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Vietnam War History

Past, Present and Future

Conflict in Southeast Asia, primarily fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerrilla forces aided by North Vietnam. The war began soon after the Geneva Conference provisionally divided (1954) Vietnam at 17 N lat. into the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). It escalated from a Vietnamese civil war into a limited international conflict in which the United States was deeply involved, and did not end, despite peace agreements in 1973, until North Vietnam's successful offensive in 1975 resulted in South Vietnam's collapse and the unification of Vietnam by the North. Geneva Conference Any of various international meetings held at Geneva, Switzerland. Some of the more important ones are discussed here. International conference held April-July, 1954, to restore peace in Korea and Indochina. The chief participants were the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, the People's Republic of China, North Korea, South Korea, Vietnam, the Viet Minh party, Laos, and Cambodia. No agreement was reached on transforming the Korean armistice into a permanent peace, but three agreements were reached providing for an armistice and political settlement in Indochina. The so-called Summit Conference, held in July, 1955, was an attempt to restore mutual trust between East and West. President Dwight D. Eisenhower (United States), Premier Nikolai Bulganin and First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev (Soviet Union), Prime Minister Anthony Eden (Great Britain), and Premier Edgar Faure (France) discussed German reunification, European security, disarmament, and cultural and economic interchange. Although no substantive agreements were reached, the meeting closed on a note of optimism. Directives were issued for a meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries to be held later that year to reach agreement on German reunification, disarmament, and other issues. For the Geneva conferences of foreign ministers in 1955 and 1959.  Conference beginning Oct., 1958, between Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union, held in an attempt to reach an accord on banning tests of nuclear weapons. Since then, most international meetings held at Geneva have concerned the basic problems of the limitation of nuclear arms and provisions for international inspection and control. The UN Disarmament Commission, which began meeting in Geneva in 1960, has met there permanently since 1962. Causes and Early Years

In part, the war was a legacy of France's colonial rule, which ended in 1954 with the French army's catastrophic defeat at Dienbienphu and the acceptance of the Geneva Conference agreements. Elections scheduled for 1956 in South Vietnam for the reunification of Vietnam were cancelled by President Ngo Dinh Diem. His action was denounced by Ho Chi Minh, since the Communists had expected to benefit from them. After 1956, Diem's government faced increasingly serious opposition from the Viet Cong, insurgents aided by North Vietnam. The Viet Cong became masters of the guerrilla tactics of North Vietnam's Vo Nguyen Giap. Diem's army received U.S. advice and aid, but was unable to suppress the guerrillas, who established a political organization, the National Liberation Front (NLF) in 1960. Ho Chi Minh

