Interview with Hoang Duc Nha [1], 1981

 
05/09/1981
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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.

Transcript

Early years

VIETNAM T-876 SR- #2831
Tone
This is ah… Sound Roll #2831 going with picture roll, camera roll 851, 9th of May, 1981. Vietnam Project T-876. And ah we're in Connecticut.
Mark it.
Interviewer:
Wonder if I could start with ah I wonder if you could tell me what was your childhood like in Vietnam? Was it, was it strife at all? Were you aware of the war and everything else? What was your childhood like?
Hoang Duc Nha:
I was born during the war when the Japanese—occupied Vietnam and ah the allies tried to dislodge them, and I can remember when I was a little boy, I still suffer from a bad hearing on my right ear, because I was ah playing in one bomb dropped about 100 feet from where I was playing so, just to start that ah my turbulent life thereafter. (chuckles) Was born in the war, grew up in the war, suffered in the war and lost with the war.
Interviewer:
What was it like since you were a youngster? I mean, were you aware of the changes that were going on? Were you aware of the pressures or…?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, you know, in Vietnam at that time ah war had become almost like an institution, a way of life. And, as I grew up and went from school to another, ah you know, I, we were aware of the war. We were aware of the difficulties the people were facing and so we tried to ah in a way lead a life which ahh, you know, has to blend all ah of those factors in. It, it wasn't something that made us afraid or made us apprehensive. It just ah, it just like the air you breathe. It, it's something that has to be with you. So, we never did think of war as something that really, ahh, scares you or prevents you from doing anything. Tha—that was ahh that wasn't the case with me.
Interviewer:
What did you think about the, when you were young what did you think about the enemy? What did you think about the north? I mean, they were Vietnamese, what, what were your early thoughts about….?
Hoang Duc Nha:
You see, my, my father (cough) ah came from a province which ah has always known as the [incomprehensible] Revolution which is Quang Tri Province. That's where all the North Vietnamese leaders now in, in Vietnam are from also. So, ah I'm very much aware of uh the North Vietnamese communist movement and as I went school to there, I learned about the movement but ah you know ah at the same time, ah, I made up my mind that, you know, I couldn't live with those guys since ahh, not only ah, it was a philosophy totally alien to what ah you know I believe in, and ah it didn't give the happiness that ah they always, you know, boasted in their propaganda.
Interviewer:
What about, you came, you were in the States, for what three years… how did the country look when you got back? Was it different? Did it feel different?
Hoang Duc Nha:
It ah that is a good point right there because when I came back from ah undergraduate studies, I remember that the plane that was supposed to land in Saigon at that time could not land because they had a coup d'etat. You know, one general tried to kick another one out and ah it was, a result the plane had to be diverted to Singapore, and I stayed there three days before I got admitted back to Vietnam. And, the reason I came back ah was that my mother wanted me to come home.
All of my friends on the same promotion either deserted, went to Canada or ended up marrying an American girl to stay here, but ah, I just ah well, you know, just to go back to my question I say war was not alien to me. I say if I were to be in the war, so be it. Went home and I saw a country completely ah different from when I left because I left in '70, '61. It was still peaceful. It was still pretty. When I got back barbed wire, military vehicles zooming by and poverty, you know, sssstarting to creep into ah the suburbs, and so it was a very drastic change in 1965.

Hoang Duc Nha's relations with the Americans

Interviewer:
How. Were you aware of the changes when you went from what happening in society? I mean, how did you, you say it looked before in some respects the war was something you [incomprehensible]. Were you aware of things changing, of becoming less Vietnamese? What did you see of the American presence and what was that doing to Vietnam?
Hoang Duc Nha:
You see, when I, when I came back from the US and I saw that the ah American military presence, what the military presence did to Saigon, you know, where I came back to, and later on to my home town, I felt very sad because there are, here is this country and because of the war having to, once again, receive a foreign force on its soil and having its values, you know, beginning to be shredded to pieces, and I could witness, cases when ahh you know family had to do this do that to survive in the war and, you know, the American's presence becoming ah one more firm and ah sometimes brutal, sometimes obnoxious so as a a ah young nationalist and patriot or what-not, you know, ah, it, it hit home very, very painfully.
And, I think that was what mark my future relationships ah with the US establishment. Because in the future years as I grew in the hierarchy and got into a very important position dealing with Americans, the impressions of 1965 ah the, you know, I remember one day very vividly when I was at the beach in, at that time, the American forces had ahhh, you know, a portion of the beach partitioned, they call it private beach and one kid happened to swim ah, you know, straying into that area and the MPs would rush out and throw him on the ground. Ahh. That upset me so much. I remember that one, one day I brought it up to the US Ambassador .
I say you guys tried to win the heart and minds of people, you know, that is not the way, and, you know, I don't like that, and he, he, later apologized for that. But I, later on I always remember that feeling, you know, when I was so hurt to see, you know, here's my country, here's this guy coming in, you know, he doesn't have the decency just to do things, you know, in a civilized way, just totally ah, you know upset me, and ah during the negotiation months and, an, an, an, and days, somehow I was accused of being a bit you know ah by Kissinger is obnoxious and I think that ah I guess I was trying to prove a point that ah, you know, we do have interest of Vietnam to defend, while recognizing that ah the Americans have their own interest, but we didn't want to have our interests, you know, just swept under the rug.
Interviewer:
How did you actually find your relationship yourself with the [incompre did you find that they dealt with you on a person-to-person basis or was it paternalism or what, how would you as a senior South Vietnamese official on your later period, '68 onwards, how did they treat you?
Hoang Duc Nha:
(sigh) For me, first of all, before the ah crucial negotiation days ah let's see before '71, our relationship was very cordial. Ah. Ah. You know, they say hey here's this ki, kid, you know who had been educated in the US he speaks good English, 'n you know, he's a good friend, so, you know, I play, sure, you know, I like everybody and and I guess unt, after '71 when the going was very tough, when really each one ha, has to ah, you know, stand by his position, that's when they say, hey, boy, you, how come you are so tough to deal with. We thought ah that you were our friend.
I say I'm still your friend. It's just that (chuckles) I don't want you, you know, to come in and tell me what to do. I don't want you to adopt that condescending attitude, you know, that ah patronage, patronizing attitude, you know, that's what I found later in the, when the going get tough and all the cosmetics began to crumble and that's when they really showed the, their patronizing of the, ahh, if you don't do this, we do that and so that, I got very ah, very ah, how should I say it, very ugly in the end. That's what I meant by when cosmetic began to crumble, all the mask are ah disappearing, and everybody burying its own soul you know (chuckle) for survival.

