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Pham Van Dong

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Pham Van Dong (1918-2000) was a North Vietnamese leader who, after revolutionary work, spent 30 years as Prime Minister. [1] As Zhou En Lai of China served as government deputy to Mao Zedong, Dong was the efficient government official supporting the charismatic Ho Chi Minh, running the country.

Dong traveled to the Soviet Union, in November 1964, to request help in building up the North Vietnamese integrated air defense system. It was granted.[2]

When Lyndon Johnson offered unconditional talks in April 1965, Dong insisted they be conditional on the withdrawal of the U.S. military and the settlement of the South Vietnamese politics according to the program of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam,[3] This gave little to discuss, and, unknown to the North, was shortly before the U.S. made the July commitment for commitment of major ground forces.

While he would put things in strong propaganda terms, describing Tet as climaxing "continuous victories scored by the people and the army around the country, was the spring 1968 general offensive and uprising of the South Vietnamese people and army, [4], he could be realistic about the outcome.
Yes, we defeated the United States. But now we are plagued by problems. We do not have enough to eat. We are a poor, underdeveloped country. Waging a war is simple, but running a country is very difficult.[5]
Even his actions in victory may have contributed to economic problems; when the U.S. offered diplomatic recognition in 1973, Dong refused it without the payment of $3 billion in "reparations" promised secretly by Nixon. By 1978, the offer had been withdrawn.

Vietnam approved economic reforms in 1986. Full diplomatic relations were to wait, however, until 1995.[6]


  1. Butterfield, Fox (May 2, 2000), "Pham Van Dong, Voice of Vietnam's Revolt, Dies at 94", Time
  2. Palmer, Dave R. (1978), Summons of the Trumpet, Presidio Press, pp. 74-75
  3. Moyar, Mark (2006), Triumph Forsaken, Cambridge University Press, p. 370
  4. Palmer, pp. 202-203
  5. Karnow, Stanley (1983), Vietnam, a History, Viking Press, p. 9
  6. "Opening to Vietnam; Clinton on Recognition: A Move 'to Common Ground'", Time, July 12, 1995