1890-1969, Vietnamese nationalist leader, president of North Vietnam (1954-69). His given name was Nguyen That Thanh. In 1911 he left Vietnam, working aboard a French liner. He later lived in London and in the United States during World War I before going to France near the end of the war. There he became involved in the French socialist movement and was (1920) a founding member of the French Communist party. He studied revolutionary tactics in Moscow, and, as a Comintern member, was sent (1925-27) to Guangzhou, China. While in East Asia, he organized Vietnamese revolutionaries and founded the Communist party of Indochina (later the Vietnamese Communist party). In the 1930s, Ho lived mainly in Moscow and China. He finally returned to Vietnam after the outbreak of World War II, organized a Vietnamese independence movement (the Viet Minh), and raised a guerrilla army to fight the Japanese. He proclaimed the republic of Vietnam in Sept., 1945, and later agreed that it would remain an autonomous state within the French Union. Differences with the French, however, soon led (1946) to an open break. Warfare lasted until 1954, culminating in the French defeat at Dienbienphu. After the Geneva Conference (1954), which divided Vietnam at the 17th parallel, Ho became the first president of the independent republic of North Vietnam. The accord also provided for elections to be held in 1956, aimed at reuniting North and South Vietnam; however, South Vietnam, backed by the United States, refused to hold the elections. The reason was generally held to be that Ho's popularity would have led to reunification under Communist rule. In succeeding years, Ho consolidated his government in the North. He organized a guerrilla movement in the South, the National Liberation Front, or Viet Cong, which was technically independent of North Vietnam, to win South Vietnam from the successive U.S.-supported governments there. See biographies by Jean Lacouture (1968), David Halberstam (1971), Jean Sainteny (1972), Charles Fenn (1974), and Dana O. Lloyd (1986). Viet Minh Officially Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh [League for the Independence of Vietnam], a coalition of Communist and nationalist groups that opposed the French and the Japanese during World War II. The Viet Minh spearheaded Vietnamese resistance to French rule in the French Indochina War (1946-54). The organization was soon dominated by Communists, and in 1951 its Communist elements were absorbed by the Communist party of North Vietnam. Ngo Dinh Diem 1901-63, president of South Vietnam (1955-63). A member of an influential Roman Catholic family, he was a civil servant before World War II and was connected with the nationalists during the war. He repeatedly refused high office with the government of Bao Dai until 1954, when he became prime minister. In 1955 he controlled a referendum that abolished the monarchy and emerged as South Vietnam's ruler. With strong backing from the United States, Diem initially made some progress, but his favoritism toward his family and toward Roman Catholics over Buddhists caused substantial criticism by the early 1960s. Opposition grew as Diem's authoritarianism increased and as South Vietnam's position in the Vietnam War deteriorated. With the apparent connivance of the U.S. government, a group of dissident generals staged a coup in 1963, and Diem was murdered during the takeover. Bao Dai 1913-, Emperor of Annam (1926-45) and chief of state of Vietnam (1949-55). Born Prince Nguyen Vinh Thuy, he was the son of Emperor Khai Din and succeeded to the throne in 1926, but did not occupy it until 1932. Bao Dai cooperated with both the Vichy French and Japanese during World War II but in 1945 the Viet Minh nationalists under Ho Chi Minh forced his resignation. The emperor returned in 1949 as head of the new state of Vietnam, which included Annam plus Tonkin and Cochin China. After Vietnam's partition (1954) he accepted Ngo Dinh Diem as prime minister. In 1955 Diem engineered a referendum that abolished the monarchy and assumed control. Bao Dai subsequently lived in exile, primarily in France. Dienbienphu Former French military base, N Vietnam, near the Laos border. It was the scene in 1954 of the last great battle between the French and the Viet Minh forces of Ho Chi Minh in Indochina. The French occupied the base by parachute drop in Nov., 1953; this move prevented a Viet Minh thrust into Laos and provided support for indigenous forces opposing the Viet Minh in that area. Although the base could be supplied only by air, the French military felt its position was tenable. Weary of inconclusive guerrilla warfare, they were willing to invite an open Viet Minh attack in an area where their superior weaponry could be used to full advantage. The Viet Minh army, under the command of Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, chose to engage the French, and by March, 1954, some 49,500 Viet Minh troops had encircled Dienbienphu, where some 13,000 soldiers, under the leadership of Col. (later Gen.) Christian de Castries, were firmly entrenched in strong positions. The first Viet Minh assault came on March 13, and by the end of April, despite massive French air bombardment, the French defense area had been reduced to 2 sq mi (5 sq km). Desperate pleas for U.S. intervention were unsuccessful, and on May 7, after a 56-day siege, the French positions fell. This defeat signaled the end of French power in Indochina. Viet Cong Officially Viet Nam Cong San [Vietnamese Communists], People's Liberation Armed Forces in South Vietnam. The term was originally applied by Diem's regime to Communist troops (about 10,000) left in hideouts in South Vietnam after the Geneva Conference of 1954, following the French Indochina War (1946-54). Most Communist troops, according to the agreements, had withdrawn to North Vietnam. Supported and later directed by North Vietnam, the Viet Cong first tried subversive tactics to overthrow the South Vietnamese regime, then resorted to open warfare. They were subsequently reinforced by huge numbers of North Vietnamese troops infiltrating south, and aided in the reunification of Vietnam following the collapse of South Vietnam in 1975. U.S. Involvement

In 1961, South Vietnam signed a military and economic aid treaty with the United States leading to the arrival (1961) of U.S. support troops and the formation (1962) of the U.S. Military Assistance Command. Mounting dissatisfaction with the ineffectiveness and corruption of Diem's government culminated (Nov., 1963) in a military coup engineered by Duong Van Minh; Diem was executed. No one was able to establish control in South Vietnam until June, 1965, when Nguyen Cao Ky became premier, but U.S. military aid to South Vietnam increased, especially after the U.S. Senate passed the Tonkin Gulf resolution (Aug. 7, 1964) at the request of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

