Thursday, June 24, 2010

New FRUS Volume on Vietnam, January-October, 1972

The Department of State's Office of the Historian today announced the Release of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume VIII, Vietnam, January-October, 1972.

Excellent! This volume is full of deep, deep, inside foreign policy matters and candid discussions the likes of which would have made Wikileaks green with envy back in the day.

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume VIII, Vietnam, January–October 1972. Few issues engaged President Richard M. Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry A. Kissinger, more than those associated with the Vietnam war. This specific volume documents U.S. policy toward the war in Vietnam from January 20 to October 7, 1972.

The Easter Offensive, and its ramifications, represents the most significant event in Indochina for U.S. policy in this period, and documentary coverage of the event dominates the volume, concentrating mainly on what happened in North and South Vietnam, policy formulation and decision-making in Washington, and the negotiations in Paris. Only a very small number of documents relate to events and policy in Laos and Cambodia, and then only as they relate to events and policy in Vietnam.

Documents in this volume examine the link between force and diplomacy in U.S. national security policy toward the Vietnam war. In the period the volume covers, force drove diplomacy. Only by recognizing this can the process by which America’s Vietnam war policy was formulated and implemented be fully understood. Controlling the process was a small circle of men, led by President Richard M. Nixon, and which included the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry A. Kissinger; the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs, Major General Alexander M. Haig; and a few National Security Council officials trusted by Kissinger.

Sources for this volume include messages and memoranda that illuminate the decision-making process in a bureaucracy. They can be found in Nixon’s papers, in Kissinger’s papers, in military and diplomatic records in the National Archives, and in other repositories. Transcripts of Nixon’s taped conversations with senior policy advisers, as well as a collection of transcripts of Kissinger’s telephone conversations, provide an additional level of detail. A third collection, less well known than the other two but almost as significant, is that of Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and includes diary excerpts and telephone conversations. This volume, therefore, documents the implementation of U.S. policy toward Vietnam during the Easter Offensive more thoroughly than ever before.

The volume and this press release are available on the Office of the Historian website [here]. Copies of the volume will be available for purchase from the U.S. Government Printing Office online at (GPO S/N 044–000–02623–6; ISBN 978–0–16–079429–2), or by calling toll-free 1–866–512–1800 (D.C. area 202–512–1800). For further information, contact Susan Weetman, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, at (202) 663–1276 or by e-mail to

By the way, I collected some historical documents in this series myself, sort of. The very first safe I was provided when I went to work for State as a contractor in - oh my! - 1986, had a piece of trash wedged behind the bottom drawer, which irritated me so much that I pulled the drawer apart to fish it out. The paper turned out to be a Secret memo, dated in 1965, and entitled "Possible North Vietnamese Reactions to American Bombing Campaign." Maybe I should have kept that as an historical artifact, rather than shredding it?


Anonymous said...

Curious that the Department's Historian -- probably on the advice of volume compiler John Carland and supervisor Dr. David Geyer -- has omitted any mention of the fact that Anand Toprani played a key role in transcribing and editing tapes transcripts for this volume. Even more curious that current Acting General Editor Susan Weetman would allow this omission, given her constant interaction with Mr. Toprani as the tapes for this volume were finalized.

TSB said...

I can't speculate about that, however, I think you for giving me an idea for a new post (based on a May 2008 State Magazine article about that transcription, which I had overlooked before).