Vietnam, T-876, SR #2823. Sound Roll #2823. Vietnam T-876. We’ve got
Camera Roll 838.
think it would be very unfair to blame President Thieu alone for the
delay in concluding agreement. As I said earlier, he had not been
previously familiar with the text. It severely impacted on the fate of
his own country and he wanted time to reflect on the provisions of the
agreement and also wanted an opportunity to perhaps secure some changes
in effect, what Thieu
did was to ask for time. Under these circumstances, President Nixon and Dr. Kissinger felt that they
had no choice but to delay the timetable that had been tentatively
agreed earlier with the North Vietnamese and therein lies the
explanation...ah...for the delay in concluding the agreement.
Now, a number of people have frequently asked well, if that was the
case...ah...then why did...ah... Dr. Kissinger...ah...come out with
his...ah...famous statement at the end of October
in 1972...ah...to the effect that peace was at hand and my
explanation of that occurrence has always been...ah...my feeling that
Dr. Kissinger wanted
to reassure...ah...the North...ah... Vietnamese that we, in fact,
intended as soon as we could to go through with the agreement
essentially in the form which it had been agreed, because, for a moment
put yourself in the North Vietnamese shoes.
They had gone through this entire negotiating process, they had reached
agreement with us. They had even begun giving instructions to their
cadre to prepare for a cease-fire, and some of their cadre had, in fact,
exposed themselves to the South Vietnamese security forces...ah...at the
time that they thought the cease-fire was to go into effect.
some of the North Vietnamese leaders might have begun to think that they
were, they had been the victims of the biggest con job in history and
that we had simply led them down the garden path of a negotiating
process...ah...sufficiently...ah...close to our own elections and then
we’re going to ah welsh on the deal. Against that kind
of...ah...background, Dr. Kissinger’s statement to the effect that peace was at hand,
I always construed to mean a reassurance to the Vietnamese that we were
very close to an agreement and that we would do our best to conclude
And, as an earnest of that...ahh...sentiment and approach ahh you will
recall that we immediately proceeded to resume negotiations with the
North Vietnamese within literally days after President Nixon had been
elected...ah...for his second term.
And, I can think of no more convincing...ah...symbol that you were
interested...ah...in concluding than the fact that we went back to the
negotiating table so soon...ah...after the election.
And, we had this very frustrating three week, three or four week period
of negotiations over Thanksgiving and approaching Christmas
where we were unable to conclude
the final details...ah ...of our agreement and Le Duc Tho on the last day we met in December
with Dr. Kissinger had his people raise an even larger
number of objections to the final text of the agreement than he had
raised in any of the pre...immediately preceding negotiating sessions.
And, he...ah...told us that he had to go back to Hanoi
and consult with his leadership before he
could proceed any farther in the talks.
Now, I have always felt that Le
Duc Tho’s reason for doing this was that Hanoi may have been
by that time...ah...begun to have real second thoughts about whether
they wanted to go through with the deal.
First of all, Saigon had been strengthened by the fact of rolling up a
number of these Viet Cong and
North Vietnamese cadre during that abortive cease-fire phase. And,
secondly, in order to reassure Saigon, we had launched a major...ah...
resupply program called Operation Enhance Plus where we provided several
billion additional dollars of military equipment to the Saigon
government, in order to ensure their ability to cope with the terms of
the agreement once it were eventually signed.
So, it...if in the Politburo in Hanoi
it had been a close decision in the first place to enter
into this agreement, perhaps, after the developments of October
they were having real second thoughts and I took the
various objections that Le Duc
Tho raised...ah...to the agreement to mean that they wanted to
have...ah...a careful review of the situation before they...ah...went
any further, and that was the setting as we moved into mid December, 1972