In early 1965, the United States began air raids on North Vietnam and on Communist-controlled areas in the South; by 1966 there were 190,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam. North Vietnam, meanwhile, was receiving armaments and technical assistance from the Soviet Union and other Communist countries. Despite massive U.S. military aid, heavy bombing, the growing U.S. troop commitment (which reached nearly 550,000 in 1969), and some political stability in South Vietnam after the election (1967) of Nguyen Van Thieu as president, the United States and South Vietnam were unable to defeat the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces. Optimistic U.S. military reports were discredited in Feb., 1968, by the costly and devastating Tet offensive of the North Vietnamese army and the Viet Cong, involving attacks on more than 100 towns and cities and a month-long battle for Hue in South Vietnam. Hue City (1990 est. pop. 211,000), former capital of the historic region of Annam, Vietnam, in a rich farming area on the Hue River near the South China Sea. Probably founded in the 3d cent. a.d. , Hue was occupied in turn by the Chams and the Annamese. After the 16th cent. it was the seat of a dynasty that extended its power over S Annam, modern Cochin China, and parts of Cambodia and Laos. The first king of Vietnam, Nguyen Anh, was crowned there in 1802, and shortly thereafter Hue became the capital of the new kingdom, emerging as an artistic and literary center. The French occupied the city in 1883. During World War II the Japanese mined iron ore in the area. In the Vietnam War, Hue was the scene of the longest and heaviest fighting of the Tet offensive (Jan.-Feb., 1968); some 4,000 civilians were killed and most of the city, including the palaces and tombs of the former Annamese kings, was destroyed. Much of the city has been rebuilt. Hue has an important airport and is the seat of the Univ. of Hue. Duong Van Minh 1916-, Vietnamese army officer and political leader. A military advisor (1962-63) to President Diem, he helped to overthrow Diem in 1963. He was head of government (1963-64), after which he went into exile. Minh returned in 1968, serving as an opposition leader against President Thieu. A presidential candidate in 1971, Minh withdrew, charging election rigging. He returned briefly as President in 1975, in an unsuccessful conciliation effort but was placed in detention after the Communist takeover. Nguyen Van Thieu  1923, president of the former Republic of South Vietnam (196775). After World War II, he joined the Viet Minh, but then left it to join the South Vietnamese National Army (ARVN). He rose rapidly, becoming a division commander. In 1963, he helped lead the coup d'tat overthrowing President Diem. Together with Nguyen Cao Ky, Thieu was a leading force in a succession of South Vietnamese governments from 1963 to 1967. He was elected president in 1967 and retained office in a controversial election in 1971. Thieu was reluctant to sign the Paris Agreement (1973) until promised U.S. military aid. When North Vietnam launched an offensive in 1975, no aid was forthcoming, and Thieu abandoned the northern half of the country, leading to a rout. He left for exile in Taiwan and then Great Britain days before the Communist victory. Tonkin Gulf resolution In U.S. history, Congressional resolution passed in 1964 that authorized military action in Southeast Asia. On August 4, 1964, North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin were alleged to have attacked without provocation U.S. destroyers that were reporting intelligence information to South Vietnam. President Lyndon B. Johnson and his advisers decided upon immediate air attacks on North Vietnam in retaliation; he also asked Congress for a mandate for future military action. On August 7, Congress passed a resolution drafted by the administration authorizing all necessary measures to repel attacks against U.S. forces and all steps necessary for the defense of U.S. allies in Southeast Asia. Although there was disagreement in Congress over the precise meaning of the Tonkin Gulf resolution, Presidents Johnson and Richard M. Nixon used it to justify later military action in Southeast Asia. The measure was repealed by Congress in 1970. U.S. Withdrawal

Serious negotiations to end the war began after U.S. President Lyndon Johnson's decision not to seek reelection in 1968. Contacts between North Vietnam and the United States in Paris in 1968 were expanded in 1969 to include South Vietnam and the NLF. The United States, under the leadership of President Richard M. Nixon, altered its tactics to combine U.S. troop withdrawals with intensified bombing and the invasion of Communist sanctuaries in Cambodia (1970).

