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Interview with Hoang Duc Nha [2], 1981

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Summary
Hoang Duc Nha was an American-educated Minister of Information for South Vietnam—and cousin and Special Adviser to President Thieu—until 1974. He lived for three years in the United States in the early 1960’s before returning to Vietnam at his mother’s request in 1965. He describes finding a dramatically changed country, with a changed government and a large American presence. He offers his impressions of different American leaders, including Presidents Johnson and Nixon. He also recounts many stories surrounding the negotiation of the Paris Peace Accord.
Topics
Vietnamese reunification question (1954-1976), Black market, Information resources, Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Personal narratives, Vietnamese, United States--Foreign relations--Asia, United States--Foreign relations--1945-1989, Vietnam--History--1945-1975, Cabinet officers, Capitulations, Military, Military assistance, Government missions, Democracy, Treaties, Public opinion, Vietnam War, 1961-1975, United States--History--1945-, Nguyen, Van Thieu, 1923-2001, Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994, United States--Politics and government, Vietnam--Politics and government
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Transcript

Signature of the Paris Peace Agreement and the premises of Vietnamization

Vietnam. Mr. Hoang. TVP 01302, Sr. #457. Tape 1, Side 1.
It is 12/01/81. It is the head of SR 457 and it goes with pics 2452. Minus 8 db reference.
(Clap sticks)
Beep.
Okay. Mark it.
Beep.
Interviewer:
Okay. Anytime. Go. Why don't you answer the first question...
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh, you don't ask the question? (laughs) Okay.
Interviewer:
How did you feel about the Peace Accords?
Hoang Duc Nha:
The Peace Accords, in their text, were a very sound beginning, you know, to a negotiated settlement. And that's how we conceived it; and although we didn't like it because everybody was shooting for the perfect peace solution, but it took us some time to realize that no way we were going to sign a perfect peace solution.
So we said, "Okay, let's sign that piece of paper and let's work to peace." Nobody did like it. We were at that time twisted into signing through various promises and it was at a point that we owe the people to begin a peaceful process. And that's how could summarize it uh, the reason behind our signing the Peace Accord.
Interviewer:
Tell me about the kinds of, of, you said you were twisted into the agreements. What was it that twisted you and how, what was wrong with those agreements?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Basically, uh, at that time, President Nixon, in a way, told us that uh, because of the uh, Congress attitude toward the war, the public opinion in the United States, we did not enjoy the same type of support as we had many years ago. Rightfully, because uh, we knew that at that time it was getting on the uh, nerves of the American people to have to talk about, to hear about the war all the time and we didn't want it to really jeopardize our, I mean to undermine that whatever support we still have in the country.
So, one day he told us, he said, "Okay, you guys, let's work together and you give me a new basis for me to work on continuing supporting you." And, and we like that. And then we say, "Fine, you know we don't learn to cling to your coattails and we are too proud for that." And that's how we agreed on the so-called quote and unquote "Vietnamization Program."
We say, "It's about time that uh, you give us all your know how, military know how, military uh, weaponry for us to take care of ourselves." And uh, it was on the basis of helping Nixon to formulate a new basis to support Vietnam in its survival, that we agreed to sign, although the peace was very imperfect.
And it took us three months to uh, let Mr. Kissinger and his aides know that uh, the piece of paper that was handed to them by the North Vietnamese were just a uh, unconditional surrender. Had we signed uh the original piece of paper that was given to them in October.
Interviewer:
I think you said to me that, that t—to some extent Enhance and Enhance Plus were a buy-out. That they were...Could you talk about that?
Hoang Duc Nha:
At that time we were promised a lot of weapons, lot of airplanes and you know, they gave us the name of the Enhance Plus Operation, I guess back in October. After the second day, when uh Kissinger saw that the talks were going nowhere and we were really balking, he say, "Hey listen, we have all those equipment being uh, flown into your country now, the ships are sailing on their way. They're getting near Tan Son Nhut Airport or Saigon Harbor or wherever."
I say, "Hey, that's totally immaterial, because, you know, if we cannot conclude on the principle, the points of details mean nothing. What are we going to do when we have all that pile of weapons and if we sign a piece of paper, that means uh, the next day you cannot use those weapons to defend yourself."
So, really, at that time, President Thieu nor I really thought much about Operation Enhance or Enhance Plus. That was the furthest thing from our mind. We were concentrating on the basic piece of paper we were given and that that really, in a way uh, obliterated every other consideration.
So I can recall now that at that time, you just remind me of Enhance and Enhance Plus. I didn't even remember that uh, the name of the operation. All I remember was that on the second day, when the talks were getting nowhere that Henry say, "Hey, listen, you know we have send in uh, five, and you know a ship is has left the harbor sailing to Saigon with all kind of weapon." I say, "Hey, let's get the principles first and the details later."
Interviewer:
When you got the principles as good as you thought you were going to get them, and you signed, afterwards, looking back, do you think the re-supply effort was a help?
Hoang Duc Nha:
At that time, after we...You mean after we sign?
Interviewer:
After January.
Hoang Duc Nha:
After January, then I guess the Operation Enhance Plus, you know, really disappear. We didn't see you know anything coming yet and that that time we had to go by the so-called uh one-to-one replacement basis. Okay?
And of course we interpreted it one way and the Communists interpreted it the other way. So that particular clause of the Peace Accords never worked. But to my own recollection, I never saw uh a destroyer coming into Saigon harbor with a stockpile of weapons or, or you know the what we were promised during Operation Enhance Plus.
Interviewer:
To conclude the Paris Agreements questions, do you think that, that there was a possibility of peace at those...?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Yes, definitely, it was a good beginning because at that time we knew that with the infrastructure we have, okay, and the promise of help, that we had no reason to doubt at that time. Frankly, because throughout the years of involving with the US Government, we had no reason to doubt that such an aid was not forthcoming anymore.
So, we say, "Fine, you know, that's just like solving the equation with two or three unknown that you know some answers." So we say "the only big answer is that okay, now, it's up to you Vietnamese to make it work." And now we were ready to pick up that challenge.
It wasn't until a few months after the Peace Accord that uh, things started to uh really uh, disintegrate. The Congress say, Hey, you know, you cannot have this appropriation. It's cut down. You have to do this, do that. And really that was the beginning of the unraveling of the morale to start with and then the resolve of the people to set about and make the peace work.
I strongly believe at the time that when we signed the Peace Accord January 27, it was eh, eh, eh, very challenging time for us but it was a thing that we willingly and knowingly had signed. It was just uh, and I say okay, let's get it over with. No, it wasn't that.
We knew that there were some very dangerous sand traps uh or, or, or quicksand's traps that we had to go through but we, we elected that just to, to save ourselves, because at that time we couldn't really rely on the experience of many years ago say, big brother is coming in with his B-52s and, and, and, and save us. You see?
Interviewer:
Cut please.

