[Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg, taught me that sometimes the truth is hidden in plain sight. In this case, all I had to do was open a book, and some of the truth spilled out. Bolded text is my emphasis.]



In France in the spring and summer of 1946, in negotiations over the future of Cochin-China, the southern region including Saigon, Ho Chi Minh, I learned with some astonishment, was accorded the honors of a head of state and negotiated with the French on that basis. Jean Sainteny, former chief representative of France in Vietnam, had signed an agreement in March that the decision on whether to include the South in that independent state would be settled by a popular referendum. But the French government had no intention of carrying out that agreement. Its failure to do so, and its clear intention to return Tonkin as well to quasi-colonial status by force, led to the outbreak of hostilities on both sides at the end of 1946. …

… Ho and his colleagues had every reason to feel betrayed in the fifties by France, the United States, and the international community – perhaps above all by their Communist allies, the Soviets and Chinese – because of their failure to enforce the exactly comparable agreement in the Geneva Accords in 1954. These had explicitly denied that the demilitarized zone (DMZ) was an international border separating two independent states. They had called for an internationally supervised election in 1956 to determine the government of a unified Vietnam. … Both internally and to the public Secretary of State Rusk and his subordinates proclaimed over and over that “all we may ask is that North Vietnam leave its neighbors alone” and that it observe the provisions of the 1954 accords. The implicit and often explicit premise was that the accords had created two separate, independent sovereign states, the two “neighbors,” North and South Vietnam. That was … a brazen reversal of the letter and spirit of the accords as written. Equally brazen…was the frequently repeated demand by the United States throughout the sixties for a “return to observance of the 1954 Accords” when the United States had never intended, did not support, and would never permit observance of the central political provision of the accords, which called for nationwide elections for a unified regime.