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liên-h a ng t. nguy # n The War Politburo: North Vietnam’s Diplomatic and Political Road to the T!t Offensive A lthough the T!t Offensive constituted a major turning point in the Second Indochina War, the evolution of North Vietnam’s decision making in preparation for the offensive remains unclear. Hà N4i’s strategy deliberation, which took place from the spring of 1967 to the beginning of 1968, is still shrouded in mystery. 1 Given the absence of official documents relating to the T!t Offensive, many debates still abound regarding the ori- gins, aims, and timing of key decisions for what the North Vietnamese lead- ership called the “General Offensive and General Uprising” [Tvng công kích, Tvng khwi nghQa]. The current Vietnamese and Western historiography offers only limited answers. 2 According to historian David Elliott, “there is a curious reticence among Party and military historians about the decision- making process that led to the T!t Offensive, even decades after the event.” 3 Contemporaneous and postwar studies from Vietnam assert that the mil- itary losses and political setbacks suffered by the United States–Republic of Vietnam (RVN) in 1966–1967 presented a key opportunity for the commu- nist forces to undertake a major offensive in 1968. 4 In fact, according to Vietnamese scholarship, the inability of the United States to achieve its pro- jected speedy victory over the insurgency constituted the only factor in T!t decision making. 5 The failure of the war of attrition 6 and the bombing cam- paigns, 7 compounded with the growing political disillusionment with the war in the United States, prompted the leadership of the Vietnam Workers’ 4 Journal of Vietnamese Studies, Vol. 1, Numbers 1-2, pps. 4–58. ISSN 1559-372x, electronic ISSN 1559-3738. © 2006 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Rights and Permissions website, http://www.ucpressjournals.com/ reprintInfo.asp. a e

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Page 1: Nguyen, The War Politburo North Vietnam's Diplomatic and Political Road to the Tet Offensive [2006]

l i ê n - h a n g t . n g u y # n

The War Politburo: North Vietnam’s Diplomaticand Political Road to the T!t Offensive

A lthough the T!t Offensive constituted a major turning point in theSecond Indochina War, the evolution of North Vietnam’s decision

making in preparation for the offensive remains unclear. Hà N4i’s strategydeliberation, which took place from the spring of 1967 to the beginning of1968, is still shrouded in mystery.1 Given the absence of official documentsrelating to the T!t Offensive, many debates still abound regarding the ori-gins, aims, and timing of key decisions for what the North Vietnamese lead-ership called the “General Offensive and General Uprising” [Tvng côngkích, Tvng khwi nghQa]. The current Vietnamese and Western historiographyoffers only limited answers.2 According to historian David Elliott, “there is acurious reticence among Party and military historians about the decision-making process that led to the T!t Offensive, even decades after the event.”3

Contemporaneous and postwar studies from Vietnam assert that the mil-itary losses and political setbacks suffered by the United States–Republic ofVietnam (RVN) in 1966–1967 presented a key opportunity for the commu-nist forces to undertake a major offensive in 1968.4 In fact, according toVietnamese scholarship, the inability of the United States to achieve its pro-jected speedy victory over the insurgency constituted the only factor in T!tdecision making.5 The failure of the war of attrition6 and the bombing cam-paigns,7 compounded with the growing political disillusionment with thewar in the United States, prompted the leadership of the Vietnam Workers’


Journal of Vietnamese Studies, Vol. 1, Numbers 1-2, pps. 4–58. ISSN 1559-372x, electronic ISSN1559-3738. © 2006 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please directall requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the Universityof California Press’s Rights and Permissions website, http://www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintInfo.asp.

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Party [xyng Lao xzng] (VWP) to shift the “revolution to a new stage, that ofdecisive victory.”8 With the US presidential elections in 1968, Hà N4i madethe decision in the spring of 1967 “to quickly prepare on all fronts to seize theopportunity to achieve a large victory and force America to accept a militarydefeat.”9 According to Vietnamese scholars, then, the T!t Offensive wasstrictly a result of the party leadership’s astute decision to exploit the favor-able conditions, both militarily and politically, arising from the enemy’s fail-ing war effort.10

What is conspicuously absent from the literature is any mention of con-ditions within the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) that played a partin the T!t strategy deliberation. The making of Hà N4i’s grand strategy dur-ing the Second Indochina War involved juggling multiple, at times conflict-ing, factors to maintain a critical balance in its internal and externalpolicies—a balance that was crucial to waging a successful revolutionarystruggle within the wider Cold War.11 For those in power in the Vietnamesecommunist party, at stake was nothing less than complete direction over thestruggle in the South, authority over the course of development in the North,and ultimate control over the terms of the revolution throughout the country.Domestic adversaries with differing views, as well as foreign allies with self-serving agendas, were constant threats to these individuals. Although the HàN4i leadership projected an image of collective decision making, thereexisted ideological divisions and personal rivalries within the VWP that inter-sected with the larger debates taking place in the communist world.

At the start of the Second Indochina War, quarreling forces emergedwithin the party that can roughly be broken down into two opposing, yet het-erogeneous, camps: those who wanted to concentrate on the socialist devel-opment of North Vietnam and those who wanted to wage revolutionary warin South Vietnam. In the highest echelons of the party, these divisions werefar from static, whereas midlevel officials were more consistent in their posi-tions. Although these fluid “factions” agreed upon the ultimate goal ofreunification, they disagreed over the proper balance between the military,political, and diplomatic struggles [I{u tranh] necessary for communist strat-egy to pursue that end.12 The “moderate” or “North-first” faction preferredto transform North Vietnam into a socialist state that would defeat SouthVietnam through political and diplomatic means, whereas the “militant” or

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“South-first” faction believed that armed conflict constituted the only way toliberate the South and reunify the country.13 The debate extended beyondthe borders of Vietnam in the 1960s by tapping into the larger Sino-Sovietdispute, with the moderates wanting to apply Moscow’s policy of peacefulcoexistence and the militants urging Beijing’s line of violent confrontation.The launching of the T!t Offensive signified the end of a bitter, decade-longdebate within the VWP.

This article, then, analyzes the DRV’s own domestic politics and foreignrelations in the formulation of its grand strategy by analyzing three crucialdecision-making junctures: the decision in 1959–1960 to advance to armedconflict in the South, in 1963–1964 to embark on a “bigger war,” and in1967–1968 to launch the T!t Offensive. During the period between the Firstand Second Indochina wars, obstacles to socialist transformation and theincipient nature of the power structure in the DRV allowed “hawkish” mem-bers in the Politburo to promote armed conflict alongside political struggle inthe South. Nonetheless, party politics and the state of Sino-Soviet relations in1959–1960 tempered the militants’ ability to enact their war agenda. By 1963,however, these hawks were able to accelerate the war because of develop-ments in Sài Gòn and Beijing. With the deepening of the Sino-Soviet rift, thePeople’s Republic of China (PRC) espoused a more radical internationalline, which the militants exploited to intensify their war in the increasinglyvolatile South. In the DRV, the decision to accelerate the southern war setinto motion a purge of the VWP’s more moderate, pro-Soviet members, whocontinued to lose ground in the battle over resources for building socialism inthe North rather than waging war in the South. With the onset of US militaryintervention, however, criticism of the militants’ war intensified: the “North-firsters” were joined by other moderate voices in the party and military whocalled for talks with the United States to end the bombing of North Vietnamand for a revision of the costly ground strategy in South Vietnam, respec-tively. Combined with the pressure exerted by Hà N4i’s larger allies, whocoupled much-needed military and economic aid with unwanted, and oftenconflicting advice, the “War Politburo” reached a crossroads in its war by1967. The result was the “incremental, contested, and improvisational” T!tstrategy deliberation that took into account not only the US-RVN war effortbut also VWP politics and the Sino-Soviet split.14

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1955–1959: War or Peace

nation building and revolution in the cold war

The 1954 Geneva Accords marked the end of France’s quest for recoloniza-tion as well as the temporary division of Vietnam into two sovereign states atthe seventeenth parallel. In the North, the VWP under the leadership of H)

Chí Minh controlled the DRV, and in the South, the RVN eventually fellunder the administration of Ngn Aình Di0m. In the Final Declaration ofthe Geneva Conference, which remained unsigned, reunification electionswere to take place in July of 1956, with preliminary consultations betweenNorth and South Vietnam to begin a year earlier. Instead of reconciliationand reunification, however, tensions increased as both sides portrayed theother as its ideological antithesis. Neither North nor South Vietnam hadconducted free or fair elections within their own delineated boundaries upto that point, but nationwide elections in 1956 would have most likely guar-anteed a victory for H) Chí Minh.15

Although much has been written on nation building in South Vietnamunder Ngn Aình Di0m, less is known about North Vietnam under H) ChíMinh. Reconstruction efforts in the DRV following the First Indochina Warunderwent many trials and tribulations. Many of the obstacles to the North’sdevelopment were inherent in the transition from war to peace, as well as inthe shift from colonial protectorate to independent nation. The party, how-ever, also instituted policies that were detrimental to the young nation.16 Inparticular, the VWP conducted a disastrous land reform and organizationalrectification campaign, suppressed intellectual and political freedom inwhat became known as the Nhân Ven–Giai Ph*m (NVGP) affair, andundertook impossible collectivization and industrialization projects to accel-erate the socialist revolution.17

DRV state building did not take place within a vacuum but insteadunfolded within an increasingly complex international environment. Dur-ing the Cold War, the fates of postcolonial states were inseparable not onlyfrom the struggle between democratic capitalism and Marxism-Leninismbut also from the schisms that existed within the two camps. For the VWP,the emergence of what would become the Sino-Soviet split greatly compli-cated North Vietnam’s reconstruction, socialist development, and path

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toward reunification. By the 1950s, Hà N4i faced two differing modes of rev-olution as Moscow and Beijing solidified their separate ideological positions:peaceful reunification through socialist development of the North andviolent reunification through liberation struggle in the South.

The first cracks in the international proletarian movement appeared atthe Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union(CPSU) in early 1956, where Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin’s crimesand cult of personality. Following the historic congress, the Soviet Uniondecided to pursue a policy of “peaceful coexistence” in competition with thecapitalist world. Khrushchev’s line posed a direct threat to Mao Zedong’sChina, ideologically as well as geostrategically, since the chairman soughtconstant revolution both at home and abroad in order to consolidate hisauthority within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).18 Wanting to betreated as an equal partner in the Sino-Soviet alliance, the PRC took offenseat what Beijing saw as Soviet insistence on perpetuating an unequal rela-tionship. In particular, Soviet disapproval of Mao’s handling of the Quemoy-Matsu crises, Moscow’s proposal of the 1958 joint naval arrangement thatplaced China in a subordinate position, and Soviet neutrality during the1959 Sino-Indian disagreement over Tibet contributed to Beijing’s desire tobreak away from the confines of the patron-client relationship.19

For the VWP, the road to reunification and the direction of the revolutionin the latter half of the 1950s gradually became intertwined with the deteri-oration of Sino-Soviet relations. Since the Vietnamese communists weregeographically, culturally, and historically closer to the CCP, Beijingwielded more influence than Moscow over Hà N4i’s policies. However, theSoviet Union continued to be considered by the Vietnamese communists asthe ideological center of the world communist movement.20 During theperiod of DRV state building, Sino-Soviet relations, though tense, were farfrom severed. As a result, following the cancellation of nationwide electionsin 1956, both Beijing and Moscow approved of Hà N4i’s decision to con-centrate on political agitation rather than armed struggle against the RVN.China’s Bandung strategy and the Soviet Union’s Asia policy pushed thesame ideological line: to encourage neutrality rather than revolution amongpostcolonial states and nationalist regimes.21 Both powers encouraged HàN4i to continue its political struggle, implying a de facto acceptance of the

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continued division of Vietnam. However, by the end of the decade, as theSoviets and Chinese began to part ideological ways, the resistance in theSouth grew more urgent in North Vietnamese estimation. As Beijing beganto welcome national liberation struggles, Moscow cooled to these violentmovements.

power hierarchy in the drv: ascendant “apparatchiks”

With socialist transformation of the North far from complete and interna-tionalist attention focused on the deterioration of Sino-Soviet relations, theopportunity arose for a group of leaders in the Politburo to oversee a policyshift in Hà N4i.22 Since its inception, the leadership of the Vietnamese com-munist party has gone to great lengths to portray itself as a monolithicdecision-making body whose members harmoniously divided up areas ofresponsibility. The reality, however, is that power struggles, regional rivalries,institutional competition, and even personal vendettas may have plaguedthe party leadership.23 During the interwar years from 1955 to 1958, thepower structure in North Vietnam was amorphous.24 Although the partystood unrivaled, the question remained: which group would emerge domi-nant in the VWP? Essentially, Politburo members vied for control by build-ing bases of support within four institutions: the party apparatus, the stateadministration, the Viet Nam Fatherland Front (VNFF) and its mass organ-izations, and the armed forces.25 During this interwar period, the Politburomembers who operated through the party apparatus garnered more power inNorth Vietnam than did those whose strength rested on and responsibilitiesresided in the civil government, the VNFF and its mass organizations, andthe armed forces. In turn, these apparat heads, with a “South-first” generalsecretary at the helm, were able to lead the VWP and the nation to war.

The primary catalyst for this shift in power within the Politburo occurredfollowing the failure of the land reform and organizational rectification cam-paigns and continued through the NVGP affair and the fallout from theinability of large-scale projects to mobilize the people for socialist revolu-tion. In the aftermath of the First Indochina War, VWP General SecretaryTrM.ng Chinh assumed control over land reform and the organizational rec-tification campaign, which aimed to abolish landlordism and place the landin hands of peasant smallholders while simultaneously elevating the role of

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the peasantry in the party. TrM.ng Chinh pushed for greater control of theagrarian issue by the mass organizations over the more established govern-ment administration. However, the “rectification of errors” campaign, whichresulted from the excesses of the Chinese-inspired reforms, brought downTrM.ng Chinh and the power of the mass organizations while simultane-ously tainting the government (H) Chí Minh and Phfm Ven A)ng) andthe armed forces (Vg Nguyên Giáp) in the process.26 At the Tenth Plenumof the VWP Central Committee in late September 1956, TrM.ng Chinhstepped down as secretary general, although he was not ousted from thePolitburo.27 Power shifted to Lê Du*n, the Politburo’s most ardent advocatefor the southern cause, who was below the seventeenth parallel during theland reform campaign, and his second-in-command, Lê A+c ThC, whowould ensure that the party apparatus enjoyed uncontested power in NorthVietnam.28 During the ensuing NVGP affair, the faction that utilized theparty machinery to advance its power continued to increase as apparatchiksstifled dissent within the armed forces and the intellectual community bypolicing their activities and their adherence to Marxism-Leninism.29

Regardless of which faction or institution gained ascendancy in the Polit-buro, the troubling state of socialist development—given the failure of large-scale collectivization and industrialization projects with the promulgation ofthe Three Year Plan (1958–1960)—consumed the party as a whole.30 As aresult, Lê Du*n’s campaign to support the southern resistance appeared tooffer a solution to the Politburo’s problems. After the cancellation of elec-tions, Lê Du*n wrote the “Path to Revolution in the South,” the first mani-festo to state that reunification would constitute a long-term goal.31

However, official party policy continued to advocate political agitation, con-trary to the wishes of Lê Du*n and the southern revolutionaries who hadhoped for approval to advance to the next stage—armed conflict.32 AlthoughLê Du*n’s rising position in the Politburo had been confirmed with his defacto appointment as interim general secretary, his agenda had not beenuniversally adopted in the party.33

As a result, two contending “factions” began to emerge in the VWP,which complicated the existent power struggles in the Politburo. The“North-firsters” wanted to continue concentrating the DRV’s resources onstate building: socialist development of the economy that would compete

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with and ultimately defeat the South. The “South-firsters” wanted to shep-herd the DRV’s resources into supporting the resistance in the South: reuni-fication through war. The terms of the debate centered on the rate andmethods of the agricultural revolution in the North but were intimately con-nected with the insurgency in the South. As the Sino-Soviet rift deepenedand the conflict in the South intensified, the opposing factions invokedKhrushchev’s peaceful coexistence and Mao’s anti-imperialist lines toadvance their respective causes.