Watergate and Hoang Duc Nha's fear of losing American support

Interviewer:
Uhm...in Washington which was saying uhm that Nixon was going to be...he was...
Beep.
Interviewer:
...involved. And, nobody was paying any attention to that, that early. This is April, '73.
Hoang Duc Nha:
No, uh, let's see, after the accords were signed, Mr. Spiro Agnew came to town I guess three days after that. I remember January 30 or 31st. he was slapping the back, "Hey, you guys you really know now you have just forged a partnership." So, we say, You're invited to visit Mr. Nixon and Mrs. Nixon in San Clemente so we set the date and everything.
By the time we landed in San Clemente, and seeing how the White House at that time operated, we uh felt that you know, the choice of San Clemente in as much explained it as it were convenient for the President. But, we say, "Fine, you know, our object to come to you is talk about things." We are not paying a lot of attention to the glamour of being in the oval office. That's none of our concern. We want to see the man, and we say, "Now we have signed the peace, what are we going to do?" Okay?
And, you know, before that they didn't even want to sign a joint communiqué. After the San Clemente meeting. And I was the first one to say if we don't sign the joint communiqué, I'm going to leave right now. We had our plane ready, we say going to leave. No, no, no we are going to sign. I say, Hey, that's no way to begin a meeting but I wanted to recall that note just to tell them that uh you know we at right after the signing we still had some trouble.
And uh, after two days of talks, uh we got down to some protocol of aid, and what we were supposed to do and what the US Government promised. And we felt great. So we went onto Washington, made good appearances everywhere. Even went to the Congress and the National Press Club.
So we went to Vietnam and uh back to Vietnam and we felt very elated that now at least the American will keep their side of bargain and will help us to help ourself. And we promised them what we were going to do. We were going to streamline our government, we were going to broad— broad base our government. We were going to do many things. Okay?
Ah well, you know, two days, uh, two months after we came back was really when the Watergates thing started to explode on the scene and uh, we were kind of uh, worried. We, we I, for one, knew how such kind of a development impacted on anything the Congress was doing, you know.
So, I say, Hey, let's be more careful and that was a time when I decided to open an office adjacent to my embassy in Washington's under the so-called Information Office, just to monitor the situation much more uh, carefully, because you know the traditional uh, White House or so-called Office of the President and the State Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs distrust.
We fear that, you know, those bureaucrats they uh, just uh, feed us their reports every day. So we wanted an independent observer. That's why I put my own man — they have their own office, we uh, they have a telex line linking them to me and uh their object was to go around and listen to what the Congressmen say, what the press says, uh what the groves of academe say...So just to give me a better idea of how the public opinion is evolving.
And that was the thing that was really very helpful to us, because, at that time, we knew what was happening and uh I was I guess what made uh me get into trouble. Because I told them too many things that they didn't want to hear.
Interviewer:
Wha—what kind of things?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Like, uh, you know, things like the Congress is getting uh very...
Interviewer:
...Let's go over. Let's try it and start again with that question.
(background talking)
Changing to Camera roll 2453.
Okay. Go, ahead. Roll.
(Clap sticks)
Beep.
Interviewer:
So what were this thing these wh—what kind of signals were you getting out of Washington?
Hoang Duc Nha:
At that time through our office uh I started to feel the vibrations of the Congress, if you will. See that uh, they are so immersed in the meanderings of the Watergate every day. And uh, the war and the implementation of the peace plan was very far from the senators and the Congressmen's mind or, for that matter, in fact the White House.
So we saw that frankly, whatever we brought to the table as so far is uh, modality to implement such and such clause of the peace wasn't getting any attention. And I felt nervous, because I say, "Hey, this is not a good atmosphere conducive to uh you know a good exchange of views between us and the United States and what happens if the Communists violate and nobody's going to pay attention." And they say, Oh, you know, you guys take care of your own problem. We have too much to handle on ourselves.
And uh as we went into the summer, the bombing stopped in Cambodia and that time that rang a bell with us and say, "Hey, that's the beginning." Because right now the uh, Congress is out to rally get the executive branch and they're going to cut uh, you know one arm here and the next day the next arm so we had to be careful.
And that was really, in my own personal view as a political analyst, I saw the writing on the wall. But uh, it was very hard to project that kind of feeling to my cabinet or to the, our National Security Council.
Interviewer:
Uhm, if you, if you change shots...You said that you, you said to them, "You can crane your necks forever, the B-52s won't come back." Is that real? Did you really say that?
Hoang Duc Nha:
I think that was in uh, in an exchange uh within the National Security Council. We had uh generals there, we had high cabinet members there and they were saying "Don't worry, you know, if the Communists violate it than the Americans will come in again." So I, I say, Hey, let's reason this thing out.
According to a Peace Agreement, the Americans cannot come back, number one. And number two, in spite of what you hear from the US Embassy in Saigon, they say, Oh yes, we are documenting the Communist violations. We are preparing our response. You know, knowing the Americans, you know it's a long way from preparing response to formulate response, and to implement a response. Okay?
So that's very far-fetched. And, and, and looking at the B-52, my dear friends, you know, we hear that War Limitation Powers Act. Do you know what it is? What do you mean, War Powers Limitation Act? So, I started to explain to them: I said, No way they're going to—the Congress going to let the B-52s come back like that and, and you wait for Santa Claus to drop from the chimney, you can wait forever, my friend.
You are, you know, prophet of doom. I said, I'm not a prophet of doom, I'm just telling you what's go—what are on the table. Okay and you can stand there and uh, actually I was using the expression because we have a chain of mountains in Vietnam from a distance you look like a, a mother holding a child waiting for the husband to come, okay?
So I, I was using that metaphor. I say, Well, you can stand there and be like uh, a mother and child statue there waiting forever. Okay? So, let's start working.
(Siren)
Hoang Duc Nha:
Don't, don't, don't count too much and let, let us work and see how we going to extricate ourself out of this mess.
Interviewer:
Cut, please. I think we got it.

