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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Larry Berman's No Peace, No Honor provides a scorching inside look at the negotiations by which America ended its disastrous intervention in Vietnam. These took place on two separate tracks: There were official talks between the Americans, South Vietnamese, and North Vietnamese, as well as secretive discussions in Paris between Henry Kissinger (authorized by President Nixon) and Le Duc Tho. For years, the role played by these back-channel meetings was unclear. Now, as archives slowly open and documents are declassified, an army of historians is excavating the reality behind the myths. Berman is one of the first off the mark, and his detailed assessment leads to some harsh conclusions about American motives.
Nixon pursued a settlement with Hanoi that would "close the conflict with dignity," as Kissinger put it -- meaning that the blow to national ego would be too strong if we just pulled up stakes and left. Originally, this meant sending thousands of soldiers to prop up the Thieu regime in Saigon. But once domestic considerations dictated that America bring its boys home -- pressure brought to bear by the peace movement and Congress -- Berman shows how Kissinger and Nixon were ready to sell out even Thieu. One gets the feeling that however repugnant Thieu might have been, he had every right to suspect American motives. Indeed, the South was overrun immediately after the last embassy personnel left Saigon on April 30, 1975. And contrary to understandings that America would resume its intervention if that happened, the South was left to its fate.
Berman sifted through an incredible array of papers and transcripts to piece together what really happened during the negotiations. "This story of diplomatic deception and public betrayal has come to light only because of the release of documents and tapes that Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger sought to bury for as long as possible," he explains. While Berman's writing tends to be dry, this is a powerful study of how American foreign policy was cynically grounded in domestic political considerations; Nixon's reelection efforts constantly dictated his handling of the situation in Indochina, especially his refusal to be seen as "having lost" the war. (Jonathan Cook)
Jonathan Cook lives in New York City.