Vietnamization's negative effect on South Vietnam

Interviewer:
Take it to ah, to end of '68. How did you ah, how do you feel, how did your compatriots in the government feel at the election of Nixon? What was, how did you feel when Nixon got the presidency? Did you think things were going to change? Did you have any hopes?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Let's see. We got to go back to when the bombing was stopped and later ah somehow we were accused of ah stalling, for not going to the Paris peace talks in the hope of having Nixon ah win over Hubert Humphrey. Well, you know, if they analyze that and they correlate that with the '72-'73 period, we did not change our position at all.
We say we don't want to do anything unless there's some points of principle result first. Ah. And, throughout '68 when we saw that, ah, after Mr. Johnson had announced his decision not to seek re-election in March and then Humphrey, we knew that with Humphrey ah we were going to go through a very tough time, you know, because of his liberal politics ah, and you know, the whole democratic establishment at that time. We were worried eh, and at the same time, ah we had met Nixon ah when he was out of politics he had gone to Saigon, before he even thought about campaigning. So, at least, ah, we met with him then. I remember it was '67 or so. We kind of liked the guy.
We say, at least, you know, he's the guy who, he's a tough politician, but ahh, we feel that ah he will deliver what ah he promised. That was our first impression of Nixon so, of course, we were rooting for him, and we didn't know that our decision not to go to Paris peace talks as ah Harriman and Humphrey wanted us to had played any effect in the election, but we were elated with a new ah republican administration. Somehow, we were infatuated with the fact that ah they would understand us more than the democrats. I guess because we were having such a hard time with ah Johnson and, and Humphrey (chuckle) that ah ah we thought anything is better than those two guys.
Interviewer:
Would it be fair to say then that you regarded that Paris talks as a a farce? I mean how would you, how would you discuss, wha, in '68-'69 what did you think of the Paris talks?
Hoang Duc Nha:
See, the Paris talks in '68 were ah devised and conducted ah pretty much independently of the Viet—whatever the Vietnamese had to say in that. So, we, first of all, we did not believe in any outcome.
(Clapsticks).
Interviewer:
You happy?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh yeah, sure.

Magazine 852 starts up. Magazine 852
Rolling.
Tone.
Interviewer:
One of the earlier statements that the Nixon did was in fact to announce the fifty [incomprehensible] troop withdrawal. So I wonder if you could tell me how you came across that information yourself and how the Vietnamese government felt about Nixon action?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Hm-hm. I think uh that decision to withdraw troops is… in implementing, in implementation of the so-called Nixon doctrine which he formulated, I guess, prior to his departure in, if my memory is correct, around May or something of 1969. And, he elaborated that doctrine further in, in Guam, you know… I guess they call Asians who take care of you know, their own way and uh, insofar as Vietnam we had to pull out troops and help the Vietnamese armed forces. 'M, we got word of that about two weeks before it was to be made public. Uh, but by that time, we had… noticed a shift in American policy.
If you remember, in 1967 at that uh Manila Conference, when Johnson was there, they insisted on any resolution of the Vietnam issue should be predicated on the complete withdrawal of North Vietnamese forces prior to any ally withdrawal. At that time you have the Australians, the Philippino, the Thais and 'n, 'n…so that was the… commonly re uh referred to as the Manila Conference and, after that '68 uh Johnson drop it, of course, dropped the bombing and offered you know, to… have mutual withdrawal—North Vietnamese 'n US at the same time. So we thought at the time.
And we say well, you know, we could not possibly implore for the US troops to be behind…. I, it's a matter of Vietnamese pride to start with, and also of uh, uh political pragmatism. It was the latter which dictated 'e say well… let's try to make a benefit out of this since uh the… that's where the uh railroad, I mean the train is going, we shouldn't be standing in front of that railroad. We either step out we don't we or… ride on the train. So that's what I mean by uh political pragmatism and uh we say fine. Just tell us ah when and how you going to implement that uh… uh gradual troop withdrawal and uh… help us uh take care of ourselves because ever since… the uh 1963 coup d'etat uh overthrowing… Ngo Dinh Diem, the Vietnamese Army was a complete shamble… and uh… it was ill-equipped in the face of a formidably equipped North Vietnamese army, so we were happy that uh Nixon thought in those terms.
'M we did not raise, put any objection to it…. And uh later on in um… uh, in, in, in, uh in the meeting in Midway… the uh… officially agreed to that… when uh… President Thieu and President Nixon met in… Midway, and uh another anecdote about that is that uh they didn't want us to come to Washington because of the anti-war movement, and we didn't want uh… to come to Honolulu because we say if it is a US soil, it's got to be in the US, so we devise a, a… common denominator half-way between Vietnam and the US who happens to be a little island of Midway, you know.
Interviewer:
One of the… operations which is presented as uh proof that uh ARVN wasn't really very successful and wasn't doing anything, was the Lam Son 719 operation. I wonder if you could tell me something about the background of that whole operation and why did it end up in the way in which it did and what was the… the was the…
Hoang Duc Nha:
Okay uh… that operation, code name Lam Son 719, Lam Son was the… uh one of our old king who had defeated the Japanese, I mean nor… the Chinese
Interviewer:
Could you start again…
Hoang Duc Nha:
They say, so as you know, we love to uh… go back into history to find out (laugh) when we… beat Genghis Khan or the Chinese… So Lam Son was the name of the king who beat the Chinese and we use that to code name the operation into Laos, the purpose of which is to uh… number one, demonstrate that the army of Vietnam could stage an operation outside of its own territory as an eloquent proof of the success of the so-called quote and unquote Vietnamization program, and secondly, disrupt the uh supplies on the Ho Chi Minh trail.
Just to uh, uh… delay or, or… at least wreck the communist intention of mounting a, a… next offensive, at that time we had heard that they would, all the indications pointing at, to an afont, an offensive, a large-scale offensive in 1972. And the Lam Son 719 was mounted in uh '71, but the uh whole thing was conceived wrong from the start because when General Westmoreland was still commander of the US forces in Vietnam, they had look at that option and had found that they would take at least two US army corps, that would be eight divisions… and uh, of course at that time everybody thought it was sheer folly, you shouldn't go in there.
So by that time you know, you got, Abrams got in and uh asked us to participate, 'e say well the most we could put in there are two of our best divisions and uh… the object is to go in and seize a town called Tchepone. Which is, because it is a the hub of all the uh little roads leading uh… to their various uh sanctuaries, the comm sanctuaries there. Little did people know that uh of course in, as in any military operation, you know, intelligence and counterintelligence play a big role. And I guess by that time, the North Vietnamese intelligence had pick up some words of, of that because uh the State Department at that time insisted that the US Ambassador, Vientiane, had to seek agreement from Souvanna Phouma and the poor ambassador I think uh [incomprehensible] or somebody, you know, he kept going back and forth to Souvanna Phouma, you know, anybody, you know, who’s uh… has some, you know… intelligence might know that something must going because uh… what does the US ambassador have to go and see Souvanna Phouma almost every day.
And of course, when you had to teach the troops to understand a little bit of English to call for air cover, you know, from US air force so, that had leak out, and as a result, when the North, I mean, when the South Vietnamese army went into that they go a strong resistance from the entrenched uh… North Vietnamese army in there. They, we went in uh something like uh we put in one brigade where the Communists had about two divisions waiting. And ‘e they were saying before this, uh there was only one road leading uh from our border to that uh… spot called Tchepone and they were waiting for us on top of the hill, they just reigning uh terror and that’s why a whole brigade attack them.
After that, completely demoralized and, in a way, broke the effect of surprise and did not ahhh ahhh give us the success we had anticipated eh, because ah, we wanted to prove the ah success of the Vietnamization program, which had suc, suc, succeeded very well during the ah Cambodian incursion. Eh. We, the Vietnamese army, at that time, with the US Army did perform well, but when it got into Lam Son and the first you attack an enemy into its entrenched position, I don’t know the military technician that ah you know looking at the plan, they say, you know, one man, you know, attacking a guy who is there, Sh, should have three guys to dislodge one guy.
Okay. The, this guy is sitting there waiting. And, ah, these, aftermath of that operation took its toll on ahh, not only the credibility of the South Vietnamese Armed Forces to perform, but uh worse, it has encouraged the ah those so-called those liberal within the US Congress and the public opinion, media[incomprehensible] people to seriously doubt whether the US Army should still continue on with the Vietnamese ah program.
For us, on the Vietnamese side, uh, we knew that we had suffered some ah setback, ah, the casualties were very high, but at least, we knew that we had to face that kind of situation once the US pull out. So, it was a very valuable lesson for the South Vietnamese Army, you know. It was a very costly, you know, causalities about the first week 3000 or 4000. Just like that. You know, it was too much to (chuckle) to sustain eh.
Cut.

