INT: But at that time did it cause a big rift between the administration and the military about how it should be done?
AG: We had, I would have to say, on-going differences about how er the separation would have to be conducted. The administration - I don't want to put it in a pejorative way - but they were hoping that a result could be attained on the cheap, that the North Vietnamese would buckle and er... accept a cease-fire and accept a peace. Er our assessment was that that might happen, but there was no sign of such a move on the part of the North Vietnamese and they might fight it out to the full extent of their ability, in which case er that could be the requirement.
INT: The JCS must have been pretty frustrated about all this?
AG: They were... the Joint Chiefs of Staff er were very much in accord with the results of my... er of the study and er it fit into their continued view that er if we were to continue to be engaged there, er we should use our forces with full effectiveness and not engage in the piecemeal and the tit for tat and er other er processes that didn't bring our full force to bear.
INT: Then you compiled that report with close co-operation with the Chiefs of Staff?
AG: Yes, I had representation er from the Joint Staff and of course it was submitted to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their information.
INT: Moving on to the Paris peace talks, which I understand you went to with Averil Harriman and Cyrus Vance. How hard did you actually push for peace in 1968?
AG: Oh, I think er Harriman pushed very hard for peace, um to the extent that er... he and I had a continuing difference er which was submitted to President Lyndon Johnson and er the difference was that er he really would like to see us slack off in our operations and er as he put it, er not engage in er all out or heavy attack. And my view that er... if we were engaged inthis kind of a fight and we had troops that were committed, they should be employed in what was militarily er the most advantageous to accomplish the mission that had been sent out and er I opposed quite strongly any er idea of er... of cutting back on what our troops were er free to do in er... in conducting their operations. But he tried all kinds of devices to er engage the North Vietnamese. Essentially, they showed no interest er other than er surrender of South Vietnam to them. They were strongly committed to that. After about er three months er participation in the er... the er peace conference, er I was ordered to go to Vietnam as the Deputy Commander in Chief there and er then I was succeeded er by another representative of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
INT: But whilst you were there... (unintelligible) peace talks, what were the mechanics? Did you sit down every day with people from North Vietnam, people from South Vietnam, mediators, how does it work?
AG: There was a great deal of argument about the shape of the table. Er the North Vietnamese would not er meet with people from South Vietnam. Er they never accepted South Vietnam as a country, they would always refer it as... to it as the south part of Vietnam, er and they were just adamant er in holding to their... to their position that er they would not er compromise er in a way that would allow the continued er existence of a separate South Vietnam.
INT: So is that why the talks failed?
AG: Er, yes. They were... I think the North Vietnamese by that time felt that er the United States would buckle, as the French had finally. They... they felt that they had won their war against the French in Paris and they felt they would win their war against er South Vietnam and the United States in Washington, as indeed they did.
INT: What did you feel about your adversaries on the North Vietnamese side? Did you have pleasant meetings with them or was it all just very matter of fact?
AG: Er, the meetings with them were very stiff. We did have er tea with them afterward. Er they were formal. Er they were er respectful, professional, er but they were very tough, er very smart. They had worked up um answers to every proposal, every statement that er we might make from our side and er they would er use these er prepared statements in the formal meetings. In the er... during the tea, er Harriman and Vance in particular would er explore to see is there any way by which er some engagement and real negotiation could be er... could be begun and er but there was really no opening. And Harriman also talked to er Russian representatives to see if er something could be done through that er channel and again, nothing real... real was accomplished.
INT: So neither the Russians nor the Chinese could do anything to help?
AG: I don't recall that we were in touch with the Chinese at all.
INT: But with the Russians? And at the end of '68 it did look like peace was going to be there, as I recall it was the South Vietnamese President Chu who held out against the agreement, wasn't it?
AG: Er, Chu was er very adamant, very strong that nothing would be done that would endanger er South Vietnam. And er there was, as I recall, there were er differences then between what Harriman was proposing and what Chu was er prepared to accept or to join with. And then of course came the election and er the election of... of er President Nixon and er the appointment of er Henry Kissinger to be his er... his security adviser and er Melvyn Laird to be the Secretary of Defence. With that I might mention there was a shift and it was called the Vietnamisation of the war, in a way that went beyond anything that had been authorised or carried out before, in terms of turning over responsibility, turning over er major weapons er to the South Vietnamese, with the idea that American forces were going to be reduced and the role of the Americans would be reduced.
INT: Just getting back to the conference. If the North Vietnamese would not talk to the South Vietnamese, how did the (unintelligible) happen? What were the mechanics? How did Chu get his voice in?
AG: Er... Harriman of course would report back to the er... to Washington, to the State Department and the White House and the Pentagon, and they would then maintain contact with er President Chu through our ambassador, by that time it was Elsworth Bunker, out in er... out in Saigon.
INT: Let's cut there...