4.3 The War Ends

  • Created by: TessBlyth
  • Created on: 10-06-19 14:48


The Paris Peace Talks went nowhere. Nixon held talks with the USSR and China hoping to end the cold war. As a result, the North Vietnamese feared an end to aid from these countries, and so agreed to secret peace talks in 1970. The South Vietnamese government did not know about these talks. The USA was considering abandoning the SV government, led by Thieu, if they could get an independent South Vietnam. The NV made it clear that they would not accept any governmend led by Thieu.

Nixon felt that the USA had to seem willing to negotiate but should also be strong enough not to be pushed to accept unfavourable peace terms. From 1970, he kept pressure on North Vietnam to agree to peace by:

  • continuing official and secret negotiations
  • continuing the process of vietnamisation
  • continuing fighting and bombing
  • continuing meetings with the USSR and China to forsee an end to the cold war

The most significant problem Nixon's actions created for the North Vietnamese was the possibility of losing the support of China and the USSR. However, the USA was also under pressure as Congress cut funding for the war and opposition was growing at home.

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Talks 1972-73

On 8 October 1972, the USA and North Vietnam produced an agreement at the official Paris talks, agreed in their secret meetings. Thieu refused to sign as he was angered by the fact that he had not been included in these talks and an agreement he had no part in was being forced upon him. The North Vietnamese accused the US of using South Vietnam's refusal to back out of the talks. The meeting ended with an agreement unsigned and an increased lack of trust. Once again, Nixon did several things to press for peace:

  • resumption of heavy bombings on North Vietnam
  • Nixon persuaded Thieu to come to the talks with the promise of weapons, aid and supplies
  • Nixon encouraged China and the USSR to press the NV to reach agreement

The talks restarted on 8 January 1973

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The Paris Peace Accords

The Paris Peace Accords were signed by the USA, North and South Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government, agreeing:

  • countries should accept Vietnam as a single country. Reunification can be agreed with no outside interference and the new government shall be elected with international supervision.
  • a ceasefire will begin, kept by everyone.
  • the armies of both SV governments to remain, but no more US aid to ARVN
  • US troops, equipment and advisers to be withdrawn and bases dismantled within 60 days
  • The US government could not interfere with politics in Vietnam
  • prisoners of war and captured equipment to be exchanged within 60 days
  • the USA to give aid for reconstruction
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Significance of Paris Peace Accords

  • THE USA: Congress cut military funding and aid sent to South Vietnam was well below what Nixon had promised. This left the ARVN badly supplied. 10,000 US military advisers had become civilian advisers and remained in Vietnam. 150 US marines guarded the US embassy by 1973.
  • THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE: the economy of south vietnam collapsed partly due to the reduction in US aid and loss of income when they left. Thieu did not make the government more democratic or replace corrupt government officials.
  • THE NORTH VIETNAMESE: NV became impatient with Thieu's refusal to negotiate. They sent troops and supplies down the Ho Chi Minh trail and launched a new attack in December 1974. The ARVN could not cope. The fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975, came sooner than expected.
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The cost of the war for the USA

The Vietnam War hit the USA hard in terms of money and lives. Money that was dedicated to funding the war was not used to solve problems in the USA. Preisdent Johnson had made plans for new benefits and projects to improve the lives of the poorest, which he called the Great Society. This did not go underway because of the war. The war hit the USA in other ways too:

  • it affected the way Americans saw themselves; they had lost the war to a much less capable country, making citizens feel ashamed.
  • it contributed to the growing lack of trust between the americans and their government but also, americans and each other.
  • it created a divided US society.
  • returning soldiers also had an impact
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Returning Soldiers

Soldiers returning from Vietnam had a very different reception that returning soliders of WW2. Some managed to return and lead successful lives. Others failed to cope with what they had been through and the situation they faced on return. 

  • There were few welcome home parades
  • there was a lot of hostility; veterans were beaten up, spat on and accusing of killing innocent people and discriminated against when looking for work
  • there was very little understanding of PTSD, so there was little counselling offered. The suicide rate of veterans was extremely high.
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The USA and the world

The US government was hit hard by the war.

  • It felt it had lost face abroad. It entered the war to keep South Vietnam free from communism but by the end, all of Vietnam was communist.
  • The gradual cooling off of the cold war meant that politicans felt that the USA should avoid getting involved in interntional affairs.
  • In 1954, many people abroad had seen the USA as a country to respect due to its government, wealth and unity of its people. By 1975, many people saw the USA as anything but united. The Vietnam War meant the US government was less respected.
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