The length of the war, the high number of U.S. casualties, and the exposure of U.S. involvement in war crimes such as the massacre at My Lai (see My Lai incident) helped to turn many in the United States against the war. Politically, the movement was led by Senators James William Fulbright, Robert F. Kennedy, Eugene J. M c Carthy, and George S. M c Govern; there were also huge public demonstrations in Washington, D.C., as well as in many other cities in the United States and on college campuses.

Even as the war continued, peace talks in Paris progressed, with Henry Kissinger as U.S. negotiator. A break in negotiations followed by U.S. saturation bombing of North Vietnam did not derail the talks, and a peace agreement was reached, signed on Jan. 27, 1973, by the United States, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the NLF's provisional revolutionary government. The accord provided for the end of hostilities, the withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops (several Southeast Asia Treaty Organization countries had sent token forces), the return of prisoners of war, and the formation of a four-nation international control commission to ensure peace. My Lai incident In the Vietnam War, a massacre of Vietnamese civilians by U.S. soldiers. On March 16, 1968, a unit of the U.S. army Americal division, led by Lt. William L. Calley, invaded the South Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai (more correctly, Son My), an alleged Viet Cong stronghold. In the course of combat operations, unarmed civilians, including women and children, were shot to death (the final army estimate for the number killed was 347). The incident remained unknown to the American public until the autumn of 1969, when a series of letters by a former soldier to government officials forced the army to take action. Several soldiers and veterans were charged with murder, and a number of officers were accused of dereliction of duty for covering up the incident. Special investigations by the U.S. army and the House of Representatives concluded that a massacre had in fact taken place. Of the many soldiers originally charged, only five were court-martialed, and one, Lt. Calley, convicted. On March 29, 1971, he was found guilty of the premeditated murder of at least twenty-two Vietnamese civilians and sentenced to life imprisonment. His sentence was later reduced to 10 years, and in Sept., 1974, a Federal district court overturned the conviction and Calley was released. The My Lai incident aroused widespread controversy and contributed to growing disillusionment in the United States with the Vietnam War. In Nov., 1974, the U.S. army formally released a report on its investigation of the incident. See Richard Hammer, The Court-Martial of Lt. Calley (1971); S. M. Hersh, Mylai 4 (1970) and Cover-up (1972). Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), Alliance organized (1954) under the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty by representatives of Australia, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and the United States. Established under Western auspices after the French withdrawal from Indochina, SEATO was created to oppose further Communist gains in Southeast Asia. The treaty was supplemented by a Pacific Charter, affirming the rights of Asian and Pacific peoples to equality and self-determination and setting forth goals of economic, social, and cultural cooperation between the member countries. The civil and military organizations established under the treaty had their headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand. SEATO relied on the military forces of member nations and joint maneuvers were held annually. SEATO's principal role was to sanction the U.S. presence in Vietnam, although France and Pakistan withheld support. Unable to intervene in Laos or Vietnam due to its rule of unanimity, the future of the organization was in doubt by 1973, and SEATO was ultimately disbanded in 1977. End of the War

