The Peace That Never Was 10

The crucial question at the moment was the potential Soviet reac¬tion. Nixon was due to meet Brezhnev in Moscow later in the spring to discuss such cosmic issues as the control of nuclear weapons. Kis¬singer had scheduled a secret trip to Moscow to arrange the encounter, but he and Nixon differed sharply over how to proceed. Nixon, obsessed by Vietnam, ... Read More »

The Peace That Never Was 9

Near the Cambodian border north of Saigon, by contrast, a bitter battle raged for Anloc, the capital of Binh Long province. A force of three thousand North Vietnamese, spearheaded by forty tanks, stormed Anloc on April 13 and almost seized the town. Repulsed by government troops, who sustained heavy casualties, the Communists began a siege. Their artillery shelled the town ... Read More »

The Peace That Never Was 8

Nixon, reluctant to jeopardize his trip to China, had exerted no pressure on the Chinese to curb the North Vietnamese. But he sent a tough message to Brezhnev, whom he was planning to meet in Moscow in the spring of 1972, warning that their encounter might be canceled if the Russians allowed the North Vietnamese to embark on ventures “designed ... Read More »

The Peace That Never Was 7

Much as they deplored the quarrel between their Communist pa¬trons—and occasionally attempted to patch it up—the North Viet¬namese improvised ways to turn it to their advantage. They were in the forefront of a classic “national liberation” war against the United States—the kind of textbook struggle that propagandists in Moscow and Beijing extolled with passionate monotony. Whatever the differ¬ences between them, ... Read More »

The Peace That Never Was 6

The Watergate trauma lay ahead, but Nixon was profoundly de¬pressed by the middle of 1971. He had failed to persuade the public, the press, the politicians or the judiciary to share his indignation over the Ellsberg affair. Overcome by self-pity, a typical mood, he felt victimized by the antiwar demon and its sympathizers in the news media; they were poisoning ... Read More »

The Peace That Never Was 5

The U.S. commanders knew that the answer to the problem was to end the war and repatriate the GIs, for whom the conflict had become as pointless as it had for the rest of the American people. In March 1971, a poll reported that public confidence in Nixon had dropped to 50 percent, the lowest rating since he entered office. ... Read More »

The Peace That Never Was 4

Tchepone, already wrecked by earlier American air strikes, was now reduced to rubble by U.S. bombers. Some South Vietnamese troops finally captured the worthless target, but most were pinned down by Communist artillery in shelling and ground assaults. In March, Alex¬ander Haig was sent out by Kissinger to survey the situation. He reported that Thieu’s commanders were reluctant to continue ... Read More »

The Peace That Never Was 3

But apart from its value as a domestic political ploy, would the offer hasten a conclusion to the war? Nixon had flamboyantly billed his statement as “the most comprehensive” ever made on the war until then, but in his memoirs he conspicuously omitted any expla¬nation of its purpose—nor, indeed, did he even mention the speech. Kissinger recalled the initiative in ... Read More »

The Peace That Never Was 2

Though they parried Kissinger’s gambit, the Communists sensed a softening of the American position. In Hanoi after the war, one of Le Duc Tho’s senior aides read to me excerpts from his official diary of the talks. Kissinger’s offer to consider the North Vietnamese and American forces in South Vietnam differently, he had noted, suggested that the United States would ... Read More »

The Peace That Never Was

On February 21, 1970, in a dingy little house located in an industrial Paris suburb, Henry Kissinger met secretly for the first time with a North Vietnamese figure who was to be his tenacious diplomatic adversary for the next three years. Le Duc Tho, a gray, austere, aloof man then in his late fifties, had none of the charm of ... Read More »

Categories

Meta