South Vietnam's 1971 election

Mark it.
Tone.
Interviewer:
Tell me about '71 election. Why did no one else stand? What, wha….?
Hoang Duc Nha:
In ah October of '71 when the presidential elections were held, at that time, the peace, secret peace talks ah between the US and the North Vietnamese were in full swing, although they were not revealed publicly, and the outcome of any presidential election in Vietnam had to affect uh, the, the, the pursuit of the secret negotiations, and we, eh, on the South Vietnamese side believed that.
The North Vietnamese tried their best to oust ahh Mr. Thieu. So, ah, in October, '71, when we got ready to uh, take the campaign and ah found out that Mr. Minh and Mr. Ky, although they had declared their intention to run, at the last minute, you know, drop out, Just embarrass Mr. Thieu and ah at the same time there was a political consensus in our country to postpone the election. Okay.
So that more candidates could join, or, you know, the modalities for the election can be changed to allow more people in and at that time I was ahh personal assistant to the president and we thought about the problem. We say, well, if you violate the constitution in the fa… by the fact of postponing the election, then you would open yourself to a new, you know, controversy that is, people will say, all right, now that the, you have violated the constitution, all right, let's rewrite some clauses. Let's rewrite the election law.
And, ah, you can never know what's going to happen and ah as a, at that time, we were privy to some of the secret talks between Kissinger and the North Vietnamese. We knew that we should not let the Vietnamese have the benefit of a political chaos in Vietnam. We may suffer personally insofar as Mr. Thieu being branded as a one-man election or conducting a referendum, but we should at least…
Get back later. You need…

Tone.
OK. Vietnam Project T876
9th of May, '81
Sound Roll 2832 goes with…
Picture Roll #853, 854. Very proudly
Sound Roll
Mark it.
Tone.
Interviewer:
I'd like to take you back to the election… you were just telling me about the need for the election… possibly re-write the constitution. I'd like you to carry on dealing with that and to tell me why do you think there were no other candidates?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Ah, as I say before, there were two candidates, two major candidates, okay, that could put, ah, give the election, eh, much more exciting, ah… ah, character, that ah… about uh, one month before the election was su—supposed to take place… they drop out and there were a lot of rumors flying around town that they had taken some money… for not participating, I guess, embarrassing Mr. President Thieu, and thereby forcing the elections to be postponed. And once the elections are postponed, then the need will arise to have the, eh, electoral procedures, uh, amended, and hence amending the sum… constitutional clauses.
So we saw the danger not so much because we were afraid of losing the election, but because of the political chaos that would surely follow, and that would be a very ripe moment for the Communist exploit. And at that time I remember during one session we made a very painful decision—ey say, alright, we going to take on the blunt of the criticism, not only from the US media… except maybe from the world media, but also from our own people… but, uh, the other risk was to beat or else to postpone the elections.
And, um, after a while the US establishment at that time tried force us say, hey let's put an, you know, out another slate of candidates. At least you have one other guy to contend with you. He say, "Well, we could do that, but uh, it's… it's a farce, everybody will see it. So, we I rather stick to my old game if the other two independent ones had drop out, now I'm going to suddenly prop up another candidate. Everybody will know that I, ya know, set him up."
And I remember, y'know, using the, ah, analogy—I say, "If I were to go in the ring, I'd rather fight Cassius Clay rather than some miserable little, y'know, wino," y'see. So that's how we, ha, hm, in with our business and had the election held as usual. And that really, ah, play a major role in the Communist strategy in the, uh, secret negotiations. They could not, uh, at that time that's when they really embark on the full swing of the negotiation. That was the very critical turn the Vietnamese politics—that election of '71.