On the eve of the Fifteenth Plenum in January 1959, then, not only thefate of the southern resistance but also the future of northern developmenthung in the balance. Scholars have understood Hà N4i’s decision to go towar, codified in the plenum’s Resolution 15, as a measure to save the resist-ance in the South, but many of the questions regarding its tentative approvaland hesitant transmission can be understood only if the decision is viewedwithin the context of DRV domestic politics and the emerging Sino-Sovietdispute.34 Although the state of the insurgency forced Hà N4i to turn south-ward, we must also address the debates within the party and the DRV’s posi-tion in the Sino-Soviet rift to understand why Resolution 15 was relativelymuted in response.

Internally, the socialist revolution in the North was not proceedingaccording to plan, but the power of the South-firsters in the VWP and thePolitburo was not yet absolute. Lê Du*n, the southern revolutionaries, andthe militant faction of the party had won the first round of debates, but theirvictory was only tentative: Resolution 15 approved the use of armed conflictprimarily in situations of self-defense.35 Externally, the ambiguous state ofrelations between Beijing and Moscow contributed to the delay in trans-mission and implementation of Resolution 15. Although the PRC’s increas-ing support of national liberation struggles in the third world allowed prowarleaders in Hà N4i to broach the aim of overthrowing the Ngn Aình Di0mgovernment by force, both Beijing and Moscow advised Hà N4i to concen-trate on the political struggle.36 As a result, the contents of the resolution didnot reach the South until the following year, when Beijing’s radical stancegrew more pronounced.37 Hà N4i’s strategy of caution toward the struggle inthe South clearly reflected the burgeoning divisions at home and abroad andwas not merely a response to the crisis in the South.

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1960–1963: War or Bigger War?

power hierarchy in the drv: v ictorious “apparatchiks”

At the Third Party Congress of the VWP in September of 1960, H) Chí Minhoversaw the approval of Hà N4i’s war plans and welcomed a new andenlarged Central Committee and Politburo and a new party general secre-tary, Lê Du*n.38 Although building socialism in the North remained the topgoal at the Third Party Congress, the emergent VWP’s highest echelonswould subsequently privilege armed conflict in the South.39 To ensure theveneer of southern legitimacy, the congress laid a foundation for the creationof the National Liberation Front [M|t Trun Dân Tzc Giyi Phóng] (NLF), butcontrol over the war effort rested predominately with the party in the Northafter the revitalization of the Central Office of South Vietnam (COSVN).40

Moreover, the power hierarchy solidified with the adoption of the“Statute of the Vietnam Workers’ Party” at the congress.41 The statute situ-ated the Politburo at the top and strengthened the role of the general secre-tary and his Secretariat [Ban Bí Th}], an executive arm charged with theresponsibility of “[solving] the daily problems and [controlling] the carryingout of the Politburo’s decisions.”42 Consisting of seven members, the Secre-tariat included figures who were associated with Lê Du*n’s activities in theSouth and whose power derived from the party apparatus: Lê A+c ThC,Phfm Hùng, Th H,u, and General Nguy#n Chí Thanh. Lê Du*n’s Secre-tariat members possessed the same level of power in the VWP and the DRVas Politburo members who occupied important posts such as chairman ofthe Standing Committee of the National Assembly (TrM.ng Chinh), theprime minister (Phfm Ven A)ng), and the minister of National Defense(Vg Nguyên Giáp).

By increasing the responsibilities (and thus the importance) of the gen-eral secretary and his Secretariat, the statute rendered omnipotent the headsof the apparatchiks in the VWP. Lê A+c ThC remained in the increasinglyimportant post of chief of the Party Organizational Committee [Ban Tv

ChAc Trung BLng xyng Czng Syn], which controlled political appoint-ments, promotions, transfers, and punishments of party members.43 TheGeneral Political Department in the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN),under Nguy#n Chí Thanh, was one of the few staff agencies permanently

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established by the statute.44 This department ensured that the NorthVietnamese army remained under the control of the party rather thanbecoming an independent, rival force, and more importantly, it placedNguy#n Chí Thanh’s directorate as a counterweight to Vg Nguyên Giáp’sleadership in the army.45 Finally, Th H,u, who led the campaign againstdissident intellectuals in the NVGP affair, chaired the important Educationand Propaganda Department, allowing him to continue his surveillance andrepression of the intelligentsia. Firmly situated in positions of power, theseprowar leaders were poised to control the direction of the war effort in theSouth as well as the party machinery in the North.

first casualty of war: the drv

Although internal party mechanisms placed Hà N4i on a war path, VWPleaders could not outwardly address the resumption of war at the Third PartyCongress.46 With Mao’s 1960 article in Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily],which denounced Khrushchev as a revisionist, and Khrushchev’s retort atthe Bucharest congress, where he denounced Mao as a deviationist, NorthVietnam, like other small and middle powers in the communist camp, wassucked into the growing chasm. Hà N4i leaders, who desired joint alliedsupport, did not want a repeat of Bucharest at its Third Party Congress andthus avoided any issue that would deepen the rift between Moscow andBeijing. Moreover, neither ally wholeheartedly supported the resumption ofwar. Khrushchev and the CPSU had rejected the notion of “local wars,”contending that any conflict between East and West would result in nuclearwar, and the VWP stressed its desire for peaceful reunification.47 AlthoughMao and the Chinese leadership were more receptive to the VWP’s Reso-lution 15 by early 1960, Beijing still advised Hà N4i to emphasize politicalstruggle and avoid rapid escalation.48 As a result, North Vietnamese leadersspoke ambiguously at the congress regarding party strategy toward war in theSouth and more concretely about socialist transformation in the North.49

The issue of support for wars of national liberation, however, becameunavoidable in Sino-Soviet polemics. By the November 1960 Conference ofEighty-One Communist Parties, Soviet leaders had to pledge support for rev-olutionary struggles in the third world lest it lose the entire region to the

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Chinese.50 In January 1961, Khrushchev specifically referred to SouthVietnam as a place where conflict was inevitable, a statement that waswholly supported by the CPSU. In practice, though, Moscow began to dis-engage from Indochina as Beijing became more involved.51 The Laotiancrisis underlined the divergence in Soviet and Chinese policies toward theregion. Khrushchev, who was interested in seeking détente with the West,ceased support for the Pathet Lao, attempted to guarantee internationalcommunist observation of the cease-fire, and worked toward neutralization.52

Beijing, on the other hand, increased its support for the Laotian communistsand advocated stepping up the military struggle in order to negotiate from aposition of strength.53 Because North Vietnam was inextricably involved inthe Laotian civil war—its supply route ran through southeastern Laos—itfound China’s policy more appealing at Geneva.

At the same time that the new US administration under John F. Kennedypursued a negotiated settlement in Laos, the United States toughened itsstance against the insurgency in South Vietnam.54 Increased Americaninvolvement in and support for the South meant that Hà N4i’s existing strat-egy of political struggle and limited armed conflict against Ngn AìnhDi0m’s forces would be insufficient for victory. The Politburo responded toWashington’s acceleration of its “special war” [chiCn tranh I|c biDt], foughtwith American money and arms but Vietnamese blood, by dividing thesouthern war into three zones and assigning different modes of struggle toeach zone: military in the mountains; equal parts military and political inthe plains; and political in the cities.55 The armed struggle, which hadalways been couched in terms of “self-defense,” moved on the offensive withthe expressed goal of attacking and annihilating the enemy’s forces.

To the dismay of the moderate faction in the VWP, peaceful reunifica-tion no longer remained a viable option and socialist development of thenorthern economy seemed more remote. The Politburo allocated 15 percentof the total state budget to defense, even though agricultural collectivizationand industrialization were not proceeding according to plan.56 According toHungarian sources, the DRV’s 1962 economic plan had to be modifiedbecause the original targets could not be met: “The modifications causedsome disruptions (e.g. cancellation of industrial investments), and thechaotic conditions already existing in planning further worsened. In 1962 the

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DRV was unable to meet either the demands of its own population or that ofits socialist commercial partners (it imported more than it could export),and, as a consequence, her debts generally increased. On the other hand,loans given by the ‘fraternal’ countries for the year 1962 often remainedunused.”57 As a result of this failure, the moderates wanted greater economiccooperation with the DRV’s socialist allies in order to advance socialist trans-formation of the North. The militants, on the other hand, wanted to pro-mote a model of a self-sufficient North Vietnamese economy that couldsustain the liberation struggle in the South.58

It is clear that Hà N4i was struggling to maintain a balance in threerealms: domestic policy, war strategy, and foreign relations. In the domesticsphere, although the southern war had grown more important in the major-ity of the Politburo’s estimation, northern development still commanded theparty’s attention. Particularly for VWP officials who had studied in Moscow,economic competition with the capitalist world through cooperating withother socialist countries rather than armed conflict continued to representthe best route toward reunification.59 Regarding war strategy, with growingAmerican involvement in South Vietnam, it was crucial for Hà N4i to applysufficient military and political pressure to defeat the Ngn Aình Di0mgovernment without provoking full-scale US military intervention. VWPleaders concluded that the balance of power in the southern countrysideremained the same despite Ngn Aình Di0m’s Strategic Hamlet Programand the presence of ten thousand Americans in South Vietnam.60 Finally,VWP leaders needed to maintain a policy of neutrality vis-à-vis the Sino-Soviet rift in order to garner much-needed aid from both allies to pay forboth the southern war and northern development. Beijing’s increasingly mil-itant stance toward not only “imperialists” but “revisionists” as well made itmore difficult for the North Vietnamese to straddle the ideological fence.61

1963 witnessed the end of Hà N4i’s vacillation between political struggleand armed conflict, neutrality in the Sino-Soviet split, and southern war andnorthern development. With the assassinations of the Ngn brothers and JohnF. Kennedy in November, Hà N4i faced two options: negotiate with the newsouthern regime and consolidate the insurgency’s military victories in thecountryside or accelerate the war by attempting an all-out military victoryover South Vietnam before the Americans could intervene.62 At the 1963

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Ninth Plenum of the Central Committee, which began on November 22,Hà N4i chose acceleration. In other words, the militant faction achieved thecategorical response in 1963 that they had wanted in 1959: mobilization ofthe entire country behind the war effort and an increase in the rate of infil-tration of arms and troops south of the seventeenth parallel.63 Moreover, thefirst references to what would become the strategy adopted for the T!tOffensive emerged at the plenum. Appropriating aspects of Mao’s militarydoctrine, the VWP subverted Chinese strategy to suit Vietnamese needs byintimating that the war in the South would require a “General Offensiveand General Uprising” without necessarily progressing through the strictlydefined three-stage process of war. In practice, the military strategy adoptedat the Ninth Plenum abandoned the idea of winning the southern strugglethrough protracted warfare and instead ordered a major buildup of conven-tional military force to bring the war to a speedy end.

Regarding relations with larger allies, the Ninth Plenum revealed NorthVietnam’s tilt toward the PRC. Although Lê Du*n did not outrightly criti-cize Khrushchev at the plenum, his intimations concerning the “mistaken”nature of the “defensive” posture of the “revisionists” left no doubt as towhom the Vietnamese leader was criticizing. The general secretary of theVWP leveled the claim that those who placed détente with imperialistsabove all else were hampering the development of the revolution. In con-trast, the Vietnamese leader applauded Mao’s contribution to the develop-ment of Marxist-Leninist theory, which emphasized the role of thepeasantry, the establishment of rural bases, the encirclement of cities byvillages, and protracted armed struggle.64 Although the VWP was clearly inthe Chinese camp, its published resolution steered clear of overtly offendingthe Soviet Union by omitting any direct reference to Khrushchev or theCPSU as revisionists.65 With the acceleration and expansion of the war, HàN4i did not want to close off the option of more Soviet aid.

Internally, the militant faction of the Politburo made up for any externalambiguities regarding the direction of the revolution and the inclinationtoward adopting the Chinese line. Prior to the plenum, the political atmos-phere in the DRV capital was relatively conducive to free exchange over therelative merits of Chinese and Soviet policies and over the correct VWPposition within the ideological split.66 Going through the motions of

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collecting all viewpoints, TrM.ng Chinh approached Hoàng Minh Chính,67

director of the Nguy#n Ái Quhc Party School and outspoken advocate ofpeaceful coexistence, to prepare a report on the party line in 1963.68 How-ever, the leading figures in the Politburo, including Lê Du*n, Lê A+c ThC,Nguy#n Chí Thanh, and a fully rehabilitated TrM.ng Chinh, had alreadyresolved to adopt violent Maoist revolutionary methods in order to expandthe war in the South.69

According to Hoàng Minh Chính, Lê Du*n was the main architect ofthe resolution even though nearly half of the Politburo supported peacefulcoexistence at the plenum.70 Although the hardliners effectively silenced themore moderate Politburo members, most strikingly in the sidelining of H)

Chí Minh at the plenum, they could not prevent Central Committee mem-bers from voicing their opinions.71 For example, Vice Chair of the NationalScientific and Technological Commission Bùi Cnng Tr3ng urged greatereconomic cooperation with other socialist countries and abandonment ofthe chimera of a self-sufficient North Vietnamese economy, while formerForeign Minister Ung Ven Khiêm and others expressed vehement opposi-tion to adopting a pro-Chinese course at the plenum.72 Receiving lettersfrom approximately fifty middle-ranking cadres who exhorted their superiorsto continue following a middle course between China and the SovietUnion, these moderate Central Committee members still lost the battle atthe plenum.73 When Hoàng Minh Chính heard that his report had beenrejected and labeled “revisionist” at the plenum, he noted that the VWP wasnot only abandoning the principles it adopted at its own Third Party Con-gress, it was going against the majority line adopted at the Conference ofEighty-One Communist Parties.74

Through Radio Beijing, the North Vietnamese people first learned of thenew direction that their country would take under Resolution 9.75 Accordingto Section IV, entitled “Our Party’s International Duty,” the publishedresolution states:

A small number of cadres have been influenced by modern revisionism.When the Nhân Ven-Giai Ph*m clique took advantage of the fact that ourparty criticized its own short-comings and errors during the application ofthe land reforms and the consolidation of its organizations and took advan-tage of the opposition against the cult of Stalin’s personality to engage in

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sabotaging activities, a number of our cadres and party members sided withit. During the past few years, while a fierce ideological struggle broke outinside the international communist movement, a number of cadressupported the erroneous views and stand of the revisionists.76

Concerning the liberation struggle of the southern compatriots, the “rightist”elements in the party “feared that these struggles might be protracted andarduous; they have been afraid of sacrifices . . . they have adopted a some-what indifferent attitude.”77 A separate, internally circulated resolution thatremained unpublished called for an expansion of the war in the South andan increase in political indoctrination.78

The campaign to stamp out these rightist elements in 1964 led to the mar-ginalization and house arrests of Moscow-trained officials and those deemed“pro-Soviet” in the VWP, including high-ranking cadres, overseas students,intelligentsia, and journalists.79 Immediately following the plenum, the out-spoken moderates in the Central Committee lost their seats.80 Vietnamesestudents in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were called back to attend“re-education” classes.81 Secretariat member and Chairman of the Educa-tion and Propaganda Department Th H,u continued his suppression of theintelligentsia by launching a new campaign against “revisionist” influencesin Vietnamese literature. He warned against a “bourgeois humanism” thatwas propagated by modern revisionists.82 In sum, those who had any inter-action with the socialist diplomatic corps in Hà N4i or were exposed topeaceful coexistence ideas were considered circumspect and treated as suchby the militants in charge.

Nor was the military establishment immune to charges of revisionism.Following the defection of the chief editor of the important Quân xzi NhânDân [People’s Army Daily] (QxND), Major General Ven Doãn, to theSoviet Union, the General Political Department in the PAVN launched aninvestigation of the newspaper. According to Bùi Tín, who was working atthe QxND at the time, “secretive cadres who arrived in cars with their win-dows obscured” paid multiple visits to the office and rounded up at least fivestaff members.83 Not only did these officials lose their jobs and prestige, theyalso remained under intense scrutiny by the security apparatus in Hà N4i.84

The investigation of the editorial staff of the QxND and the repression ofthose deemed “revisionist” represented only the beginning of what was to

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become the VWP’s internal war, carried out against the backdrop of its rev-olutionary struggle in the South.

