Two years ago last month, Americans breathed a sigh of relief at the signing of the Paris Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam. Yet even as Henry Kissinger and Le Due Tho were receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for this alleged accomplishment, it was apparent that it didn’t end the war, it didn’t restore peace, and the violations of the agreement began as soon as it was signed.
All American troops were promptly withdrawn under the Paris Agreement, but the North Vietnamese troops were permitted to remain in South Vietnam and to be reinforced.
Since January 1973, the situation has become increasingly worse. In open defiance of the Paris Agreement, North Vietnam has infiltrated into South Vietnam some 200,000 new troops, 400 new tanks, 150 pieces of heavy artillery, and 24 anti-aircraft artillery regiments.
Also, in open defiance of the Paris Agreement, the Communists have either built or repaired 12 airfields inside South Vietnam. The Ho Chi Minh Trail is now a four-lane hard-surface highway all the way from Vinh to within 70 miles of Saigon. North Vietnamese invasion routes are guarded by heavy concentrations of anti-aircraft weapons, including guns, automatic weapons, SAM-2s and SAM-3s, as well as SAM-7s, all provided by the Soviet Union.
While Soviet military assistance has continued to flow into North Vietnam at approximately $1 billion per year, and combat activity has persisted at a high level, U.S. munitions support has been sharply reduced. Present American military assistance does not meet Saigon’s current needs. Despite strict rationing, South Vietnamese stockpiles have been reduced to dangerously low levels and the situation in the last couple of months has now become critical.
President Ford is asking for South Vietnam only $300 million out of this year’s Federal budget of $349 billion. That is less than one one-thousandth of the money our government will spend this year. Our national honor and the need to keep faith with the millions of Americans who fought in Vietnam require us to make sure that our tremendous investment there not be forfeited by the failure to supply this pittance of essential munitions to our gallant ally.
The Vietnam War was the greatest tragedy our country has suffered in more than 100 years. The failure of our government to end the war quickly by mining Haiphong harbor and by stopping the European ships supplying North Vietnam with weapons and supplies was a betrayal of both American and South Vietnamese soldiers.
The cost of bleeding our nation in terms of. our best young men, billions of dollars, demoralization of spirit, and loss of strategic superiority to Russia has not yet been fully calculated. If, for want of enough promised ammunition, the Communists now conquer South Vietnam, then no country will ever again want to be our ally.