The Phước Long Battle was one of the thousands of battles waged between the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the
Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) during their twenty-one year fratricidal war (1954-1975).
If the 1968 Tết Offensive marked the end of the guerilla war (most of the southern guerillas were wiped out after
Tết), the Phước Long Battle, however, marked the beginning of the conventional phase of the war,
which was characterized by:
1) Hanoi and the NVA through a series of new attacks flagrantly violated Article 15 of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords,
which stipulated that the "reunification of Vietnam shall be carried out step by step through peaceful means
2) The U.S. refusing to re-intervene in the conflict,
3) The eventual demise of South Vietnam.
President Nixon had expressly written on January 5, 1973, to South Vietnamese President Nguyễn Văn
Thiệu that, "if Hanoi fails to abide by the terms of this agreement it is my intention to take swift
and severe retaliatory action." Whether Nixon (and Ford) would follow through with his promise remained to
The "Indecent Interval"
Unbeknownst to Thieu and the South Vietnamese, on August 3, 1972, Nixon had looked for ways to get out of
South Vietnam more or less victoriously (he called it "peace with honor") because he thought that "South
Vietnam can never even survive anyway."
Kissinger who had been shuttling back and forth to Paris had suggested,
"We've got to find some formula that holds the thing together for a year or two, after which--after a
year, Mr. President [Nixon] Vietnam will be a backwater. If we settle it, say, this October ,
by January '74, no one will give a damn."
Historians called it "the decent interval"--the period after U.S. withdrawal and the eventual collapse
of South Vietnam. Having promised to Saigon that communist troops would not be allowed to remain in
South Vietnam after the signature of any treaty, Kissinger negotiated the opposite. Through that
maneuver, he "had just deceived both his enemy and his ally and had led the United States into an act
of bad faith that can have few parallels in its diplomatic history." The U.S. withdrew in 1973, Saigon
fell in 1975 leaving Washington off the hook.