1964–1967: Talking or Fighting?

general nguy#n chí thanh: l ife and legacy

Within less than a year, the forces that motivated Resolution 9 had becomeobsolete: VWP’s “go-for-broke” gamble failed with American intervention,and Hà N4i’s pro-China tilt ended with the advent of substantial Sovietaid.85 On August 2, 1964, North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the USdestroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin under the mistaken notion that thedestroyer’s presence was connected to South Vietnamese raids underOPLAN-34A. Two days later, the United States falsely claimed more attacksat sea by communist ships, allowing the Lyndon B. Johnson administrationto launch reprisal air strikes against North Vietnamese installations.86 Theseincidents set off the chain of events that gave President Johnson congres-sional approval, through the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, to go to war.

American intervention, in turn, brought about a change in relationsbetween Hà N4i and its larger allies. Following the VWP’s Ninth Plenum inlate 1963, Soviet frustration with the DRV led Moscow to decrease economicaid and exports to North Vietnam, while Chinese approval of Hà N4i’s poli-cies led to an increase in support and the offer to send volunteer troops.87

After the events of August 1964, however, Soviet policy toward Vietnam beganto shift, with the confrontation between the United States and the DRV ren-dering aid to the fraternal socialist cause mandatory.88 With the ousting ofKhrushchev in October, newly appointed General Secretary Leonid I.Brezhnev made a concerted effort to restore ties with the North Vietnamesethat culminated in Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin’s visit to Hà N4i in early1965. In response, VWP leaders ceased their criticism of revisionism and onceagain practiced a policy of neutrality in the Sino-Soviet split.

Nonetheless, Lê Du*n, the militant “hawks” in the VWP, and the south-ern cadres continued to pursue military means to victory by launchingattacks on the Biên Hòa airbase, Bình Giã hamlet, the American barracks atPleiku, and other targets in Sài Gòn—all of them aimed at dissuading theUnited States from committing its troops to a land war in Asia.89 As the head

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of COSVN, General Nguy#n Chí Thanh, along with southerner PhfmHùng as his deputy, took over command of the war effort and moved to theSouth following the Ninth Plenum in late 1963.90 Although the Politburo’sresolution91 in early 1965 was ambiguous regarding how best to maintain thestrategic initiative to achieve victory, Lê Du*n’s letters to General Nguy#nChí Thanh reveal that the two resolved to push forward a communist strat-egy that would “go all out” rather than be protracted.92 With the introduc-tion of US ground troops in what Hà N4i called America’s “limited” or“localized war” [chiCn tranh cEc bz], General Nguy#n Chí Thanh continuedhis aggressive strategy by directing large-unit warfare to match Americanescalation. As the COSVN commander’s military doctrine on defeating theAmericans played out over loudspeakers in Hà N4i, Lê Du*n supported hisgeneral by sending secret letters, urging him to continue “fighting hard.”93

Like Washington, Hà N4i hoped for a speedy, military victory.By the winter-spring of 1965–1966, however, the militants’ costly war had

come under attack in the VWP.94 The massive onslaught of the US warmachine exacted enormous casualties and costs on the insurgency in theSouth and on economic development in the North. With the arrival of USmarines in early 1965, Hà N4i’s war leaders had enjoyed nationwide supportfor the anti-American struggle in the DRV.95 However, the initial flush ofwar fever turned to weariness as casualties mounted under General WilliamWestmoreland’s search-and-destroy missions and as bombing expanded tocover more of the North by the end of the year. Lê Du*n and his factionfound themselves dealing with a two-pronged attack from within the VWP:the call for peace talks with the United States and the demand for a revisionof the military strategy in the South.

At first, the demand for negotiations came, understandably, from theNorth-first faction of the VWP. The Americanization of the war and the endof Hà N4i’s China tilt had rejuvenated the moderates in the VWP. Thecause of the North-first faction, however, was becoming more urgent: priorto US intervention, the moderates believed that the southern struggle onlydiverted resources and attention away from socialist construction, but nowUS bombing threatened to destroy incipient development completely. Withincreasing aid from Moscow, the moderates had less to fear from beinglabeled “pro-Soviet.” As a result, they called for an immediate end to the war

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and for negotiations with the United States.96 Although US strategists weredisappointed that sustained bombing had little effect on the North’s rate ofinfiltration, Operation Rolling Thunder did disrupt socialist development.97

American bombs wreaked havoc on the North’s transportation infrastruc-ture, led to the abandonment of factories and industries not contributing tothe war machinery, and prompted the relocation of the urban population tothe countryside.98 For the North-first faction, Lê Du*n’s proclamation musthave sounded particularly hard to swallow: “[W]e will emerge from this warnot shattered but stronger and more solid. An army of workers will take formand science, technology, and engineering will be developed in the ruralareas because of our evacuation policy, for we are not evacuating and dis-persing to flee but in order to produce and to fight the enemy.”99 Unfortu-nately, there were many workers who had hoped to use their scientificeducation and expertise to develop the economy in North Vietnam ratherthan to wage war in South Vietnam.100 Using the opportunity of Johnson’sfirst bombing pause in late 1965, the “peace” faction redoubled their call fornegotiations, but they were easily outmaneuvered by the militant membersof the Politburo.101

By 1966, however, not only those who had always opposed the wardemanded negotiations; others in the party began to join their call for apolitical settlement. The North-firsters were joined by a growing “pro-negotiations” faction who had initially supported military means to victorybut now sought an accelerated diplomatic struggle to end American inter-vention. East European archives suggest that the desire for negotiationsexisted even among members of the Politburo.102 Although official Viet-namese accounts state that the Hà N4i Politburo agreed in 1966 that pursu-ing negotiations with Washington was fruitless, new evidence reveals thatunanimity may not have existed. According to historian James Hershberg’swork on MARIGOLD, a peace attempt by the Poles in the second half of1966, DRV Prime Minister Phfm Ven A)ng and possibly others within thehigher echelons of the party sincerely desired direct talks with the Ameri-cans and tried to advance their agenda in the Politburo.103

At the same time that Lê Du*n and his faction encountered criticismfrom the North-first and pro-negotiations factions in the party, the hawks’military strategy sustained a powerful attack from inside the military.

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DRV Defense Minister and head of PAVN General Vg Nguyên Giápengaged General Nguy#n Chí Thanh in a very public debate via print andradio in Hà N4i. Vg Nguyên Giáp, a proponent of modernizing the PAVN,believed that Nguy#n Chí Thanh’s strategy had wasted main force units insuicidal clashes where protracted warfare would have proven more success-ful, given superior US firepower and mobility.104 In defense of his strategy,Nguy#n Chí Thanh insisted that Westmoreland’s strategy of attrition wouldultimately fail because of lack of manpower and endurance. The COSVNcommander reasoned that if communist forces switched to a defensive strat-egy, morale would slip. Nguy#n Chí Thanh then suggested that the criticswere out of touch since they were not fighting on the ground in SouthVietnam, a thinly veiled attack on Vg Nguyên Giáp and his cohorts, whowere safely ensconced in the North.105 Nguy#n Chí Thanh insisted that theonly route for the resistance would have to include an aggressive militarystrategy that allowed communist forces to engage the enemy at will andplaced full support of the North behind the war.106

General Nguy#n Chí Thanh won the first round of debates with hisaggressive strategy for the 1965–1966 winter-spring season, but pressure fromcritics within the military forced Lê Du*n to order the COSVN commanderto incorporate aspects of protracted, guerilla warfare.107 Although the sum-mer of 1966 included raids and harassing tactics in addition to battles usingmain force units, criticism of General Nguy#n Chí Thanh’s dismissal ofguerilla forces increased.108 By the 1966–1967 dry season, General Vg

Nguyên Giáp and his supporters dominated the publications and airwaveswith pieces extolling the efficacy of the guerillas, even in urban warfare, overthe regular units.109 In the summer of 1967, the debates abruptly stopped.According to one source, the flurry of peace activities and the soberingstalemate in the South had the effect of bringing the military establishmenttogether.110 However, as events in 1967 would soon reveal, Nguy#n ChíThanh’s silence did not indicate that his position had changed, that he hadlost the debate, or that harmony prevailed in the military.

As the hardliners in the VWP dealt with domestic attacks, Hà N4i’s alliesexerted unwanted pressure and offered conflicting advice on how the NorthVietnamese should conduct the anti-American struggle. Both allies heldcrucial leverage over North Vietnam: the PRC controlled transport logistics

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and stationed in North Vietnam approximately 320,000 troops, consisting ofengineering and anti-aircraft units, while the Soviet Union provided the crit-ical anti-aircraft artillery and heavy weaponry necessary to fight theAmericans.111 While Beijing pushed Hà N4i to wage a Maoist-style conflictwith emphasis on protracted, guerilla war in the countryside and to resisttalks with the Washington, Moscow urged Hà N4i toward negotiations andequipped communist forces to fight a conventional war.112

As Soviet military and economic aid continued to increase, with Moscoweventually overtaking Beijing as the largest contributor to the DRV, China’sfears reached a feverish pitch. Conversations between Chinese andVietnamese leaders from 1965 to 1967 reveal warnings and even thinly veiledthreats to the Vietnamese regarding the “perfidy” of Soviet aid.113 At the out-set, the PRC was geographically able to control the valve of Soviet support toNorth Vietnam, but the disruption of transport due to the Cultural Revolu-tion had by late 1966 exacerbated the already cumbersome transportsystem.114 In response to Soviet accusations that the Chinese were hinderingRussian arms deliveries, Phfm Ven A)ng sought to alleviate any potentialproblems with Beijing by going out of his way to “thank China” for its pur-ported “help in the transit of aid from the Soviet Union and other fraternalEast European countries according to schedule.”115

The Soviets struck back by encouraging Vietnamese leaders to denounceChinese hegemony and the Cultural Revolution. In addition to slanderingthe Chinese, the Soviets also utilized their growing influence to urge theNorth Vietnamese toward pursuing a negotiated settlement.116 Theresponse from the Chinese was unequivocal. Mao and the CCP tried to foilthe Soviet “peace talk plot” at every turn and even tried to enlist fraternalparties to denounce Soviet machinations.117 In a conversation betweenGeneral Nguy#n Ven Vinh, head of the National Committee on Reunifi-cation [Ry Ban ThFng Nh{t Chính PhG], and Soviet chargé d’affaires P.Privalov, General Nguy#n Ven Vinh reportedly stated: “What would itmean to hold talks now? It would mean losing everything, and first of all,friendship with China which is utterly opposed to negotiations.”118 Never-theless, emboldened by a growing interest within the VWP in establishingpeace talks, the Soviet embassy in Hà N4i advised Moscow to put all of itsefforts into promoting Hà N4i’s newfound willingness to broach a political

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settlement to end the war.119 Since the Chinese had been in North Vietnamlonger than the Russians, Ambassador Ilya Scherbakov and the Sovietembassy sought to catch up by fostering a network of local contacts andfriends in the Vietnamese capital.120 Sensing the growing divisions in theVWP, Hà N4i’s allies were attempting by late 1966 to use the factionalizationto their advantage.

With the stakes raised both domestically and internationally, Lê Du*nand the militant faction needed to break the will of their domestic oppo-nents as well as to reaffirm their autonomy vis-à-vis their allies. The cacoph-ony of the “dovish” call for talks, criticism of General Nguy#n Chí Thanh’sstrategy in the military, Chinese diatribes about Soviet perfidy, and Sovietpressure to negotiate—all needed to be silenced. By 1967, the confluence ofthis domestic and international pressure over negotiations and military strat-egy was causing schizophrenic shifts in VWP policy. At the start of the year,the Central Committee of the VWP passed Resolution 13, advancing thediplomatic struggle and pacifying the moderates: “The diplomatic struggle isnot only purely to reflect the military balance of power on the ground, but inthe current international picture and the meaning of the war between usand the enemy, the diplomatic struggle has a very important role.”121 Inaddition to enlarging the role of the diplomatic struggle, Resolution 13 alsocalled for a “spontaneous uprising in order to win a decisive victory in theshortest possible time”—reaffirming the stronger militant position mostobviously represented by General Nguy#n Chí Thanh, who wanted tolaunch a major offensive in 1968. A few days after the promulgation of Res-olution 13, however, DRV Minister of Foreign Affairs and Politburo memberNguy#n Duy Trinh declared the terms under which Hà N4i would agree toenter into negotiations: If the United States stopped bombing uncondition-ally, talks could begin.122

But by the middle of 1967, Lê Du*n and his faction ensured that delib-eration on a viable solution to the stalemate in the South would concludethat a military offensive—not negotiations—would emerge as the key.123

The hardliners reasoned that if they resisted domestic and Soviet pressureto engage in real negotiations and instead launched a major militaryaction during the US presidential election year, Hà N4i might end the warwith a decisive military victory and a political uprising that would topple

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the Sài Gòn regime. Short of that, an offensive would still place NorthVietnam in a better position to undertake negotiations in 1968. As the yearprogressed, the aims for the offensive grew more ambitious. By the end of1967, to the dismay of the Chinese and of Nguy#n Chí Thanh’s critics inthe military, the Politburo abandoned the goal of a limited win based onthe principles of protracted struggle and opted for a total and complete vic-tory, with urban centers as the primary target of attack. According to thisstrategy, the South Vietnamese army would crumble beneath the jointforces of the PAVN-People’s Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF),124 whilethe Sài Gòn regime would topple in the face of a general uprising of thepeople.125 By early 1968, the Central Committee approved plans for a“General Offensive and General Uprising,” codified in Resolution 14. Ineffect, the militant leaders who designed and promoted Resolution 14solved their strategic dilemma: the resultant T!t Offensive plans signifieda major blow to both domestic opposition and foreign obstruction. Tounderstand the evolution of Hà N4i’s strategy from Resolution 13 to Reso-lution 14, it is important to analyze not only the war taking place in theSouth but also the one in the North.

the revis ionist anti -party affair

In 1967, waves of arrests took place in Hà N4i in what has been called the“Revisionist Anti-Party Affair” [vE án xét l\i-chFng xyng].126 The allegedinfiltration of saboteurs was supposedly widespread: cabinet ministers, high-ranking officers in the PAVN, Central Committee members, NationalAssembly delegates, government leaders, distinguished veterans, intelli-gentsia, journalists, doctors, and professors were all part of a massive con-spiracy to overthrow the government. Connected to the 1964 campaignagainst rightist deviations and the investigation of the QxND, the 1967purge was a continuation of the ongoing political struggle for control in theNorth but was also intimately connected to the deliberation on militarystrategy and planning for the South.127

The purges occurred in three waves. On July 27, the first wave of arreststook place under the direction of the BOo V0 [Security Organization], theshadowy force under the control of the party apparatus, which incarcerateda small group of professors and journalists, including Hoàng Minh Chính.128

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On October 18, the BOo V0 arrested more party members, but this time, thearrestees included more noteworthy figures such as the well-known generalsof Vg Nguyên Giáp’s staff, A<ng Kim Giang and Lê Liêm, H) Chí Minh’sformer secretary Vu Aình Hudnh, and Central Intelligence OrganizationDirector Senior Colonel Lê TrCng Nghla. The third and largest wave ofincarcerations, which took place on December 25, involved party membersand nonparty professionals, including Vu ThM Hiên, who later compiled amemoir based on his experience during the purge.129 According to the tes-timony of VMKng Quang Xuân, a captain of the North Vietnamese Armyand intelligence agent who defected to the RVN in early 1969, the eventsunfolded as follows:

In late 1967 and early 1968 several hundred people, including highranking party and government officials, were arrested for being against LaoA4ng party war policies and plotting the overthrow of H) Chí Minh . . . .[T]he party had known of the group for a long time, and Lê A+c ThC sup-posedly had talked with [Hoàng Minh] Chính and other members of thegroup about their beliefs before they were arrested. . . . [A] bulletin writtenby Chính had been seized and was considered proof of his treason. Thebulletin took a position against Resolution Nine which stated that the situa-tion in South Vietnam was now favorable for the use of military means tooverthrow the government of South Vietnam, and that the party would not,repeat, not use political means only to achieve victory. It asked for the fullsupport of all North Vietnamese cadres and people in this effort. . . .Chính’s bulletin opposed North Vietnamese military participation in theliberation of South Vietnam.130

The scope of the perceived threat to national security prompted the for-mation of an investigation committee consisting of Party OrganizationalCommittee Chief Lê A+c ThC, Minister of the Interior Tr6n Quhc Hoàn,Director of the Political Department of the PAVN Major General SongHào, and Secretariat member Lê Ven LMKng.131 On October 30, the Stand-ing Committee of the National Assembly presided over by TrM.ng Chinhpromulgated a decree setting forth the terms of punishment for treason, espi-onage, and transmitting state secrets. By the end of the year, Lê A+c ThC

circulated two reports that warned of a plot in their midst. Although thearrestees were not formally accused until 1972, Lê A+c ThC wrote thefollowing report in late 1967:

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These traitors have sowed dissension within the Party and undermined theunity of our army. Their underhanded activities are evident. Their purposeis to organize a faction to oppose our Party, the Workers’ Party. They havedeliberately made inaccurate analyses, partial critiques, and mischievousevaluations in the Politburo with the intention of fomenting frictionbetween Party leaders. They have gained the allegiance of a number ofhigh-ranking cadres of various ministries, even those of a foreign country.They have sought methods of stealing our confidential documents. Theyhave taken advantage of our cadre’s carelessness to collect classified infor-mation on our military plans, economic projects, and on foreign aid pro-vided to us by friendly countries for our national salvation against the USaggression. They have tried to hinder our counterattack of the enemy. Theyhave tried to prevent COSVN from implementing Resolution 9. Theyassumed that in the last 20 years of our Party lines and policies have beenaffected by dogmatism and that our plan of opposing the US for nationalsalvation is shortsighted.132

The alleged traitors were imprisoned in central Hà N4i at HSa Lò, known toAmericans as the “Hà N4i Hilton.”