Thieu's faith in American aid

Interviewer:
Didn't, did Mr. Thieu have a different reaction.
Beep.
Interviewer:
...or was his reaction the same? What 'til he gets his, his...
Hoang Duc Nha:
Between President Thieu and myself uh we enjoy a uh very frank exchange, although I was the Benjamin of the cabinet and the Benjamin of the National Security Council, he trusted my opinion.
Interviewer:
Although he was a what?
Hoang Duc Nha:
The Benjamin, the youngest guy.
Interviewer:
No, no you have to say that a little differently.
Hoang Duc Nha:
(Laughing) How do you say that?
Interviewer:
The youngest, I think, you mean.
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh, you don't use that expression?
Interviewer:
No.
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh, okay. Because in, in Vietnam where we uh when you say that uh you know somebody who is a Benjamin. It, it has no meaning in the US huh?
Interviewer:
He's biblically educated.
Hoang Duc Nha:
He's what?
Interviewer:
You have to have a good biblical education.
Hoang Duc Nha:
Uh, okay.
Interviewer:
If you could start again, you're rolling.
Hoang Duc Nha:
Alright. Uh, between President Thieu and myself there was always an open and honest exchange of views and although I was, at that time, the youngest member of the cabinet and the youngest member on the National Security Council, my, my views uh counted a lot. But uh, after the Peace Accords in uh as we went in further into 1973, President Thieu had a lot in on his mind because the Communists were mounting an offensive by that time. And, of course, he had to rely insofar as military matters, on the generals.
I, for one, knew nothing about you know Communists tactics but I could predict what they were going to do. You know just uh, looking at the political developments uh, in Washington, in London, in Tokyo, and from various reports here and there. And uh, when is started to make the type of pronouncements that I'd made, you know, he, he believed me. But he had to weight my advices against what he were getting from the others. Okay?
Interviewer:
Did he think that the Americans would come back in? The bombers would come?
Hoang Duc Nha:
He and I had a very uh, a open discussion one day over breakfast. He asked me point blank. He say, You think that uh the Americans will let Viet—will drop Vietnam?
I told him I say, Well, you know, that's a very good question. You know, and I have asked myself many time but throughout the years and especially after this Peace Accord, okay. If Vietnam is not a bankable or how you say, is not a sellable merchandise, I'm not surprised that uh they going to cast us off.
He look at me and say, "I don't agree with you." I say, Well, you know. As one thing, I've been to America. I know how things count when they are table on the Congress. And if really we are a nuisance uh we are something that nobody wants to talk about. It's very hard for them to go now forever about and sell you know to, to project us in a better light.
So that that was our main disagreement. He still thought that, No, no, it was too important for the American foreign policy and you know against the, the, the Communist uh invasion. I say, Well, you know, with one president, it could be that, with the next president has a different idea.
Interviewer:
Wasn't he also getting different signals from the American Embassy, though?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh, yes. At that time well he, he, you know, for once, a lot of people say that President Thieu was isolated and he did not have any views. That was, was the furthest thing from the truth. He had his own cabinet, of course. He had the Embassy to tell him what's, what's happening. He had the CIA who always gave an independent assessment of the situation to him. Sometimes with the concurrence of the Embassy. Sometimes without a concurrence, without a knowledge of the Embassy.
You know there are many ways to get...And he had the uh input from the mid-American defense establishment at that time they call it uh DAO Defense uh Agency something. The remnants of the old former MACV. And he had his own generals. And then he had uh, the other, the priests, the monks, you know, the various strata so my voice was only one voice. Or the cabinet's was only one voice. So he had a uh, lot of opinions at that time.
Interviewer:
I'm specifically interested in, though, what the Embassy was telling him. Was the Embassy hinting that the Americans might come back? When Graham, after Graham Martin came in?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, Graham Martin came and you know, what he say, okay. Don't worry. We going to work. You guys can count on our aid. I'm going to work if need be I'm going to fly home, you know, appear on the floor of the Congress and fight for you.
And then, on the other hand, they would say, Don't worry about a thing or what's happening in America. Don't worry. Just go on. Implement the peace. We'll take care of you. That, in essence, how I could summarize, you know, the assessments given to our government because at that time uhm I was in the cabinet and I could speak with authority because the same thing were conveyed to our cabinet through our prime minister.
And I were, I made myself very unpopular. I say, Wait a minute, Mr. Prime Minister, you know, where in the world did you hear that? How the hell can you believe that? You see? I was the only dissenting voice. I say, Come on, you know, this is uh a lullaby they are singing to us. You know. And I refused to believe.
And then you know, Prime Minister and myself, I really doubt you know, the other cabinet members look at it and say, Boy, this, this guy, you know, he really dare take on the Prime Minister. And I say, Hey, this is too important a matter because I don't believe in those assessments.
At one point, the CIA in Saigon was saying that, Uh the worst is over, you know, talking about Watergate. And then, two weeks later, where the Supreme Court asked Mr. Nixon to turn over the tapes. I say, What do you mean, the worst is over?
You see? So this, this, this is the kind of example that I'm citing just to give you the ass-the, the inputs we are getting were not very uh very sound and didn't reflect the uh, current situation in Washington at that time.
Interviewer:
Mr. Thieu was not worried about Watergate as, as '73, '74 begins to go by?
Hoang Duc Nha:
That's correct. Seventy uh, for the most part of '73. That was the farthest thing from our mind. At that time, we had to cope with the implementation of the Peace Accords and the Communist violations of the cease—of, of the Peace Accord. So, we didn't really, at least Mr. Thieu, and, and for that matter of fact a lot of people in, in Vietnam oh they read the headlines and newspapers and Watergate. Nobody understood the implication.
It, it took me ah six months to really start digging into that and see the implications of the whole thing. And, it didn't hit us until the ah first quarter of 1974 when things were going real bad and we saw really that ah it has all the impacted on the effectiveness of the Nixon administration to help us insofar as implementing the Peace Accord.
That was March of '74, and of course, from then on it was nothing but Watergate and ah the reason we didn't get this through Congress, this appropriation, was because of Watergate. You know it was at that time as a master word. You know, (chuckle) to explain everything.
Beeps.
End SR 4457

