1. Introduction
    1. Audio
  2. Chapter I
    1. Audio
    2. Video
    3. Text
  3. Chapter II
    1. Audio
    2. Video
    3. Text
  4. Chapter III
    1. Audio
    2. Video
    3. Text
  5. Chapter IV
  6. Chapter V
    1. Audio
    2. Text
  7. Conclusion
  8. Appendix
    1. Audio
    2. Video
    3. Text
    4. Photo Gallery

December Bombing

From December 18 – 29 (with a 24 hour reprieve on Christmas Day) the United States Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps flew 3, 420 sorties over North Vietnam including up to 120 B-52 sorties per day. The ferocity of the bombings was unexpected and drew world-wide indignation. Most people falsely believed that the war was winding down and that the negotiations would continue until an agreement was signed. The massive bombing campaign seemed out of sync with the expectations of the last few months' worth of negotiations especially after Kissinger’s "peace is at hand" press conference. Over the course of the bombings the United States would lose fifteen B-52’s (14 more than had been lost in the war previously and 12% of the total force), thirteen tactical aircraft were shot down, and 31 crewman became POW’s and 93 were declared Missing in Action [MIA]. Although civilian targets were not intentionally targeted the bombings produced collateral damage. In Hanoi five different residential districts were heavily damaged, the Bach Mai hospital was destroyed, eight foreign embassies were damaged, and approximately 2,196 civilians were killed and 1,577 were wounded. The cost of the bombings was extremely high for both sides, and yet the impact of the bombings psychologically on the North Vietnamese was negligible according to an Air Force study conducted in April 1973.

Newspapers and politicians around the globe came out en masse to condemn President Nixon and the bombings. The New York Times' James Reston said it was "war by tantrum." The Daily Mirror proclaimed that the bombing was "an act of insane ferocity, a crude exercise in the politics of terror." The Times of London added to the outrage stating the bombing has "a particular horror because of its massive scale [and] its indiscriminate character." The Guardian asked if "Mr. Nixon wants to go down in history as one of the most bloodthirsty of American Presidents." Swedish Premeire Olof Palme compared the bombings to events of Guernica, Babi Yar, and Treblinka. Furthermore, he stated that "what is happening today in Vietnam is a form of torture." Leaders throughout Western Europe denounced the bombings and appealed to the United States to stop the bombing and continue the peace negotiations. The criticisms were not confined to foreign leaders, however, as Congressman and Senators came out against the bombings. Senator William B. Saxbe wondered if President Nixon had "taken leave of his senses." Senator Majority Leader Michael J. Mansfield called the bombings a "stone age tactic." The bombings according to Senator Ted Kennedy "should outrage the conscience of all Americans." The American public also disapproved as President Nixon’s approval rating dropped by 11%. Although some politicians and newspapers came out in support of President Nixon, they were effectively drowned out by the sheer volume of negative reports.

What is happening today in Vietnam is a form of torture.

--Swedish Premier Olof Palme

On December 26 North Vietnam agreed to resume the talks on January 2. President Nixon stopped bombing above the 20th parallel on December 29. Kissinger and Tho reconvened on January 8 and had a significant breakthrough the next day, Nixon’s birthday. Kissinger called President Nixon to extend birthday wishes and to tell him about the major developments. The talks concluded on January 13 and the final agreement represented a mix of the October and November agreements with some new compromises. Thieu remained resistant to signing an agreement until the very end, causing Nixon to proclaim that he "was living in a dream world," while Kissinger decreed that he was "demented." Thieu finally submitted to US demands on January 21. On January 27, twenty-eight years after America first became involved in the affairs of Vietnam, the agreement was officially signed and America's longest war ended.

In April 1975, twenty-seven months after the agreement was signed, North Vietnam defeated South Vietnam and united Vietnam under one communist government.

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