It is unlikely that national security was threatened by these individuals.Although the Revisionist Anti-Party Affair had its origins in the contro-versial 1963 plenum and would have legal and political repercussions forthe DRV beyond 1968 and even 1975, the immediate rationale for thearrests in 1967 rested squarely on the Politburo’s choice of tactics andstrategy for the T!t Offensive.133 Nothing else would have prompted apurge of such proportions. By this point, theoretical arguments couchedin seemingly dense but innocuous Marxist-Leninist terms actually signi-fied intense debates regarding the war in the South.134 The decision toreject negotiations, to abandon protracted warfare, and to focus on a“General Offensive and General Uprising” in the towns and cities ofSouth Vietnam was highly controversial and hotly contested in the VWP.When we integrate the narratives of the decision making from above andthe arrests on the ground, the pieces of the T!t puzzle begin to fall intoplace, revealing that as plans for the military offensive grew more ambi-tious, so too did the scope of the arrests.

As in 1959 and 1963, the decisions reached in 1967 must be situatedwithin the intersection of Hà N4i’s foreign and domestic policies. By doingso, the Revisionist Anti-Party Affair and the T!t decision-making process can

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be understood on three, interrelated levels: the DRV’s policy of equilibriumin the Sino-Soviet split, personal power struggles in the Hà N4i Politburo,and political repression in the VWP.

s ignaling the allies

By 1967, the Vietnam War effort occupied the most visible position on theworld stage: given the zero-sum game dynamics of the Sino-Soviet relation-ship, neither Moscow nor Beijing could afford to be indifferent to it.Although the DRV was at war with the United States and South Vietnam,the Soviets and Chinese separately warned the North Vietnamese to be waryof hegemonists and revisionists who might sabotage Hà N4i’s war for theirown purposes. In the end, the Sino-Soviet split enabled the VWP to main-tain its autonomy, but with difficulty. Although the North Vietnamese fol-lowed Soviet or Chinese advice only when it suited their own interests, thepolitics of neutrality exacted a high price on Hà N4i’s war effort.

For the militant faction of the Politburo who continued to control theVWP in 1967, rising Soviet influence presented a quandary: in order to con-tinue waging an aggressive war, they needed Soviet aid and weaponry butnot Soviet pressure to negotiate. Arriving later in the game than the Chineseand possessing no clear-cut allies in the Politburo, the Soviets cultivatedcontacts and allies among VWP officials in Hà N4i who had studied inMoscow in order to increase their influence in North Vietnam and pro-mote their negotiations agenda. The culmination of Moscow’s meddlingoccurred in late June when Premier Kosygin met President Johnson atGlassboro, New Jersey, with private reassurance from Prime Minister PhfmVen A)ng that if the United States stopped bombing, negotiations couldbegin.135 As the Soviets increased their role in initiating talks betweenWashington and Hà N4i, thereby bolstering the moderates and doves in theparty, the hawks in the Politburo may have ordered the arrests in an attemptto send a thinly veiled message to Moscow: the DRV would not be pres-sured into negotiations. The Revisionist Anti-Party Affair signaled to theSoviet embassy in Hà N4i that the arrests of its “eyes and ears” in the VWPmeant that Moscow’s hopes of pushing forward its agenda had gone withthem.136 Charged with “gain[ing] the allegiance of a number of high-rankingcadre of various ministries, even those of a foreign country” and then passing

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on State secrets and classified information, the arrestees were basicallyguilty only of maintaining close ties with the Soviet Union. The Soviet embassyin Hà N4i understood the message loud and clear: reports to Moscow frus-tratingly indicated that North Vietnamese leaders were no longer interested inpursuing negotiations.137

Sino-Vietnamese relations may have also played a part in the 1967 purge.As conversations between Beijing and Hà N4i leaders show, the Chinesebecame increasingly upset with their Vietnamese allies over the DRV’sgrowing reliance on Soviet aid and what seemed like the adoption of Sovietpolicy toward a political settlement. Although the Soviet Union overtook thePRC in military and economic aid to North Vietnam, Chinese aid was stillcrucial to North Vietnam’s war effort. Moreover, Beijing’s control over trans-port logistics and Chinese troop presence in the DRV weighed heavily onNorth Vietnamese decision makers. As a result, DRV leaders tried hard toallay Chinese fears of a VWP tilt toward the CPSU. In early April of 1967,Vietnamese and Chinese leaders met in Beijing to discuss VWP militarystrategy for the following year. At the fourth meeting, which took place onApril 7, 1967, General Vg Nguyên Giáp took the opportunity to inform theChinese, albeit vaguely, that there were “new developments” in VWP mili-tary strategy.138 Throughout the meeting and during a subsequent exchangeon April 11, Hà N4i leaders went out of their way to stress the extent to whichthe Vietnamese resistance owed its victories to Mao’s military strategy.139

Despite such reassurances, however, the CCP leaders feared that Hà N4iwould undertake a large-scale offensive in an attempt to win a quick victory.Such a strategy would increase North Vietnamese dependence on Soviet aidand weaponry. In his characteristically allegorical manner, Mao conveyedhis wishes and warnings to Phfm Ven A)ng and Vg Nguyên Giáp: “Wehave a saying: ‘if you preserve the mountain green, you will never have toworry about firewood.’ The US is afraid of your tactics. They wish that youwould order your regular forces to fight, so they can destroy your mainforces. But you were not deceived. Fighting a war of attrition is like havingmeals: [it is best] not to have too big a bite.”140

Unfortunately for Mao, the projected offensive would constitute a huge“bite.” Although the Chinese leaders approved an acceleration of the war inApril, planning for the T!t Offensive began to take the form of an ambitious

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nationwide attack on major cities and provincial towns—a move the Chi-nese would later consider premature.141 In May and June, the Hà N4i Polit-buro rejected Mao’s doctrine when it assessed the military picture for 1968and concluded that guerilla war could no longer remain the guiding prin-ciple for the resistance forces in the South.142 Thus, although Beijing wel-comed Hà N4i’s shift away from talking and back to fighting in early 1967,the Chinese feared that the Soviets would increase their influence over theNorth Vietnamese as plans took shape for a large-scale offensive.

The arrests of pro-Soviet officials who had “assumed that in the last 20years [the] Party lines and policies have been affected by dogmatism” wereaimed as much to placate the Chinese as to deter the Soviets.143 It is alsoimportant to note that these so-called traitors had passed information to theSoviet embassy in Hà N4i and abroad regarding the extent of Chinese activ-ity and aid to the DRV.144 Their arrests signaled to Beijing that the VWPwould not fall into the hands of a pro-Moscow group. Thus, the victims ofthe 1967 purge had to be sacrificed in order to maintain North Vietnam’spolicy of neutrality and equilibrium in the Sino-Soviet split. As Hà N4i’s jug-gling act became trickier to maintain, the arrests served a useful purpose ofsending a clear message to the allies without posing substantial risks to itsdiplomatic relations.

neutraliz ing vg nguyên giáp

The arrests also revealed that personal rivalries existed within the VWP Polit-buro, even though the North Vietnamese leadership tried to convey to therest of the world an image of collective decision making. Unlike the CPSUand the CCP, the VWP rarely conducted purges at the Politburo level, con-tributing to its image of unity. Instead, the removal of midlevel officials tocoerce or intimidate their patrons in the Politburo was the normal practicein the VWP and proved just as effective.

Central to the Politburo infighting during this time was the declininghealth of H) Chí Minh. Although he had contemplated retiring from polit-ical life in the early 1960s and was no longer wielding real power, theprospect of the vacancy his death would leave in the Politburo leadershipmay have prompted a pre-emptive strike by Lê Du*n, Lê A+c ThC, andTrM.ng Chinh to consolidate their own power.145 According to Bùi Tín,

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the “comrades Lê” wanted to sideline General Vg Nguyên Giáp, whomthey deemed too popular with the army and the people, by propping upGeneral Nguy#n Chí Thanh.146

Nguy#n Chí Thanh’s death in July of 1967, just as initial planning for a1968 offensive was taking place, disrupted the balance of power in the Polit-buro and could have provided an impetus for a pre-emptive strike against Vg

Nguyên Giáp.147 However, it is hard to discern the seriousness of this powerstruggle between Lê Du*n and Lê A+c ThC on one side and Vg NguyênGiáp on the other, because there is little evidence that Vg Nguyên Giápopposed the direct views of these two men at the time.148 What we do knowis that by late 1966, Vg Nguyên Giáp seemed to be winning the militarystrategy debate in Hà N4i against Nguy#n Chí Thanh. With the latter’sdeath, Vg Nguyên Giáp no longer had any opposition within the military.Given Nguy#n Chí Thanh’s predilection for large-scale battles, the militantfaction may have wanted to preclude the chance that his death would resultin the acceptance of Vg Nguyên Giáp’s preferred strategy of protracted war.

Although the purging of Hoàng Minh Chính and other officials whoconsistently opposed the war in the South did not directly involve Vg

Nguyên Giáp, it did reflect the resolve with which the hardline majority ofthe Politburo wanted to undertake a major military action to break the stale-mate. The July arrests coincided with the drafting of an operational plan thatincluded urban elements under the direction of Lê Du*n.149 The generalsecretary pointed to the Aà N8ng uprisings in the summer of 1966 as proofthat cities were still crucial to the war in the South and advocated the needto strengthen proletarian leadership over the revolution.150 According to his-torian H) Khang, “by mid-1967, although a number of revolutionary bases,commando and crack troop units had been deployed in cities and suburbs,no one could imagine a general offensive all over South Vietnam against thecities and towns, particularly when the US war efforts were reaching aclimax.”151 Thus, Lê Du*n’s decision to launch an offensive targeting urbancenters was clearly a controversial one that would have been criticized heav-ily by opponents who preferred to see more attention focused on negotia-tions or protracted struggle.152

The second wave of arrests in October might also have been linked withthe formal transmission of the T!t Offensive plan to the South. According to

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historian David Elliott, “one of the mysteries of the planning for the TetOffensive is how much (and when) the lower levels . . . knew about the spe-cific nature and extent of changes that may have taken place in the basicplan between June 1967, its formal transmittal to the South in October 1967,and the final Hanoi Politburo resolution of December 1967.”153 Althoughindoctrination sessions occurred in the southern theaters prior to October,the emphasis remained on protracted struggle, fighting while negotiating,and taking advantage of local environments. According to H) Khang, thePolitburo’s October decision to target urban centers “was a daring decisionof Vietnam indeed because if we had simply considered the balance of mil-itary force at that time (October 1967), we would not have taken thisaudacious decision.”154

General Tr6n Ven Trà later criticized the northern leadership for notgiving the southern resistance adequate time to prepare for the T!tOffensive.155 Although Vg Nguyên Giáp was not in charge of the planningcommittee for the offensive after Nguy#n Chí Thanh’s death, Vg NguyênGiáp’s advocacy of protracted struggle continued to pose a threat to Lê Du*nand others who wanted to concentrate on large-scale, urban attacks and thuscaused the delay in transmission to the South. It is important to recall thatthe October arrestees, who were among the highest-level officials arrested in1967, consisted of Vg Nguyên Giáp’s supporters and staff. By this point, eventhe July arrestees were being asked questions about their interactions withthe famous general.

suppress ing domestic dissent

Finally, the 1967 purge was also a result of the militants’ use of ideologicaldivisions in the internationalist movement as a pretext for political repressionat home. Although the Hà N4i Politburo may have adopted aspects of Chineseor Soviet policies, the ultimate goal was always to promote Vietnamese inter-ests and ambitions. Extreme pro-Soviet or pro-Chinese inclinations may haveexisted among midlevel officials who had studied in either the Soviet Unionor the PRC, but members of the Politburo were never that partial.156 The rea-sons for neutrality within the highest strata of the VWP were two-fold: the HàN4i Politburo needed to steer an independent course not only for fear ofalienating or displeasing one ally over the other but also to instill a sense of

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patriotism and Vietnamese identity within the party and the people. How-ever, neutrality in foreign policy did not prevent the use of ideological divi-sions within the international proletarian movement to control domesticpolitics at home. Certain leaders were not beyond accusing others of “revi-sionism” or “dogmatism” for domestic political gain.

Lê A+c ThC and TrM.ng Chinh, who received the majority of media cov-erage during and after the arrests, emphasized party control over all stages ofthe revolution and the need “to struggle against opportunism from left orright.”157 In 1967, these two men delivered their speeches and publishedtheir articles in an atmosphere of danger—as Red Guards and radical think-ing spilled over from China’s Cultural Revolution—and of intrigue—as spyfever punctuated by American bombs gripped the DRV capital.158 It is con-ceivable that the leaders who orchestrated the arrests aimed to capitalize onthis fear by whipping up paranoia with accusations of espionage and treachery.In December, the third and largest wave of arrests, which included partymembers and nonparty professionals, ensured that no faction in Hà N4iwould prevent the implementation of Resolution 14 in 1968 as the pro-Sovietmoderates had done following the promulgation of Resolution 9 in 1963.Although these arrests may have involved a multitude of factors, includingpragmatic calculations to maintain control during war (Lê Du*n), bureau-cratic designs to ensure total party loyalty (Lê A+c ThC), and opportunisticadvancement built on long-standing ideologies (TrM.ng Chinh), the hawk-ish leaders who seized power from 1959 onward all had equal incentive tolaunch the purge in 1967. By charging the arrestees with “sowing dissension”and “fomenting friction between Party leaders” in order to “organize a fac-tion to oppose our Party, the Workers’ Party,” the leaders who orchestratedthe arrests removed their long-standing opponents in one fell swoop.159


Conceived in 1963 and plotted out in 1967, the General Offensive andGeneral Uprising began with a bang amid Lunar New Year celebrations inSouth Vietnam on January 31, 1968. The first and most noteworthy phaseincluded a coordinated PAVN-PLAF “surprise” attack on thirty-six provin-cial capitals, five autonomous cities, and sixty-four district capitals in theSouth. Rather than inciting a general uprising in the urban centers,

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communist forces were only able to hold onto the former imperial city ofHu! until February 24, with disastrous results for the local population.160 Inthe countryside, a rural uprising was more successful, but because of thecontinuing emphasis on towns and cities throughout the remainder of theoffensive, NLF troops were forced to abandon their victory in the villages.161

In the end, the timing and the scope of the T!t Offensive had the necessaryshock value to bring about change in the United States, but not in the RVN.On March 31, one month after the end of the first phase, President Johnsondeclared his decision not to run for re-election even as he executed a180-degree turn in its policy toward the war in Vietnam: not only was Gen-eral Westmoreland’s troop augmentation request rejected, but bombs ceasedto fall north of the twentieth parallel in an effort to move toward peacethrough negotiations. The US administration, rather than the Sài Gònregime, fell in the face of the T!t Offensive.

