This Day in U.S. Military History 31 July 1972
Hanoi challenges the Nixon administration on the dike controversy, claiming that since April there had been 173 raids against the dikes in North Vietnam with direct hits in 149 locations.
On July 28, in response to claims by the Soviet Union that the United States had conducted an intentional two-month bombing campaign designed to destroy the dikes and dams of the Tonkin Delta in North Vietnam, a CIA report was made public by the Nixon administration.
It stated that U.S. bombing at 12 locations had caused accidental minor damage to North Vietnam’s dikes, but the damage was unintentional and the dikes were not the intended targets of the bombings. The nearly 2,000 miles of dikes on the Tonkin plain, and more than 2,000 miles of dikes along the sea, made civilized life possible in the Red River Delta.
Had the dikes been intentionally targeted, their destruction would have destroyed centuries of patient work and caused the drowning or starvation of hundreds of thousands of peasants. Bombing the dikes had been advocated by some U.S. strategists since the beginning of U.S. involvement in the war, but had been rejected outright by U.S. presidents sitting during the war as an act of terrorism.
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