Here’s what I think about what resulted from the Vietnam War – it was a disaster. What do I mean by that? If the United States government, mainly the members of Congress, kept their promise to follow the Paris Peace Accord, I believed Vietnam would be a different country and economy as a whole today.
The Paris Peace Accords, (Vietnamese: Hiệp định Paris về Việt Nam) officially titled the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Viet Nam (Hiệp định về chấm dứt chiến tranh, lập lại hòa bình ở Việt Nam), was a peace treaty signed on January 27, 1973, to establish peace in Vietnam and end the Vietnam War. The treaty included the governments of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), and the United States, as well as the Republic of South Vietnam (PRG) that represented indigenous South Vietnamese revolutionaries.
The Paris Peace Accords effectively removed the U.S. from the conflict in Vietnam. However, the agreement’s provisions were routinely flouted by both the North Vietnamese and the South Vietnamese government, eliciting no response from the United States, and ultimately resulting in the communists enlarging the area under their control by the end of 1973. North Vietnamese military forces gradually built up their military infrastructure in the areas they controlled and two years later were in a position to launch the successful offensive that ended South Vietnam’s status as an independent country. Fighting began almost immediately after the agreement was signed, due to a series of mutual retaliations, and by March 1973, full-fledged war had resumed.
When the North Vietnamese began their final offensive early in 1975, the U.S. Congress refused to appropriate additional military assistance for South Vietnam, citing strong opposition to the war by Americans and the loss of American equipment to the North by retreating Southern forces. Thiệu subsequently resigned, accusing the U.S. of betrayal in a TV and radio address:
“At the time of the peace agreement the United States agreed to replace equipment on a one-by-one basis. But the United States did not keep its word. Is an American’s word reliable these days? The United States did not keep its promise to help us fight for freedom and it was in the same fight that the United States lost 50,000 of its young men.”
At the 2:14 minute mark, in the video above, – The United States knew that the North Vietnamese would violate the Paris Peace Accord. However, many of us in the United States did NOT KNOW that our members of Congress would also violate the Paris Peace Accord. Reason being was in 1974 the new members of Congress took control. The Democrats took control of Congress in 1974 and these members of the 94th Congress did not keep their promise under the Paris Peace Accord.
In the 2:58 minute mark, in the video above, – the narrator stated that President Gerald Ford, in 1975, urged and pleaded to members of Congress to keep their promise to the Paris Peace Accord. However, the members of Congress chose not to listen.
Full video, 1 hour and 1 minute, of President Gerald Ford’s address to members of Congress, April 10, 1975, Address on U.S. Foreign Policy: https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/presidential-speeches/april-10-1975-address-us-foreign-policy
In the noted transcript of the speech of President Ford’s address, starting at the 7:58 minute mark:
“…I recall quite vividly the words of President Truman to the Congress when the United States faced a far greater challenge at the end of the Second World War. If I might quote: “If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world, and we shall surely endanger the welfare of this Nation.”
President Truman’s resolution must guide us today. Our purpose is not to point the finger of blame, but to build upon our many successes, to repair damage where we find it, to recover our balance, to move ahead as a united people. Tonight is a time for straight talk among friends, about where we stand and where we are going.
A vast human tragedy has befallen our friends in Vietnam and Cambodia. Tonight I shall not talk only of obligations arising from legal documents. Who can forget the enormous sacrifices of blood, dedication, and treasure that we made in Vietnam?
Under five Presidents and 12 Congresses, the United States was engaged in Indochina. Millions of Americans served, thousands died, and many more were wounded, imprisoned, or lost. Over $150 billion have been appropriated for that war by the Congress of the United States. And after years of effort, we negotiated, under the most difficult circumstances, a settlement which made it possible for us to remove our military forces and bring home with pride our American prisoners. This settlement, if its terms had been adhered to, would have permitted our South Vietnamese ally, with our material and moral support, to maintain its security and rebuild after two decades of war.
The chances for an enduring peace after the last American fighting man left Vietnam in 1973 rested on two publicly stated premises: first, that if necessary, the United States would help sustain the terms of the Paris accords it signed 2 years ago, and second, that the United States would provide adequate economic and military assistance to South Vietnam.