Although at the end of the first phase the South Vietnamese people inthe cities did not join the communist troops in an effort to overthrow theRVN government under Nguy#n Ven Thi0u, Lê Du*n persisted in launch-ing the second and third waves.162 The second phase of the communistoffensive began on May 4 with an attack on 119 southern bases, towns, andcities.163 Sài Gòn’s eighth district was practically leveled, but the city’s inhab-itants did not take to the streets and join the revolution. Instead, on May 13,more than a week into the second phase, the US and DRV representativesmet at the Hotel Majestic in Paris to begin peace negotiations. These talks,however, immediately became bogged down.

The final phase of the 1968 offensive, and undoubtedly the one that wasmost costly to the resistance, began on August 17 and ended in late September,as communist forces shelled American installations and coordinated assaultsthroughout South Vietnam.164 Just as the US presidential campaign waswinding up and the negotiations in Paris were facing various impasses androadblocks, Lê Du*n ordered his communist forces to advance once again.Massive B-52 bombing ensured that the capital city of Sài Gòn would notsuffer another ground attack by NLF troops, but one month after the thirdphase ended, President Johnson declared a complete bombing halt andannounced what he thought would be the start of four-party talks between

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the United States, the RVN, the DRV, and the NLF, set to begin in earlyNovember.

Taken as a whole, the three phases of the 1968 communist offensive didnot bring about the militant faction’s objectives.165 Instead, the T!t Offen-sive succeeded in achieving the aims that the moderates had called for: anend to the strain on North Vietnam as a result of the cessation of bombingand the initiation of negotiations to find a diplomatic settlement to the war.Regarding relations with the allies, the initiation of negotiations in the after-math of the T!t Offensive brought no end to “big power” interference andinvolvement, nor an easy policy of neutrality and equilibrium in the Sino-Soviet split. As the Soviets worked to ensure that the negotiations at Parisadvanced past the initial hurdles throughout 1968, Chinese leaders beratedtheir North Vietnamese allies for engaging in peace talks.166 Thus, the diplo-matic struggle, the option feared by the militants in the VWP prior to theT!t Offensive, came to occupy a position equal to that of the military strug-gle. Unfortunately for the “winners” of the VWP debate, they could notenjoy the fruits of their victory.167

LIÊN-HaNG T. NGUY#N is Assistant Professor, Department of History,University of Kentucky. This article is based on a chapter of her doctoraldissertation, “Between the Storms: An International History of the VietnamWar, 1968–1973” (Yale University). She thanks Larry Berman, David Elliott,John Lewis Gaddis, Christopher Goscha, Jim Hershberg, Duy Hoàng,David Hunt, Edward Miller, Lorraine Paterson, Julie Phfm, Andrew Preston,Samuel Popkin, Sophie Quinn-Judge, Balasz Szalontai, and Peter Zinoman,who gave invaluable comments and provided key sources during theresearching and writing of this article. She especially thanks Hoàng MinhChính, who graciously shared an afternoon with her during his brief visitto the United States.


This article explores the strategy deliberation leading up to Hà N4i’sdecision to go to war in 1959, to embark on a “bigger” war in 1963, and tolaunch the T!t Offensive in 1968. The militants who controlled the partyapparatus advanced their agenda for armed conflict in the South at the

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expense of socialist transformation in the North. While battling their inter-nal opponents, these hardliners also had to navigate the Sino-Soviet split toadvance their war agenda. This article reveals that the launching of the TêtOffensive signified the militants’ neutralization of domestic opposition andforeign obstruction through the implementation of a mass purge known asthe “Revisionist Anti-Party Affair.”

keywords: Têt Offensive, Second Indochina War, Revisionist Anti-Party Affair, Vietnam Workers’ Party, Democratic Republic of Vietnam,Sino-Soviet relations


CCP Chinese Communist Party

COSVN Central Office of South Vietnam

CPSU Communist Party of the Soviet Union

DRV Democratic Republic of Vietnam

NCLS Nghiên CAu L.ich SH [Historical Research]

NLF National Liberation Front

NVGP Nhân Ven-Giai Ph*m

PAVN People’s Army of Vietnam

PLAF People’s Liberation Armed Forces

PRC People’s Republic of China

QxND Quân xzi Nhân Dân [People’s Army Daily]

RVN Republic of Vietnam

VNFF Vietnam Fatherland Front

VWP Vietnam Workers’ Party


1. For the most comprehensive discussion of the contemporary and postwardebates and disagreements regarding Hà N4i’s T!t strategy, see David Elliott,The Vietnamese War: Revolution and Social Change in the Mekong Delta,1930–1975, 2 vols. (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2003), 2:1054–1062. See alsoNgn Vlnh Long, “The T!t Offensive and Its Aftermath,” Indochina Newsletter,

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Issue 49 (Jan–Feb 1988): 1–5. According to Vietnamese historian H) Khang,“T!t M$u Thân is still a subject that arouses controversial views. Looking fromone angle, some think they have had a comprehensive grasp of T!t, but look-ing from another angle, others are perplexed and unable to explain the event”(H) Khang, The TCt Muu Thân 1968 Event in South Vietnam [Hà N4i: Th!

Gi&i, 2001], 1). 2. The vast preponderance of the literature on the T!t Offensive in the West

focuses on the military, political, and psychological impact of the offensive onthe US war effort. Regarding Hà N4i’s motivations for launching the T!tOffensive, the Western studies generally echo the Vietnamese histories. Giventhe absence of official documents and other primary evidence from the Viet-namese side, this is understandable. However, a few studies stand as excep-tions. See Elliott, The Vietnamese War, 2:1036–1125; Robert Brigham, “TheNLF and the T!t Offensive,” in The Tet Offensive, eds. Marc Jason Gilbert andWilliam Head (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996), 63–69; William Duiker, TheCommunist Road to Power in Vietnam, 2nd ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview Press,1996), 255–299; Ang Cheng Guan, “Decision-Making Leading to the TetOffensive (1968): The Vietnamese Communist Perspective,” Journal of Con-temporary History 33, no. 3 (July 1998): 341–353.

3. Elliott, The Vietnamese War, 2:1055. 4. For example, Operations Attleboro, Cedar Falls, and Junction City failed to

attain their objective of destroying the insurgency while the Army of theRepublic of Vietnam (ARVN) failed to make much headway in its pacificationefforts, controlling only 13 percent of the countryside. See H) Khang, The TCtMuu Thân 1968, 13–19.

5. See B4 Quhc Phòng, Vi0n Lich S9 Quân Sl Vi0t Nam [Ministry of Defense,Institute of Military History] (BQP-VLSQSVN), Li.ch sH kháng chiCn chFngMI cAu n}Rc 1954–1975 (Li.ch sH kháng chiCn chFng MI), vol. 5, Tvng tiCn côngvà nvi duy nJm 1968 [The History of the Anti-American Resistance forNational Salvation; General Offensive-General Uprising 1968] (Hà N4i:Chính Tri Quhc Gia, 2001), 29. See also H) Khang, The TCt Muu Thân 1968,23.

6. See L]ch sH kháng chiCn chFng MI, 9–28.7. See L]ch sH Quân chGng Phòng không [The History of the Anti-Aircraft

Defense], vol. 2 (Hà N4i: Quân A4i Nhân Dân, 1993), 77–126.8. Tr6n Ven Trà, “T!t: The 1968 General Offensive and General Uprising,” in

The Vietnam War: Vietnamese and American Perspectives, eds. Jayne S. Wernerand LMu Aoàn Hudnh (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1993), 39.

9. BQP-VLSQSVN, H}Rng tiCn công và nvi duy: TCt Muu Thân w Tr]-Thiên-HuC(NJm 1968) [Direction of the General Offensive and General Uprising:

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The Lunar New Year in Tri-Thiên-Hu!], LMu hành n4i b4 [Internal Distribution](Hà N4i, 1988), 5. For the English translation, see Robert J. Destatte and MerleL. Pribbenow for the United States Army Center for Military History, HistoriesDivision, The 1968 TCt Offensive and Uprising in the Tri-Thiên-HuC Theater(Fort Nair, Washington, DC: 2001), i.

10.According to the official history, there were three phases to the General Offen-sive and General Uprising, which took place from the winter to the fall of1968. See BQP-VLSQSVN, Li.ch sH kháng chiCn chFng MI, 7.

11. The late historian Ralph B. Smith, in his introduction to the first volume of histhree-volume work on the international history of the Vietnam War, wrote:“Indeed, Vietnam is a case where it is especially important to relate move-ments at the political grass-roots to decision-making in the corridors of interna-tional power.” Smith identified the need to integrate the war in Vietnam withthe international Cold War. See Ralph B. Smith, An International History ofthe Vietnam War, vol. 1, Revolution Versus Containment, 1955–1961 (London:MacMillan Press, 1983), 9; Ibid., vol. 2, The Struggle for South-East Asia,1961–1965 (1985); and Ibid., vol. 3, The Making of a Limited War, 1965–1966(1991).

12. See Nguy#n Vu Tùng, “Hà N4i’s Search for an Effective Strategy,” in TheVietnam War, ed. Peter Lowe (London: MacMillan Press, 1998), 45. See alsoPierre Asselin, “Hà N4i and the Americanization of the Vietnam War” (paperpresented at Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations annualmeeting, George Washington University, June 6–8, 2003), 3–4.

13. Contemporaneous Western reports on the divisions within the VWP split thefactions in various manners: “militants” versus “moderates”; “North-first” ver-sus “South-first”; and even “pro-Chinese” versus “pro-Soviet.” These binaries,although not incorrect, do not adequately address the nuances within the vari-ous factions or take into account the fluid nature of these divisions.

14.Elliott, The Vietnamese War, 2:1056. 15.Following the stipulated period of free resettlement in the Geneva Accords,

nearly 1 million northerners, with the vast majority being Catholics, fled tothe South, while only a trickle flowed in the other direction. Approximatelyeighty to ninety thousand communist forces went north, while anywherefrom five to ten thousand cadres and troops remained in the south. In theend, the population of the North after the resettlement period slightly out-numbered the South. The two Vietnams, like most other decolonized states,had only begun their democratic experiments, and so the idea of free andfair elections did not exist in either territory: in the South, Ngn Aình Di0mand his brother Ngn Aình Nhu’s C6n Lao [Labor] party controlled the Con-stituent Assembly elections, and in the North, the VWP controlled the

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National Assembly elections. See Smith, An International History of theVietnam War, 1:50–51.

16.See William S. Turley, “Urbanization in War: Hà N4i, 1946–1973,” PacificAffairs 48, no. 3 (Autumn 1975): 375–376.

17.On land reform, see Edwin Moise, “Land Reform and Land Reform Errors inNorth Vietnam,” Pacific Affairs 49 (1976): 70–92. On the literati dissidenceaffair, see Georges Boudarel, Cent Fleur ecloses dans la nuit du Vietnam: Com-munisme and Dissidence, 1954–1956 [One Hundred Flowers Blooming in theNight in Vietnam: Communism and Dissidence, 1954–1956] (Paris: JacquesBertoin, 1991); Kim Ninh, A World Transformed: The Politics of Culture in Rev-olutionary Vietnam, 1945–1965 (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press,2002), 121–163; Neil Jamieson, Understanding Vietnam (Berkeley and LosAngeles: University of California Press, 1993), 257–284; Minh Vg, Phyn TUnhPhyn Kháng [Self Criticism—Protest] (Southern California: Thnng Vu [táibOn] 2004). On the failure of collectivization, industrialization, or state-sponsored projects generally, see Balasz Szalontai, “Political and EconomicCrisis in North Vietnam, 1955–1956,” Journal of Cold War History 5, issue 4(November/December 2005): 395–426; Benedict J. Tria Kierkvliet, The Powerof Everyday Politics: How Vietnamese Peasants Transformed National Policy(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005); Ken MacLean, “The B:c HMngHOi Irrigation Project: Making Socialism Manifest in the Democratic Repub-lic of Vietnam” (paper presented at Association for Asian Studies Annual Con-ference, San Francisco, April 6–9, 2006).

18.See Chen Jian, Mao’s China and the Cold War (Chapel Hill: The Universityof North Carolina Press, 2001).

19.Ibid., 74–84.20.See TM.ng Vu, “From Cheering to Volunteering: Vietnamese Communists

and the Coming of the Cold War, 1940–1951,” (paper presented at Society forHistorians of American Foreign Relations Annual Meeting, Lawrence, Kansas,June 23–25, 2006).

21. Smith, An International History of the Vietnam War, 1:103.22. It is important to note here that this period did not see the rise of a new set of

leaders; power merely shifted within the group of leaders in the Politburo whohad been in their positions since at least the 1951 Second Party Congress at thefounding of the VWP.

23.There were unifying factors or “rites of passage” for the revolutionaries whocame to power in the DRV, such as imprisonment in Poulo Condore Island[Côn xyo] (with the exception of H) Chí Minh and Vg Nguyên Giáp). At thesame time, however, imprisonment (or lack thereof) at Cnn AOo might havealso produced long-lasting feuds and enmity between some revolutionaries.

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See Peter Zinoman, Colonial Bastille: A History of Imprisonment, 1862–1940(Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press, 2001). See alsoSmith, An International History of the Vietnam War, 1:89–92.

24.See Tai Sung An, The Vietnam War (Cranbury, NJ: Associated UniversityPresses, 1998), 69–82.

25.See Smith, An International History of the Vietnam War, 1:91. Smith discernsthree factions, including H) Chí Minh’s group with Hoàng Ven Hoan, PhfmVen A)ng, and Vg Nguyên Giáp, whose responsibilities lay in the realm ofgovernment, diplomacy, and the military. The second group, under the leader-ship of TrM.ng Chinh, consisted of northerners who were important in theparty machinery and the mass organizations. The third group consisted of LêDu*n, Lê A+c ThC, and others who were associated with the southern cause.

26.In August 1956, H) Chí Minh publicly acknowledged the mistakes of the cam-paign, but he was powerless to stop the rebellions in the North, which ensuedthrough the remainder of the year. In late October, General Vg Nguyên Giápmade a lengthy speech in which he had to address the specific errors commit-ted by the party. See Nhân Dân [The People], October 31, 1956.

27.See Smith (An International History of the Vietnam War, 1:89–95) for a verypersuasive discussion on the lines of division between the factions in the HàN4i Politburo and the shift in leadership following the Tenth Plenum of theVWP in the aftermath of the land reform campaign. See also Carlyle Thayer,“Origins of the National Liberation Front for the Liberation of South Viet-Nam,1954–1960: Debate on Unification Within the Viet-Nam Workers’ Party”(paper presented at Sixteenth Conference of the Australasian Political StudiesAssociation, July 1974, Brisbane, Australia). Although the Tenth Plenummarked a major shift in the VWP leadership, I argue that the militants whoused the party apparatus needed to continue the consolidation of their powerin the Politburo and the party even after the 1956 plenum, since their controlwas not yet absolute.

28.Although H) Chí Minh officially took over as general secretary at the 1956Tenth Plenum, he devolved most of the duties to Lê Du*n upon the latter’sreturn to the North in late 1956 or early 1957.

29.In February 1955, Tr6n D6n, one of the leading figures in the NVGP affair,headed a group of disgruntled writer-soldiers who complained about the lackof creative freedom in art and literature to none other than General Nguy#nChí Thanh, head of the army’s General Political Department. GeneralNguy#n Chí Thanh dismissed their grievances and castigated the soldier-writers for allowing capitalist ideology to seep into their consciousness. SeeNguy#n Chí Thanh, “Vài kinh nghi0m vj lãnh kfo tM tM1ng [Experienceswith Ideological Leadership],” in Nguy#n Chí Thanh, xyng ta lãnh I\o tài

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tình chiCn tranh nhân dân và xây dZng lZc l}Kng vu trang nhân dân [Our PartySkillful Leadership of the People’s War and Development of the People’sArmy] (Hà N4i: Sl Th$t, 1970). However, the key player behind the suppres-sion of the literati, which included subjecting the “dissidents” to self-criticismsessions and sentencing them to hard labor camps, was Th H,u.

