MISSION TO HANOI by Harry & C. William Baggs Ashmore


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An important documentary supplement to Kraslow & Loory's The Secret Search For Peace in Vietnam (1968: p. 631). In connection with a Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions conference, the authors went to Hanoi at the time of Salisbury's visit, January, 1967. They were the first Americans to talk privately with Ho for more than two years -- they found ""no mark of insularity and no lack of sophistication"" among the North Vietnamese; more significantly, they found good prospects for negotiations, assured Ho that the U.S. would welcome them. When they got back, the State Department seemed oddly indifferent to their tidings. Then they (and Hanoi) discovered a harder line and escalation in the offing. After the authors renewed contact in Paris, they made a second trip to Hanoi in the spring of '68, in time for Johnson's deescalation speech. Their dogged optimism (no leftist peaceniks they) was blitzed when Harriman and Johnson ""contradicted"" all prior offers, veering toward a harder line. Their accounts of State and Defense Department briefings and conferences is particularly absorbing; other sidelights include Fulbright's salty denunciations of State Department ""lies,"" Chinese work battalions in North Vietnam, and evidence of Pentagon pressure against negotiations. The style is quite pompous and complacent, the book is rather ill-organized, but terribly useful in understanding the pattern behind current postures at the Paris table -- the pattern of casting away chances for negotiations on terms the U.S. had previously pledged to accept. There is also a chronology of the war composed of short quotations, for easy (and dismaying) reference.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1968
Publisher: Putnam