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46. John W. Garver, "The Chinese Threat in the Vietnam War,” Parameters 22 (Spring 1992), 73-85, quotation on 75. 47. Sun Dongsheng, “The Great Transformation in the Strategic Planning of Our Country's Economic Construction,” Dangde wenxian (Party Documents] 3 (1995), 42-48. Sun's indirect quotation of Mao's remarks is on p. 44. Dangde wenxian is a bi-monthly journal published by the CCP Central Documentary Research Office and the Central Archives. It often contains important party documents. Sun Dongsheng is a researcher at the Central Documentary Research Office. 48. Mao's conversation with Pham Van Dong, 17 November 1968, in the PRC Foreign Ministry and the Central Documentary Research Office, comp., Mao Zedong waijiao wenxuan (Selected Diplomatic Works of Mao Zedong] (Beijing: Central Document Press and World Knowledge Press, 1994), 582. 49. Yuan Dejin, “The Evolution of Mao Zedong's Theory of War and Peace since the Founding of New China,” Junshi lishi (Military History] 4 (1994), 36. 50. For an excellent discussion of the origins, development and consequences of the Third Front, see Barry Naughton, “The Third Front: Defence Industrialization in the Chinese Interior,” The China Quarterly 115 (September 1988), 351-386. 51. For the complete text of the report, see Dangde wenxian 3 (1995), 34-35. 52. Mao to Luo and Yang, 12 August 1964, in ibid, 33. 53. For the text of the Special Committee report of 19 August 1964, see ibid., 33-34. 54. Mao's remarks are quoted in Sun, “The Great Transformation in the Strategic Planning of Our Country's Economic Construction,” 45. 55. Sun, “The Great Transformation in the Strategic Planning of Our Country's Economic Construction,” 44. 56. Naughton, “The Third Front,” 368. 57. Mao's conversation with He Long, Luo Ruiqing, and Yang Chengwu, 28 April 1965, in Mao Zedong junshi wenji (Collection Mao Zedong's Military Writings) 6 vols. (Beijing: Military Science Press and Central Document Press, 1993), 6:404. 58. For Snow's version of his conversation with Mao, see Edgar Snow, The Long Revolution (New York: Random House, 1971), 215-216. For the Chinese version, see the PRC Foreign Ministry and the Central Documentary Research Office, comp., Mao Zedong waijiao wenxuan, 544-562. 59. Li and Hao, Wenhua dageming zhong de renmin jiefangjun, 341. 60. Ibid., 341-342; Mao Zedong junshi wenji, 6:403. 61. The PRC Foreign Ministry Diplomatic History Research Office, comp., Zhou Enlai waijiao huodong dashiji, 1949-1975, 455. 62. Liu Shaoqi's speech at the war planning meeting of the Central Military Commission, 19 May 1965, in Dangde wenxian 3 (1995), 40. 63. The CCP Central Documentary Research Office, comp., Zhu De nianpu (Chronicle of Zhu De] (Beijing: People's Press, 1986), 537-538. 64. Harry Harding, “The Making of Chinese Military Power," in William Whitson, ed., The Military and Political Power in China in the 1970s (New York: Praeger, 1973), 361-385; Uri Ra'anan, “Peking's Foreign Policy Debate', 1965-1966," in Tang Tsou, ed., China in Crisis, vol. 2 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 23-71; Donald Zagoria, "The Strategic Debate in Peking," in ibid., 237-268; Michael Yahuda, “Kremlinology and the Chinese Strategic Debate, 1965
66,” The China Quarterly 49 (January-March 1972), 32-75. 65. Barry Naughton has made a similar criticism. Naughton, “The Third Front,” 370-371. 66. Luo Ruiqing, “The People Defeated Japanese Fascism and They Can Certainly Defeat U.S. Imperialism Too," Peking Review, 3 September 1965, 31-39; Lin Biao, “Long Live the Victory of People's War,” ibid., 9-30. 67. Xu Yan, Junshijia Mao Zedong (Military Strategist Mao Zedong](Beijing: Central Document Press, 1995), 149; Huang Yao, Sanci danan busi de Luo Ruiqing Dajiang (Senior General Luo Ruiqing who Survived Three Deaths] (Beijing: CCP Party History Press, 1994), 263, 265, 270-271. This book is based on sources from the Central Archives, the PLA General Staff Archives, and the Ministry of Public Security Archives.