30. The party’s concern with the “slippage in revolutionary spirit” can be seen asearly as 1957. See Tr6n Huy Li0u, “Ai;m lfi thuy!t ‘ba giai kofn’ cFa chúngta [Reanalysis of Our Three-Stage Theory],” Nghiên CAu Li.ch SH [HistoricalResearch] (NCLS) 34, (November 1957): 1–5. Tr6n Huy Li0u’s article arguedthat the Vi0t Minh struggle against the French colonialists during the FirstIndochina War did not move to the counteroffensive phase [tvng phyn công]and thus could not produce total liberation. As a senior communist officialand former minister of Propaganda, Tr6n Huy Li0u’s article added strongsupport to Lê Du*n’s campaign to shift attention to the southern insurgencyand finish the uncompleted task of liberation of the entire country. See Liên-Hang T. Nguy#n, “Vietnamese Historians and the First Indochina War,” ineds. Mark Lawrence and Fredrik Logevall, The First Vietnam War: ColonialConflict and Cold War Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,forthcoming).

31. Smith, An International History of the Vietnam War, 1:69. 32. See Thomas Latimer, “Hà N4i’s Leaders and the Policies of War,” pp. 2–4,

n.d., Folder 18, Box 01, John Donnell Collection (JD), The Vietnam Archive(VA), Texas Tech University. See also Elliott, The Vietnamese War, 1:216–224.

33. For instance, see Phfm Ven A)ng’s report at the Eighth National Assembly, inwhich he emphasizes the need to pursue reunification through peacefulmeans. Nhân Dân, April 18, 1958. Moreover, Lê Du*n was not present for theadoption of the Three Year Plan at the Fourteenth Plenum in November 1958because the Politburo had sent him to evaluate the situation in the South. Hereturned to Hà N4i in January 1959 in time for the Fifteenth Plenum.

34. See Carlyle Thayer, War by Other Means: National Liberation and Revolutionin Vietnam, 1954–1960 (Sydney: Allen & Urwin, 1989); Robert Brigham,Guerilla Diplomacy: The NLF’s Foreign Relations and the Vietnam War(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998), 1–18. See also Elliott, The Viet-namese War, 1:289–349; Duiker, The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam,179–214. The predominant interpretation of Hà N4i’s decision to go to war,both during the war and now, has been that it was made to save the insurgencyfrom annihilation by Ngn Aình Di0m’s enemy troops, particularly after theenactment of Law 10/59 in May, as well as to maintain direction of the revolu-tion lest it fall into the hands of competing elements, given the weakness of theparty in the South.

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35. Elliott, The Vietnamese War, 1:215. Politburo and party members, includingPhfm Ven A)ng, Vg Nguyên Giáp, and for a time, TrM.ng Chinh, were notconvinced that all other avenues had been exhausted, since they believed thatarmed conflict should be undertaken only as a last resort.

36. Mao’s post-1958 shift in rhetoric toward supporting national liberationmovements did not immediately translate to literal support of Hà N4i’swar in the South.

37. In some areas in the South, questions remained regarding the balancebetween military and political struggles until the fall of 1959. Elliott, TheVietnamese War, 1:215. See also Smith, An International History of the VietnamWar, 1:157: “Until Sino-Soviet relations were clarified, they and their col-leagues [Vietnamese party leaders] decided not to take up a clear position oftheir own, and to delay publication of the ‘hard line’ 15th Plenum resolution.”

38. The election of Lê Du*n rather than Vg Nguyên Giáp or TrM.ng Chinh assecretary general (officially “first secretary”) at the Third Party Congress hasbeen attributed to Lê Du*n’s revolutionary credentials (prison record), longexperience in the South, and ability to bridge the generational split in theparty. According to LMu Aoàn Hudnh, H) Chí Minh chose Lê Du*n in 1958due to the latter’s activities in the South, which made him the prime candidateto lead the reunification struggle. LMu Aoàn Hudnh (director, Institute forInternational Relations), comment to author, June 21, 2005, Philadelphia.

39. H) Chí Minh called the Third Party Congress the “Congress of Socialist Con-struction in the North and of Struggle for Peaceful National Reunification.”See “World Situation and Our Party’s International Missions—As Seen FromHà N4i, 1960–1964,” December 1963, Folder 02, Box 08, Douglas PikeCollection (DP): Unit 06, “Democratic Republic of Vietnam,” VA.

40. See TrMKng NhM TOng, with David Chanoff and Aoàn Ven Tofi, A VietcongMemoir (New York: Vintage Books); and Christopher E. Goscha, “Réflexionssur la guerre du Viet Minh dans le Sud-Vietnam de 1945 à 1951 [War by OtherMeans: Reflections on the Viet Minh’s War in Southern Vietnam between1945 and 1951],” in Guerres mondiales et conflits contemporains 206 (2002):29–57. See also Thayer, War by Other Means, and Brigham, Guerilla Diplo-macy, which both argue that the NLF was neither a puppet nor anautonomous organization.

41. For the Vietnamese version, see Nhân Dân, September 15, 1960, and for theEnglish translation, see “Statute of the Vietnam Workers’ Party,” September 15,1960, Folder 29, Box 07, DP: Unit 06, VA. The Constitution of the DRV,ratified by the National Assembly in December of 1959, also defined thestructure of power in North Vietnam but is a less important document thanthe 1960 Party Statute. See also Robert Brigham, “Revolutionary Heroism and

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Politics in Postwar Vietnam,” in After Vietnam: Legacies of a Lost War, ed.Charles H. Neu (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), 86.Brigham argues that at the 1960 Congress, the principle of collective decisionmaking was adopted by the party in order to avoid a power struggle after theinevitable death of H) Chí Minh. As a result, discerning positions within thePolitburo is more difficult after the Third Party Congress, but this does notmean that dissension and debate did not exist within the Politburo after the1960 Congress.

42. “Statute of the Vietnam Workers’ Party,” September 15, 1960, Folder 29, Box 07,DP: Unit 06, VA.

43. I thank David Marr, whose comments on this article in its early stageshelped point out the scope of the power of this position. See also ThomasLatimer, “Hà N4i’s Leaders and the Policies of War,” p. 8, n.d., Folder 18,Box 01, JD, VA.

44. “Statute of the Vietnam Workers’ Party,” 14. 45. Nguy#n Chí Thanh’s promotion to full general in September 1959 rendered

him equal to Vg Nguyên Giáp.46. Although Hà N4i did not consult Beijing or Moscow prior to the Fifteenth

Plenum in 1959, H) Chí Minh made personal trips to Beidaihe and Moscowin August 1960, urging his Chinese and Soviet comrades to mend their differ-ences in order to avoid a repeat of Bucharest at the VWP Third Party Con-gress. His appeal, however, came to no avail; the depth of the rift doomed thediplomatic mission. See Qiang Zhai, China and the Vietnam Wars, 1950–1975(Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 86–88.

47. Ilya Gaiduk, Confronting Vietnam: Soviet Policy toward the IndochinaConflict, 1954–1963 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003), 114.

48. Zhai, China and the Vietnam Wars, 83.49. For instance, Hà N4i avowed that the pressing issue dictating DRV’s foreign

policy was the need to secure Chinese and Soviet aid for North Vietnam’s firstFive Year Plan (1961–1965).

50. See Yang Kuisong, Changes in Mao Zedong’s Attitude toward the IndochinaWar, 1949–1973 (Washington, DC: Cold War International History Project[CWIHP], Woodrow Wilson Center, 2002), 26.

51. Gaiduk, Confronting Vietnam, 209.52. See Martin Stuart-Fox, A History of Laos (Cambridge: Cambridge University

Press, 1997), 99–126. 53. See Zhai, China and the Vietnam Wars, 104, on the Chinese contribution to

the Pathet Lao’s attack on Nam Tha in May 1962.54. At first, the Kennedy administration raised the hopes of the moderate faction

in the VWP who hoped that the US would agree to a coalition government in

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a neutralized South Vietnam as it did in Laos. For a brief period of time, diplo-matic and political means rather than military ones once again gained ascen-dancy in the Party as diplomatic feelers probed the possibility of neutralismand southern cadres reached out to non-communist elements in Sài Gònsociety in preparation for a coalition government. However, the talks leadnowhere and with the increase American involvement following the Taylor-Rostow mission, the US role would go from being an advisory one to a “limitedpartnership”. By the time of Kennedy’s assassination in late 1963,the number of American advisors increased from 600 to 16,000.

55. Aoàn Lâm, ed., The 30-Year War: 1945–1975, vol. 2, 1954–1975 (Hà N4i: Th!

Gi&i Publishers, 2001), 78.56. Li.ch sH xyng czng syn ViDt Nam (1954–1975) [The History of the Communist

Party of Vietnam, 1954–1975], vol. 2 (Hà N4i: Chính Tri, 1995), 175–176.57. “Report Written on 6 May 1963 by the Hungarian Embassy in the DRV. Sub-

ject: The Results and Problems of the DRV’s 1962 Economic Plan, and theMain Objectives of the 1963 Economic Plan,” XIX. J-1-j, Box 8, 24/b,004321/1963, Magyar Országos Levéltár [Hungarian National Archives],Budapest, Hungary. This report was translated and provided by BalaszSzalontai.

58. See Lê Du*n, “COi ti!n quOn lB h/p tác xã, cOi ti!n km thu$t, k*y mfnh sOnxu(t nnng nghi0p [Improving Cooperatives Management, Improving Tech-nique, Stepping Up Agricultural Production],” HLc Tup 85, no. 2 (1963): 4–12.Lê Du*n addressed the Ngh0 An Party Committee to discuss the CentralCommittee resolutions reached at the Fifth and Seventh Plenums, whichextolled the progress made in improving collectivization methods. See alsoPhfm Hùng, “T$p trung s+c ph(n k(u, ti!n lên giOi quy!t v,ng ch:c v(n kjlMKng thlc [To Centralize the Struggle and to Advance a Solid ResolutionRegarding Provisions],” HLc Tup 93, no. 10 (1963): 14–24; “Teng cM.ng cnng tácquOn lB tài chính [Strengthening Finance Management Tasks],” HLc Tup 95,no. 12 (1963): 1–8.

59. For example, the Soviet-trained scholars at the National Committee of theSciences believed that their education could best be applied to building NorthVietnam’s economy rather than to making war in South Vietnam. See JudyStowe, “‘Revisionnisme’ au Vietnam [‘Revisionism’ in Vietnam],” ApprocheAsie, no. 18 (2003): 58.

60.See Aoàn Lâm, ed., The 30-Year War, 94. The communist victory at 2p B:c inearly 1963 boosted the VWP’s confidence about defeating Ngn Aình Di0m’sforces in a large battle.

61. In 1963, Beijing and Moscow solidified their ideological positions in a finalopen exchange: the CCP published The Chinese Communist Party’s Proposal

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Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement, andthe Soviets responded with Open Letter of the Communist Party of the SovietUnion.

62. Elliott, The Vietnamese War, 1:430. For an alternate view, see Duiker (TheCommunist Road to Power in Vietnam, 221–222), who argues that Hà N4i lead-ers needed to escalate the conflict because the post–Ngn Aình Di0m govern-ment under DMKng Ven Minh was popular and morale was low amongresistance fighters.

63. See Smith, An International History of the Vietnam War, 2:348; Duiker, TheCommunist Road to Power in Vietnam, 221–223.

64. See Zhai, China and the Vietnam Wars, 125. 65. Yugoslavia’s Marshal Tito was named as the principal target in North

Vietnam’s public condemnation of modern revisionism. Attacks againstKhrushchev were circulated orally in the VWP.

66.Stowe, “‘Revisionnisme’ au Vietnam,” 56–58. By the summer of 1963, though,indication of the repressive atmosphere that would fall upon the North in theaftermath of the plenum had already emerged: pro-Soviet midlevel officialsbegan to suppress their opinions.

67.Born Tr6n NgCc Nghiêm in 1920 in Nam Ainh province, Hoàng Minh Chínhjoined the communist party in Vietnam when he turned nineteen. During theFirst Indochina War, Hoàng Minh Chính led an attack on French planes atBfch Mai airport. Because of his valor during the war, the party sent him tothe Soviet Union from 1957 to 1960, and upon his return in 1961, Hoàng MinhChính held the concurrent posts of head of the Philosophy Department of theState Social Sciences Committee and director of the Nguy#n Ái Quhc PartySchool.

68.Hoàng Minh Chính, interview by author, September 28, 2005, Cambridge,MA. In early 1963, TrM.ng Chinh approached Hoàng Minh Chính to write animportant report for the upcoming Ninth Plenum. The report, pointing to theFrench, Czech, and Polish communist party lines, advised the VWP CentralCommittee to continue steering a neutral path between the CPSU and theCCP and adhering to peaceful coexistence. However, according to HoàngMinh Chính, TrM.ng Chinh had already decided to support Lê Du(n’s mili-tant line by early 1963 in an attempt to regain power and in order to secure hisposition after the land reform debacle. In his words, TrM.ng Chinh had “vuFtve, mua chuzc” (“coaxed and cajoled”) Hoàng Minh Chính into preparing areport that he knew would be rejected.

69.See Lê Du*n’s speech at Hoàng Minh Chính’s Nguy#n Ái Quhc PartySchool on the eightieth anniversary of Karl Marx’s death; Lê A+c ThC, “Pháthuy truyjn thhng cách mfng, teng cM.ng s+c mfnh chi!n k(u cFa AOng

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[Bringing in the Revolutionary Tradition and Strengthening the Party’s Resis-tance],” Nhân Dân, September 2, 1963; Nguy#n Chí Thanh, “Ai se th:ng ai 1mijn Nam Vi0t Nam? [Who Will Emerge Victorious in South Vietnam?],”HLc Tup 90, no. 7 (1963): 18–21; “Nâng cao l$p trM.ng, tM tM1ng vn sOn, koànk!t, ph(n k(u giành th:ng l/i [Raising Our Position, Proletarianism, Unity,Striving for Victory],” HLc Tup [Study] 93, no. 10 (1963): 1–13.

70.For instance, see Phfm Ven A)ng, “M4t sh v(n kj B th+c tM tM1ng khi v&i haicu4c v$n k4ng cách mfng l&n hi0n kang ti!n hành [A Few Issues RegardingIdeological Consciousness Regarding Two Major Revolutionary MovementsUnder Way],” HLc Tup 94, no. 11 (1963): 11–16.

71. See Martin Grossheim, “Revisionism in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam:New Evidence from the East German Archives,” Journal of Cold War History5, issue 4, (November/December 2005): 454–458; Hoàng Minh Chính, inter-view by author. According to East European documents, Lê Du*n used H)

Chí Minh’s past mistakes of compromising (in 1945 and 1954) to force him intosubmission at the plenum; he remained silent during the debates and stoodaside during the vote.

72. See Stowe, “‘Revisionnisme’ au Vietnam,” 57; Grossheim, “Revisionism in theDemocratic Republic of Vietnam,” 457–458.

73. Grossheim, “Revisionism in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam,” 457. 74. Hoàng Minh Chính, interview by author.75. Hoàng Minh Chính, interview by author. Hoàng Minh Chính noted that

intellectuals were particularly distressed by Resolution 9 when they heard itbroadcast in Vietnamese on Radio Beijing. The official communiqué wasreleased in Nhân Dân, January 20, 1964, and the published version of LêDu*n’s speech at the plenum appeared in HLc Tup (97, no. 2 [1964]: 1–20) andwas reprinted in his book, Mzt vài v{n IM trong nhiDm vE quFc tC [A Few Issuesin Our International Duty] (Hà N4i: Sl Th$t, 1964), 125–183. For the Englishtranslation, see “Lao Dong Plenum Resolution Nine,” December 1963, DP:Unit 06, VA.

76.“Lao Dong Plenum Resolution Nine,” December 1963, p. 44, DP: Unit 06,VA.

