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The long-awaited deal between the United States and the Taliban was finally signed in Doha last Saturday by U.S. Special Envoy Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and former Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. On the same day, U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper visited Kabul to conclude the Joint Declaration for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the two governments. Gaps and inconsistencies between the two only add to the confusion. But two facts are clear. The U.S. is on its way out and second, this does not ensure peace for the Afghan people. As former U.S. Defence Secretary General Mattis put it, “The U.S. doesn’t lose wars, it loses interest.” But since a major power cannot be seen to be losing a war, certainly not in an election year, a re-labelling of the withdrawal becomes necessary.
Nearly a half century ago, U.S. President Richard Nixon had faced a similar dilemma. With more than half-a-million U.S. soldiers deployed in Vietnam, it was clear that a military solution was out of question. Seeking an exit, his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, during his secret visit to Beijing in July 1971, assured Premier Zhou Enlai that the U.S. was prepared to withdraw completely from Vietnam in return for release of U.S. prisoners of war and a ceasefire lasting “a decent interval”. Kissinger and Nixon knew that the deal would leave their ally, the South Vietnamese government led by President Thieu, vulnerable. In declassified 1972 White House tapes, Nixon and Kissinger acknowledge that “South Vietnam is not going to survive and the idea is to find a formula that can hold things together for a year or two”. The ploy worked.
Nixon was re-elected with a record margin in November 1972 on the platform that peace was at hand. In January 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed, and by end March, the U.S. had completed its withdrawal ending direct military involvement. U.S. prisoners of war were released but by end-1973, the ceasefire was in tatters. Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese forces on April 30, 1975. Approximately 20,000 U.S. soldiers died during 1972-73 (Nixon cemented the understanding during his visit to China in February 1972) and 80,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died after the collapse of the ceasefire, following the decent interval. To win his re-election, Nixon had promised an honourable peace and delivered a delayed defeat, but by then the world had moved on. Dr. Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 (joint winner). The secret assurances of 1971-72 only surfaced after four decades.
Which of the following statements is not true?
Dr. Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973.
North Vietnamese fell to the Saigon forces on April 30, 1975.
Approximately 20,000 U.S. soldiers died during 1972-73.
In January 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed, and by end March, the U.S. had completed its withdrawal ending direct military involvement.
Correct statement is “Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese forces on April 30, 1975.” Hence, option(b) is the right answer.
By: SONAM SHEORAN ProfileResourcesReport error
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