America's secret negotiations with North Vietnam

Interviewer:
You said, you know, you're aware of the negotiations. Then, when did you first become aware that secret negotiation, when did President Thieu become aware that negotiations were on, was it before they started, after they started? How did you hear about it?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Usually about… oh… at best twenty-four hours after the uh so-called secret talk…
Interviewer:
Could you do that again, repeat that statement. Say we heard about after it all started, or whatever you want to say.
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh, we oh… we only heard about the, uh… secret talk taking place, at best, 24 hours after it had concluded… up until the day Nixon reveal everything in public—I remember January something '72, but ever since the late '60 ehhhhh, no middle '70 throughout '71 we never did know uh when the next secret talk would be held, nor… uh, you know, were… we informed of all the secret talk. Once in a while we got a note from the US Embassy say, yesterday in a meeting, eh… we were told this and that, so… very laconic message… y'know type on a letter from the US ambassador, 'n pass on during a talk to the President. So it was that bad.
And uh, after the secret talks were revealed in public, then we kept informed of uh, a upcoming meeting… and then the results of the meeting were completely different, as I, uh, probably were y'know were a little in… in, in, in, in arriving at the October 1972. So, to make the point that we were not completely 100 percent informed of what went on between the US side and the North Vietnamese side in Paris or wherever, secret talks, or y'know bilateral, through the Russians, or through the Chinese. We only saw, oh yes, y'know, we saw them, we still negotiation. So that was the kind of attitude, ha.
Interviewer:
Before we get onto the business of October, what did you feel about the Nixon visit to China? That must have raised quite a few, what did you feel about the whole overture as to Communist China by Nixon? What did you, what did you think that meant?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Uh, let's see… before Nixon went to China I, ah, somehow got very, uh… weird impression that the US might be changing policies so far as, uh, the Pacific Basin is concerned. Because, uh, while I was in Vietnam I'm, I must admit, I'm a very, uh, voracious reader of the US press and the European press… and reading the, the, the, the, press in the US and the columnist, is so-called deep background, y'know not attributable, all that… so I sense something.
That's why I made a deliberate, I deliberately made a trip to the US And, uh, lo and behold, while I was there, while I was in Washington for four days when they announced that Mr. Nixon would visit China. I re, uh… I remember that time calling my President back time I say, "This is, indeed, a serious turn of the American, uh, political, uh, doctrine and uh, we have to examine our own internal situation in the light of that."
And I remember asking why. I say, "If now the US decide to go to China, thereby, y'know, changing their policy with Taiwan… y'know, they ought to the same thing in Vietnam." And when I cam back to Saigon we had a long discussion with him. I remember, y'know he had his helicopter pick me up at the airport and fly me right away to his rest home, and I, we got into a long discussion, and he, that's when he and I disagreed… insofar as a US new position he say, "Well, do you think that the US will abandon, uh, this part of the world to the Russians, to the Chinese?"
And I told him, I say, "Well, I cannot predict when, but being educated in the States and having dealt with the U—Americans a lot I know that if they cannot get one thing accepted by their people then you can be assured that they're going to drop it. It was a very brutal admission on my part and he did not agree with, you know I don't agree with, I say, Well, you just watch. You see that's why I recommend that in our dealings with the States now we have to be very careful and not to be construed as an obstacle to anything because if you are portrayed as being something and the whole public opinion is against you, you're dead, you get no more support the Congress, and no support the Congress that means no aid, and how you going to survive, you know, without that? So it was a very critical and that, that's when I personally saw the US position changing and the events later proved that I was right.
Interviewer:
Take you back to the '72 Spring Offensive by the Communists and the capture of Quang Tri. How did you and President and the government view that whole development? Did things look very dangerous?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Oh, I remember it was Good Friday, ah yes ah when the, uh, North Vietnamese, ha, crossed the DMZ and invaded Quang Tri and, thereby provoking a complete debacle of uh one division that we had stationed there. And the news that came to Saigon… uh, were not 100 percent accurate. We couldn't even, y'know, get, eh, raise the General on the telephone, y'know. We didn't even know where he was. He was, sssss, y'know, sssss so pathetic that, uh, nobody knew what it was, even the chairman of Joint Chief of Staff couldn't even follow any…Where would be this battalion that regiment.
It was one of the darkest hours of our history. We were completely, uh, bewildered. We couldn't see how come a whole division of marine and a whole division of… uh, army backed with armor and artillery… boom, just like that. Course, at that time, y'know, everybody's as y'say, suspected some, y'know, uh… reminds me of some foul play, or something. But of course, later it proved that the general who commanded that area was a lousy general, and uh, he really, he was trusted into a position which was too big for him, and uh, thereby y'know when he faced four divisions of the North Vietnamese army, he was killed. See?
But uh, that particular invasion… later reinforced us that, uh, we are not going to have any political settlement. Nnnn, although the Communist profess in their secret, uh public uh, sessions, that they, uh they like, uh, they like negotiate an end to the war peacefully. So we say, "No way." And uh, thanks to our quick… uh, actions, it took us four days to complete this orientation before we, y'know, stopped the, the, the, the tidal wave of the Communists by removing this general, and that general, and putting a better general up there. And, uh, that was when we were convinced that, uh, if anything… to end the Vietnam situation, it would be through a final, y'know, the last horror, as uh we like to call it.

