This disturbing new account of Henry Kissinger’s Vietnam years shows a blundering, self-serving man who led America to tragedy and Vietnam to waste in an unnecessarily dragged-out, ill-conceived war.
The American war in Vietnam was concluded in 1973 under the terms of a truce that were effectively identical to what was offered to the Nixon administration four years earlier. Those four years cost America billions of dollars and over 35,000 war deaths and casualties, and resulted in the deaths of over 300,000 Vietnamese. And those years were the direct result of the supposed master plan of the most important voice in the Nixon White House on American foreign policy: Henry Kissinger.
Using newly available archival material from the Nixon Presidential Library and Kissinger’s personal papers, Robert K. Brigham shows how Kissinger’s approach to Vietnam was driven by personal political rivalries and strategic confusion, while domestic politics played an outsized influence on Kissinger’s so-called strategy. There was no great master plan or Bismarckian theory that supported how the US continued the war or conducted peace negotiations.
As a result, a distant tragedy was perpetuated, forever changing both countries. Now, perhaps for the first time, we can see the full scale of that tragedy and the machinations that fed it.