Vietnam's Strategic Thinking during the Third Indochina War
New Perspectives in Southeast Asian Studies
Series Editors: Alfred W. McCoy, Ian G. Baird, Katherine A. Bowie, and Anne Ruth Hansen
“Path fundamentally recasts several key episodes in the history of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. This book not only contributes to our empirical understanding of these events; it also engages with recent political science scholarship, offering vital insights in response to claims of ideological influence and Sinocentric logic.”
Vietnam’s Strategic Thinking during the Third Indochina War explores why the nation’s leadership first decided to invade Cambodia in 1978, then shifted its approach from military confrontation to economic reform in the late 1980s. Drawing on previously inaccessible internal reports and primary sources, Kosal Path argues that Hanoi’s leaders made rational domestic and foreign policy decisions in the face of changing information and the waxing and waning of competing factions within the government.
When costly efforts to cement a strategic partnership with the Soviet Union failed, the combined political pressure of economic crisis at home and imminent external threats posed by a Sino-Cambodian alliance compelled Hanoi to reverse course. Moving away from the Marxist-Leninist ideology that had prevailed during the last decade of the Cold War era, the Vietnamese government implemented broad doi moi (“renovation”) reforms intended to create a peaceful regional environment for the country’s integration into the global economy.
In contrast to earlier studies, Path traces the moving target of these changing policy priorities, providing a vital addition to existing scholarship on asymmetric wartime decision-making and alliance formation among small states. The result uncovers how this critical period had lasting implications for the ways Vietnam continues to conduct itself on the global stage.
“Path relates a story that is both meaningful and engrossing. It is also highly authoritative. I have worked in Vietnamese archives for over twenty years; the quality of the materials the author obtained is nothing less than extraordinary.”
—Pierre Asselin, San Diego State University
Also in the Series
LC: 2019017148 DS
376 pp. 6 x 9
5 b/w photos