The Phoenix with an Eagle’s wings: an analysis of the Phoenix/Phung Hoang Programme, 1967-1975

Rowley, M. (2017) The Phoenix with an Eagle’s wings: an analysis of the Phoenix/Phung Hoang Programme, 1967-1975. M.A. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Abstract

The Phoenix/Phung Hoang Programme, a CIA-launched operation in South Vietnam lasting from 1967 to 1975, is a largely misunderstood topic, and no fully comprehensive account of its history has yet been produced. Through the use of primary and secondary source material, and by engaging with various historical and contemporary viewpoints, this thesis provides a contribution to the small yet diverse pool of scholarly debate surrounding the programme, paying particularly attention to disputes over effectiveness and ethical violations. To achieve this, Phoenix/Phung Hoang’s history is examined from inception to conclusion and placed within the context of the broader Vietnam War. Moreover, the goals and impact of key figures, such as Richard Nixon, Robert Komer and William E. Colby, will be discussed throughout the thesis.

This study aims to demonstrate that Phoenix/Phung Hoang developed into a highly effective counterinsurgency programme, yet ultimately failed following the conclusion of American participation in 1972/73. Contrary to the assertions of a number of scholars, the programme made great strides, and had by 1971 taken a heavy toll on the communist political apparatus in South Vietnam. Furthermore, this study challenges the view that Phoenix/Phung Hoang was exceedingly immoral, and contends that most accusations of torture, assassination, corruption and mass arrests were inaccurate or exaggerated. Close attention is paid to the programme’s role within, and dependence on, the broader Vietnam War, primarily regarding its inability to function capably without American support, guidance, or personnel. Emphasis is placed on the role of a number of factors relating to the broader war in accelerating American disengagement from Phoenix/Phung Hoang, such as US anti-war demonstrations, Nixon’s efforts to attain a second term in office, and Vietnamisation. Additionally, this thesis explores parallels between the programme’s failure in the political conflict, and the US/South Vietnamese failure in the military conflict as exemplified by the fall of Saigon. As will be seen, both failures were the result of the United States’ departure from Vietnam.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization > CB History of Civilization (General) > CB0440 Relation to special topics
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization > CB History of Civilization (General) > CB0440 Relation to special topics > CB0481 War and civilization
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Miss Rosemary Cox
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2018 09:53
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2018 08:04
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/17068

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00