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Page 16(In Conclusion: A Question to Consider)previous pageNext Page


IN CONCLUSION: A QUESTION TO CONSIDER

 

Having explored both the humanitarian and political origins of the raid, perhaps a final thought provoking question remains, was the Son Tay Raid a rescue mission or an attack? In the opinion of this researcher, it was both! A noble and honorable attempt had been made by a gallant force to relieve the suffering of their brothers-in-arms, but the raid also possessed the elements of a deliberate attack to carry out Presidential policy. Undoubtedly, had POWs been rescued at Son Tay, immediate success would have been acknowledged by all, perhaps even resulting in uniting a divided America. Yet, at the same time, but unfortunately out of public view, the raid was an immediate success because Hanoi quickly began direct negotiations and took rapid action to correct their past transgressions regarding the treatment of POWs. By linking military actions to strategic goals, as was demonstrated by the raid on Son Tay, it is evident that President Nixon emerged from the latest round of 'negotiations' as a winner, although not immediately recognized as such.

Perhaps there will always be speculation concerning the raid. For example: Prior to the mission, did the NCA or any other planner/decision maker know that there were 'in fact' no POWs at Son Tay? Perhaps some did, but for unknown reasons elected to remain silent on the issue. Additionally, did Colonel Simons' raid group land at the secondary school on purpose and if so, who ordered it and why? Furthermore, when were the POWs actually moved from Son Tay? And finally, why were the POWs moved? All of these questions call for additional research. Nonetheless, it is difficult to argue with positive results like those which occurred after the raid. Hanoi's response was to break off official peace negotiations in Paris and publicly denounce the U.S. for escalating the war. Unofficially, Hanoi, China, and the Soviet Union were shaken by the raid. All tightened security at their military compounds and other sensitive locations. Additionally, previously classified White House documents revealed that Hanoi began responding to official requests concerning POW issues as early as 26 November 1970, something they had rarely done before. Hanoi was also concerned that American public opinion was now focused on the POW/MIA issue, especially since confirming that many POWs had died in captivity. Hanoi finally got the message and began to fear a change in international and American public support for the war since the raid had highlighted such a sensitive issue. In light of these and other developments, the raid was an overwhelming success as both a rescue mission and an extension of policy. The President's decision to support his policy through military activity directly resulted in forcing Hanoi to treat POWs more humanely and forced Hanoi back to Paris in a more humble negotiating position.

Without a doubt, Hanoi now knew it was dealing with a new Administration determined to see an end to the war, but only in an honorable manner. On two occasions the President had shown Hanoi his resolve and to what lengths he would go to ensure that his style of diplomacy should not be misinterpreted. Hanoi knew it had better pay attention lest it risk waking a lethargic giant with a new attitude.



Page 16(In Conclusion: A Question to Consider)previous pageNext Page



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THESE ARE ARCHIVED PAGES OF THE OLD EHISTORY SITE
These pages are not actively maintained and may have errors in content and functionality