Foundation News – Richard Nixon Foundation https://www.nixonfoundation.org Discover how Richard Nixon's legacy continues to shape our world at the Nixon Library. Thu, 14 Dec 2017 22:18:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Conrad Black: Media’s Unhinged Attacks on Trump Recall the Treatment of Nixon https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/12/conrad-black-medias-unhinged-attacks-on-trump-recall-the-treatment-of-nixon/ https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/12/conrad-black-medias-unhinged-attacks-on-trump-recall-the-treatment-of-nixon/#respond Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:16:49 +0000 https://www.nixonfoundation.org/?p=32548 From the National Review Online Media’s Unhinged Attacks on Trump Recall the Treatment of Nixon Both presidents inspired a demented fury against them. By Conrad Black — December 13, 2017 In this season of frenzied liberal assault on the incumbent president and the almost uniform view of the long-standing bipartisan political elite of the United […]

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From the National Review Online

Media’s Unhinged Attacks on Trump Recall the Treatment of Nixon

Both presidents inspired a demented fury against them.

By Conrad Black — December 13, 2017

In this season of frenzied liberal assault on the incumbent president and the almost uniform view of the long-standing bipartisan political elite of the United States that President Trump is a maniac, any falsehood about him or act of obstruction is justified in damaging his presidency, impairing his ability to govern, and bringing forward the swiftest possible return of the status quo ante-Trump. It is now routine for the principal outlets of media mythmaking to invoke the legacy of Richard Nixon confected by his accusers of long ago. The particular myth that has for several years been the preferred falsehood to resurrect and hurl at Mr. Nixon as if it were a law of Archimedes is that he sabotaged the Vietnam peace talks when he was a presidential candidate in 1968. Journeyman liberal historian Robert Dallek in the preface to his recent biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt stated in passing as indisputable fact unworthy of elaboration that Richard Nixon had violated the Logan Act of 1799 at the end of the 1968 presidential election campaign when he secretly advised the government of South Vietnam to abstain from cooperating with President Johnson’s peace initiative.

On December 4, the New York Times — in an editorial unequivocally stating that President Trump’s advisers had violated the Logan Act by undermining the foreign policy of the sitting U.S. president in his contacts with the Russians — invoked this left-wing truism about Nixon as if citing a clause of the Constitution that had not been challenged for centuries. It stated: “Richard Nixon once again proves useful. In the closing days of the 1968 presidential campaign Mr. Nixon ordered H. R. Haldeman, later his chief of staff, to throw a ‘monkey wrench’ into the Vietnamese peace talks, knowing that a serious move to end the war would hurt his electoral prospects. Mr. Nixon denied that he did this to the grave: Mr. Haldeman’s notes, discovered after his death, revealed the truth.” On examination, the Haldeman notes read: “re VN bomb halt news: Harlow-have Dirksen and Tower blast this. Dirksen call LBJ and brace him with this — any other way to monkey wrench it? Anything RN can do.” (Bryce Harlow was an adviser and Everett Dirksen and John Tower were Republican senators.)

There are indeed parallels between left-wing media treatment of President Trump and President Nixon. The fragmentary notes cited by the Times no more constitute proof of Nixon’s engaging in illegal activities than President Trump’s counsel’s writing a tweet (a tweet that could be read as indicating that the president might have known that General Flynn misinformed the Justice Department as he had misinformed the vice president about contacts with the Russians when he fired Flynn) is substantial proof of the president’s obstruction of justice and therefore of his impeachability. The wish is father to the thought. These liberal hysterics, in their demented fury against the elected leader of the country, in the case of Nixon and Trump, leap like gazelles from innocuous or ambiguous asides to an instant convention of certain proof of criminal wrongdoing; they imagine they build their feeble arguments by citing historical precedents flimsily constructed from the same whole cloth of their malicious imaginations.

In fact, in the tumultuous election of 1968, the real skullduggery was President Johnson’s claim of a (completely fictitious) breakthrough in the peace talks in Paris a week before the election in order to generate, as subsequent history proved to be the case, a totally unjustified sense of optimism that peace might be near on an acceptable basis. It was an absolute falsehood from A to Z. There had been no breakthrough and yet Mr. Johnson announced that the talks should resume because of a positive response from Hanoi and that the South Vietnamese government and the Vietcong would be “invited” to attend.

Click here to read the full article at National Review Online.

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General Petraeus visits the Nixon Library https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/12/general-petraeus-visits-nixon-library/ https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/12/general-petraeus-visits-nixon-library/#respond Mon, 04 Dec 2017 20:52:47 +0000 https://www.nixonfoundation.org/?p=32394 “Thank you for an excuse to visit this Library for the very first time,” said General David Petraeus, a retired four-star Army General, and one of the most consequential and effective military leaders of our generation. Speaking in a packed East Room at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum on November 28, the General […]

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“Thank you for an excuse to visit this Library for the very first time,” said General David Petraeus, a retired four-star Army General, and one of the most consequential and effective military leaders of our generation.

Speaking in a packed East Room at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum on November 28, the General offered his thoughts on President Donald Trump’s foreign policies, the North Korea nuclear issue, US-China relations, continuing troubles in the Middle East, President Nixon’s strategic vision, and leadership.

