With widespread speculation that a ceasefire is imminent in South Vietnam, hopes are also rising that the United States will halt its bombing campaign in the north, started 8 years ago by former President Lyndon Johnson.
AV Firing-on countryside
AV Bomb destroys bridge
Damaged buildings (2 shots)
GV People working in rubble
SV Man with packed bag
GV & SV PAN people in bus
SV People on truck
GV people waving PAN evacuees in truck
SV Samaged buildings (3 shots)
SVs Injures Soviet seamen in hospital (2 shots)
GV One-man shelters under construction (2 shots)
GV Volunteers with flag
SV people applaud as recruits board bus (5 shots)
GV PAN Deserted street
GV & SV Crashed 'plane in field & people repair damaged skyes
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Background: With widespread speculation that a ceasefire is imminent in South Vietnam, hopes are also rising that the United States will halt its bombing campaign in the north, started 8 years ago by former President Lyndon Johnson.
The bombing of the north, combined with the aerial onslaught on the rest of Indo-China, has been acknowledges as the most intense campaign in the history of world war.
Between 1965 and 1968, American bombing of North Vietnam failed either to chock Hanoi's war effort in the south, or to bring life in the north to a standstill. It has since been convincingly argued by strategists that North Vietnam's survival, battered but still fighting, proved the limitations of waging an air war against an underdeveloped, but determined country.
In March 1968, President Johnson halted the bombing over ninety per cent of North Vietnam and two months' later preliminary peace talks opened in Paris.
But although peace is nearer now than at any other previous time since the Americans became directly involved in the war, President Nixon, in April, unleashed the biggest air offensive against the north since 1968 -- in retaliation, it was claimed, for the large enemy attacks in the south.
Under the bombardment, North Vietnam has demonstrated a skill in keeping men and material flowing to the front. Between 1965 and 1968, Hanoi developed an ingenious system of ferries, temporary bridges -- moored out of sight and along river banks during the daytime, others built under water.
Hanol, under pressure, had coped. But as the North's leaders are aware, a far wearier population now faces the new intensified bombing. Over the past three years regimented way of life receded as the children returned from the countryside, and the personal air raid shelters filled up with dirt. Now, more men than ever before are heading for the front, and those who are left at home have to expect worse hardship than at any time in the war.
One of the most controversial aspects of the latest bombing has been the damage sustained by the intricate and essential system of dykes throughout North Vietnam.
The North has consistently accused the United States of deliberately bombing the dyke network; while the Americans, denying the allegation, say the North is blaming them for damage caused by the weather.
The dykes are indispensable to the North because they hold back huge amounts of water during the North's rainy season. Major damage results in large areas of flooding.
At time during the bombing campaign, the United States has run the risk of confrontation with either China or the Soviet Union. Raiding aircra??? are alleged to have hit Soviet ships, and to have injured her seamen, while The People's Republic of China has, on several occasions, accused the Americans of intruding into her air space.
When Hanoi launched its major offensives in the south earlier this year, President Nixon replied by blockading Haiphong harbour. Mines were laid and all foreign shipping was warned to stay away.
Now political observers say it is important for both Hanoi and Washington to work towards a ceasefire. Hanoi is anxious to wring concessions from a President facing an election; while the President cold turn good electoral prospects into certain victory with a ceasefire announcement before November 7.