The South's reaction to the peace treaty

Interviewer:
Let's move on now to ah, to October. When did you first crack the October breakthrough. I wonder if you could tell me about eh visit of Kissinger. Just sink yourself back to the middle of October 1972. What happened?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, you know, in the public's mind, the October negotiations between, uh, the US and the North Vietnamese and, uh, the South Vietnamese had its roots way back in, uh, April, right after the Communist invasion. That was when Kissinger flew to Moscow, uh, many more secret proposals were tabled at the secret talks, and that was when the North Vietnamese realized that they could not topple the South Vietnamese by that uh invasion; they said, well, "we have to be, let's go though a, uh, another stratagem where political undermining the South Vietnamese, because the Communists are adept in, uh, what they call "fight-fight and talk-talk." Okay? If they cannot succeed in their fight-fight stage then they go to the stage talk-talk; they always alternate them. And, so during May, June, July, August, uh, Kissinger had a lot of meetings with the North Vietnamese, uh…
Camera Roll 854, starts at 854
Sound Rolling
Mark it.
Tone.
Interviewer:
I wonder if you could start again and tell me back what you saw as the change of tactics by the Communists after the uh stopping of the spring offensive in '72, and what that led to?
Hoang Duc Nha:
After the Communists realized that they fail during the April '72 invasion, they changed, uh, their tactic back to political harassment and political negotiations, thereby proposing, in various secret talks with Kissinger, many formulas to arrive at a political settlement, and all the formulas revolve around a ah, quote and unquote coalition government which they disguised under this name or that name.
And ah, as I told you before, we in South Vietnam always were told after the end of each meeting what had transpired. We did not even, uh, have the benefit of, uh, seeing a proposal which the other side had table to the Americans, or vice versa, see, we only, uh, got it maybe a week later, you know, after, and we didn't even know whether, you know, one side agreed to this point or that point, just to tell you that sometimes we, uh, were so angry because we had the feeling of being leading, being led down the path completely blind, and that was very important, because the, uh, act, our attitude in October of '72 not only demonstrate our, uh, our how should I say, our, uh, anger of being told about the peace settlement at the last minute, because prior to Kissinger's arriving in Saigon on October 18, we were led to believe that where the October 8 until October 12 uh sessions, uh, concerned some of the asinine issue that the Communists still wanted to discuss, uh.
Not once were we told that, uh, during October 8 to 12, the Communists advanced what was later to be called a, uh, proposal to end the war in Vietnam, which on October 19, Kissinger showed it to us. That was the first time we saw the text. So that, to tell you uh, you know, how this so-called allied negotiations of the, uh, peace in Vietnam started, you know, we had to deal with a document which we didn't have any, uh, knowledge of, the only thing we told, we were told was that yes, there was a meeting from October 8 to October 12, and Mr. Kissinger should be arriving in Saigon to, uh, discuss with you further. That was it. And…
Interviewer:
What did you feel as the proposal was laid before you? What was your reaction, and what was the reaction of President Thieu and the rest of the cabinet?
Hoang Duc Nha:
I remember that, uh, I guess October 19, when, uh, the, the, uh, when Kissinger arrive and, uh, the meeting started at 11:00 a.m., and uh, we were not, as I told you, we were not given, uh, the text of the agreement, so he opened the remark by, you know, capsulizing the whole twenty-four pages into half an hour, I mean, uh, forty-five minutes talk, and , uh, further elaboration, and he was, this was the time when he told us which, uh, we were completely incredulous.
That he say, well, this new settlement is a complete deterioration of the North Vietnamese position, and even Mr. Le Duc Tho, you know, embraced me and wept, at which time, you know, I stared at him in complete disbelief, I say, "Le Duc Tho? And old communist hand? Weeping?" And I made the joke which he didn't like, the one I say "Be careful of the crocodile tears," you know, I say, "because we don't believe the Communists in crying anything, and communists are not known to show emotions."
But a, just a little anecdote to tell you that we, we completely, you know, uh, could not see how in the world he interpret this agreement, and by that time we haven't seen the text yet, mind you, eh? So we say, fine, you know, thank you, uh, could we see the text? And we wanted to have time to study the text. Of course, they gave us the text in English, and at that time I thought I say, if our opposition knew that, that right this moment we were discussing the fate of our country in a text in English, boy, you know, it would be so bad that we shouldn't even think about it! So I ask, I say, Where is the Vietnamese text?
Oh, we forgot, and; I say, what do you mean, you forgot? The other side, I know they don't present a text to you in English. You know, between Vietnamese, we know each other, you know, there is something called national pride, and you present your own language. They say, Oh, this is a good translation, and we have our own translators, uh, I don't know what the name, what is the name of the guy he gave; I say, you mean to tell me an American is, uh, you know, understand Vietnamese better than a Vietnamese? We want to see the Vietnamese text. Okay, so the meeting adjourned on that note, with our side telling them, Okay, we're going to study this one, but in the meantime, get us the Vietnamese text; it took us twenty-four hours to get the Vietnamese text. But in the meanwhile we study the American translation of the text, we found out that..
Interviewer:
Let's just, just stop for a minute.
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Interviewer:
You finally were presented with a copy of the report, what were your initial reactions, what kind of thoughts?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, uh, after we finished reading the twenty pages or so of the agreement, uh, we realized that this is a very bad, uh, document, to start with; uh, number two, it did not change in any way the Communist position, it was just worded differently. Number three, the fact that the Americans, you know, presented to us, and told us it was the best they could have obtained is very ominous, because, uh, it means that the Americans are out to push us to accept that.
So against that backdrop, we went in further, digging into the treaty, and found out that, uh, there were things that were not even discussed, that we completely had rejected during the previous secret negotiations, and we thought that the American side had agreed with us to, not to raise the issues anymore, and now we see that uh those matter are being brought up again by the Communist in one form or another.
We notice first of all the first blatant, uh, error was that the, uh, document referred to the three states of Indochina, and you know, I was the first one that say, uh, I don't know how you decide to make, to have three states, uh, but, uh, there have always been four states; at which time Kissinger assured me it was a typographical error, which, uh, you know, provoked a laugh on my part, and said, you know, I know how you guys work, you know, and the word, the number "three" is not written in there, the word "three" is not a number, it's three, T-H-R-double E.
So that was one thing that we didn't like; and the second thing on the very important issue of, uh, the coalition government being, uh, disguised under the so-called National Council for National Reconciliation and Concord, but the Communists had, uh, been a little bit smarter than ha the US side by putting an adjective in front of that name; they called it an "administrative structure" called National Council, and so and so, and that's the uh issue we pick up right away.
And we saw that, we say, if the American translation say this way, the Vietnamese translation is much worse, I mean, the Vietnamese original text is much worse. And that's what we discover in the Vietnamese text. They say, well, the Vietnamese word "structure," okay, means anything from the top to the bottom, and that is the whole government, is the whole state, is not just only the executive, it is the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary, and that was a, a major issue for us. And the next issue was the, uh, non-, uh, I guess uh the question of North Vietnamese, uh, forces were not made clear, and the question of DMZ, uh, was completely, uh, you know, erased, in violation of '62 accords, you see and we told them, I say, Well, we don't, we don't mind going back to 1962 Geneva Accords on the DMZ, but, uh, how come you let it slip this time? So those were four or five major points of principle that we argue, and, uh as the subsequent days proved, we came up with our, famous List of forty-six Points which are, in a way, uh, an elaboration of our major, you know points of substance.