Impact of American withdrawal on the black market in South Vietnam

Vietnam. SR 458 (head of). Mr. Hoang Interview
12/1/81.
Interviewer:
The Americans withdrew in 1973. What were the economic effects of this on, generally, was it like, harder for people?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, by uh, I guess towards the middle of 1972 when practically most of the combat troops were out of Vietnam, the people realized that uh, you know the PX was no longer there, you know, to supply the black market. And of course whatever presence we had in the preceding years wasn't very good for the economy, and it really impact...I don't think the people felt it, but we in the government knew that it, it would impact the economy.
And at that time only the people in Saigon and the big cities benefited really from the presence of the American, not really the people living in the rural areas. So, uh, nationwide, I don't think that people realized the economic impact of the withdrawal of the troops by '73.
Interviewer:
And after they left there was not that much effect?
Hoang Duc Nha:
After they left, as I say, you know, the only thing they saw was the remnants of the black market and frankly, it's something that now that you just asked...I didn't even remember uh, that as an issue for us at all.
Interviewer:
Let me ask you one other general sort of question which is corruption, which is always a big issue on the minds of the Americans. Was it really a problem in South Vietnam? Was it culturally well handled? Was it militarily a problem?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, you know, you talk about corruption, and in that part of the world, you know, a lot of people like to use the cliché that corruption is a way of life or an institution. Of course Vietnam has its share of corrupt officials, and be they military officers or government officials, on any level.
And ever since, I guess, we worked closely with the US establishment, and seen what affect it had on the deliberations in the Congress, really we made a much strenuous effort to eradicate that, you know. It was a big word to use here, you know, big slogan, eradication of corruption and everything.
We were...I was very...in a way...involved in that process because I say that, you know, with the US Congress and the representatives of the people, if we cannot tell them that uh the money is going to the poor, and the destitute, no way we're going to get anything more. But it was uh a vicious circle, okay?
We started to say something, it's at the implementation state that our big program breaks down. We never were really satisfied that corruption was eradicated. But at least we took steps and we had our share of corrupt generals in that uh President Thieu just fired more, some governmental officials.
It was a plague that has affected us, and of course, it was a very easy catch-word you know, to explain everything that went wrong — Oh yeah, don't give those guys anything, it will end up in this guy's pocket, that guy's pocket. Sometimes it's not natural, you see.
Interviewer:
Cut please.

Comparative truthfulness of American information sources

Hoang Duc Nha:
It's my favorite subject. Well, if you look at the history of Vietnam—involvement with the US I guess since uh, the overthrow of...President Diem. Okay. The succession of generals and politicians that...who came on the scene. You remember pictures of McNamara going to Vietnam, you know, propping one general's hands...say oh he's a good boy.
At that time I was in college in the states and I resented that very much. I say, Hey, that's no way to treat...and, uh, we're not, you know, somebody that, Oh Boy, he speaks some decent English here, here you know. You take care of your country.
So when I came back and through the years working the government, and when I got into the office of the President, I saw the same mentality prevailing that, oh, he speaks good English, you know, he's a good guy, so you know, let's trust him. And it applied to me also. Because by that time they realized that I had gotten back from a good American university and these guys would be alright.
Why should he be otherwise? You know? I'm now in a position where I have to defend the interests of my country. You have the interests of your country to defend. So let's work together. I'm not going to, you know, fix myself rigidly in my corner, and you, you know, just go and, and, and invent all kinds of schemes in your own corner. Let's go try to find a middle way.
And that's why I say, Hey, wait a minute, what kind of talk is this? And then I joke at that and say, hey, I learned that in your school. Compromise, okay? No extremes. Oh, they say, hey, what is this? You know, you started to sound very anti-American. I say, Oh! What do you mean anti-American?
So this is...that was the beginning of a pattern where they really focused on me to, you know, among other people. They said, This guy is very hard to deal with. I was very flattered because I was the only one in the cabinet to be picked out as the most intransigent, or most difficult.
So I say, hey, when you work with our country, please look at us as sovereign people who have to defend the interest of our own country. We have our people to account to, so you know, between intelligent allies, you have to learn about that.
Interviewer:
You're saying though, that Americans were tending to support the people who said what they wanted to hear?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh yes. Because that's why you know when they face somebody who give them too much food for thought, okay? They turn to the other and say, why should we burden ourselves, let's go and talk to these guys, and we will feed them all kind of information, and these guys say, Oh gee, you know, US Embassy just told me that, the CIA just told me that, and so it should be true.
Interviewer:
Could you put that reason that you left...my question won't be in there, so I'm looking for you to incorporate this comment on...some sort of comment on, what were the Americans, they were looking for what in the South Vietnamese leadership and did that in fact help or hurt South Vietnam?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, I guess, from the, the, the days of the heavy involvement of the US in Vietnam to, to the end. The Embassy, uh, the military circles they always like to make us believe what they tell us are the right things. Okay.
So starting from that premise they always go and they are happy when they find for sympathetic ears and then they in turn would try to make those ears become more sympathetic by feeding them more information and suddenly they find and no so sympathetic, not in the sense of anti-American, but very doubtful Thomas.
Say, wait a minute, you know, don't feed us this baloney. I just read somewhere it's not true. I say, hey, you are being difficult. Why do you doubt us? We have always come across as a big helper. Why shouldn't you trust us. All of your colleagues have trusted us.
I say, hey, I like to trust you, but what you just told me was not the right thing. So I think you are going me a disservice, and don't feed that kind of information to my...you are doing them a disservice.
And it pays us you know, to confront each other and say, one guy's hey, you know, I like the American, believe in what they say, and you know, they have some other who say, hey, don't believe that. Because you are really creating a dissention within us and I don't know what kind of game you guys play, but you are doing a disservice by uh, fighting your own people to listen to your own version and uh really not paying attention to the people who really want to get to the bottom of the truth.
So that's as much as I...that's as best as I can summarize the dilemma we were facing at that time. And it became very acute towards the ends of '73 and the beginning of '74 when Watergate unraveled. That was a really bad time.
Interviewer:
They were not telling you the truth?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh, no. I told you, we...nobody even thought about Watergate. What kind of implication you know, what kind of effect? Nothing. You know, it wasn't very strange, because during the peace negotiations we were kept in the dark.
I guess I told you in my previous interview, in October when Kissinger came that was the first time we saw the piece of paper. You know, I say, hey what kinds of allies is this. You know, you gave us this piece of paper to determine the fate of 22 million people, I have to sign in three days.
Oh, come on. You know, I'd rather be dead than account to my people that I signed something that nobody knew about. So it wasn't peculiar to us to see that the American establishment of that time behave the way it did.
Interviewer:
Cut please.
Hoang Duc Nha:
You know, they thought they could get away with it and they didn't know that we knew about it. And at that time I had my own people on it...
Interviewer:
Your reaction to Gerald Ford's letter.
Hoang Duc Nha:
I remember we were having a cabinet meeting when the letter came and as Secretary of the Cabinet I had yet to you know, and also as official linguist of the Cabinet, I had to translate the letter. And that uh was the first exposure — an aide came in to deliver from the Embassy and I just fill it out, and I read it before President Thieu did read it.
And I read it very briefly as one of those reassuring letters — it didn't mean much. So I tried to translate as best I could and did my own interpretation right after the letter. Say, well you know, a lot of the Cabinet ask me, "What did he mean?" You know, we should feel gratifying that he should send us a letter, two days in the office.
I say, "Yes that's a very nice gesture and I think it shouldn't mean anything very unusual" because he had to reassure us and I bet you that the same letter is release in Washington to let the other guys know that, uh, hey, Mr. Ford is going to continue the policy, at least for the time being.
So it was, we didn't interpret that as, as a personal commitment from Mr. Ford. We knew who wrote the letter okay? It was just one of those things I guess that was done in administration, we stand by you and make the peace with us.
Interviewer:
When I asked you this last time you said, "baloney" after Watergate.
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh you mean, oh yes, oh no, I had to recount some of the deliberations and then, oh yes, I remember, because at that time one guy ask me, he say, Well you know with Mr. Nixon out, and, and Mr. Ford being his vice president, he should continue, uh, you know, the path that Mr. Nixon had chosen.
And I told him, say, Oh yeah, you remember about two weeks ago we had the meeting and told you that Mr. Nixon when he had to turn over the tapes, he's finished. You guys didn't believe me. And at that time and I didn't think he had time to think about Vietnam. Okay, he was trying to take care of his own problems.
So now Mr. Ford came in and send us a letter. To me just like another, you know, I don't know whether it's you know, use the right word — baloney — in Vietnamese but I told him the same meaning. I say, hey, you know, doesn't mean the same, doesn't mean anything. Just a piece of nice slap in the back, okay you boys, I'm still here, you see?

