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Hanoi and Washington: The Vietnam War Essay

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Updated: Apr 14th, 2022


Vietnam War was a long time tussle between the northern and the southern region of Vietnam which culminated into one of the bloodiest wars of the time. America played a dominant role in this particular war with Hanoi and Washington waging war in an attempt to ensure that Vietnam was free from the domination of foreigners. This paper seeks to compare the ability of Hanoi and Washington in waging the war successfully.

Background Information

The Vietnam War was a conflict that was military in nature, occurred between the years 1954 and 1975, and was between the communists and the non-communists. The communists received immense support from China while the non-communists were supported by America.

The first war that preceded the Vietnam War was known as Indochina War where the Southern part of Vietnam was fighting to prevent from being united with the northern part under the policies of communism. When this war ended, these two factions were kept apart to prevent further damage and they were expected to remain that way until the next elections were held.

The Paris Agreement

In the year 1973, an agreement known as the Paris agreement was signed and this was meant to end the more than a decade war between the South Vietnamese and the North Vietnamese. Under this agreement, there are various issues that were agreed upon with Hanoi and Washington each stating their position regarding the issue.

There was an acrimonious agreement between Hanoi and Washington in the signing of the agreement although parties understood this agreement could have far-reaching consequences to both the North and the South Vietnam.

Though Hanoi and Washington were aware that this agreement could bring problems to the already warring factions, the events that had taken place earlier both parties to the agreement that such a move was the only way out considering the surrounding circumstances.

The provisions of the agreement were quite vague and thus not workable with both Washington and Hanoi ignoring the necessary factors of the agreement. To both parties, the most important aspect of the agreement at the time was to fulfil certain purposes for each side.

Washington on one hand was concerned in having the American prisoners released as well as being able to formally withdraw from participating ion the Vietnam and marinating the credibility that America had during the Cold War.

Hanoi on the other hand was more concerned on being able to force the forces from America to withdraw from the Vietnam War, ensuring that the revolution that was socialist in nature that was going to happen in North Vietnam was saved and being able to improve on prospects of reuniting the two warring factions.

Steps by Hanoi and Washington

In Washington, there was an elevation of diplomacy which was meant to ensure that the support that America was giving to South Vietnam was not in vain. Nixon, the then president of America placed great emphasis on steeping up diplomacy that there was manipulation of wars in Vietnam both in the air and the ground with the main aim being to ensure that the negotiation of the Paris were fulfilled.

Hanoi was in an equally swift move to ensure that all measures had been put in control. Diplomacy was also elevated but in this case, different strategies were adopted.

In the year 1972, having made keen observations of all that was taking place and with the flop of Spring Offensive came as a clear indication to Hanoi that it would not be practically possible to gain a victory through the military and that diplomacy was the only tool that they could use for an assured victory (Kissinger, 2003, p.543).

This was the same case with Washington who had realised that diplomacy was the only way that the bloody war which had lasted for so long could be ended with the terms and conditions being most favourable

The Paris Agreement had been signed by Washington and Hanoi with both parties being under extreme pressure due to all the surrounding circumstances one of them being military intervention. The Vietnam War had gone on for a very long time and thus had proven to be very costly for all the parties involved.

Neither of the parties seemed willing to back down on seeing their part of the bargain in the Paris Agreement being fulfilled. Hanoi was not accepting anything short of a solution that would serve to bring unity to the whole country of Vietnam (Kissinger, 2003, p. 456).

Due to the high cost that both parties encountered during the war, it became apparent that it would not be possible to fulfil some of the provisions of the agreement as each party was now concerned to ensue that their ambitions were met. Thus, the parties were only keen to honour the part of the agreement which favoured them while generally disregarding the letter and spirit of the agreement.

Interaction between Washington and Hanoi

These two sides had not always interacted or at least the interaction was not as frequent. It was only after the outcome of the Tet Offensive that the two sides began to hold talks both private and public.

For a period of close to years, the talks did not yield much other than the adoption of a decision to bring the bombing of Vietnam to an end. In the year 1970, Hanoi and Washington resumed talks and this time, they were more consistent and better outcome was realized. This is how the Paris Agreement of 1972 came to be.

Importance of Diplomacy in Vietnam War

As mentioned, there were a lot of negotiations and talks that were held between Hanoi and Washington regarding the Vietnam War. Looking keenly at all the vents that led to the Paris Agreement and later brought to and end decades of fighting between tow regions of one country, it is apparent that diplomacy was central in all these issued.

It is also argued by many scholars that the outcome of the Vietnam War was not as a result of the battles that were fought but more so, the diplomatic talks that were held between Washington and Hanoi (Levie, 2004, p.98). It was through the Paris Agreement that certain conditions were set and both parties were ready to out necessary measures in place to ensure that the war was brought to an end.


The Vietnam War was one of the bloodiest wars that were ever witnessed. This war saw a diplomatic clash of France and America both of whom had vested interests in Vietnam. However continued talks between America and France helped bring the Vietnam War to an end.


Kissinger, H. (2003). Ending the Vietnam War: a history of America’s involvement in and extrication from the Vietnam War. London: Simon and Schuster.

Levie, D. (2004). The Vietnam War. London: Twenty-First Century Books

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