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Outlook for North Vietnam
Date of Creation:
March 4, 1964
Date of Declassification:
March 31, 1987
Type of Document:
Special National Intelligence Estimate
Level of Classification:
Status of Copy:
Pagination, Illustration:
18 p.
It is believed that the North Vietnamese leaders look at Communist prospects with considerable confidence. In South Vietnam, they probably feel that the GVN will to resist is waning and may feel that the same is true of the US. They may seek to speed the process by a step-up in current Viet Cong tactics of pressure and terror. Hanoi will stop short of introducing sizable DRV military units into South Vietnam, lest this bring about a major US military retaliation. In Laos, they will protect the positions they have already achieved and support Pathet Lao efforts to erode the non-Communist position, but will seek to avoid initiatives that would provoke US military intervention. North Vietnam's external successes have been achieved despite important internal problems and vulnerabilities. The DRV faces severe and chronic food shortages and widespread apathy among the populace and even the lower ranks of the Party. The economy is overcommitted to developing heavy industry at the expense of agriculture and heavily dependent on Bloc aid. The personal dominance of Ho Chi Minh masks differences within the leadership which will be sharpened after his death. These problems and vulnerabilities do not threaten the regime's control at home or materially hamper its present level of effort against South Vietnam and Laos, nor do they preclude a somewhat higher level of such effort. However, the DRV probably could not sustain large-scale military involvement, such as open invasion, without a considerable increase in Chinese Communist or Soviet aid. The Sino-Soviet split poses a painful dilemma to North Vietnam. Powerful motives impel it to avoid taking sides definatively, but events have moved the DRV progressively closer to the Chinese position. It is believed that Hanoi will nevertheless try to maintain as cordial relations with Moscow as circumstances permit.
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