It is possible that the two articles published in Luo and Lin's names were written in response to Soviet arguments on war and peace. On 30 January 1965, Mao asked Yang Chengwu and Lei Yingfu, Deputy Director of the Combat Department of the General Staff, to find a person well versed in political and military issues to prepare a commentary on the book Military Strategy edited by Soviet Chief of Staff V. D. Sokolovsky and published by the Soviet Defense Ministry's Military Press in 1962. See Mao to Yang Chengwu and Lei Yingfu, 30 January 1965, in Mao Zedong junshi wenji, 6:402. 68. For a detailed discussion of the Luo-Lin dispute, see Huang, Sanci danan busi de Luo Riqing Dajiang, chapters 24-34. Allen Whiting attempts to establish a causal relationship between Luo's purge and China's foreign policy change in mid-1965. Citing the Vietnamese claim that China decided in June 1965 to provide no air cover for North Vietnam, Whiting argues that this timing dovetails with a major personnel change in the Chinese leadership: “At some point between May and September Luo Ruiqing fell from office, after which Lin Biao published a major treatise on guerrilla war implicitly rejecting Luo's forward strategy and with it any advanced air combat. Chinese ground support apparently came as a substitute form of help for Hanoi.” Whiting, “Forecasting Chinese Foreign Policy," 516. In fact, Luo did not fall from office until December 1965. 69. Michael H. Hunt has also criticized the emphasis on factions to account for Chinese foreign policy formation. He poses the question sharply: “Does the factional model transpose on China the competitive ethos of American politics and underestimate the restraining authoritarian and hierarchical qualities of China's political culture?” See Michael H. Hunt, "CCP Foreign Policy: ‘Normalizing the Field,' in Michael H. Hunt and Niu Jun, eds., Toward a History of Chinese Communist Foreign Relations, 1920s-1960s: Personalities and Interpretive Approaches (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Asia Program, 1995), 163-191. The quotation is on p. 170. 70. For Mao's statements on the "Two Intermediate Zones," see the PRC Foreign Ministry and the CCP Central Documentary Research Office, comp., Mao Zedong waijiao wenxuan, 506-509. See also Chi Aiping, “The Evolution of Mao Zedong's International Strategic Thought," in Dangde wenxian 3 (1994), 46-52; Li Jie, “Study of Mao Zedong's International Strategic Thought,” in the International Strategic Studies Foundation, ed., Huanqiu tongci liangre (All Is the Same in the World) (Beijing: Central Document Press, 1993), 116.
71. Mao Zedong, “Talks with the American Correspondent Anna Louise Strong,” in Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1965), 4:99. 72. For a recent study of China's policy toward Angola and Mozambique, see Steven F. Jackson, "China's Third World Foreign Policy: The Case of Angola and Mozambique, 1961-93,” The China Quarterly 143 (June 1995), 387-422. 73. On Beijing's attempt to divide the Soviet-led bloc, see the putative memoirs of Enver Hoxha, Reflections on China, 2 vols., (Tirana: 8 Nentori, 1979). For an overview of Chinese-Albanian relations, see Fan Chengzuo, “The 'Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter' in Chinese-Albanian Relations," Waijiao xue yuan xuebao (Journal of Foreign Affairs College) 3 (1993), 50-52. 74. Mao's conversation with the Chilean Journalist Delegation, 23 June 1964, in the PRC Foreign Ministry and the Central Documentary Research Office, comp., Mao Zedong waijiao wenxuan, 529-533. 75. Mao's talk with delegates from Asia, Africa, and Oceania on 9 July 1964, in ibid, 534-539. These delegates came to China after participating in Pyongyang in the Second Asian Economic Forum. 76. For a good discussion of anti-imperialism in Chinese foreign policy, see Edward Friedman, “Anti-Imperialism in Chinese Foreign Policy,” in Samuel S. Kim, ed., China and the World: Chinese Foreign Relations in the Post Cold War Era, 3rd ed. (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), 60-74. 77. Gurtov and Hwang, China under Threat, 161. 