Hoang Duc Nha's official removal from the Thieu Administration

Interviewer:
Then if you would tell about being forced out of office. Tell why you were unpopular.
Hoang Duc Nha:
I met Ambassador Martin when we first went to San Clemente. He was the Ambassador-designate at that time and he attended the deliberations we had at the Western White House. He and I sat next to each other for two or three days. He didn't utter a word, and I just knew him for, I guess since we respect seniority, really don't want to come and say, Hey Graham, and all that so we kept our distance.
And towards the last hours of our meeting in San Clemente, he told me, "So, you're the famous Hoang Duc Nha," and I say, "Yes, that's me." And he say, well it looks like you're doing a lot of things in Vietnam, is that right? I say, well I have a lot of things to do ha ha. Doesn't mean that I do a lot of things, see. That was our first exchange. He wasn't very cordial. He wasn't very, you know, out of the way.
So when he came to Saigon, and I extended the invitation to him to have lunch or dinner with me to get acquainted. And you know the invitation was never returned, so I said, well, you know, the guy thinks that he doesn't like to be associated with a young kid. He has his prerogative.
So that I tell you these two incidents just to mark, to characterize how our relationship was. And afterwards, we really never did have a face to face dialogue with each other.
Interviewer:
Were there any Vietnamese who were close with him?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh yes, he had his own, uh, as usual the US Embassy had their own, what I like to call, a coterie of Vietnamese politicians, or cabinet members whom they invited. At that time I did not go to many diplomatic parties or cocktails. I hated those, you see, so I was never very much in the so-called dinner circuits.
And uh at that time he started to reassure our President, Prime Minister, and the Cabinet that don't worry you know, I'm dedicated to Vietnam, I love this country, my son died here, and he was in the war...So we had no reason to doubt about his sincerity. That was one thing. He was a very sincere man.
By the way he went about and, and...most of that he believe himself, you know, I don't know whether he was given...he chose to interpret the situation in the US at that time in a different line than what we interpreted. That's how I guess we can into conflict.
When he gave his assessment to my president, and I gave my mine, and that time he knew that, hey, what happened to this guy. Hey, he has his own independent observation, he doesn't trust or anything. I say, hey, it's not a question of trust. You know, you guys shouldn't hold the monopoly of whatever is happening in your country. And I think that's a very bad thing to do. I cannot afford to trust you alone. Okay?
So that's how, you know, we really, you know, our conflict erupted. And you know, he made some remarks that I say, hey, you know the guy should never make a remark behind my back. I offer him an invitation to sit down with me and never returned, so I don't considered it, you know, a very nice gesture to do. So if he has anything against me, better come sit down talk to me.
Interviewer:
Did you find that actually lied to you?
Hoang Duc Nha:
I never did talk to him, okay? To find out whether he lied to me. But whatever he told my president at that time was a bunch of baloney. And I only knew that because it was relayed to me by the president of the cabinet.
I say I don't believe what the Ambassador of the US was saying to you guys. Because I never did get a chance to talk to him. But I would have told him the same thing if he were talk to me. But now that you conveyed to me what he told you, I say, that's baloney. This is, is, is farthest thing from the truth you know.
This is the assessment I got from my people in Washington. And even there's some other guys like you think I invent? Read the press, here's some clippings, okay? I even offer them, well you don't believe me, here's some clippings. This is what the Embassy say. This is what the press is in Washington. Alright, draw your own conclusions.
Interviewer:
So tell us about being forced out of office.
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, you know those incidents added to others. And at that time really the prime minister and myself were not really in agreement. Because as I told you a while ago, in the cabinet deliberation he said well, the Americans told us, ...I say, well Mr. Prime Minister, I beg to disagree but, you want to go back again?
(Telephone ringing)
Interviewer:
Let's stop for a moment and then pick it up from that and wrap it up with your...
Beep
Interviewer:
Okay, hold on a second. Yeah, okay let's get that statement.
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well I was saying, that uh at that time between Ambassador Martin and myself, there was no face-to-face dialogue. So whatever I got about his views was relayed to me through either the cabinet or the prime minister and during our deliberations then it because aware to me that Ambassador Martin was telling my prime minister, okay, things are going to be this way, or the aid is going to be forthcoming, the violations will be taken care of, and I was disagreeing with the prime minister.
I say excuse me sir, I would like to disagree, but it is a bunch of baloney – which made him very angry because I took him right on in front of the whole cabinet where nobody dared to even, you know uh, utter a word of disagreement, agreement, I say, hey, this is serious business.
I don't agree with the assessment of US Embassy, you guys don't agree here. Independent observers, you can check it out, you know, I even through some clippings on the table okay, read this. From a pro-press to an anti-press to a middle of the road press — take your pick.
Interviewer:
Tell us about your being forced out.
Hoang Duc Nha:
And you know, it was those incidents that really added to uh, uh the atmosphere of animosity between me and the US Embassy at that time. And one day I was called by my boss, the President say, gee, you know. At that time I didn't know that a letter was written. I didn't—I found that out later.
So he told me he say we you know the American, in a way he put pressure on me, and he, he didn't come out for...I say, Okay, I understand. I knew, I knew they were pressuring you because I heard that through the prime minister's aides. I knew that those guy were trying to get me, so I have nothing to lose. I didn't ask to be a minister in your cabinet. You chose me. I'm very honored. You want me to go...? Give me a piece of paper, I write my letter of resignation.
He say no, no, no. I just want you to know that and let me work it out. I say, fine. Just tell me when you want me to resign. So at that time, I knew. See, before he call me up to his office, I know that those guy were trying to get me. I say, what the heck! You know, say, my boys he's going to be the black sheep of this whole family, so be it. Let's go.
Interviewer:
But you left out where the letter came from.
Hoang Duc Nha:
And ah two months later, when everything...I say, hey I cannot function. I don't like to be a lame duck minister, I go out. So Ambassador this, ambassador that — I say, no. I want to stay home. I am sick and tired of working the government.
And so I guess after, week after I resign I went to his office and I saw the letter that the Prime Minister sent to the President. In which he say here, you know, among other things he recommended many other things, but he say, you know, I guess the last paragraph say I ask you to remove the young minister for information of his duties. So I just make a copy of that ha ha just for my file and say, hey, this is a clear interference from a US ambassador — why in the world does he want me to get out?
Interviewer:
Stop please. I need to stop because it isn't coming...A letter came. There was a letter from Ambassador Martin that went...
Vietnam. VP 01302. SR 459. Mr. Hoang.
This is Vietnam. Mr. Hoang interview with 01403. Head of CR 2456. SR 459.
Hoang Duc Nha:
It wasn't until a week after I resigned that I found out there was a letter sent by the Ambassador Graham Martin to my prime minister and, and convey by the Prime Minister to President asking for my removal. And, you know, luckily, I got a copy of that letter without Mr. Thieu knowing it so I just ah wanted to ah prove one of these days that it was a clear interference in ah internal affairs from the US Embassy. I knew that really things were getting bad between them and me for them to write such a letter. Them meaning ah Ambassador Martin.
Interviewer:
After you left office though you did stay personally close with Mr. Thieu still. Do you have any idea of why he, he became sort of so secretive towards the end? Ah. I'm thinking about the withdrawal from the highlands. He never told anyone.
Hoang Duc Nha:
That's right. At that time I was ah as I told you I was out and I was staying at home and I was in a way advising him on ah the political side of the thing. And, myself, I knew that he went to the meeting on ah in Cam Ranh Bay Naval Air Station to talk ah about the highland ah thing and a lot of versions after that. I have his own version, okay. I wish he told me afterwards.
But ah going back to your question an...why the man was secretive. After I resigned, I found out that he was very divided insofar as whom to trust, whom not to trust. Okay. Between he and I, not only we are cousins, but we were, we were very close. We have weathered a lot of storms together. There, there, there were times when we were threatened and he look at me and I say well, this is the last hurrah. Okay.
So, you know, we were making that kind of joke so between he and I we were just like a comrade in arms, so to speak. So, and after I left and anytime I had the chance to talk to him and I saw that ah you know he was trying to make up his mind whom to trust. At that time he had to believe what the Embassy was telling him, what his generals were telling him, what his cabinet was telling him.
And, ah, whatever, I think the biggest thing was that whatever he say to be implemented was never implemented, and he had no organism, no mechanism to find out whether what he wanted was done correctly.