The South's refusal to sign the Paris Agreement

Interviewer:
Would it be fair, and I wonder if you could put a, would it be fair to say that it was the South Vietnamese government, then, that prevented the signing of that agreement in October? Do you think, what was the cause for the lack of the initialing in Hanoi?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Right. By the time, uh, you know, when we were given the text of the agreement, and we were told that we have a few days to agree to before Kissinger to go to Hanoi and initial that, you know, our first reaction is, uh, Well, you know, we are ready at any time to sign a peace agreement. A peace to be signed has got to be a good and uh workable peace. And number two, is that that I don't think you should negotiate against a deadline. We never, you know, we the Vietnamese never negotiate with a deadline in hand, why should we meet such-and-such a date so that you can go to Hanoi on such-and-such a day; we don't understand it.
And, by the way, we were not told about this one before; we were told about something else, but we were not told about this peace agreement, which, you know, you had talked to the other side for the last two weeks. And anyway, the substance of the, uh, peace, is unacceptable to us. So we cannot sign anything, uh, unless it is acceptable. We have not fought this war for a quarter-century just to completely surrender to the Communists. If, and that's what it is, if we were to sign the peace, and that's how we objected to Kissinger during the treaties, he met with us, I say, “No way”.
Unless these points are resolved, we're not going to sign. Because if we sign that, it would be a complete surrender of our side to the Communists, and we didn't fight this war for a quarter-century just to do this, you know, and to give you the sheer pleasure of having to initial that in Hanoi and be a hero.
Interviewer:
That was good, thanks a lot. Okay. I'd like to talk a few minutes about the various pressure….
[end of side one of tape]
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OK. This is uh, Vietnam T876, 9th of May, '81
Sound Roll 2833, going with picture roll 855
Sound Rolling. Okay.

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Interviewer:
The terms of the agreement, as I understand them, the October 8th to the 11th would leave North Vietnamese troops in place. Was this an acceptable position with, I mean did the government ever accept?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, the South Vietnamese government never did accept, uh, to have the North Vietnamese Army stationed in South Vietnam, no, uh, was it resigned to the fact that, uh, there is nothing that could be done about it. Way back in January of '72, when, uh, I guess the 25th of January when Nixon made that so, the famous speech, uh, about, uh, withdrawing the troops and seven months later having the presidential election in South Vietnam, and, uh, withdrawing of the forces, uh, the question of the North Vietnamese troops at that time was taken care of by a very, uh, clever sentence.
If I am correct, it says that, uh, the uh question of armed forces, uh, non-South Vietnamese armed forces have to remain within the boundaries of their own state, or something. So we had devised that formula to show that in South Vietnam there is no going to be anything but South Vietnamese armed forces. Our own, or whatever the so-called, you know, People's National Liberation, have; so that, implicitly, means that the North Vietnamese army should go home. So, and later on, during the May '72 discussion, we were asked to drop that; we say no. And in September of '72 when Kissinger went to Moscow, we officially put in a letter to Bunker to tell him and say we want to reassure, reaffirm our intention not to drop that issue.
We are going to cover in one language or another, but we do want the North Vietnamese Army to be out of our uh country if a peace were able to be achieved. And we maintained that position, and that's why, when we were presented with the October '72 draft and we saw that it was not covered there, we amended it to read that the North Vietnamese have to go home. And that really provoked the Americans' anger and the North Vietnamese too, that's uh was one of our points or substance that we wanted to discuss.
Interviewer:
The October "peace is at hand" speech, and later statements by Dr. Kissinger really do give the impression, and indeed, our other talks with people in the administration, do give the impression that, in fact, North Vietnam had had come to accept the possibility of Northern troops, and I wonder (unintelligible) was there ever a situation that the government in the south was willing…?
Hoang Duc Nha:
No, as I told you, uh, during Mr. Kissinger's trip to Moscow in September, we have an official, we sent him an official letter, saying that, you know, we do not accept the idea that the North Vietnamese will stay here forever. And that he should make it clear to the Communist side through the Russians, but uh as the events later proved, he never did, you know, make known, uh, of our intention, of our resolve to the Communist side so thereby propagating the myth that we had accepted, you know, we were resigned to accept that and they couldn't be...you know...further from the truth in that and, uh, as I say, I still have that letter that I personally wrote; that's why I can remember the, very vividly the date, September 13, 1972.
Interviewer:
What sort of pressures was Kissinger putting on you personally to advise President Thieu, and on South Vietnamese authorities generally, to come to some court of agreement? How, how did they conduct themselves with you?
Hoang Duc Nha:
You see, when, uh, Kissinger came to Saigon in October, he thought at that time that, uh, well, you know, on that South Vietnamese side, you know, he knew pretty much, uh, everybody, and he could count on this guy being, uh, you know, work upon this guy, being impressed upon this guy being pressured, and that, so the way he presented the peace agreement, you know, everybody felt happy.
And I guess, at that time, he did not realize what kind of role I played with Mr. Thieu, I was, we were very clever at not letting people know what is a personal assistant to the president, you see, so, uh, as the event later proved, which later means only one day, when I was officially designated as, you know, the other guy, whom he has to deal with, then, uh, he found out that, you know, uh, I could not be had with the so-called, you know, promise, and, uh, I am, uh, during one session, uh, you know, he told me, he said, Well, let's get this over with and, uh, once uh, we have a peace treaty, you and I will go to Hollywood and, you know, we'll have a grand time.
And that was when he pulled out that uh, so-called black book of his, you know, with all the names, just to impress me, so I decided to return the compliment, I pulled out a black book of mine with all kinds of names, but he didn't know it was a telephone address book. So that, ha, just to show you that he tried, he at that time knew that I was the most difficult guy to deal with on the South Vietnamese side, so he thought he could get through me, I don't know, he must have heard from, you know, embassy intelligence reports that I must be some kind of a ladies' man or, you know, playboy, or something, and just to tackle me on that side, you know. I was very sur—I was, when he told me about that thing, I was very you know surprised, I said how in the world does he have that impression? But later on, he and I got to become very, uh, very uh, bitter opponents, because it was then that I knew that I should oppose him, because he is not doing what I thought was good for Vietnam.
And uh he even uh went so far as saying that, you know, I wasn't doing my translation right. I told him, I said, Well, my president understands English, and he knows what you are saying. I'm just doing this because we want to keep the discussions on a very formal, okay, we want to be, to have those recording in our his… in our history as we have conducted as Vietnamese speaking, the President speaking in Vietnamese and I recounting that, that, uh, anecdote just to tell you that, uh, sign, he found out that I wasn't such a, an easy guy to push around. Okay?