78. For a detailed, first-hand account of Zhou Enlai's visit to Moscow, see Yu Zhan, “An Unusual Visit: Remembering Zhou Enlai's Last Visit to the Soviet Union,” Dangde wenxian (Party Documents) 2 (1992), 85-91. It is also included in the Foreign Ministry Diplomatic History Research Office, comp., Xin Zhongguo waijiaofengyun (Episodes of New China's Diplomacy) (Beijing: World Knowledge Press, 1994), 3:14-30. Yu Zhan was Director of the Department of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in 1964 and accompanied Zhou to Moscow. 79. The PRC Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic History Research Office, comp., Zhou Enlai waijiao huodong dashiji, 1949-1975, 428. 80. Zhou's conversation with Ho Chi Minh and Le Duan, 1 March 1965, in ibid., 438. 81. Smith, An International History of the Vietnam War, Volume III: The Making of a Limited War, 196566, 54. 82. The Vietnamese claim is quoted in Nayan Chanda, "Secrets of Former Friends," Far Eastern Economic Review (15 June 1979), 38-39. I have not seen any Chinese material that confirms the Vietnamese claim. 83. Xie Yixian, ed., Zhongguo waijiao shi: Zhonghua renmin gongheguo shiqi, 1949-1979 (A Diplomatic History of China: The Period of the People's Republic of China, 1949-1979) (Zhengzhou: Henan People's Press, 1988), 344. 84. Smith, An International History of the Vietnam War, Volume III: The Making of a Limited War, 1965. 66, 55. 85. Douglas Pike describes Hanoi's strategy to put the Sino-Soviet dispute to its own use in service of its war as “the alternating tilt gambit." See Douglas Pike, Vietnam and the Soviet Union: Anatomy of an Alliance (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1987), 54-55. 86. For Mao's reaction to Dulles' policy, see Bo Yibo, Ruogan zhongda juece yu shijian de huigu (Recollections of Certain Important Decisions and Events), vol.
2 (Beijing: CCP Party School Press, 1993), 1137-1157.
curator of relations between the CPSU and 87. For more discussions of Mao's attempt to use the
continued from page 232
other parties, accepted that advice.4 escalation of the Indochina conflict to radicalize China's
Meanwhile, faced with the Soviet political and social life, see Chen, “China's Involvement in the Vietnam War,” 361-365.
palpable improvement in Soviet-American leadership's unwillingness to plunge into 88. For a description of this problem, see Zhai, “Trans- relations following the shared fright of the the Southeast Asian conflict, Hanoi replanting the Chinese Model," 712-713.
1962 Caribbean (Cuban missile) crisis, the doubled its efforts to improve relations with 89. Wang, Yuanyue kangmei shilu, 60-68.
Kremlin sought to minimize Soviet involve- China. According to the information of the 90. Ibid., 74-75. 91. Guo, Zhongyue guanxi yanbian sishinian, 102. ment in the Vietnam conflict, which was not Soviet Defense Ministry, PRC and DRV 92. Cong, Quzhe fazhan de suiyue, 607.
only problematic from the viewpoint of pos- officials opened talks in 1964 on a bilateral 93. Kikuzo Ito and Minoru Shibata, "The Dilemma of
sible foreign policy advantages but was also treaty of military cooperation. North VietMao Tse-tung." The China Quarterly 35 (July-September 1968), 58-77; Smith, An International History
fraught with possible new clashes between nam hosted a delegation of PRC military of the Vietnam War, Volume III: The Making of a
the USSR and the USA. Moreover, the leaders, led by the Defense Minister, and in Limited War, 1965-66, 285-304.
Soviet leaders were apprehensive of radical December 1964 a bilateral treaty was signed 94. Smith, An International History of the Vietnam
views held by North Vietnam's leaders, who which provided for the introduction of PRC War, Volume III: The Making of a Limited War, 1965. 66, 298-299. For Zhou's reception of the Vietnamese
had a clearly pro-Chinese orientation. troops to the DRV.5 Prior to that, the DRV delegation led by Le Duan, see The PRC Foreign The extent of the difference in the posi- General Staff had informed the Soviet miliMinistry Diplomatic History Research Office, comp., tions held by the two countries became clear tary attaché in Hanoi that there was no longer Zhou Enlai waijiao huodong dashiji, 1949-1975, 491.
after a visit to Moscow in Jan.-Feb. 1964 by any need for Soviet military experts to stay 95. Harry G. Summers, Jr., On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War (New York: Dell Publish
a delegation of the Workers Party of Vietnam in the country and they should leave the ing Co., Inc., 1982), 93-94, 96.
