5. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1
- Report From General Walters on Communist Attitudes Regarding Cambodia and Vietnam
We have received a report from General Walters’ Communist contacts in Paris which indicates that the Communists were badly hurt in Cambodia, that the Chinese will play an increasingly important political role in Communist operations in Cambodia, and that the Soviets are unwilling to help modernize the North Vietnamese forces further. It also states that the Communists will try to take advantage in a propaganda campaign of material on prisoners and corruption in South Vietnam.
The report (Tab A)2 contains the following information, which generally rings true:
Communist Losses in Cambodia: The base and logistics complex was overturned. Coordination has been seriously hindered.
- —It was “the toughest setback in twenty years.”
- —There was a net loss of 60 per cent of all equipment, about 70 per cent of ammunition. Fortunately for them the U.S. and the ARVN did not locate all caches.
- —80 per cent of medical supplies were lost, and some 5,000 North Vietnamese wounded died for lack of medical care.
- —Soldiers were ordered to try to save two individual weapons rather than crew-served weapons.
- —It will take six months to refill depots, and regiments of porters and bearers have been organized.
- —It was a considerable shock for the North Vietnamese to be attacked where they felt safe. Cambodia, once a friendly country, is now hostile.
- —The loss of border bases makes it difficult to supply Viet Cong forces in South Vietnam.
Weakening of NLF: As a result of the Cambodian operation, the NLF has been reduced to its cadres.
- —The Cambodians have executed several hundred NLF cadres.
Military tactics: North Vietnam must try in the next six months to smash Vietnamization, because victories after a U.S. pull-out do not have the same prestige value. The party line is not to admit the Cambodian losses.
- —North Vietnam, with its forces spread thin, will move to political action, urban terrorism, denunciation of corruption, tortures, jails, etc.
- —Some military actions of sudden and short duration may take place in Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam between the DMZ and Hue.
- —Hanoi will refuse to let a Korean situation develop.
- —The North Vietnamese army is now technically behind the South Vietnamese in its aviation and its navy.
Chinese help: The Chinese will send political cadres to Cambodia, and will attempt to organize the large Chinese community there to provide protection cover.
- —The Chinese will send trucks to help carry supplies.
- —But the Chinese cannot make up the technical gap between the South and North Vietnamese armies. And the Soviets are unwilling to do it.
- —China will more and more assume the political direction of the war in Cambodia but its direct intervention is not expected. It has set aside $6 million to develop nets among the Chinese community in Cambodia and stir anti-South Vietnamese feeling.
Negotiations: The nomination of Ambassador Bruce is viewed in a highly favorable light. When the French and the North Vietnamese were negotiating at Pau in the early 1950’s, Bruce (then Ambassador to France) sent an observer and showed real interest in Vietnamese independence.
- —The North would be ready to tolerate a genuinely neutral South.
- —Hanoi is disappointed at the French attitude. Pompidou is not De Gaulle.
Propaganda tactics: The campaign launched by Life Magazine on the “tiger cages” has been very helpful to Hanoi in relieving the pressure on treatment of U.S. POW’s. Tom Larkin was contacted in Saigon by a Viet Cong cadre who told him of the tiger cages.
- —Large-scale corruption scandals about to break out in Saigon will also help this political action. Some Americans as well as South Vietnamese will be involved.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 510, Country Files, Far East, Cambodia, Vol. IX. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for information. Drafted by Smyser, who forwarded it to Kissinger under a July 23 covering memorandum.↩
- Attached but not printed is a retyped copy of Walters’ undated report.↩