Let us refresh our memories for just a moment. The universal consensus in the United States at that time, late 1972, was that if we could end our own involvement and obtain the release of our prisoners, we would provide adequate material support to South Vietnam. The North Vietnamese, from the moment they signed the Paris accords, systematically violated the cease-fire and other provisions of that agreement. Flagrantly disregarding the ban on the infiltration of troops, the North Vietnamese illegally introduced over 350,000 men into the South. In direct violation of the agreement, they sent in the most modern equipment in massive amounts. Meanwhile, they continued to receive large quantities of supplies and arms from their friends.
In the face of this situation, the United States–torn as it was by the emotions of a decade of war–was unable to respond. We deprived ourselves by law of the ability to enforce the agreement, thus giving North Vietnam assurance. that it could violate that agreement with impunity. Next, we reduced our economic and arms aid to South Vietnam. Finally, we signaled our increasing reluctance to give any support to that nation struggling for its survival.
Encouraged by these developments, the North Vietnamese, in recent months, began sending even their reserve divisions into South Vietnam. Some 20 divisions, virtually their entire army, are now in South Vietnam.
The Government of South Vietnam, uncertain of further American assistance, hastily ordered a strategic withdrawal to more defensible positions. This extremely difficult maneuver, decided upon without consultations, was poorly executed, hampered by floods of refugees, and thus led to panic. The results are painfully obvious and profoundly moving.
In my first public comment on this tragic development, I called for a new sense of national unity and purpose. I said I would not engage in recriminations or attempts to assess the blame. I reiterate that tonight.
In the same spirit, I welcome the statement of the distinguished majority leader of the United States Senate earlier this week, and I quote: “It is time for the Congress and the President to work together in the area of foreign as well as domestic policy.”
So, let us start afresh.
I am here to work with the Congress. In the conduct of foreign affairs, Presidential initiative and ability to act swiftly in emergencies are essential to our national interest.
With respect to North Vietnam, I call upon Hanoi–and ask the Congress to join with me in this call–to cease military operations immediately and to honor the terms of the Paris agreement.
The United States is urgently requesting the signatories of the Paris conference to meet their obligations to use their influence to halt the fighting and to enforce the 1973 accords. Diplomatic notes to this effect have been sent to all members of the Paris conference, including the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China…”
ARVN – Republic of Vietnam Military Forces marching:
And don’t forget this:
‘The US has no obligation’: Biden fought to keep Vietnamese refugees out of the US
As South Vietnam collapsed at the end of the Vietnam War in the spring of 1975, President Gerald Ford and the U.S. government undertook to evacuate thousands of South Vietnamese families who had assisted the U.S. throughout the war. The leading voice in the Senate opposing this rescue effort was then-Sen. Joe Biden.
Hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese allies were in danger of recriminations from the Communists, but Biden insisted that “the United States has no obligation to evacuate one — or 100,001 — South Vietnamese.”
In April 1975, Ford argued that, as the last American troops were removed from the country, the U.S. should evacuate the South Vietnamese who had helped the U.S. during the war, too.
“The United States has had a long tradition of opening its doors to immigrants of all countries … And we’ve always been a humanitarian nation,” Ford said. “We felt that a number of these South Vietnamese had been very loyal to the United States and deserved an opportunity to live in freedom.”
But Biden objected and called for a meeting between the president and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to voice his objections to Ford’s funding request for these efforts. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who led the meeting, told the senators that “the total list of the people endangered in Vietnam is over a million” and that “the irreducible list is 174,000.”
Biden said U.S. allies should not be rescued: “We should focus on getting them [the U.S. troops] out. Getting the Vietnamese out and military aid for the GVN [South Vietnam’s government] are totally different.”
Kissinger said there were “Vietnamese to whom we have an obligation,” but Biden responded: “I will vote for any amount for getting the Americans out. I don’t want it mixed with getting the Vietnamese out.”
Ford was upset with Biden’s response, believing that failing to evacuate the South Vietnamese would be a betrayal of American values: “We opened our door to the Hungarians … Our tradition is to welcome the oppressed. I don’t think these people should be treated any differently from any other people — the Hungarians, Cubans, Jews from the Soviet Union.”