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Obviously one can't know how things in Vietnam would have developed after 1973 had Nixon's administration not collapsed. However, I think that SVN had a weaker hand than does Mr. MacNichol, and I suspect that Hanoi knew it. Hanoi was looking down a road of intermediate length. Because of terrible losses suffered in 1972, there was no question of renewing the military struggle for at least a full year. However, the 1972 campaign had left them with significant dividends. The ARVN was able to recapture all of the cities and large towns lost in the 1972 attack, but huge parts of the Central Highlands seized by PAVN remained in Hanoi's control. Places like Pleiku were military catastrophes waiting to happen. (This was recognized by many ARVN generals. By 1974 there were calls that Thieu abandon the Highlands altogether and try to hold the Delta, the Piedmont and as much of the coastal areas of the north as possible. Thieu wouldn't hear of it until the roof began to fall in. The quick decision then made to abandon the Highlands caused defeat to cascade into complete calamity.) Furthermore, no matter what pieces of paper were signed, had PAVN or revived main force NLF units launched limited offensives (what one officer described to me as "salami tactics") it's very hard to imagine that Nixon would have sent the USAF back into a major action. One must also remember that it wasn't just air power that saved Saigon's bacon in the grim days in the spring of 1972. Specialized US combat forces remained (such as attack helicopters armed with new TOW missiles) and, above all, US advisors were there to stiffen ARVN command resolve. The 1973 Paris agreement removed these very important props. It is important to realize that Nixon was very alarmed about the budget and was determined to gain a "peace dividend." Indeed, US forces levels substantially after 1972. They were also redeployed. The air armada that turned the tables in 1972 in favor of ARVN was largely dispersed by the end of the 1973. Assembling it again would have been logistically and politically very hard. Lastly, the US did not give Saigon the kind of economic guarantees that were required for what was a very poor country to support a major war effort. Any blip in the world economy would hurt the GVN very badly. In the event, the OPEC decisions to send oil prices through the roof in the fall of 1973 was a huge blow to Saigon and the shaky Vietnamese economy was in a death spiral by 1974. The civilians naturally blamed their own government (unfairly in my view) and Thieu was on the ropes politically long before the PAVN hammer blow fell. I do not think for one minute that Hanoi gave up their plan for a forced unification of Vietnam. They knew that American political resolve was a wasting asset - had it not been so, Nixon would not have agreed to allow PAVN to remain in the South. Hanoi also knew that the Soviets were willing to keep the aid flowing generously. Indeed, by 1975, except for tactical air power, PAVN had more conventional punch than ARVN for the first time in the war. By all accounts, the 1975 total victory took Hanoi's leaders by suprise. That said, when Hanoi succeeded in getting the Americans out of SVN, while keeping their own troops in place, they had good reasons to view the military future with considerable optimism. And they had no more inkling of Watergate than Nixon did. Eric Bergerud