Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vietnam War: End of the Conflict 1973-1975

Working for Peace

In October 1972, Nixon’s National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, concluded a secret peace agreement with North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho. After reviewing the agreement, President Thieu demanded major alterations to the document. In response, the North Vietnamese published the details of the agreement and stalled the negotiations. Feeling that Hanoi had attempted to embarrass him and to force them back the table, Nixon ordered the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong in late December 1972 (Operation Linebacker II). On January 15, 1973, after pressuring South Vietnam to accept the peace deal, Nixon announced the end of offensive operations against North Vietnam.

Paris Peace Accords

The Paris Peace Accords ending the conflict were signed January 27, 1973, and were followed by the withdrawal of the remaining American troops. The terms of the accords called for a complete ceasefire in South Vietnam, allowed North Vietnamese forces to retain the territory they had captured, released US prisoners of war, and called for both sides to find a political solution to the conflict. As an enticement to Thieu, Nixon offered US airpower to enforce the peace terms.

Standing Alone, South Vietnam Falls

With US forces gone from the country, South Vietnam stood alone. The situation worsened in December 1974, when Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, cutting off all military aid. This act removed the threat of air strikes should North Vietnam break the terms of the accords. Shortly after the act’s passage, North Vietnam began a limited offensive in Phuoc Long Province to test Saigon’s resolve. The province fell quickly and Hanoi pressed the attack. Surprised by the ease of their advance, against largely incompetent ARVN forces, the North Vietnamese stormed through the south, finally capturing Saigon. South Vietnam surrendered on April 30, 1975, following the fall of its capital. After thirty years of conflict, Ho Chi Minh’s vision of a united, communist Vietnam had been realized.

Casualties of the Vietnam War

During Vietnam War, the United States suffered 58,119 killed, 153,303 wounded, and 1,948 missing in action. Casualty figures for the Republic of Vietnam are estimated at 230,000 killed and 1,169,763 wounded. Combined the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong suffered approximately 1,100,000 killed in action and an unknown number of wounded. It is estimated that between 2 to 4 million Vietnamese civilians were killed during the conflict.

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