US policy towards Indochina, 1973-6
Kadura, Johannes Felix Peter
University of Cambridge
Faculty of History
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Kadura, J. F. P. (2012). US policy towards Indochina, 1973-6 (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11710
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The topic of my doctoral dissertation is Washington's Indochina policy from 1973-6. My thesis seeks to shed new light on the period and aims to clarify the central points that have been raised in the surrounding academic controversy. In the study it is argued that neither the so-called "decent interval" nor the "permanent war" theory adequately captures Nixon and Kissinger's post-Paris Agreement strategy. Moreover, my study attempts to highlight both the accuracy and shortcomings of Nixon and Kissinger' s own accounts. In so doing, it aims to offer a new interpretation of Nixon, Kissinger, and later Ford's Indochina policy that centers on the concept of an "insurance policy." In my disse1tation it is argued that the protagonists followed a twofold strategy of making a major effort to uphold South Vietnam while at the same time maintaining a fallback strategy of downplaying the overall significance of Vietnam, stressing good relations with the Soviets' and Chinese, and creating an image of touglmess to counterbalance possible defeat in Indochina. In addition to telling the story of the "war after the war" in Vietnam, my dissertation places Nixon, Kissinger, and Ford's Indochina policy in the broader Cold War context of the 1970s. Contrary to previous analyses, it is argued in the study that the three men's concern with great power relations and American credibility does not seem to have led to a simplistic understanding of the situation in Indochina. Moreover, the link between domestic and foreign policy constitutes a central element of my analysis. While it is concluded that Nixon and Kissinger rightly considered the Watergate scandal as the detennining factor for the actual passage of the long-sought congressional funding cuts for Indochina, it is also argued that Watergate was a self-inflicted mistake rather than a tragedy. More generally speaking, it is maintained that domestic political considerations were important on Nixon, Kissinger, and Ford's side, but did not oveITide the protagonists' foreign policy concerns. Finally, my doctoral dissertation provides a reevaluation of Ford that stresses the president's agent role in implementing a hawkish Indochina policy. In sum, my analysis of Washington's Indochina policy highlights Nixon, Kissinger, and Ford's concern with flexibility and their attempt to respond to the challenges of the turbulent 1970s with a coherent, adaptable realpolitik.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11710
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