Thieu's generals and the debacle of the South

Interviewer:
What was his version of the Cam Ranh meeting?
Hoang Duc Nha:
At that time the way he conveyed was that ah, you know, he had instructed General Phu at that time he say okay after General Phu made a desperate attempt and say hey, you know I got cornered this way that way and he say well, you know, what's, as a general how do you propose to do that?
And then at that time he proposed a, a kind of diversion move to go around ahh the town, get more troops from the plain to send in and recapture the town. Okay. So, the president and with General Cao Van Vien there also they say well, you know, it's a sound military maneuver. Go ahead and implement it. Okay.
Interviewer:
Why was it so badly implemented?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, we, we go back to the mechanism of ah like I said the, the, the general failing at the last minute and his colonels, his captains are not doing the right thing. But, it was a well-conceived ah military maneuver because ah it was not a meeting where the decision was taken to abandon the highland. That, that was not the case. Okay.
And, ah, is not because I wanted to defend Mr. Thieu or Mr. Vien. No. Because ah, you know, I haven't been involved in so many years with them. I knew that it was the decision they had taken and even Phu himself told me when he came back ah from that ah retreat. He told me, he say, I don't know what happened. Why I just let me down. We couldn't even let you know ah diversionary move.
So, you know, just like what happened in I Corps and Da Nang with General Truong it must have been the same way. When ah you know one move was implemented ah wrong and I guess the troops there lost confidence and ran off.
Interviewer:
Moving along in this period there's the defense of Hue which Mr. Thieu changed his mind on a lot of times. Why was he changing his mind so much?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, that ah I guess I don't know whether you ah you know had talked to anybody who involved in that insofar as there's the quote, unquote "change of mind." When, as you just told me, nobody spoke about that, you see. And, I learned this also, you know, after it had happened. What I can tell you is that it was never a, a Mr. Thieu alone changing the mind, you know. And, I want to qualify that change of mind statement that has been, you know, labeled ever since, you know, that day.
I guess it was a time what ah the War Cabinet convened with Mr. Thieu and, and Vien and the prime minister and they were putting a call to General Truong in Da Nang and say, hey, what's the situation up there because you guys didn't report so we, we down here don't know. So I, I don't know what kind of a situation report Truong ah gave them at that time and ah he suggested some kind of move and he say okay. You know, if you think that as a commanding general there because we don't know your battlefield situation that much ah so we trust your judgment.
Interviewer:
Stop please. I'm confused by this. We have to straighten it out.
Beep
Hoang Duc Nha:
...we'll have a B-52 flying overhead.
Interviewer:
No, I don't think so! So, if you could talk about why it's wrong to blame the...
Hoang Duc Nha:
Okay...I think it's wrong to blame Mr. Thieu for flip-flopping or changing his mind during the ah Da Nang fiasco. I happen to be in the palace on that day when Mr. Thieu, surrounded by his war cabinet with the chairman of joint general staff, his own military adviser, the prime minister himself.
They were trying to put calls to General Truong in Da Nang to have an assessment of the situation there. And, they get different assessment as the hours went along, and they really didn't have any hard facts to suggest a move an ah as Mr. Thieu and General Vien had always operated, they rely on the general's ah perception of ah the battlefield situation and especially with General Truong who was at that time the ah I guess the best general in we had in our army and nobody had doubted his judgment before.
So, I guess with that type of atmosphere ah Mr. Thieu and his generals were very confident that Mr. Truong could handle the situation based on the assessment that he gave them periodically. So, ah, you know, to, to say that Mr. Thieu flip-flip and one day say you maintain this line and the next hour you say you change, is completely wrong. Because I, I think ah if ah Mr. Truong were to be on record for that, he would attest to that fact also.
Interviewer:
After the fall of the highlands in mid-March it only seems to be about two weeks and the whole country seems to deteriorate. Why was that so quick?
Hoang Duc Nha:
It was a subject that a lot of people had tried to analyze and ah I ah personally feel that at that time with the Cambodian situation winding down, the ah population as a whole, and especially the troops in the army say gee ah we cannot count anymore help from the US ah and we have to ration our artillery and you know how bad, you know, it is on the morale of a troop when they can fire only three artillery shells a day where the communists rain about one thousand.
So, it ah just like an infantry troop seeing a tank. They say my God, I don't have a tank. These guys will destroy me with all the tank. So, it was this kind of a psychological so we have a feeling abandoned. Okay. Our generals are not going, you know, not re, re, reassuring us anything and the government in the central ah in Saigon was not saying anything.
We kept hearing rumors. At that time the communists really bombarded the population as a whole and the troops in particular with a lot of propaganda. Say, you know, let's quit all this. You guys why should you fight. Let's lay down your weapon and be brothers because ah, ah your leaders in, in, in Saigon at that time had already signed, ah, had already connived with us and with Americans. It was a fantastic propaganda program.