77. Ibid., 46.78. See Smith, An International History of the Vietnam War, 2:220. According to

Hoàng Minh Chính, in January 1964, four hundred high- and mid-level cadresgathered in Ba Aình square in order to study Resolution 9. At the gathering,TrM.ng Chinh announced that given the complicated [phAc t\p] state of theinternational communist movement, the most important aspect of theplenum’s resolution could not be written down: Vietnam’s domestic and

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foreign policy will follow the Chinese line. Lê A+c ThC followed up by statingthat the VWP had to denounce modern revisionism.

79.See Grossheim, “Revisionism in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam,”456–457.

80.Former foreign minister of Foreign Affairs Ung Ven Khiêm was replaced byXuân ThFy, Bùi Cnng Tr3ng lost his place in the Central Committee as wellas his post as head of the National Committee of Science and Technology, andCentral Committee member and vice president of the Vietnamese-SovietFriendship Association, DMKng Bfch Mai, died under mysterious circum-stances, leading to speculation among European diplomats that he had beenmurdered because of his views. See Vu ThM Hiên, xêm giTa ban ngày: HOi kPchính tr] cGa mzt ng}Ni không làm chính tr] [Nightmare in the Daytime: APolitical Memoir Written by a Non-politician] (Westminster, CA: Ven Ngh0,1997), 274–287; Grossheim, “Revisionism in the Democratic Republic ofVietnam,” 460–461.

81. By 1964, there were approximately one thousand North Vietnamese students atSoviet institutions. Although the vast majority submitted to the party line,approximately fifty applied for asylum in the Soviet Union. See Stowe,“‘Revisionnisme’ au Vietnam,” 58; Grossheim, “Revisionism in the DemocraticRepublic of Vietnam,” 464–468.

82. Grossheim, “Revisionism in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam,” 461–462.83. Bùi Tín, Following HO Chí Minh: The Memoirs of a North Vietnamese Colonel

(London: Hurst & Company, 1995), 54. 84. According to Bùi Tín’s political memoir, written under the pseudonym,

Thành Tín, the period from 1964 to 1966 witnessed a repressive movementcalled the “Military Revisionist Affair” [VE xét l\i trong quân Izi]. Bùi Tín’saccount of this affair is based on information provided by retired General KinhChi, chief of the security organization, BOo V0, from 1958 to 1976. The BOo V0

is an infamous security force that answers to the Army General PoliticalDepartment and whose duty includes ensuring the loyalty of every militaryofficer to the party, including even the minister of defense. From 1964 to 1966,the BOo V0 arrested many officers charged with “revisionism.” See Thành Tín[pseud. “True Faith”], M|t thut: HOi kP chính tr] cGa Bùi Tín [True Identity:The Political Memoirs of Bùi Tín] (Irvine, CA: Saigon Press, 1993), 189–190.See also Bùi Tín, Following HO Chí Minh, 54–55. However, the dates of someof the arrests claimed by Bùi Tín do not correspond with other evidence onthe affair, which places the arrests in 1967, not before. In most likelihood, theperiod from 1964 to 1966 witnessed the repression, but not outright arrests, ofparty officials and military officers who did not desire war.

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85. Although Hà N4i prepared for the eventuality of American intervention whenthe VWP Central Committee passed Resolution 9 in late 1963, the Politburodid not think that the United States would actually expand its war effort. SeeElliott, The Vietnamese War, 1:612–613.

86.We now know that the attack on August 4 did not take place. See John Prados,ed., The Gulf of Tonkin Incident: 40 Years Later— Flawed Intelligence and theDecision for War in Vietnam, National Security Archive Electronic BriefingBook No. 132. For the full extent of declassifications on the Gulf of Tonkinincident by the National Security Agency, November 30–May 30, 2006, seehttp://www.nsa.gov/vietnam/index.cfm (accessed May 30, 2006).

87. See Zhai, China and the Vietnam Wars, 131. Lê Du*n made the request to thePRC head of state, Liu Shaoqi, for volunteer pilots and soldiers. See “Meetingbetween Liu Shaoqi and Lê Du*n” (April 2, 1965, Beijing), in 77 Conversationsbetween Chinese and Foreign Leaders on the Wars in Indochina, 1964–1977(hereafter 77 Conversations), eds. Odd Arne Westad et al. (Washington, DC:CWIHP, Woodrow Wilson Center, 1998), 85.

88. See Ilya V. Gaiduk, The Soviet Union and the Vietnam War (Chicago: Ivan R.Dee, Inc., 1996), 33.

89.At the same time, the VWP tried to launch a campaign in the South similar tothe 1950s land reform and organizational rectification program. However, the“Motivating the Peasants” campaign was eclipsed by the military picture andthe arrival of the Americans. The party needed to appeal to a broader base andthus played down the class-based nature of the revolution. See Elliott, TheVietnamese War, 2:737–795.

90.General Nguy#n Chí Thanh’s move to the South signified the beginning ofthe end of southern autonomy in the field of military matters. General Nguy#nChí Thanh had ensured that the PAVN answered to the party in the Northduring his term as director of the General Political Department, and he nowpromoted the same process in the South. See Thành Tín, M|t thut, 175.

91. The Eleventh Plenum of the VWP Central Committee in March 1965 offi-cially approved the acceleration of the war effort in response to the American-ization of the war but was ambiguous regarding the pace of the war. See Li.chsH Binh ChGng ThiCt Giáp Quân xzi Nhân Dân ViDt Nam (1959–1975) [TheHistory of the Artillery Forces of the PAVN (1959–1975)] (Hà N4i: Quân A4iNhân Dân, 1982), 37.

92. Lê Du*n to General Nguy#n Chí Thanh, February 1965, in Lê Du*n, Th} vàoNam [Letters to the South] (Hà N4i: Sl Th$t, 1985), 68–95. Although LêDu*n informed General Nguy#n Chí Thanh that he would soon receive thecontents of the Politburo’s resolution of early 1965 outlining the strategy that

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COSVN should adopt, the general secretary proceeded to give his personalopinion on the proper application of the resolution.

93. Lê Du*n to General Nguy#n Chí Thanh, May 1965, in Lê Du*n, Th} vàoNam, 96–114. This letter is a response to a series of questions that COSVNsent to the Politburo. Although Lê Du*n’s tone is less optimistic compared tothe February letter, he continues to advocate aggressive war and to rejectnegotiations.

94. See Lê A+c ThC’s articles that appeared in Nhân Dân, February 3–4, 1966,and were later broadcast over Radio Hà N4i on February 6, 1966. These arti-cles contain the most comprehensive discussion of the dissension in the partyregarding “pessimism over the war in the North, doubts on the war in theSouth, concern over the international support for the DRV position, and dis-agreements over balance between production and fighting.”

95. The “Three Readiness Campaign” [Ba sQn sàng] proposed by the VWP inApril 1965 was embraced by the people wholeheartedly. It called for “readinessto join the army, to partake in battle, to go wherever the fatherland deemsnecessary.” See Cao Ven LM/ng, ed., Li.ch sH ViDt Nam, 1965–1975 [The His-tory of Vietnam, 1965–1975] (Hà N4i: Khoa HCc Xã H4i, 2002), 18. The resultof the mobilization drive more than doubled the ranks of the PAVN.

96.See Lê A+c ThC’s article in Nhân Dân, February 5–6, 1966. Lê A+c ThC

alluded to this faction when he wrote that a “small number of comrades” hadfailed to realize the “deceptive nature” of the negotiations “plot.”

97.US intelligence estimates concluded that North Vietnam was “taking punish-ment in its own territory, but a price it can afford and one it probably considersacceptable in light of the political objectives it hopes to achieve.” See “TheVietnamese Communists’ Will to Persist—Summary and Principal FindingsOnly,” August 26, 1966, in National Intelligence Council, Estimative Productson Vietnam, 1948–1975 (Pittsburgh: Government Printing Office, 2005), 366.

98.“Capabilities of the Vietnamese Communists for Fighting in South Vietnam,”Special National Intelligence Estimate, November 13, 1967, in EstimativeProducts on Vietnam, 434. According to US estimates, approximately five to sixhundred thousand civilians in the DRV had been diverted to part- and full-time war-related activities.

99.War Experiences Recapitulation Committee of the High-Level MilitaryInstitute, The Anti-U.S. Resistance War for National Salvation 1954–1975:Military Events, trans. by Joint Publication Research Services (JPRS), (Hà N4i:People’s Army Publishing House, 1980), 68–69.

100.See Tr6n ThM, TH tù xH lP nzi bz [Sentenced to Death, Internal Settlement](California: Ven Ngh0 Publishers, 1996), 276.

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101. The militant leaders launched a campaign decrying Johnson’s first bombingpause of December 1965–January 1966 as a “dirty trick.” See Nhân Dân, Janu-ary 3, 1966; DRV Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) statement on January 4,1966; Quân xzi Nhân Dân [The People’s Army Daily] January 12, 1966;MOFA statement February 1, 1966. See also LMu Ven L/i, Cuzc tiCp xúc bímut ViDt Nam-Hoa KU tr}Rc Hzi Ngh] Pari [Secret Exchanges betweenVietnam-US before the Paris Conference] (Hà N4i: Vi0n Quan H0 Quhc T!,1990), 124–138. We now know that the Johnson administration initiated thebombing pause with the negative intention of proving that Hà N4i would notagree to talks. See George C. Herring, ed., The Secret Diplomacy of the Viet-nam War: The Negotiating Volumes of the Pentagon Papers (Austin: Universityof Texas Press, 1983), 110.

102. New Central and Eastern European Evidence on the Cold War in Asia, com-pact disc produced by George Washington University Cold War Group andThe Cold War History Research Center (Budapest, Hungary, 2003).

103.Jim Hershberg, MARIGOLD: Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam (Berkeleyand Los Angeles: University of California Press, forthcoming), 45, 65,68–69; and Who Murdered “Marigold”?—New Evidence on the MysteriousFailure of Poland’s Secret Initiative to Start U.S.-North Vietnamese PeaceTalks, 1966 (Washington, DC: CWIHP, Woodrow Wilson Center, 2000).According to Cecil Currey, Vg Nguyên Giáp was opposed to Hà N4i’s deci-sion to pass up on the opportunity for direct negotiations in 1965. See CecilCurrey, “Giap and Tet Mau Than 1968: The Year of the Monkey,” inGilbert and Head, The Tet Offensive (see note 2), 81. According to HoàngMinh Chính, it was common knowledge in the VWP that the Poles wereworking to set up peace talks between Hà N4i and Washington (HoàngMinh Chính, interview by author).

104.See Vg Nguyên Giáp, “CO nM&c m4t lòng k*y mfnh cu4c chi!n tranh yêunM&c vl kfi kiên quy!t kánh th:ng gi<c Mm xâm lM/c [The Will of the EntireCountry Strongly Pushes the Great Liberation Struggle to Defeat the InvadingAmericans],” HLc Tup 120, no. 1 (1966): 1–30.

105. Nhân Dân, December 22, 1965.106.Nguy#n Chí Thanh, “Cnng tác tM tM1ng trong quân và dân mijn Nam ta v&i

chi!n th:ng mùa khn 1965–1966 [Ideological Tasks of the Army and the Peopleof the South and the Victories of the 1965–1966 Dry Season],” HLc Tup 126, no.7 (1966): 1–10. In particular, Nguy#n Chí Thanh warns against devising strat-egy in the abstract [trSu t}Kng].

107.Lê Du*n wrote to COSVN in November 1965 that the struggle would have tobe a protracted one (Lê Du*n, Th} vào Nam, 115–157). See also “Translationof Absolutely Secret (Declassified) Letter Possibly Written by Le Duan, First

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Secretary of the Lao Dong Party Central Committee (Captured by units of the173rd Airborne brigade),” pp. 21–22, March 15, 1967, Folder 18, Box 06, DP:Unit 02—Military Operations, VA.

108.See Patrick McGarvey, Visions of Victory: Selected Vietnamese CommunistMilitary Writings, 1964–1968 (Stanford, CA: However Institution on War,Revolution and Peace, 1969), 7–16.

109.Ibid., 16.110. Ibid., 17.111. On PRC aid, see Qiang Zhai, China and the Vietnam Wars, 132–139; Chen

Jian, “Personal-Historical Puzzles about China and the Vietnam War,” in 77Conversations, 26. See also Bùi Tín, From Enemy to Friend (Annapolis, MD:Naval Institute Press, 2002), 99–100. On Soviet aid, see Gaiduk, The SovietUnion and the Vietnam War, 57–64, 79. The involvement of Soviet anti-aircraft artillery increased with the intensification of America’s air war in April,when B-52s were used against North Vietnam for the first time.

112. Regarding China’s pressure on Vietnam to apply Mao’s military strategy, see“Meeting between Zhou Enlai and Phfm Ven A)ng, Hoàng Tùng” (August 23,1966, Beijing); and “Meeting between Mao Zedong and Phfm Ven A)ng, VgNguyên Giáp” (April 11, 1967, Beijing) in 77 Conversations. On the SovietUnion’s role in setting up peace talks, see Herring, ed., The Secret Diplomacyof the Vietnam War, VI.C.3.

113. 77 Conversations, 89–91, 93–94, 101–104, 107–114, and 121–123.114. The Chinese agreed only to a system whereby Hà N4i had to pick up Russian

shipments at the Soviet-Chinese border and personally escort the goodsthrough PRC territory. When the Soviets asked for permission to transportplanes to Vietnam by flying over Chinese airspace, the Chinese refused andaccused the Soviets of wanting to pass on secrets to the Americans. See“Meeting between Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Qiao Guanhua andVietnamese Ambassador Ngn Minh Loan” (May 13, 1967, Bejing), in 77Conversations, 121–123.

115. See Vietnamese News Agency, April 25, 1966, for Phfm Ven A)ng’s speech toNorth Vietnamese National Assembly.

116. Document V: “Record of Czechoslovak Delegation Talks in Moscow Follow-ing Late September 1966 Visit to North Vietnam,” Central State Archive,Prague; CC CPCz Archive, fond 02 11, Sv. 10, Ar. J. 11, List. 20, b. 18 , fileNovotny, foreign affairs—Vietnam. Document provided by Oldrich Tuma andtranslated by Francis Raska in New Central and Eastern European Evidence(see note 100).

117. Yang Kuisong, Changes in Mao Zedong’s Attitude toward the Indochina War,32–34; Qiang Zhai, Beijing and the Vietnam Peace Talks, 1965–1968: New

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Evidence from Chinese Sources (Washington, DC: CWIHP, Woodrow WilsonCenter, 1997).

118. Quoted in Gaiduk, The Soviet Union and the Vietnam War, 80.119. Ibid., 96–97.120. According to Hoàng Minh Chính, Soviet and East European officials would

regularly come to see him both officially and informally at the Nguy#n ÁiQuhc Party School to ascertain the VWP revolutionary line (Hoàng MinhChính, interview by author).

121. Vi0n Lich S9 AOng [Institute of Party History], Li.ch sH biên niên XA Gy NamBz và Trung BLng Cu. c MiMn Nam (1954–1975) [The History of COSVN] (HàN4i: Chính Tri Quhc Gia, 2002), 573–574.

122. LMu Ven L/i, NJm m}Li nJm ngo\i giao ViDt Nam, 1945–1995 [50 Years ofVietnamese Diplomacy, 1945–1995], 2 vols. (Hà N4i: Cnng An Nhân Dân,1996), 1:259.

123. In May, Nguy#n Chí Thanh presided over COSVN’s fifth conference, whichconcluded that a “vigorous, continuous attack to destroy and expel enemyforces [was needed] to build up momentum to a General Offensive-GeneralUprising.” Guan, “Decision-Making Leading to the Tet Offensive,” 345 (see note 2).

124. The PLAF constituted the military arm of the NLF.125. “Nghi quy!t H4i nghi l6n th+ 14 cFa Trung oKng AOng [Resolution 14 of the

VWP Central Committee],” reprinted in VJn KiDn xyng [Party Documents],comp. AOng C4ng SOn [Communist Party], 39 vols. (Hà N4i: Chính Tri QuhcGia, 2004), 29:41–68.

126. The affair has also been called the “Hoàng Minh Chính affair” since HoàngMinh Chính was one of the first officials incarcerated in 1967.

