Fighting in Vietnam nonetheless continued. In lieu of setting up unification elections, as stipulated in the Paris treaty, Thieu declared in November 1973 that the “Third Indochina War” had begun and went on the offensive. The NLF and NVA responded in kind, and with more success. Their final offensive to take Saigon was launched in March 1975. On April 2, Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, the Provisional Revolutionary Government representative who had signed the Paris treaty, offered to halt the NLF-NVA offensive if Thieu were replaced by a leader who would implement the terms of the Paris agreement. Thieu refused and lashed out against the NLF-NVA troops surrounding Saigon with every weapon at his command. The U.S. military, which came under the command of President Gerald Ford after Nixon was forced to resign on August 9, 1974 (due to the Watergate scandal), provided Thieu with monstrous 15,000-pound CBU-55 bombs originally intended to clear landing zones in the jungle.
To regain the initiative on the war front, President Johnson signed off on Operational Plan 34-A on January 19, 1964. The plan called for graduated pressure on North Vietnam, proceeding in stages from surveillance and small hit-and-run raids by South Vietnamese commandos, then in operation, to more destructive “airborne and seaborne raids on important military and civilian installations” such as bridges, railways, and coastal fortifications, then to large-scale “aerial attacks conducted against critical DRV installations or facilities, industrial and/or military,” designed to destroy North Vietnam’s infrastructure and incapacitate its economy. This secret plan, now declassified, amounted to a declaration of war against North Vietnam. Although U.S. officials were well aware that the insurgency in the south was largely sustained by the rural population rather than by Hanoi, they reasoned that increased pressure on North Vietnam could reduce the flow of weapons and supplies to the NLF and, in any case, punish the DRV for supporting the NLF.
United States Military Recruiting Practices Essay
Thak Chaloemtiarana, Thailand: The Politics of Despotic Paternalism (Ithaca, NY: Southeast Asia Program Publications, 2007), p. 157. Of four independent states in Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Thailand joined SEATO, while Burma and Indonesia did not. Other SEATO members were the United States, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, and Pakistan. Under the Geneva Agreements, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos could not take part in any international military alliance.
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After two and a half months of intensive bargaining, a set of agreements was finalized on July 21. The agreements called for a temporary division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel in order to allow Viet Minh forces to withdraw to the north, and French forces to withdraw to the south. National elections, north and south, were scheduled for July 1956, after which Vietnam would have one government ruling the whole country. During the two-year interim, the Geneva Agreements expressly prohibited the introduction of additional military personnel, foreign arms, and foreign military bases throughout Vietnam. The final declaration emphasized that the “military demarcation line is provisional and should not in any way be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial boundary.” The Viet Minh, having won the war, made a significant compromise in delaying its assumption of power. It did so at the behest of the Chinese and Soviet delegations, both of which were interested in reducing Cold War tensions with the United States.
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In another mission from May 10-20, 1969, U.S. and ARVN troops fought an intense, uphill battle (literally) for Hill 937, or “Hamburger Hill,” near the Laotian border. The U.S.-ARVN forces succeeded in taking the hill, with significant casualties, but since no territory in the countryside could be permanently retained without sizable forces present, the hill was quietly abandoned on June 5. Two weeks later, military intelligence reported that more than 1,000 North Vietnamese Army troops had moved back into the area. In Washington, Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts asked on the Senate floor, “How can we justify sending our boys against a hill a dozen times, finally taking it, and then withdrawing a week later?”