That, at that time the government was not taking any action to counter it, you see. And I was ah terribly mortified because having been in the ah information minister where I learn to take on that kind of challenge and my ah the guy who succeeded me just...He did nothing. He kept playing stupid music and ah, while the people...Even as I went out to dinner in the restaurant they say Mr. Minister, what happen. Why couldn't you do anything? It really was painful for me to hear that and I heard that as, as at that time I was you know ah a citizen.
I heard rumors. Propaganda here in this coffee shop, that coffee shop. You know that oh, they had already settled on this situation. Why should you fight. Let's lay down the weapons. So, I think it was a very big psychological ah warfare that ah we did not really take ah counter moves. And, to me it explained what happened in, in Da Nang.
Interviewer:
Cut please. Wow, that was fascinating.
Mark it. Okay. Beep.
Hoang Duc Nha:
In spite of what you have heard, you have read about the ah debacle of the Vietnamese Army at that time not every troop, not every unit took off and ran. There were heroic resistances and the incident that really moved me to tears that time was a company of cadets, plebes, as you call it in the West Point, our, colonel of our, our colonel of your West Point, a hundred of them got wiped out you know holding a bridge leading to Saigon.
So that, that was a kind of army we had trained at that time and it was too bad that the whole unraveling took roots from the central government, you know, and, and down to the ah the troops that ah who just lost the war very stupidly.
Mark it. Okay. Beep.
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh, yeah. I remember that time very well.
Interviewer:
Why was the French negotiation silly?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Ah. Towards the end of April, no towards the end of March, the French Ambassador Jean-Marie Merillon approached me and wanted to have my concurrence on his government plan of accommodating with the communists. And, he tried to explain to me how it ah how it would work.
So I told him, I said Jean-Marie this is plain nonsense. It is stupid. How can you play super politics when you don't have the dollars and you don't have the cannons? He look at me and he say why.
You think you going to reason with the communists. Baloney. You got to have the weapons to make them believe. So he say oh no we gonna make it. Well, you know, we can go you know accommodation. I say it never work. So, count me out.
Interviewer:
Cut. Perfect! My goodness!
Changing to 2457. Beep.

Final days of leadership in the South

Hoang Duc Nha:
He wants to have, he wanted to hear the name of that.
Interviewer:
Can you tell me, I would like to hear about President Thieu's reaction. You said, all right, I've heard in Singapore that you've got to resign, and he said all right he's resigned. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh, well, when Lee Kuan Yoo told me that the die was cast and I went to Saigon, I told Mr. Thieu, I say, gee if you ah you know, had not resigned you would have been living in a place, I guess, it was New Zealand at that time. So, ah, but then I turn out that you resign and ah so I don't think you know that you have anymore things to do there. Why don't you leave.
And he say, he say, no, you know, I still have a lot of things to do here. I say, yes, I know that, but ah the way the situation is unraveling and the way they're talking about the so-called political accommodation with the communists, it's going to be very painful for you.
And, that's when he ask me, he say what about you. I say don't worry about me. Okay. (Chuckle) It's not because I'm angry with you because you kicked me out of the government. No. it's not that. I can take care of myself. So, but, ah, you know, I think the time ah for you is to leave.
Interviewer:
And, what did he say?
Hoang Duc Nha:
And, I say, well, I think about it, you know. And, of course, ah, two days later, he left.
Interviewer:
Did you talk to him when he resigned? Did he say what he felt about his resignation?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Yes. The moment I came back from Singapore he told me...he say well, you know, I ju...I thought I chose the best solution. I didn't want to endanger the situation nor destroy you know when I resign. I just say, okay, you know, I'm not wanted anymore. I guess that that was the ah hard admission from him.
I'm not wanted anymore so I step out and let other people enter. And, and I, I appreciate that ah explanation. You know, that in a way is self-admission that ah you know his role is no longer there. And, say, hey, you know. If you are no longer there then ah they don't like to see you around. See?
Interviewer:
But did you think that, that, that anybody else that Mr. Huang or Mr. Minh could do anything to stop the communists?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, you know, now everybody cou...were interpret our statement and saying, you know we are quarterback, Monday morning quarterbacking. But, we had always believed that. Frankly, Mr. Minh or Mr. Huang they were no match. They didn't even understand the situation.
You know, you respect to them now. I don't know what is their fate now, but frankly I have dealt with Mr. Huang when he was the vice-president. You know I had to spend countless days, you know, really, to tell him about the...he's a very nice man, he's very firm patriot, but he hasn't got all the nuances and the intricacies of the, the world situation and how it affects Washington, Moscow, Hanoi, and Saigon.
So, I personally, I didn't think those guys would fair very much. And the communists just like a reprieve for them to get Mr. Thieu out of you know the, the position and then move. And, that's why they did that after all. See, you see how many days Mr. Minh lasted.