(WPV), led by Le Duan, the party's First DRV without replacement by other Soviet 96. Garver, “The Chinese Threat in the Vietnam War,” | Secretary. The DRV Communists came out advisors as soon as they completed their 75.
in support of their Chinese colleagues with current business. The rapprochement be97. Yang Chengwu. 98. Dangde wenxian is a bi-monthly journal published
such zeal and expressed such radical ideas tween Hanoi and Beijing was facilitated by by the CCP Central Documentary Research Office and about the role of the national liberation move- common views on the need to fight against the Central Archives. It often contains important party ment in Third World countries that their “U.S. imperialism.” Although the North documents
Moscow interlocutors were obliged to switch Vietnamese leaders never fully trusted China 99. Chief of Staff. 100. Deputy Prime Minister, Director of the State
from the patient explanation of the CPSU (as later conflicts demonstrated), coolness in Council Special Committee on war preparation. stand and the general line of the world com- relations with the Soviet Union predeter101. Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Director of the munist movement" to direct warnings about mined their official position.7 State Council Special Committee on war preparation.
the possible consequences such views could Khrushchev's ouster in October 1964 102. Luo was also named Deputy Director of the State Council Special Committee on war preparation.
have for "the Vietnamese friends" relations marked a turning point in Soviet-North Viet103. Mao Zedong. with the Soviet Union. 3
namese relations.8 For reasons that remain 104. Zhou Enlai.
Further evidence that the two sides were unclear, the Soviet Union made an about105. These are the names of Chinese missiles.
slowly but surely drifting apart surfaced dur- face and again oriented itself toward closer 106. A major railway trunk running east and west between Lianyungang and Lanzhou.
ing a July 1964 visit to Moscow by an NLF cooperation with North Vietnam. Probably 107. A major railway trunk running north and south delegation at the invitation of the Soviet Leonid I. Brezhnev and his entourage feared between Beijing and Wuhan.
Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee. The rep- a loss of Soviet influence in the region, 108. A major railway trunk running north and south
resentatives of the patriotic forces of South particularly in the context of the mounting between Tianjin and Nanjing. 109. A province in North China.
Vietnam presented to the Soviet leaders a differences between Beijing and Moscow 110. The Vietnamese delegation was led by Pham Van number of requests and proposals, including which threatened to develop into an open Dong
requests for increased supplies of arms and conflict. In that context, the consolidation of
ammunition. They also expressed a desire China's position in Southeast Asia at the Qiang Zhai teaches history at Auburn Uni
that a permanent mission of the NFLSV be USSR's expense posed a potential threat to versity at Montgomery (Alabama) and is the
opened in the USSR. The CPSU CC viewed the Soviet authority in the world communist author of The Dragon, the Lion, and the skeptically all those requests. In his report to
movement. Furthermore, the assassination Eagle:Chinese-British-American Relations, the CC about that delegation's visit, D. of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in No1949-1958 (Kent, OH: Kent State Univer- Shevlyagin, deputy head of the CC Interna- vember 1963 and advent to power of Lyndon sity Press, 1994). This article is adapted tional Department, advised that no definite B. Johnson (whose election as president in from a paper prepared for presentation at
answer about the opening of such a mission 1964 was regarded in the USSR as an indithe CWI HP Conference on New Evidence
be given and that all talks be held exclusively cator of greater right-wing influence in on the Cold War in Asia at the University of via the North Vietnamese state agencies. In American politics) dimmed the hopes of Hong Kong on 9-12 January 1995.
view of this, it was decided not to receive the improvement in Soviet-American relations delegation at the CPSU CC, for that would that had arisen in the last year of Kennedy's have raised the awkward necessity for the life. This development offered a certain Kremlin leaders to state in clear terms their freedom of action to Moscow's new leaderstand on the above-mentioned issues. CC ship, which had reverted to the policy of Secretary Boris Ponomarev, who was the confrontation—a policy which was, in turn, facilitated by Johnson's escalation of U.S. on only one communist patron. Rather, after and U.S. military contingents in Germany. involvement in Vietnam.
