In January of 1970, the war in Vietnam was going badly for the North Vietnamese; the South Vietnamese forces had recently launched an offensive in the Central Highlands, but the North Vietnamese knew that victory was within their grasp. On December 8th of that year, the North Vietnamese Politburo met to discuss the next steps to take. Ho Chi Minh, the Minister of the Interior, spoke first: “When we are close to victory, we can relax a bit.” The leaders agreed. The next day, the Politburo met again and approved the plan to pause the offensive. The North Vietnamese were close to victory. The National Liberation Front began to negotiate with the South Vietnamese government for a ceasefire.

The end of the Vietnam War came through an event that has become a cliché in the history of war: a single general’s off the cuff remark. Much has been written about the moment when Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem told American officials in Saigon that the North Vietnamese army was close to collapse. But is the story true?

After the Tet Offensive of 1968, the North Vietnamese government was convinced it could win the war and claim victory. The Tet Offensive was a turning point in the war, and after the victory was long over, the North Vietnamese government took the chance to declare victory and claim victory. In January 1971, the North Vietnamese government—in an interview with the New York Times—said, “In the very near future the Vietnamese people will have the opportunity to renew the life of the entire world in a new way, to start all over again, to build a new world…”

A series delving at the controversial topics surrounding the Vietnam War.

Since the early 2000s, statements ascribed to North Vietnam’s senior commander for the majority of the war, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, have circulated online as proof that North Vietnam would have surrendered if the US had applied just a little more military pressure.

According to one account, following the 1968 Tet Offensive, the US was on the brink of destroying North Vietnam, according to Giap’s postwar book How We Won the War, published in 1985.

The statement in the second version refers to the heavy US B-52 bombing assault that hit Hanoi and Haiphong in December 1972 during Operation Linebacker II. “What we still don’t understand is why you Americans halted the bombing of Hanoi,” according to the purported statement. You had us teetering on the edge of our seats. We were ready to surrender if you had pushed us a bit harder for another day or two.”

Is it true that Giap said that? No, is the simple response. The Giap quotation is a fabrication. The original source, it turns out, is a British counterinsurgency specialist, not a communist official. I’ll explain why.

First, let’s get rid of the obvious fallacies. Giap’s book was first published in 1976, not 1985, and he makes no mention of North Vietnam considering surrendering at any time during the conflict. Indeed, the central theme of his biography, as well as every other book, essay, and speech he wrote, was his unwavering determination to keep fighting until Hanoi had reunified the North and South under a single government ruled by the Vietnamese Communist Party.

So, where did the phony quotation come from?

In an unlikely place. In the spring of 1974, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts held a colloquium on “The Military Lessons of the Vietnam War” attended by a mix of former government officials, academics and media figures. Those proceedings appeared in an edited volume by Crane, Russak & Company titled The Lessons of Vietnam.

Sir Robert Thompson, a British counterinsurgency specialist, spoke about the Operation Linebacker II campaign, which pushed North Vietnam back to the negotiating table and culminated in the January 1973 Paris Peace Accords.

“In my opinion, on December 30, 1972, after eleven days of those B-52 strikes on the Hanoi region, you had won the war!” Thompson stated on Page 105, despite having no unique insight into North Vietnamese thought or sources. It has come to an end!” Thompson clarifies, however, that his term “won the war” refers to North Vietnam’s readiness to sign the peace deal, which enabled the US to withdraw from the conflict but did not result in a US triumph.

Thompson’s statement was stolen, altered, and then reproduced on a huge scale when social media platforms exploded in the 2000s. The truth may finally be revealed.

Dr. Erik Villard works at the US Army Center of Military History at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., as a Vietnam War expert.

This story first published in Vietnam magazine’s August 2022 edition. Subscribe to Vietnam magazine and follow us on Facebook for more stories:

Did General Giap Say North Vietnam Was Close to Surrender?

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Q: How many men did Hanoi tell the French they were willing to lose against them in the war? Hanoi told the French that they were willing to lose 1,"}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What did General Giap do?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":" General Giap led the Vietnamese army during the Vietnam War.

Q: What was the result of Giaps actions against the French? General Giap eventually won against the French.

Q: Why did General Giap join the war against the French? General"}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What was General Giaps plan?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":" The General Giap Plan was a tactic used by General Giap during the First Indochina War (1946–1954) in order to defeat the French. The French were very heavily outnumbered by the Vietnamese forces, but they still had an advantage in weapons and tactics. So Giap devised a"}}]}

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What did General Giap do?

General Giap led the Vietnamese army during the Vietnam War. Q: What was the result of Giaps actions against the French? General Giap eventually won against the French. Q: Why did General Giap join the war against the French? General

What was General Giaps plan?

The General Giap Plan was a tactic used by General Giap during the First Indochina War (1946–1954) in order to defeat the French. The French were very heavily outnumbered by the Vietnamese forces, but they still had an advantage in weapons and tactics. So Giap devised a

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