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FOREIGN OFFICE FILES: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Series Two: Vietnam, 1959-1975
(Public Record Office Classes FO 371 and FCO 15; South East Asia Department)

Part 5: Vietnam, 1964-1966
(PRO Class FO 371/175464-175545, 180510-180643 and 186279-186419)

This microfilm project allows the scholar to understand the far-reaching implications of the Vietnam War.

  • The files document Britain's close monitoring of the Vietnam War and the events which lead up to it, offering a British and Commonwealth perspective on US policy.
  • Weekly reports, intelligence assessments and critical analysis focus on the build up of American forces in Vietnam, the scale of human tragedy and the efforts at mediation.
  • The are good documents on the role of the British Advisory Mission, on Robert McNamara’s visit to Vietnam in March 1964, on McGeorge Bundy’s visit to Saigon in February 1965 and on the various Viet Cong offensives.
  • There is a wealth of evidence on US military strategy - attrition, search and destroy operations, massive bombing campaigns.
  • There are reports on political asylum, prisoners of war, refugees, Red Cross activities and medical aid.

The files offer up lots of material to look at questions such as:

  • What were the weaknesses of Johnson’s concept of a “limited conflict” to stop communist “aggression”?
  • What were the main reasons for the escalation of the conflict?
  • How important was the role of McNamara?
  • What was the response to the huge refugee crisis?
  • How significant was the impact in America of domestic public opinion?
  • How damaging was American intervention for the political and social infrastructure of South Vietnam?
  • What role did China and the Soviet Union play in terms of indirect support, military aid and diplomatic intervention?
  • Why were various peace initiatives frustrated?
Vietnam War

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