Retrospective of the fall of the South

Interviewer:
But it's exactly those emotions. As you were on the plane and the plane was taking off, if you could tell us what you felt looking down over Saigon?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, when the airplane took off from the ramp way and ah seeing the lights of Saigon dying gradually under the wings, I thought to myself, gee, you know, thirty ah three years of my life in on this land and ah the last ten years ah contributing to the ah you know safeguard of the nation now poof, you know.
This airplane is taking me out of that, how luckily for me and my immediate family, but ah I was very, very sad because just like leaving a job completely ah undone and seeing it destroyed. See? And ah in a way I was also happy because ah I still had a lot of time in front of me to rebuild my life and ah that was the ah feeling that prevailed.
You know, only during interview like this that bring me back to (chuckle) you know the sight of the airplane taking off in the middle of the night with ah with the lights or the runway dying gradually. Ah. It's hard to capsulate those emotions, you know. I don't think I can ever put them in writing nor paint them anyway. It's ah something that's, it's very hard.
Interviewer:
Let me ask you, what went wrong. A summing up question. Between 1973 and '75. Just those years. What went wrong there?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh, I like to explain that as a, ah, ah how should I say as a convergence of various factors. Okay. One, and we have the inability on our side to make things work because suddenly we're thrusted on the scene, you know, and trying to grapple with things and with a very badly eroded infrastructure. Not properly trained cadres. Okay. And having a lot of internal problems. Opposition and so on.
And, on the other hand, the big ally we are always counted on insofar as establishing a new base for continued support getting into trouble because of Watergate. And then on the third hand, the communists who never had any illusions or any intention of making the peace work to start with, you know. Getting ready for a last hurrah to lavish their position. So, those three forces when they converge they self destruct.
Interviewer:
What do you think are the lessons of Vietnam? A more general, even more general question.
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, the lessons of are I guess numerous. I don't think you can just summarize in ah one catch sentence. I think that you know it was bad for the US to come in. Each, no matter what people say, you know, you get into argument.
But, I like to feel that it was the way we approach things. The half ah how say the gradualism. We never really went in for the kill. Never went in to do a job properly from A to Z. So it ah, I say, you know, I say these guys are always striving. That's not the way things should be done. Okay.
Before you go do something think it thoroughly and go ahead and do it. With conviction. That was what was lacking. See? Looking back at the war in 1967 we could have knocked the communists out. You know.
Interviewer:
Was that lacking from the South Vietnamese?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, from both end. At that time the, you know, the various US presidents from Johnson, you know, all the way to Mr., Mr. Ford, and from our end. You know, we frankly we, we would like to, to justify ourselves that way.
You know, we didn't have a proper infrastructure, but you know nobody had the perfect infrastructure. It just that you know we in the government ah sometimes found it very hard to ah you know get our programs sustained because we have a lousy mmm implementation mechanism.
So it ah as I say that's why it's, it's very, very hard to pin the blame on or, or draw a, a real lessons on Vietnam. With the US you know a lot of people will say well we shouldn't get out in a war we cannot win. And, I don't agree with that because (chuckle) eh you win the war depends on how you fight the war. If you fight a war not to win then you can never win the war. That's how the war was fought.
Interviewer:
The United States fought the war not to win?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Ya, because at that time you had, that's why I say... Ya. The, the, the gradualism, you see. It's a very half ah half-hearted ah approach to the war. See?
And, when we got into the peace it say all right now let's not go through a an armed conflict, let's go through a peaceful negotiations. And, ah, we never did set a mechanism to check the other guy. What happens if he violates the mechanism. Oh, no, no, we just keep being the good apostle and we don't worry about the other guy. Well, that's, that's not realistic. See?
Interviewer:
Stop please. Is there anything left?
Hoang Duc Nha:
...there isn't a word for it, but it means the same to your point of, the embrace - what did you say? - peculiar embrace. We wish we could be that close you know? (laugh)
Another lesson, if you will, from the Vietnam was the inability of the Vietnamese side and the American side, you know, really to agree with each other's option, although physically on the surface they are very close. You know, on the one hand you see the Americans chaperoning the Vietnamese, so to speak, on the war scene and say these guys are good guys, you know, and they are very ah honest and everything and we on the other side, we say, hey, gee, we have this guy, big ally, you know, we cannot go wrong.
But, frankly, nobody has taken time to sit down and forget each other's, how should I say, ah, ego, you know, to realize that hey, what I just told this you know he can do it. You know, look at the internal situation. And, the Vietnamese say hey what are we expecting from the Americans is, is not realistic. Look at their situation.
So, it was the lack of ah impartial co-analysis from the two sides, the American side on one hand and the Vietnamese side on the other hand. They really never, you know, brought the real subject into light.
Interviewer:
Was there also a sort of an overdependence?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh, yes, no, that's why I say, you know the Vietnamese expecting a lot from the Americans in a way ah thinking of the Americans as a big brother riding a B-52 ah to save ah the you know the little brother.
Interviewer:
What did that do to the to the government of South Vietnam?
Hoang Duc Nha:
You mean the fact that the B-52s didn't come?
Interviewer:
Uh. Huh.
Hoang Duc Nha:
They feel abandoned. Say what happened. We were promised that. See. So, I don't, that's why I say that you know whatever ah promise the Americans made, they didn't convey very well you know so the people took it as a promise.
Interviewer:
Thank you.
END SR 459.
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