Moscow changed its attitude to the DRV, Why? Because, they explained, the Soviet From late 1964 on, Soviet policy with Hanoi took steps to secure maximum profit troops had allegedly been transferred to the respect to Vietnam pursued several goals. by exploiting its friendship with both of its Soviet-Chinese border, which provoked tenFirst and foremost, the USSR emphasized mighty allies—the PRC and the USSR-as sions there and diverted Beijing from North moral and political support to what it de- they competed for influence in Southeast Vietnamese military requirements, and the scribed as the Vietnamese people's war Asia. Precisely this policy was pursued by U.S. troops were immediately transferred to against American aggression. The Soviet the WPV Central Committee grouping which South Vietnam. 15 mass media now promptly and frequently was formed in late 1964-early 1965 and The Vietnamese side's egoism and its carried official statements by Soviet leaders included Le Duan, Pham Van Dong, and Vo desire (in the words of a Soviet Embassy denouncing U.S. aggressive actions in South- Nguyen Giap.13 This group sought to rid political letter) “to have a monopoly on the east Asia, no longer delaying as it had with North Vietnam of China's excessive correct assessment and methods of solution TASS's statement on the Tonkin Gulf inci- wardship, on the one hand, and, on the other, to the Vietnam conflict," often verged on dent. Steps were taken to expand contacts to avoid any kind of dependence on the cynicism. Indicative in this respect was a both with Hanoi and representatives of the Soviet Union. As a result, in that period complaint by the Soviet Ministry of ComSouth Vietnamese patriotic forces, and, ac- reports by Soviet representatives in Viet- mercial Shipping, dated 18 July 1966, sent cordingly, the CPSU CC now approved the nam, the USSR Defense Ministry, and the to the CPSU CC, in connection with the opening in Moscow (at the Soviet Afro- KGB regarding reduced Chinese influence actions by the Vietnamese in Haiphong, the Asian Solidarity Committee), on 24 Decem- in the DRV were accompanied by com- DRV's chief port. The port authorities, the ber 1964, of a permanent mission of the plaints of insincerity, egoism and ministry complained, had artificially delayed NFLSV.
unmanageability on the part of “the Viet- the unloading of Soviet vessels, evidently Second, Soviet material assistance (eco- namese friends."
believing that the longer they held the largenomic and, primarily, military) to the DRV For instance, back in 1966, in his analy- tonnage vessels flying the Soviet flag in the and NLF expanded. Soviet military supplies sis of the prospects of Soviet-Vietnamese port and its vicinity, the less risk of damage in the period from 1963 to 1967 (particularly relations, Soviet Ambassador in Hanoi Ilya they would run of U.S. bombing raids. Moreafter 1965) exceeded one billion rubles, ac- Shcherbakov pointed out: "Just as before, over, they usually placed those Soviet vescording to the data of the Soviet Embassy in the Embassy believes that the process of sels in close proximity to the most dangerHanoi.10 Prior to 1965, German models of promotion of our relations with the WPV ous areas (e.g., near anti-aircraft guns), in arms were sent to North Vietnam from the and the DRV will hardly be steady or rapid hopes of ensuring their safety during air Soviet Union, but from then on the Kremlin in view of the policy pursued by the Viet- raids. Moreover, during air raids Vietnamprovided only Soviet-made arms to the "Viet- namese comrades. This was, regrettably, ese military boats lurking behind Soviet namese friends," including the latest designs confirmed in the past few years. Even the vessels fired at the enemy, thus making the of surface-to-air missiles, jet planes, rock- manifestation of a more serious discord be- Soviet “shields” the targets of U.S. bombers ets, and field artillery, as well as a large array tween the WPV and the Communist Party of (and those vessels contained loads of carof especially sophisticated arms and combat China will not probably mean automatic or goes meant as assistance to "the embattled hardware for the DRV air defense system.11 proportionate Soviet-Vietnamese rapproche
proportionate Soviet-Vietnamese rapproche- Vietnamese people”). The clearly outraged And Soviet economic and military assis- ment. The year 1966 showed once more that ministry officials demanded that Soviet comtance to Vietnam kept on increasing. Ac- we are obliged constantly to display initia- mercial vessels be kept out of danger while cording to estimates of the Soviet Embassy tive and unilaterally, as it were, drag the discharging their noble mission.16 in Hanoi, by 1968 Soviet material assistance Vietnamese comrades to greater friendship No less complicated was the situation accounted for 50 percent of all aid to the and independence.” The ambassador then concerning Soviet-North Vietnamese miliDRV, and as of 1 January 1968 the total stressed the “general positive nature" of the tary cooperation. The USSR Defense Minvalue of Soviet assistance over that period WPV's tendency for independence but istry and embassy in Hanoi repeatedly inwas in excess of 1.8 billion rubles, with pointed to its negative aspects, primarily to formed Moscow about “the Vietnamese military supplies accounting for 60 percent. 12 indications that the Vietnamese conducted friends' insincere attitude" toward the So
Such a turnabout in Soviet policy with its foreign policy, including its relations viet Union, the Soviet people, and the Soviet respect to cooperation with Vietnam was with Moscow, from a narrow, nationalistic Defense Ministry. They pointed out that received with satisfaction by the Hanoi lead- viewpoint. Soviet aid was regarded by Hanoi they received slanted reports from the ers, who increasingly stressed the impor- exclusively from the standpoint of their ben- People's Army of (North) Vietnam regardtance of Soviet moral, political, and material efit to Vietnam, rather than for the good of ing the situation in South Vietnam, belittling assistance in their conversations with the the international socialist cause. 14