Fighting between South Vietnamese and Communists continued despite the peace agreement until North Vietnam launched an offensive in early 1975. South Vietnam's requests for aid were denied by the U.S. Congress, and after Thieu abandoned the northern half of the country to the advancing Communists, a panic ensued. South Vietnamese resistance collapsed, and North Vietnamese troops marched into Saigon April 30, 1975. Vietnam was formally reunified in July 1976, and Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. U.S. casualties in Vietnam during the era of direct U.S. involvement (1961-72) were more than 50,000 dead; South Vietnamese dead were estimated at more than 400,000, and Viet Cong and North Vietnamese at over 900,000. Ho Chi Minh City City (1989 pop. 3,169,135), on the right bank of the Saigon River, a tributary of the Dong Nai, Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city, the greatest port, and the commercial and industrial center of Vietnam. It has an airport and is the focus of the country's highways, railroads, and Mekong delta waterways. An ancient Khmer settlement, Saigon passed (17th cent.) to the Annamese. It was captured by the French in 1859 and ceded to France in 1862. A small village at the time of the French conquest, Saigon became a modern city under French rule. It was laid out in rectilinear fashion with wide, tree-lined avenues and parks, and soon developed a reputation for its beauty and cosmopolitan atmosphere. It was capital of Cochin China and from 1887 to 1902 was capital of the Union of Indochina. For administrative purposes Saigon and Cholon, on opposite banks of the Saigon River, were merged in 1932; in 1956 the two cities were included in the new prefecture of Saigon. Saigon became the capital of the newly created state of South Vietnam in 1954. In the Vietnam War it served as military headquarters for U.S. and South Vietnamese forces. It suffered considerable damage during the 1968 Tet offensive. Throughout the 1960s and early 70s at least a million refugees from the rural areas poured into the city, creating serious housing problems and overcrowding. In 1975 after Saigon surrendered and Vietnam was reunited under the prevailing Communist government, the city lost its status as capital and was renamed after the late North Vietnamese president. The local economy of Ho Chi Minh City was disrupted during the early years of the new regime, which curtailed foreign investment and promoted collectivization. In the 1980s, conditions improved as the city gradually adapted to the new system and the government relaxed its economic policy. The city is the seat of Ho Chi Minh Univ. and a national theater. Cochin China Historic region (c.26,500 sq mi/68,600 sq km) of Vietnam, SE Asia. The capital and chief city was Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). Cochin China was bounded by Cambodia on the northwest and north, by the historic region of Annam on the northeast, by the South China Sea on the east and south, and by the Gulf of Thailand on the west. It included the rich Mekong delta, one of the world's great rice-growing regions, and, in the northeast, the southern spurs of the Annamese Cordillera, where rubber, coffee, tea, oil palm, and sugarcane plantations were established. Only the Plaine des Joncs [reed plain] and the mangrove-covered Ca Mau peninsula were not cultivated. Cochin China was originally part of the Khmer Empire. In the 17th cent. the Annamese (later called Vietnamese) gradually infiltrated through the mouths of the Mekong, increasing their commercial influence until they became masters of the region in the middle of the 18th cent. After the French occupied Saigon (1859), Annam ceded to France both E Cochin China (1862) and W Cochin China (1867). Unlike the other sections of Indochina, which were French protectorates under native rulers, Cochin China was administered by the French as a colony; thus, French influence was strongest there. After World War II the status of Cochin China became a major issue in the relations between France and Vietnam. Constituted (1946) as an independent republic within the Federation of Indochina, Cochin China was later (1949) permitted by the French to join with Annam and Tonkin in Vietnam. After 1954, when Vietnam was partitioned, Cochin China became the heartland of South Vietnam; it was later divided into several Cholon City, since 1932 part of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; on the right bank of the Saigon River, a tributary of the Dong Nai. Cholon is the Chinese section of Ho Chi Minh City; it is connected to the city's left bank by road, rail, and canal waterways. It is an industrial center with many rice mills and factories. Founded c.1780 by Chinese immigrants seeking to escape the civil disorders of Annam, it became a busy trading port long before Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) was developed by the French. It is still largely a Chinese city, containing a large portion of Vietnam's entire Chinese population. Heavy fighting there during the 1968 Tet offensive in the Vietnam War severely damaged the city. Council of Foreign Ministers The organization of the foreign ministers of the World War II Alliesthe United States, Great Britain, France, and the USSRthat, in a long series of meetings, attempted to reach political settlements after the war. In accordance with the agreements reached at the Potsdam Conference, the ministers of Great Britain, the USSR, and the United States met in London and then at Moscow in 1945 in efforts to conclude peace treaties with those countries that had aided Germany's aggression.

In the first meeting at London there was a great deal of conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States over the latter's role in the occupation of Japan, and little was accomplished. At the Moscow Conference it was decided to draft peace treaties with Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Finland and to establish an 11-power Far Eastern Commission and a 4-power Allied Council for Japan. Despite difficulties and protracted quarrels over procedure, the council (to which France was admitted in 1946) reached agreement at the next conference in Paris (1946). The final peace treaties with Italy, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Finland were drafted, and the remaining difficulties concerning the Free Territory of Trieste were resolved at another meeting in New York (Nov.-Dec., 1946).

