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Abstract

This paper explores Hanoi's diplomatic strategy during the early stage of the so-called Vietnam War. It draws from Vietnamese, Western, and other materials to elucidate the meanings and usages Hanoi attached to diplomacy in those years, to describe the related maneuverings of North Vietnamese leaders, and to identify the forces shaping those maneuvers. Following the onset of war Hanoi rejected negotiations with Washington, but that did not mean that the so-called “diplomatic struggle” was non-existent, or unimportant. State and party organs used diplomacy to manipulate and mobilize world opinion, to mitigate the effects of the Sino-Soviet dispute, and to secure necessary material assistance from socialist allies to sustain the war until “final victory” over the United States. Diplomacy thus served as a veritable instrument of war for Hanoi. Admittedly, diplomatic priorities changed over time, but diplomatic struggle itself remained at the heart of its “Anti-American Resistance.”