Kissinger's "Peace is at hand" speech

Interviewer:
Tell me, what did you think of the "peace is at hand" speech? What did you make of "peace is at hand," it's, we've got nearly all the way there; what… what was your reading of it when he went out and gave that speech—did you regard it as electioneering? Did you regard it as an attempt to placate the North? Or did it, how was it seen in South Vietnam?
Hoang Duc Nha:
It, uh, that peace of hand thing has its history in, uh, let's see, the peace of hand speech was, uh, October 26 or something, right? And Kissinger departed Saigon October 23rd. And it's very interesting, because on October 22nd, the evening of the 22nd when we told him, we said No way we're going to sign it, you know, that's it, and no more to discuss. And that was the meeting between Kissinger and Bunker on one hand, and President Thieu and myself, four of us.
So we say, well, you know, I'm ready for any contingency, but uh we're not going to sign it, so please go back to Mr. Nixon, tell him that we're very sorry we cannot cooperate on that one. At that time, you know, he saw that we would not budge from our position, so he said, well, Can we, can I see you tomorrow before I go back, uh, to the States? And you know, I remember telling him, I said, What good will it do because we have nothing else to discuss. He said, Oh no, we want to keep this, uh, you know, give the impression that negotiations are still going on.
Okay? And we say, Well, you know, you want to say good-bye, fine, and we'll see you in five minutes, you know; and we're there half an hour—one half an hour!—just to give the impression that talks are still continuing, and nothing has been, you know, has been broken, or anything. So we said Fine, you know, if that pleases you, uh, it doesn't harm us, so… When he left, and he told us, he said, Well, under no circumstance, uh, you guys will understand that you shouldn't reveal the nature of our talk. Okay?
By that time, you know, the North Vietnamese knew that, uh, the talks had, uh, run into troubles and, uh, I, for one, knew that if I did not seize the opportunity, the people would be completely alarmed, because, uh, they knew that ever since October 19th to October 23rd a lot of meeting would be going, and the rumours flying all over, the whole press going, you know, telling our politicians here, Well, you know, this thing is completely, you know, solved, you know, peace is at hand, to the point that, uh, Sullivan, who accompanied Kissinger, went to Vientiane and Bangkok to brief the leaders of (unintelligible) that peace, un, is at hand; those guys were so, um, so happy. Of course, he didn't tell them the whole story; he didn't give them a copy of the agreement.
And at the same time Kissinger went to, uh, Phnom Penh, and even poor Lon Nol, he celebrated, uh, that with champagne. He, uh, poor guy, he thought everything was resolved, he so happy. But they didn't give those poor, you know, people, a copy of the agreement, nor did they tell them what we objected to, so just to tell you that, you know, it was, uh, uh, a very tricky situation. So uh after Kissinger departed on the 23rd, on the 24th I wrote a speech for President Thieu to make at the, uh, our television network. Not revealing the substance of our talks, but, in a way, reiterating our position against the Communist demands, because, the, uh, the draft of the agreement contained exactly what the Communists had boasted in their propaganda, so I used that clever devise to tell the people that we still are opposed to this, we still are opposed that.
And I guess that had provoked the North Vietnamese , they said, Oh, shit, you know, maybe the, uh, the Americans and the South Vietnamese have connived again and to breaking this peace, so on the 24th, on the 25th they went public, with a broadcast when they broadcast the content of the agreement, they summarized into nine points I think. And that's, made Kissinger hold the press conference on the 26th, and we were told two hours ahead of time that he would make the press conference, that he would say "peace at hand". I remember being asked you know by reporters say what do you think about "peace at hand"?
Interviewer:
That's fine. You're doing well.
856 starts here, 856.
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Interviewer:
You were asked about what you thought about "peace is at hand" speech; what do you have to say?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Uh, when the reporters asked me what I thought about Mr. Kissinger 's remark that "peace is at hand," I reply I don't know what Mr. Kissinger meant, but I still see war around the corner. That was my, uh, oblique answer to, uh, you know, a seemingly, oh, how should I say, you know, I saw it as a deliberate part on Mr. Kissinger to think that, you know, peace is right near, you know, and the, the, the Vietnamese, South Vietnamese are still obstructing it. I did, I did want to dispel that, I said, Well, war is still around the corner, situation is still very tense, okay? And I cannot agree that peace is at hand, because, I, at that time I did not want to reveal what we had discussed with Kissinger during the previous week.
Interviewer:
Do you think that the tone of the "peace is at hand" speech itself was its substance truthful, or was it misinformational, was it… what was, the actual substance of the speech…?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, you know, I personally, I tried to interpret that as a move by Mr. Kissinger to show that the negotiations are still going on, there is no, uh, although there is a stalemate, but there is no uh breaking in uh talks, that means the sides are not going back to their arms and fight each other, but things are still, uh, being pursued. Okay? But, uh, you know, those three words, "peace at hand", uh, you know taken completely out of context, uh is very misleading.
Interviewer:
Can you tell me about the events leading up to the Christmas bombing, and what your interpretation of the Christmas bombing was? Did you have, would you have any warning that something like this was going to come about?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Yes, we did. Uh…
Interviewer:
Could you say, We had warnings?
Hoang Duc Nha:
We had warning about the, uh, you know, the possible action by the US to force the issue, because, at that time, Mr. Nixon had been reelected, and both us, the South Vietnamese and the North Vietnamese, knew that we are facing a formidable, uh, opponent who has four more years, uh, who can pretty much dictate, you know, how he plays his cards, so it was a very tense and very difficult time for us, because at that time, we were still being pressed by Haig, you know, because after October Kissinger refused to go back to Vietnam, so Haig came, and, uh, we were told countless times by him, by Ambassador Bunker, that we should modify our position, we should do this, we should do that, they had obtained some changes, you know, to please us, but they couldn't get everything we wanted, uh; we said, Well, you know, there are still some, uh substantial issues that are not resolved, and we are not going to sign it.
And when we were threatened of brutal reaction, we said, Well, we know what brutal reaction means. We accept that. At that time, it was a calculated move from our part. We said, All right, if we were the US, uh, side, they have two options: either do something drastic in South Vietnam, or bomb the North. And we analyzed the pros and cons, we said, Well, the chance of having them bomb the North is much greater than them doing something to us, so we took that. As I say, it was a very, very big gamble that uh Mr. President Thieu and I was involve in.
We were in a bit, you know, relieved, that, uh, you know, the action came to North Vietnam, because at that time, the North Vietnamese started to attack, okay, because it is, uh, they saw that the situation is very volatile, they say, all right, let's attack and gain some more ground before uh this whole thing comes to an end, because they know that the issue's got to be, you know, resolved one way or another very shortly, because after the election Nixon was growing impatient, and they say If something has to be done, it has to be done right now, and not give it another, you know five or six months. And they took that to launch their offensive, to try grab more land, to be in control, because at that time everybody knows, you know, we know, they know, that the more land they control, you know, the better they are.

