I have narrated in detail in this blog the story of Graham Martin, the last U.S. ambassador in South Vietnam. He refused to allow me to evacuate my people when the fall of Saigon was imminent. He didn’t believe, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that the North Vietnamese would attack the city.
I’m regularly asked why Martin was so wrongheaded. My answer is that I honestly don’t know. I warned him that signals intelligence left no doubt that the North Vietnamese were about to attack Saigon. I’ve learned in recent years that CIA analysts at the embassy were also alerting him and their boss, CIA chief of station Tom Polgar, that the assault was about to begin. Neither Polgar nor Martin believed the warning.
Months after the fall of Vietnam to the communists, Martin testified before Congress that he had been approached by the Hungarian member of the ICCS (International Committee for Control and Supervision, a group established in 1973 to monitor the so-called cease fire) who told him that the North Vietnamese had no intention of attacking Saigon. Instead, according to this man, they wanted to form a coalition government with all patriotic forces and rule jointly. This man was a representative of a communist government allied to North Vietnam. Martin believed him in the face of overwhelming evidence that the attack was imminent.