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

SUBJECT

  • Recent Policy Decisions in Hanoi

There are a number of indications that Hanoi, after a period of indecision following the Cambodian coup and our actions against the sanctuaries, has decided to emphasize military effort over the intermediate term. Hanoi's preparations in the military field and in diplomacy, together with statements by major figures, have given clues to this decision. They have also shown that Hanoi will demand continued major sacrifices from its people and cooperation from Communist states.

Actions in the Field. Hanoi has made a number of military moves and preparations:

  • —The Laos infiltration network, usually closed during the rainy season, is being kept open. It has been warned to expect major infiltration. So far six battalion groups, about 3,300 men, have been sent into the trail. It is not yet clear where they are going. The evidence so far suggests that they will stay in Laos, presumably to defend the trail against possible GVN-Thai incursions.
  • —Hanoi has stepped up action in the trail area, capturing Attopeu and Saravane.
  • —Hanoi has also stepped up the pace of Communist military actions in the I and II Corps areas of South Vietnam.
  • —Communist military pressures in Cambodia remain high.

Diplomatic Moves. In the diplomatic arena, Hanoi has done the following:

  • —Clearly indicated that it expects no serious work to be done in Paris in the intermediate future.
  • —Decided to send a mission to Communist states to explain recent policy decisions. This indicates that a significant decision has been taken in Hanoi. The Secretary of State's memo on this subject is at Tab A.2

Hanoi Statements. In order to convey the seriousness of its new decisions to the population, the Hanoi leadership has also taken a number of political steps in North Vietnam: [Page 1085]

  • —It convoked a session of the National Assembly two weeks ago. This is a very rare occurrence which usually marks the leadership's desire to gain a veneer of “popular” approval of major decisions.
  • —Premier Pham Van Dong and Assembly leader Truong Chinh in their speeches to the Assembly repeatedly cited the “new situation,” the “immediate” and “urgent” tasks, and the “great advantages and possibilities.”
  • —Those speeches also hinted that the U.S. may resume bombing; they spoke several times of accomplishing their tasks “under every circumstance,” a veiled reference to a bombing resumption which is probably understood by every North Vietnamese.
  • —The speeches, including one by a leading economist, reflected concern about the costs of the renewed effort and about the economy's ability to bear more intensified warfare. They hinted that Hanoi would ask for greater help from foreign nations.
  • —An accompanying article by General Giap, Hanoi's military chief, repeatedly spoke of “protracted war.” This indicates that Hanoi has decided that it must now emphasize long-run military pressure rather than hope for an early victory or early settlement.
  • Giap also replied to apparent feelings of concern within the North Vietnamese army and party about the Cambodian reversal. He spoke several times of a “difficult” situation and said that “if there is retrogression, this is only partial and temporary.” He also spoke repeatedly of “sacrifices.”
  • —His speech does not suggest any planning for a Tet-type offensive, but for a general step-up in military pressure, particularly against the pacification program; other indicators point to I and II Corps as the principal areas for intensified Communist actions.
  • —Other statements and indications suggest that Hanoi's main effort in the near term will be in Cambodia rather than in any part of South Vietnam, although the Communists will also keep up pressure in Vietnam in order to divert potential South Vietnamese assistance to Cambodia. It is thus possible that the units now being started through the infiltration pipeline will continue on to Cambodia rather than remaining in Laos or going to Vietnam.
  • Giap pledged that the North Vietnamese would fight “shoulder to shoulder” with the Lao and Cambodians and would “lead the national liberation undertaking of the Indochinese peoples to complete victory.”

I have asked the State Department for further information on the expected visit by a North Vietnamese delegation to Communist nations, and for their recommendation on actions we should take in the face of this.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 147, Vietnam Country Files, Vietnam, 1 June 1970. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. A stamped notation on the first page reads: “The President has seen.”
  2. This June 12 memorandum from Rogers to the President is attached but not printed.