We said we would resume bombing if the North Vietnams attacked in violation of the agreement. We said that we would provide full diplomatic support to South Vietnam, as well as military and economic assistance. We said that we were working on the Chinese and the Russians to isolate Hanoi and try to push them to stop, if possible, aid to the North Vietnams, and that was clearly our intention. There was also the full dimension of aid, where we agreed with the North Vietnams that we would help them rebuild their country. So they tried to exhaust us. They would come, essentially as part of their negotiating style, to listen to our positions and see if the United States would make more concessions and get closer to what it wanted. This has resulted in other controversies, exacerbated by the fact that Hanoi began to violate the 1973 Paris Agreement from the beginning. These violations were quite egregious, and then the North Vietnams degenerated by blatantly breaking the ceasefire agreement. In those circumstances, we were not about to help North Vietnam, which we couldn`t get out of Congress anyway. This incentive for Hanoi is therefore rapidly deteriorating.
Whatever its inadequacies, and there have been serious, the psychological and military consequences on limiting and stopping our aid have been devastating. And of course, he encouraged Hanoi. That is how we resumed negotiations in early January 1973. Things were moving pretty fast. The North Vietnamese stopped telling us that certain topics could not be discussed and stopped introducing new claims, so we did not diminish. We have achieved some of our goals of some importance. We have not really made any significant changes to the agreement. The agreement was slightly better in some areas. We had to make sure that we got our prisoners back from Laos and Cambodia, and we tried to get the communists to withdraw their troops from there and extend a ceasefire. So that was a problem.
Another problem is that military aid to both sides was able to continue after a ceasefire. Then there were the details of the international surveillance system and the status of the DMZ [demilitarized zone]. It was the real dividing line between north and south Vietnam. On January 27, 1973, a ceasefire came into effect in Vietnam and the last American soldiers left on March 29. In the hours and days leading up to their release, the prisoners imagined their future lives. Alvarez dreamed of a “return to a normal life” where “we would make our own decisions and set our own agendas.” Waiting for daily activities — getting in a car and off a highway or riding in a haystack — filled it with “sparkling anticipation.” I would get up whenever I wanted, make my own selection of clothes, eat whatever I wanted, and go wherever I wanted. It was crazy. Anyway, we were very depressed because of Thieus` reaction. We were nervous when hell exploded about this deal. We had President Nixon and Al Haig beat us up, and we had this communication jam because of the jet lag and delays caused by communications and the dual encryption process. We have always been a message behind these things.
Paris Peace Talks: In 1967, when American troops reached 500,000 in Vietnam, the protest against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War intensified, with more and more Americans questioning whether the United States was involved.