitment. They would make good the losses in the sanctuaries but it would take from four to six months (presumably to ship supplies from Moscow to Hanoi).
  • —There have been Chinese political cadres in Cambodia for some time, perhaps six months, mainly in the Northeast.
  • —The North Vietnamese contact maintained that they would continue to fight despite the factors listed above while awaiting the departure of U.S. forces from Cambodia. They would then try to gain a spectacular success over the ARVN.

Comment. The source for this information is a Frenchman who lives in Paris but who had previously lived for many years in Hanoi. He has good contacts among the North Vietnamese in Paris. Some of his reporting appears to have been of questionable accuracy, but much more of it has checked out. As I noted, we regard this piece as being probably true.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 147, Vietnam Country Files, Vietnam, 1 June 1970. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Holdridge sent this memorandum to Kissinger on June 3, noting that he was responding to a request from Haig to prepare a memorandum of Walter's report. A stamped notation on the memorandum reads: “The President has seen, June 8, 1970.”
  2. Nixon highlighted this paragraph.
  3. Nixon highlighted this paragraph.