178. Memorandum From William L. Stearman of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Saigon Station Chief’s Appraisal of the Post-Ceasefire Period

The CIA Station Chief in Saigon has prepared an appraisal of Hanoi’s intentions for a post-ceasefire period (Tab A)2 which foresees a “no peace, no war” covert struggle in which the GVN seems likely to prevail. He notes that this confronts Hanoi with a choice between a long-term covert effort against heavy odds and a resumption of military hostilities. While Hanoi seems to be preparing for the latter contingency, one cannot, he adds, estimate whether the North Vietnamese will have the will or the means to start up the war again.

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The Station Chief referred to reports of possible North Vietnamese troop withdrawals, but predicts that such withdrawals, if any, would be only of token significance. He believes that the Communists will be cautious, covert and selective in carrying out acts of terrorism and violence until U.S. troops are withdrawn in order not to jeopardize the withdrawal. He further believes that enemy documents and briefings calling for an eventual resumption of the war may be hortative and that the Communists are likely to spend some time on the political struggle before clearly sabotaging the ceasefire.

Comment: If, as the Station Chief predicts, the GVN prevails in the political struggle, Hanoi is most likely to resume the war when it believes this can be done without risking renewed U.S. intervention.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 113, Vietnam Subject Files, Vietnam—Ceasefire 1972. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Initialed by Kissinger.
  2. Polgar’s appraisal, December 6, is attached but not printed.