In March-April, 1947, the foreign ministers met again in Moscow to discuss peace treaties with Germany and Austria, but the only agreement reached was on the formal dissolution of the Land [state] of Prussia (a large part of which had already been annexed by the Soviet Union and Poland). Another attempt to reach agreement on Germany and Austria failed when the foreign ministers met at London (Nov.-Dec., 1947); at this meeting there was a marked deterioration in the relations between the USSR and the other three powers. A new meeting (Sept., 1948) at Paris, regarding the disposition of the former Italian colonies, also reached no conclusions.

The council was revived in May-June, 1949, when the foreign ministers, meeting at Paris, reached an agreement ending the Soviet blockade of Berlin but again failed to agree on German reunification. In Jan.-Feb., 1954, the foreign ministers met in Berlin to discuss German reunification and an Austrian peace treaty. Although this conference ended in deadlock, the ministers agreed to the calling of the Geneva Conference of 1954 to discuss peaceful settlement of the Korean question. They agreed on an Austrian peace treaty the following year in Vienna. The foreign ministers met during the Geneva Summit Conference of July, 1955, and again in Geneva later in the year. On neither occasion, however, could they reach agreement on the principal topics for discussionGerman reunification, European security, and disarmament.

In 1959 tension over Berlin led to another foreign ministers' conference in Geneva. The Western powers insisted that a German peace treaty be signed only after Germany was united through free elections; that the four-power occupation of Berlin be maintained until Berlin again became the capital of a united Germany; and that any European security plan be linked to progress in German reunification. The Soviet Union proposed that West Berlin be transformed into a demilitarized free city; that separate peace treaties be signed with the two German regimes; and that a zone be established in Central Europe within which arms and troops would be limited or banned. After failing to reach any agreement the conference recessed for an indefinite period. In June, 1972, however, the foreign ministers of the four powers did sign a comprehensive agreement on Berlin, worked out over the previous two years. It regularized West Berlin's status and its relationships with East and West Germany and paved the way for East and West German entry into the United Nations and the normalization of relations between the two German states. Potsdam Conference A meeting (July 17-Aug. 2, 1945) of the principal Allies in World War II (the United States, the USSR, and Great Britain) to clarify and implement agreements previously reached at the Yalta Conference. The chief representatives were President Truman, Premier Stalin, Prime Minister Churchill, and, after Churchill's defeat in the British elections, Prime Minister Attlee. The foreign ministers of the three nations were also present. The so-called Potsdam Agreement transferred the chief authority in Germany to the American, Russian, British, and French military commanders in their respective zones of occupation and to a four-power Allied Control Council for matters regarding the whole of Germany. The Allies set up a new system of rule for Germany, aimed at outlawing National Socialism and abolishing Nazi ideology, at disarming Germany and preventing its again becoming a military power, and at fostering democratic ideals and introducing representative and elective principles of government. The German economy was to be decentralized, and monopolies were to be broken up; the development of agriculture was to be emphasized in reorganizing the German economy. All former German territory E of the Oder and Neisse rivers was transferred to Polish and Soviet administration, pending a final peace treaty. The German population in these territories and in other parts of Eastern Europe was to be transferred to Germany. A mode for German reparations payments was outlined. A Council of Foreign Ministers was established to consider peace settlements. The so-called Potsdam Declaration issued (July 26) by the conference presented an ultimatum to Japan, offering that nation the choice between unconditional surrender and total destruction. (The atom bomb was not actually mentioned.) Rarely was any agreement so consistently breached as was the Potsdam Agreement. The work of the Allied Control Council for Germany was at first blocked by France, which did not feel bound by an agreement to which it had not been party; the council had not even begun to function when the rift caused by the cold war broke it up. The vague wording and tentative provisions of the Potsdam Agreement, allowing a wide range of interpretation, have been blamed for its failure. Bibliography

See David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest (1972); Guenter Lewy, America in Vietnam (1978); Robert Komer, Bureaucracy at War (1985); William S. Turley, The Second Indochina War (1986); Bui Diem, In the Jaws of History (1987); R. B. Smith, An International History of the Vietnam War (2 vol., 1987); Otto Lehrach, No Shining Armor (1992).