127. Bùi Tín, interview by author, April 12, 2004, Fairfax, VA; Hoàng Minh Chính,interview by author. Both stated that it is impossible to understand the 1967Revisionist Anti-Party Affair without understanding the events of 1963.

128. Prior to his arrest, Hoàng Minh Chính had circulated a two hundred pagereport entitled “Vj chF nghla giáo kiju 1 Vi0t Nam [Dogmatism inVietnam].”

129. See Vu ThM Hiên, xêm giTa ban ngày. For a more comprehensive list of thesuspects of the Anti-Party Affair from 1963 to 1967, see Hoàng Minh Chính,“ThM ngS cFa cnng dân Hoàng Minh Chính [Open Letter of Citizen HoàngMinh Chính],” August 27, 1993, Hà N4i, reprinted in Thành Tín, M|t thut,387–388.

130. Transcript of Hà N4i Intelligence Figure’s News Conference, April 17, 1969,Folder 04, Box 02, DP: Unit 06, VA, pp. 1–3.

131. Ibid, 2.

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132. “Alleged Coup d’Etat Plot in Hà N4i: 1967, December 1967,” Folder 20, Box 1,DP: Unit 06, VA. The excerpt appeared in the captured notebook of a squadleader named TrM.ng of the 11th company, 30th battalion of the PAVN CapitalRegiment, found in South Vietnam in February 1970. The excerpt, which isbased on Lê A+c ThC’s classified report that was ratified at the end of 1967,appears to have been recorded by TrM.ng while he was on active duty in HàN4i on December 21, 1967.

133. The only work that does briefly mention a connection between the arrests andthe T!t Offensive is Don Oberdorfer, Tet! (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1971),65–66. However, Oberdorfer, writing only in 1971, incorrectly concludes thathad General Nguy#n Chí Thanh lived past 1967, the T!t Offensive would nothave been as violent.

134. According to Hoàng Minh Chính, the only way to debate the war in the Southwas through invoking Marx and Lenin in abstract terms (Hoàng Minh Chính,interview by author).

135. Gaiduk, The Soviet Union and the Vietnam War, 128.136. Stowe, ‘“Revisionnisme’ au Vietnam,” 60–61. See also Gaiduk, The Soviet

Union and the Vietnam War, 108–110. According to Gaiduk, Soviet observersnoted that by the spring of 1967, Hà N4i reoriented its policy toward a moremilitant stance and the previous interest in negotiations had declined.

137. Gaiduk, The Soviet Union and the Vietnam War, 130–132; and Sophie Quinn-Judge, “The Ideological Debate in the DRV and the Significance of the Anti-Party Affair, 1967–68” Journal of Cold War History 5, issue 4(November/December 2005): 485. The headway made after the Glassboromeeting abruptly stopped in August.

138. “Meeting between Zhou Enlai and Phfm Ven A)ng, Vg Nguyên Giáp” (April7, 1967, Beijing), in 77 Conversations, 100. See also Zhai, China and the Viet-nam Wars, 170–171, 178. In early April, the Vietnamese leaders intimated totheir Chinese allies that they were including “new” elements into their “strate-gic principle.” According to Zhai, the Vietnamese may have been discussingthe preliminary sketches of what would become the General Offensive andGeneral Uprising. At this point, Beijing approved of the Vietnamese launch-ing an attack in the dry season of 1968.

139. “Meeting between Mao Zedong and Phfm Ven A)ng, Vg Nguyên Giáp”(April 11, 1967, Beijing), in 77 Conversations, 105–106.

140. Ibid., 105.141. In June of 1968, during the second phase of the T!t Offensive, the Chinese

showed their displeasure with the North Vietnamese regarding the attacks onurban centers: “Your recent attacks on the cities were only aimed at restrainingthe enemy’s forces. . . . Yet they are not of a decisive nature. The Soviet

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revisionists are claiming that the attacks on Saigon are genuine offensives, thatthe tactics of using the countryside to encircle the urban areas are wrong andthat to conduct a protracted struggle is a mistake. In their opinion, only light-ening attacks on big cities are decisive. But if you do [that], the US will behappy as they can concentrate their forces for counter-attack, thus causinggreater destruction for you.” See “Meeting between Zhou Enlai and PhfmHùng” (June 29, 1968, Beijing), in 77 Conversations, 137–138.

142. See H) Khang, The TCt Muu Thân 1968, 27–29.143. “Alleged Coup d’Etat Plot in Hà N4i: 1967, December 1967,” Folder 20, Box 1,

DP: Unit 06, VA. 144. Not only was Hoàng Minh Chính accused of passing along state secrets to the

Soviet Union but General Nguy#n Ven Vinh, vice minister of defense anddirector of the National Reunification Committee, also discussed the extent ofChinese aid to Vietnam during a meeting with Soviet AmbassadorTcherbakov on June 13, 1967. On the Vietnamese communist party’s 1994 evi-dence, compiled in a report entitled “Hoa.t k4ng cTa m4t s5 th! llc thù .kich vàch5ng k5i [The activities of a number of the influential hostile opposition],”which included Hoàng Minh Chính’s activities in passing along secret Sino-Vietnamese transcripts and preparing traitorous theses, see Stowe, “‘Revision-nisme’ au Vietnam,” 66; and Sophie Quinn-Judge, “The Ideological Debate inthe DRV and the Significance of the Anti-Party Affair, 1967–68,” Journal ofCold War History 5, issue 4 (November/December 2005): 482. East Germandocuments reveal that DMKng Bfch Mai was an informant before his death in1964, and Polish documents allude to a Vietnamese informant providing intel-ligence regarding Hà N4i and Beijing’s positions on negotiations. SeeGrossheim, “Revisionism in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam,” 451–452;New Central and Eastern European Evidence (see note 100), particularlyPolish cyphergrams nos. 16274 and 288.

145. During the arrests, H) Chí Minh was in Beijing, where he was seeking med-ical treatment, and Vg Nguyên Giáp was in Hungary. See Quinn-Judge, “TheIdeological Debate in the DRV,” 482, 484–485. For an alternate view on theroles played by H) Chí Minh and Vg Nguyên Giáp during this period, seeGuan, “Decision-Making Leading to the Tet Offensive,” 346–348.

146.According to Bùi Tín, Lê Du*n, Lê A+c ThC, and Phfm Hùng tried to neu-tralize H) Chí Minh, Phfm Ven A)ng, and Vg Nguyên Giáp. The ringleader,Lê Du*n, held a deep grudge against Vg Nguyên Giáp, whom he felt hadrobbed him of a military role. In addition, “professional revolutionaries” whopossibly had “class” skeletons in the closet, such as Lê A+c ThC, may have hadpersonal reasons to resort to intimidation. See Bùi Tín, Following HO Chí Minh,32–34; and Thành Tín, M|t thut, 187–193.

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147. The circumstances surrounding General Nguy#n Chí Thanh’s death on July 6,1967, produced much speculation. Depending on the source, he died eitherunder US bombing, by poison, or by heart failure. At the time, Westernobservers believed that he had died in B-52 attacks. See Oberdorfer, Tet!, 44.On rumors that he was assassinated by Lê Du*n, see Hoàng Ven Hoan, ADrop in the Ocean: Hoang Van Hoan’s Revolutionary Reminiscences (Beijing:Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1988), 420. Bùi Tín (Following HO ChíMinh, 64) writes that General Nguy#n Chí Thanh died the day before he wasto return to the South via the H) Chí Minh Trail after suffering a heart attack.According to a recent Hà N4i publication, Nguy#n Chí Thanh’s widow,Nguy#n Thi Cúc, claims that he did not die from a heart attack but during thenight became ill for inexplicable reasons after a full day of meetings, with thelast including a visit to H) Chí Minh. See Nguy0t Tú, ChuyDn tình cGa cácchính khách ViDt Nam [Love Stories of Elder Vietnamese Statesmen](Hà N4i: Php N,, 2006), 68–84.

148. See Quinn-Judge, “The Ideological Debate in the DRV,” 487–488; Duiker,The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam, 267–270.

149.H) Khang, The TCt Muu Thân 1968, 30. 150. “Lê Du*n to the Sài Gòn-Gia Ainh Zone Party Committee, July 1, 1967,” in

Lê Du*n, Th} vào Nam, 158–188. At the Fourteenth Plenum in January 1968,Lê Du*n emphasized the ability of the revolution to hold onto Aà N8ng forseventy days during the uprisings as proof that urban centers were ripe for ageneral uprising. “Bài phát bi;u cFa A)ng chí Lê Du*n tfi H4i nghi l6n th+ 14Ban ch(p hành Trung MKng AOng Lao k4ng Vi0t Nam [Comrade Lê Du*n’sSpeech at the Fourteenth Plenum of the Central Committee of the VWP],”January 1968, reprinted in VJn KiDn xyng, 29:29–31.

151. H) Khang, The TCt Muu Thân 1968, 30.152. According to Quinn-Judge, Lê Du*n’s preference for concentrating on a gen-

eral uprising in the cities was not a hardline stance but rather represented amiddle path between engaging US-ARVN forces head-on and waging guerillawar in the countryside. She argues that compared to Lê A+c ThC and TrM.ngChinh, Lê Du*n had always adopted a more pragmatic and less ideologicalposition regarding the revolution in the South in order to build a broader baseof support for the reunification struggle. Quinn-Judge, “The IdeologicalDebate in the DRV,” 488–490. In my estimation, the manner in which the T!tOffensive unfolded, with its costly second and third waves, presided overdirectly by Lê Du*n, shows that although the general secretary’s ostensibleintention may have been to reduce casualties, his persistence in the face oftotal failure to achieve a general uprising speaks otherwise.

153. Elliott, The Vietnamese War, 2:1064.

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154. H) Khang, The TCt Muu Thân 1968, 31. The Politburo met from October 24 toOctober 27.

155. Tr6n Ven Trà, “T!t: The 1968 General Offensive and General Uprising,” inThe Vietnam War: Vietnamese and American Perspectives, 53. See also Tr6nBfch Aang, “M$u Thân – Sau 30 Nem Nhìn Lfi [1968 T!t – 30 Years Later inRetrospect],” in Thành ry-ry Ban Nhân Dân Thành Phh H) Chí Minh,VLSQSVN, Cuzc tvng tiCn công và nvi duy Muu Thân – 1968 [The M$u ThânGeneral Offensive and Uprising – 1968] (Hà N4i: Quân A4i Nhân Dân, 1998),101. According to a post-war study, the need to maintain strict secrecy was thereason for the delay in transmission. First, the PAVN General Staff sent a set offalse battle plans to southern battlefield commanders. By October–November,to prevent the real T!t battle plans from falling into enemy hands, keycommanders traveled to Hà N4i or special envoys from PAVN High Com-mand traveled South to pass on the plans verbally. See H) Khang, The TCtMuu Thân 1968, 53. However, this explanation still does not account for thedelay in transmission since DRV war leaders could have simultaneouslycarried on their deflectionary tactics and briefed southern commanders asearly as July.

156. One notable exception is Hoàng Ven Hoan, who defected to the PRC in 1979.157. See Lê A+c ThC, “Xây dlng AOng ki;u m&i mác-xit-lê-ni-nít v,ng mfnh cFa

giai c(p cnng nhân [Building the Party in a New Marxist-Leninist MannerThat Continues Strengthening the Role of the Worker],” HLc Tup 145, no. 2(1968): 31. See also TrM.ng Chinh, “A.i k.i nh& Kn Các Mác và ki con kM.ngCác Mác kã vfch ra [We Are Eternally Grateful to Karl Marx and the Path HeOpened],” pt. 1, HLc Tup 152, no. 9 (1968): 1–12; Ibid., pt. 2, HLc Tup 153, no. 10(1968): 10–53. See also “Notes on DRV Leaders Views on the Issues of War inthe South and Reconstruction in the North: The Limited Possibility of Inter-nal Dispute,” pp. 8–15, n.d., Folder 18, Box 01, JD, VA.

158. Quinn-Judge, “The Ideological Debate in the DRV,” 486.159. “Alleged Coup d’Etat Plot in Hanoi 1967, December 1967,” Folder 20, Box 1,

DP: Unit 06, VA. 160.Official estimates place civilian casualties at three to six thousand. For contem-

poraneous analyses of the “Hu! Massacre,” see D. Gareth Porter and Len E.Ackland, “Vietnam: The Bloodbath Argument,” The Christian Century,November 5, 1969: 1414–1417; Douglas Pike, The Viet Cong Strategy of Terror(Saigon: US Mission, 1970), 23–42. On October 16, 1968, Lê Du*n issued aPolitburo resolution that announced the change in leadership of the Tri-Thiên-Hu! Region Headquarters. See “Nghi quy!t cFa B4 Chính tri vjvi0c ki0n toàn t% ch+c và lãnh kfo cFa Khu Fy Tri-Thiên-Hu! [Politburo Resolution: Regarding Strengthening the Organizational Leadership of the

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Tri-Thiên-Hu! Zone Party Committee],” January 16, 1968, reprinted in VJnKiDn xyng, 29:478–491.

161. Elliott, The Vietnamese War, 2:1101–1119; 2:1126–1145.162. See Thành Tín, M|t thut, 177–181. 163. At the start of the second wave of attacks, enthusiasm in the countryside was

quite high. However, when it appeared that revolutionary forces would beunsuccessful in taking Sài Gòn a few weeks into May, the cadres returned tothe villages and refused to resume the fight. See Elliott, The Vietnamese War,2:1113–1114.

164.At the same time, the Politburo released a resolution in August entitled“Toward a General Uprising, General Offensive in South Vietnam,” whichrehashed Resolution 14 that had launched the T!t Offensive. According to theAugust 1968 resolution, the Politburo announced that the revolution had madesubstantial gains toward a general uprising–general offensive since the start ofthe year. See “Nghi quy!t cFa B4 Chính Tri: Vj t%ng kh1i nghla, t%ng cnngkích 1 mijn Nam [Politburo Resolution: Toward a General Uprising, GeneralOffensive in South Vietnam],” August 1968, reprinted in VJn KiDn xyng,29:393–444.

165. In fact, the results were disastrous for the NLF, which lost 80 percent of itsfighting force, resulting in approximately fifty thousand casualties on thecommunist side.

166.For a full discussion of Soviet activities, including the Moscow’s part in estab-lishing Paris as the locale for negotiations and in solving the “table” dispute inearly January 1969, see Gaiduk, The Soviet Union and the Vietnam War,150–193. On Chinese disparagement of Hà N4i’s decision to enter talks, see“Meeting between Zhou Enlai and Phfm Ven A)ng” (April 13–19, 1968,Beijing), in 77 Conversations, 123–129; “Meeting between Zhou Enlai andPhfm Hùng” (June 29, 1968, Beijing), in 77 Conversations, 137–138; “Meetingbetween Chen Yi and Lê A+c ThC” (October 17, 1968, Beijing), in 77 Conver-sations, 139–140.

167. In June 1968, the arrestees in the Revisionist Anti-Party Affair who refused toadmit guilt in return for pardon were transferred to a camp in SKn TâyProvince, where they endured harsh conditions in labor camps for the rest ofthe war. Throughout their five to eight years of imprisonment, they were neverofficially charged with specific crimes—other than being generally labeled asreactionaries and traitors—and their cases were never tried in court. Althoughthe arrestees who survived their confinement were released in 1972 and somelater in 1976, the stigma remained, making assimilation back into society diffi-cult. In 1981, prior to the Fifth Congress of the Vietnamese Communist Party,Hoàng Minh Chính and General A<ng Khu Giang submitted a statement

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that they were victims of injustice. Under the orders of Lê A+c ThC, both menwere imprisoned again, and General A<ng Khu Giang died in prison fromlack of medical attention. Hoàng Minh Chính was released in 1987 and againwrote statements regarding the abuses committed by the VWP in the 1960sand thus was placed under house arrest for another nine years. In 1993, HoàngMinh Chính penned an open letter to party and government organs on behalfof his case, as well as the others who were incarcerated in 1967, demandingrestitution and the posthumous assignment of guilt to Lê A+c ThC. On June14, 1996, Hoàng Minh Chính was finally released after spending another yearin jail. See Hoàng Minh Chính, “ThM ngS,” reprinted in Thành Tín, M|tthut, 371–388.

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