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Reopening the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam: Conflicting Emotions

Secretary of State Warren Christopher arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1995 to reopen the U.S. Embassy just after three weeks of President Bill Clinton announcing the restoration of diplomatic relations with Vietnam. “All of the Americans were emotional,” recalled pioneering State Department official Joan Spero, then serving as Clinton’s Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy […]

Bombing North Vietnam into Accepting Our Concessions: Christmas Bombings, 1972

President Richard Nixon ordered plans for retaliatory bombings of North Vietnam after talks to end the war in Vietnam broke down December 13, 1972. Operation Linebacker II, otherwise known as the “Christmas Bombings,” began December 18 and lasted for two weeks. A total of 741 B-52 sorties were dispatched, dropping 20,000 tons of bombs on […]

Brother, Can you Spare me some Stew?: Hot, Hungry, and Abandoned in Vietnam

Speaking a foreign language is critical in the Foreign Service and can sometimes rescue you from the diciest situations. Case in point:  Political officer Ken Landon, who had been sent to Hanoi in the immediate aftermath of World War II and found himself abandoned by the French group with which he was traveling. Stuck some 30 miles […]

A Peace That Couldn’t Last – Negotiating the Paris Accords on Vietnam

Signed on January 27, 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were intended to finally end the Vietnam War, which had cost the lives of thousands of American soldiers, not to mention the millions of Vietnamese civilians who were killed, injured, or displaced. Initially, the Accords were negotiated in secret by National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and […]

Sound and the Fury — The 1954 Geneva Conference on Vietnam and Korea

In April 1954, amidst growing tensions regarding the situation in the Korean Peninsula and Indochina, the international community convened a conference in Geneva in the hopes of reaching some sort of accord. The United States, United Kingdom, France, Soviet Union, and People’s Republic of China were the primary negotiators, each jockeying to achieve their objectives […]

Vietnam, A Look Back

The Vietnam War remains one of the most contentious foreign policy issues in American history. U.S. military involvement was initially justified in view of the domino theory, the widely held belief that a failure to prevent the spread of Communism in Vietnam would ultimately to Communist victories in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and the rest of […]

The Fall of Dien Bien Phu and the Rise of U.S. Involvement in Vietnam

Dien Bien Phu was a major battle of the first Indochina war in which the French fought against the Viet Minh communists. The French objective had been to support the soldiers at Dien Bien Phu, deep in the hills of northwestern Vietnam to cut off Viet Minh supply lines into neighboring Laos. The Viet Minh, however, were able […]