the role and importance of Soviet military officials of the Soviet Embassy and those of This undercurrent of tension in Soviet- assistance to the DRV and discrediting the other socialist countries. However, the North North Vietnamese relations, produced by performance of Soviet arms and military Vietnamese leaders' appreciation for this what Moscow viewed as Hanoi's parochial hardware. They also reported that the North largesse by no means signified that they perspective, cropped up repeatedly. In 1966, Vietnamese had raised obstacles in the way would now take the USSR's side in the Sino- for example, the North Vietnamese expressed of Soviet military experts who wished to Soviet dispute, or otherwise rely exclusively indignation at the partial reduction of Soviet inspect U.S. military hardware, and displayed
other signs of distrust and suspiciousness pendently from China was not yet pro- nam would be hard put to do without Chitoward Soviet Defense Ministry representa- nounced, the DRV's trust in Beijing had nese assistance in its struggle and in future tives. The Soviet leadership was informed already been undermined. However, the peaceful construction. So it would be preabout violations of storage rules for Soviet report admitted that one could hardly hope mature to ask the Vietnamese now to state military hardware, wasteful use of missiles for the WPV leadership to display initiative their clear-cut position with respect to the and ammunition, and neglect of Soviet ex- to opt for one patron over the other, for "the USSR and China.”21 And the following fact perts' advice on the rules of exploitation of comrades probably have not yet risen to the is quite indicative: Hanoi named Xuan Thuy, military hardware, which led to its spoilage. level of clear-cut choice.” In view of this, the well-known for his pro-Chinese views and a All this coincided with Hanoi's requests for Soviet Embassy set itself the task “to render past president of the Vietnamese-Chinese more assistance, but the DRV leaders evi- all-round assistance to the Vietnam leader- Friendship Association, as the head of the dently saw no contradiction in this: It was ship in its adoption of an independent stand DRV delegation to the Paris talks. pointed out in the 1970 political report of the on the issues of home and foreign policy." The details of relations among the USSR, Soviet Embassy in Hanoi that, while “at- That "independent" policy naturally was DRV, and PRC also throw light on the Sotaching great importance to the Soviet mili- meant to be independent from China, for the viet Union's relations with the USA. Soviet tary assistance, the command of the People's report then underlined the need “to react leaders could hardly react indifferently or Army of Vietnam at the same time regarded more firmly to any action by Vietnamese simplistically to the Vietnam conflict and it exclusively as the obligatory discharge of comrades which may be directly or indi- the dramatic escalation of American miliits internationalist duty by the Soviet rectly damaging to Soviet-Vietnamese friend- tary activity in Southeast Asia. From a Union."17
purely propaganda viewpoint, the conflict All the above-mentioned facts suggest Sino-Vietnamese contradictions tended played into Soviet hands. While U.S. suphow complicated and contradictory Soviet- to sharpen as the DRV leadership came to port for an unpopular neo-colonial regime in Vietnamese relations were, and demonstrate realize the need for a diplomatic settlement Saigon offered a ripe target for condemnathe great discrepancy between the scale of with the USA. The DRV's consent to hold tion and undermined Washington's internaSoviet assistance to Vietnam and the degree talks with Washington in 1968 profoundly tional stature, the USSR could simultaof Soviet influence on Hanoi's policy. As a irritated Beijing, which was dead-set against neously pose as a consistent fighter for the Vietnamese journalist in his conversation any compromise settlement leading to a ces- triumph of a just cause, acting in the spirit of with M. Ilyinsky, an Izvestia correspondent, sation of hostilities. To advance its more proletarian internationalism—as evidenced put it: “Do you know," the Vietnamese militant policy, the Chinese leaders began to by its moral-political, economic, and milijournalist asked, "what is the Soviet Union's expand separate contacts (bypassing Hanoi) tary assistance to North Vietnam—and also share in total assistance, received by Viet- with the NLF, urging it to carry on protracted as a potential mediator in the forging of a nam, and what is the share of Soviet political warfare. Moreover, the PRC started to ob
warfare. Moreover, the PRC started to ob- peaceful settlement. Furthermore, the likely influence there (if the latter can be measured struct carriages of Soviet arms and ammuni- protracted nature of the conflict promised to in percent)? The respective figures are: 75- tion delivered by rail through Chinese terri- sap the strength of the Soviet Union's prin80 percent and 4-8 percent.” The Soviet tory, with the express aim of undermining cipal rivals, distracting the United States and journalist noted: “If the Vietnamese jour- Soviet-Vietnamese relations. Although the China and thereby enhancing Soviet secunalist has exaggerated the former figures PRC leadership's approach to the talks issue rity interests in other regions (especially (by 15-20 percent), the share of Soviet influ- later softened, Sino-Vietnamese relations Europe and the Soviet Far East). ence is probably correct."18 remained strained.