Nixon forces the South to concede

Interviewer:
Could you tell me about the other things, the letters from Nixon, uh promises, what were the natures of the promises that you were aware of in the letters? What, what did the promises mean, that you were getting?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Well, right, right after the Christmas bombings, uh, we were deluged with letters, almost once every there or four days, from Mr. Nixon care of Mr. Bunker or Mr. Haig, that you know we, the South Vietnamese, should, uh close ranks with the US, uh, more importantly, should give the US president a, uh, new basis for a continued support to Vietnam, given the realities of the political situation in the US right after Watergate, I mean, not right after Watergate, right after the elections, and with the, uh, anti-war movement, you know, increasing every day, we have to face a very tough Congress, so we should help Mr. Nixon to, uh, help ourselves. So that was how, you know, he conveyed this letter. We said, Well, we could agree with you more, we know that the wind has changed, and we should do this to help you, but, uh there are still some things we couldn't do.
And I remember on the 16th of January '72, when Mr. Thieu gave his daughter away you know in a wedding, Mr. Bunker wanted to see him just to communicate the latest letter from Nixon. And that really angered Mr. Thieu. He say, On this day, the happiest day of my life, the most important day of my life, I am still bothered uh, you know, with that.
And one day later he saw, he saw a second letter, that's when the pressure came, and say If you don't sign, we'll go alone. And that what the, that's when our political pragmatism dictated to us, he said, Okay, you know, we're not going to be dumb enough to stand in front of a steam roller. If we don't agree, we get out, and some else, somebody else will become President. But if we still love the country, we still can salvage something, we go on top of the, uh, steam roller, right with it.
Interviewer:
I wonder if you could just tell me that again—what did you agree, why did President Thieu agree to sign?
Hoang Duc Nha:
At that time, during the uh third week of January, we had obtained some, uh you know, that, some concessions from the other side, I mean they dropped the so-called administrative structure, you know, uh, that, uh, in front of the National Council . They uh reinstated the provisions of the DMZ; they put in a very fuzzy wording insofar as the uh North Vietnamese troops would have to go back to their native villages, that means they go back to North Vietnam, because there is no North Vietnamese born in South Vietnam, you see, so we are playing with the semantics, you know, to to resolve that question. And the only thing we did get resolved was, uh, the, uh, the, the, the, uh, modality to bring about, uh, the National Council. We wanted a very quick one, but we saw that, well, if this Council is going to operate on the principle unanimity, we still had the right of veto.
But we wanted to, to, to, uh, p-press our luck a little bit farther to see whether we could get that, you know, issues solved. By that time, we had known, we got, we won three already, but we did not want to tell the Americans that we were satisfied. We were playing with a straight poker face, you see, you kept on, you know, uh, throwing the old argument, just to get some more; so that was a pure tactic from our part, and when the 17th of, uh, January later came, we'll say, you guys, you know, this is, this is it, you know, if you sign with us, fine, you know; if you don't, I'm going to do it alone. That's' when, you know, I just say political pragmatism dictates for us, say okay, I sign then, uh, you know, since we're going to be able to interpret the, uh, agreement later, we'll wait for the second phase.
Interviewer:
I think you said something earlier—would it be true to say that one of the major reasons why you signed was that you thought if you didn't sign, that in fact, the United States would get rid of President Thieu and of your government? Is it possible for you to say that as a statement?
Hoang Duc Nha:
Uh, as a statement I would, uh, say that, uh, if we didn't sign the agreement, uh, we should be, uh, I mean, we should expect any kind of reaction from the US, okay? And, at that time, we had consider all kinds of actions, you know, Mr. Thieu being topple or being removed, or being anything. We had consider all those options.
Interviewer:
And that was the reason, one of the major reasons, why you signed?
Hoang Duc Nha:
That was one of the major reasons, uh, you know, I mean, so far as Mr. Thieu personally is concerned, he was expecting that. But, you know, on the other hand, he knew that we still had a fighting chance, and, you know, it was too bad just to abandon and then go away because, not because we were boasting that we are the best in Vietnam at that time, but, uh anybody who comes into the places, uh, you know won't understand anything about the situation, and really, you know, will make it worse; so we said, fine, you know, we still won, we still have a fighting chance, this thing does not mean now immediate death; we are going to survive.
Interviewer:
One, one last question: You had read the writing on the wall, that in fact, that you were losing support in the US What gave you that understanding, why couldn't you persuade other people in Vietnam that in fact the Americans were going to be—were going to pull out? You said, you know, you'd seen what was happening in the House—what was your reading of the political situation, the way Congress was acting?
Hoang Duc Nha:
You see, uh of all the, uh, people who made up the Vietnamese government, I was one of the few who really understood the Americans, because I had the opportunity of being educated in the US, and, uh, and as I said, I am a, I was a very voracious reader of the US press, so I could feel, and from the various visits that the, uh, US delegation made to Vietnam, and the pundits from the media, you know, professing this way and another, you know, I new that, uh, as you say, the writing was on the wall that the US Congress and the US, people are tire, they don't want to fight this way anymore, and, uh, something's got to give.
The difficulty for me was to convince my colleagues, who either were old mandarins in the old school, or were formed in the European way, they, you know, really did not understand the Americans and always viewed the Americans, they say, No, they they are not going to do that, they are, you know, they say they are our allies. I said, Well, you know, sure, they are our allies, but you know, the realities pol, of politics will make it necessary.
Interviewer:
That'll be it. We'll just it on, we'll just take it on the end. We'll just, we'll just take it on voice over if we make it. Can't we just carry on?
Voice over.
Interviewer:
What were the realities of politics?
Hoang Duc Nha:
See, uh, as I told them, the realties of politics would dictate that the Americans, uh, to adopt uh a much, much different position than what they are doing now. And, uh, the greatest difficulty was to convince them. And, uh, I even earned the nickname of being anti American because I told them about, you know, what the various options ahead of us. I told them, I said, I don't see how you can call me anti American, I am playing, you know, as a very good analyst and these are the various options we should be facing, and for each option we had to devise a solution. Of course, you know, later, two years later, you know, the going was too tough, so I said good-bye, thank you. I shook hands and left. (laugh)
Interviewer:
Okay, very good. Thank you very much. You've been very patient indeed. Well done.
Room Tone
[End Tape]