Why the North Vietnamese Keep Fighting

by Brian Michael Jenkins

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Abstract

With a quarter of North Vietnam's troops in the South, her leaders historically committed to the struggle, her losses acceptable and the prize great if she wins, it is unlikely that the question of whether or not the war should be carried on is seriously debated in Hanoi. Abandoning the war involves too many political risks-among them the possibility that China might well continue support for the war in hopes of advancing her own ambitions in Indochina. Concludes the author in this assessment of North Vietnamese war intentions: while postponement or a temporary scaling down of the level of hostilities is a possibility, the arguments for continuing the struggle are too powerful to permit hopeful speculation over a North Vietnamese decision to quit the fight-especially in view of recent moves in Laos and Cambodia.

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