Yet the Vietnam War also presented Sino-Vietnamese relations were no less Although discord between the Beijing long-term difficulties and dangers for Moscomplicated and contradictory. That Mos- and Hanoi leaderships affected Sino-Viet- cow, especially to the extent that there was a cow monitored their development closely is namese relations, no major conflict between real threat of its escalating from a local into
a testified to by the vast number of reports in the two countries threatened a complete rup- a world war, if (as was sometimes specuthe CPSU CC archives on this subject, sent ture during the course of the war. Vietnam lated) the USA were driven to desperation by the Soviet Embassy in Hanoi, the KGB, still needed Chinese assistance and support, and resorted to the use of nuclear weapons. and the Military Intelligence Agency (GRU) so it took steps to reduce or contain the level In that case, the USSR could hardly have of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed of tensions. The DRV's party and govern- kept neutral—and yet retaliating against the
. Forces. An early sign of the incipient dis- ment leaders, as before, regularly visited United States might have led to disastrous cord between the two countries seems to Beijing to discuss with "the Chinese friends"
consequences. All the same, even if no have appeared in a still-classified 21 Febru- important foreign policy issues. No matter nuclear conflict broke out, the risk of a direct ary 1966 KGB report to the CPSU CC how riled, Hanoi carefully avoided giving clash between the two superpowers arising stating that Chinese leaders were concerned categorical assessments of Chinese policy, from the Southeast Asian crisis was too great about the WPV's increasingly independent either regarding the world communist move- and this was precisely what the Soviet leadforeign policy, especially in relations with mentor Soviet-Chinese relations. “The WPV ership wished to avoid at all costs. Plus, to the PRC and the conduct of the war. 19 And leaders realize full well," the Soviet Em- the extent Kremlin leaders genuinely dethe Soviet Embassy in Hanoi pointed out in bassy in Hanoi explained to Moscow, "that sired an improvement in relations with Washits 1966 report that, although the WPV China is situated quite close to Vietnam, ington, the war would inevitably serve as a tendency to settle the Vietnam issue inde- whereas the Soviet Union is far away. Viet- distraction and potential sticking point.
There were naturally other “pros” and transferred as a gift. Soviet assistance in promise of cooperation with the United “cons" which Moscow must have taken into 1969 was planned to remain on the same States; or, better still, 3) warned it that if account in determining its policy toward the level (525 million rubles), but with the open- Soviet cooperation were not forthcoming struggle: Military factors constituted one ing of peace talks and reduction of the scale the United States might resort to rapprochemajor positive incentive favoring a more of hostilities in Vietnam, part of the funds ment with China—or some optimal combiactive Soviet involvement, according to ar- originally assigned for military deliveries nation of all those approaches. When in chival documents. There were two princi- was reallocated for other purposes, so Soviet retirement, Johnson disclosed his calculapal, interconnected perceived opportunities: assistance to Vietnam in 1969 totaled 370 tions as president in a conversation at his Vietnam offered a live battlefield testing million rubles and in 1970, 316 million Texas ranch with Soviet citizens that was ground for Soviet military hardware, includ- rubles. 25
reported to the Kremlin leadership by the ing the latest models, and also a chance to One negative factor, from the Soviet KGB in December 1969. The USSR could obtain a windfall of hard information about leaders' viewpoint, in decision-making on be instrumental in helping the United States up-to-date U.S. weaponry, by inspecting the aid to the DRV was what they saw as the to bring the Vietnam War to a conclusion, war booty captured or obtained by the DRV Vietnamese allies' unmanageability and Johnson argued, for “if we take Soviet straforces. The North Vietnamese air defense unpredictability. Hanoi’s independent course unpredictability. Hanoi's independent course tegic, not tactical, interests, the end of the
, was fully equipped with modern Soviet hard- in relations with the USSR hardly inspired Vietnam War fully accords with the Soviet ware, whose effectiveness was shown by the Moscow to greater enthusiasm in its support Union's interests," considering that, “after fact that even the Vietnamese personnel for the war, and as time went on, those all, it is the United States, not Vietnam, managed to operate it successfully, despite a Vietnamese properties might have led to which is the main partner of the USSR.” frequent lack of training or competence. undesirable consequences—perhaps an open And Johnson rejected the argument that the Those systems were being constantly im- break. So from that standpoint, at least, Soviet Union was not in a position to exert proved, taking into account the capabilities Moscow had every reason to favor an early
Moscow had every reason to favor an early pressure on the DRV as groundless from the of U.S. warplanes.22 Apart from the anti- cease-fire and political solution.
