Kissinger, Henry A.
January 1969
Foreign Affairs;Jan1969, Vol. 47 Issue 2, p211
This article focuses on negotiations for peace in war-torn Vietnam in the 1960s. The peace negotiations in Paris, France have been marked by the classic Vietnamese syndrome: optimism alternating with bewilderment; euphoria giving way to frustration. The halt to a bombing produced another wave of high hope. Yet it was followed almost immediately by the dispute with Saigon over its participation in the talks. Of course, the popular picture that negotiations began in May in 1968 is only partially correct. The U.S. and the Vietnamese governments have rarely been out of touch since the U.S. commitment in Vietnam started to escalate. Not all these contacts have been face to face. Some have been by means of public pronouncements. Between 1965 and 1968, the various parties publicly stated their positions in a variety of forums. Both governments are limited in their freedom of action by the state of mind of the population of South Vietnam which will ultimately determine the outcome of the conflict. The U.S. should concentrate on the subject of the mutual withdrawal of external forces and avoid negotiating about the internal structure of South Vietnam for as long as possible. The primary responsibility for negotiating the internal structure of South Vietnam should be left for direct negotiations among the South Vietnamese.


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