viewpoint of realpolitik. "It's highly doubtaircraft defense system, the archival docu- In fact, the hope for a peaceful settle- ful for a country supplying Vietnam with 75 ments note, the North Vietnamese used the ment was shared by both Soviet and Ameri- percent of [its arms not to have real levers of Soviet-made Grad artillery shelling systems, can leaders, and their tactics on this issue, influence on it," the ex-president was quoted which were highly effective in attacks on paradoxically enough, were surprisingly
as saying 28 U.S. bases, airfields, ammunition depots, similar. However, the Soviet government Thus, the problem, from the U.S. peretc.,23 as well as MiG-21 jets.
backed a settlement on Hanoi's terms, spective, consisted only in discovering how The Soviet military also relished the whereas the U.S. sought to ensure the maxi- best to approach Moscow. The United States opportunity to pore over the latest U.S. mili- mum consideration of the Saigon might have acted through official channels, tary hardware. In accordance with a Soviet- government's interests. Moreover, of course, since although Soviet-American relations North Vietnamese agreement signed in the as a direct participant in the conflict, the were rather cool at that time, they were spring of 1965, the Vietnamese undertook to United States could not possibly play the maintained. And the United States certainly transfer to the USSR models of captured part of an arbiter, which remained a privi- probed what could be done in that direction. U.S. military hardware for inspection. All lege of the Soviet Union. For this reason, For instance, at an August 1966 meeting difficulties notwithstanding, according to with U.S. armed forces directly involved in between Colonel C.C. Fitzgerald, a military the data of the Soviet Embassy in Hanoi, a hostilities, the Johnson Administration was attaché of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, total of 700 models were delivered to the obliged to rely on intermediaries in its at- with officers of the Department of External USSR between May 1965 and January 1967. tempts to convince Hanoi to sit down at the Relations of the Soviet Defense Ministry, The embassy pointed out that the work done negotiating table rather than pursue a purely the American stressed the important role the was very valuable: the CPSU CC adopted a military outcome. And in this respect Wash- USSR could play in the settlement of the decision to apply in Soviet industry of a ington pinned much of its hopes on the Vietnam conflict as the initiator of and acnumber of selected and studied models. 24 Soviet Union.26
tive mediator in peace negotiations. Col. However, apart from obvious assets the U.S. leaders had every reason for such Fitzgerald drew the attention of his interUSSR gained in the course of the Vietnam hopes, for they believed that since the USSR locutors to the Johnson Administration's War, its expenditures were likewise enor- rendered massive and ever-growing mili- constant efforts to open talks, stating that the mous, primarily in the sphere of ever in- tary and economic assistance to Vietnam (of visit to Moscow of Senator Mike Mansfield creasing material assistance to Vietnam. (See which Washington was well aware),27 so the and Averell Harriman's appointment as a the figures cited above.) In 1966-1968 the Soviet Union could exert leverage on the special presidential advisor aimed at preSoviet Union undertook to render to the DRV leadership. Both Johnson and, after cisely this purpose.29 However, worried DRV economic assistance to the tune of January 1969, his successor Richard M. that a formal, top-level overture to Moscow 121.6 million rubles, but in fact the assis- Nixon were convinced that Moscow would might result in a rebuff or even denunciation tance was far greater in view of Hanoi's press Hanoi to agree to open negotiations, by the Kremlin leaders, the White House incessant requests for additional supplies. once Washington: 1) demonstrated to the opted not to run the risk, but to first sound out In 1968 Soviet assistance to the DRV totaled Soviet Union that the Vietnam War was Soviet officials in order to ascertain their 524 million rubles, with 361 million rubles hardly in its interests; 2) seduced it by the attitudes and try to reach agreement unoffi