Commenting on whether the United States should continue to lead the world’s rules-based international order, General Petraeus said that doing so is “something that I am firmly committed to and think we should strongly do, and it’s something that the man around whom this Library is built was absolutely committed to, and did so much to help forge and then to help evolve, particularly with, of course, as it’s termed here – ‘the week that changed the world’ with his opening to China… The One China policy still is the policy of the United States, and it began as the brainchild of an individual – only he could have gone to China.”

“Someone told me one time, ‘Don’t tell me how high the guy jumped; tell me how high he jumped back after getting knocked down,’ and that’s what this Library, I think, above all says… It’s really how you respond to adversity that counts… This is a truly extraordinary national treasure.”

General Petraeus graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served in the United States Army for 37 years.

His four-star assignments included serving as Commanding General, Multi-National Force – Iraq from 2007 to 2008 (during which he oversaw all coalition forces in Iraq), the 10th Commander, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) from 2008 to 2010, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) from 2010 to 2011.

He was appointed by President Barack Obama as Director of the CIA in 2011, and served until 2012.

He is now the Judge Widney Professor in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

The November 28 dinner was a partnership between the Richard Nixon Foundation and the World Affairs Council of Orange County. Dinner co-chairs were Nixon Foundation President William H. Baribault and World Affairs Council Chairman Judge James P. Gray (Ret.), while vice chairs were Ambassador and Mrs. George L. Argyros and the Mark Chapin Johnson Foundation. The dinner was attended by nearly 400 guests, in the Library’s magnificent White House East Room.

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A Nixon White House Christmas Tradition Remade https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/11/a-nixon-white-house-christmas-tradition-remade/ https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/11/a-nixon-white-house-christmas-tradition-remade/#respond Thu, 30 Nov 2017 19:45:58 +0000 https://www.nixonfoundation.org/?p=32377 The Pat Nixon White House Gingerbread House harkens back to 1972 “How many of you can bake like this?” the First Lady asked, teasing the White House press corps during her annual tour of the Executive Mansion’s Christmas decorations. “My husband tried to pick off a little piece and I said, ‘Don’t you dare!’” The […]

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The Pat Nixon White House Gingerbread House harkens back to 1972

“How many of you can bake like this?” the First Lady asked, teasing the White House press corps during her annual tour of the Executive Mansion’s Christmas decorations.

“My husband tried to pick off a little piece and I said, ‘Don’t you dare!’”

The Nixon Library unveiled its very own gingerbread house in honor of Pat Nixon, one of the highlights of the Whistling White House Wonderland holiday festival now open at the Nixon Library.

Smiling children everywhere: “feast” your eyes on an elaborately decorated and delectable confection, handcrafted and donated by the Cookie Element of Yorba Linda, a local bakery that offers a wide variety of cookies, macaroons, ice cream cookie sandwiches, and other premium desserts.

The Pat Nixon White House Gingerbread House is a faithful recreation of the White House’s 1972 gingerbread house.

It stands just under three feet tall and took more than 70 hours to create. The A-frame design in traditional East Coast aged-brick color, was created using five pounds of icing and ten sheet pans of gingerbread.

“The biggest challenge was creating the windows,” Chef Amy Spillane said. “They’re delicately hand-piped with royal icing.”

Spillane and her husband, Mike, who own the Cookie Element, worked with two loyal employees, Jenna Sand and Jacquelynn Drurry, to assemble the house. It is completely edible.

Beginning in 1969 —the Nixons’ first Christmas in the White House— Pat Nixon, working with German-born pastry chef Hans Raffert, gave life to what is now the most treasured of White House holiday confections.

Chef Raffert’s early gingerbread house designs held an A-frame, elaborately embellished with cookies, candies, icing and gumdrops. The two-foot high house was kept together with six pounds of icing, five pounds of cookies, one pound of hard candy, and a dozen peppermint candy canes.

Altogether, the completely edible gingerbread house weighed 40 pounds, and took twelve hours to create. One year, Chef Raffert even created miniature figures of the Nixon family dogs Pasha, Vicky and King Timahoe, that sat outside the front door.

By 1977, the gingerbread house had become the White House’s main attraction, and was guarded during public tours by two U.S. Marines.

The design would evolve over the decades as Chef Raffert worked to balance the increased popularity and interest in the design with the wants and favorites of each First Family. By the 1990s, the gingerbread house design had morphed to edible scale replicas of the White House, monuments around Washington, Santa’s Workshop, and even a castle; the 2008 gingerbread house weighed nearly 500 pounds.

The Pat Nixon White House Gingerbread House will continue to be an annual tradition at the Nixon Library to celebrate the holidays.

Smell the sugary goodness of the Pat Nixon White House Gingerbread House today! Purchase tickets to the Candlelight Evening parties here.

The Gingerbread House is also on display during regular visitor hours, included with the price of admission.

Visit The Cookie Element online at TheCookieElement.com and on Instagram @CookieElement,

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Trains are Back at the Nixon Library https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/11/trains-back-nixon-library/ https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/11/trains-back-nixon-library/#respond Tue, 21 Nov 2017 23:04:53 +0000 https://www.nixonfoundation.org/?p=32306   Vintage Model Trains Have Returned to Yorba Linda Thanks to the generosity of Ruth Ann Segerstrom Moriarty After a three-year hiatus, vintage model trains have filled the Nixon Library once again as the centerpiece of A Whistling White House Wonderland, a holiday celebration open now through January 7th. The festive 24-foot wide, 10-foot tall snow-capped mountain of toy trains […]

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Vintage Model Trains Have Returned to Yorba Linda

Thanks to the generosity of Ruth Ann Segerstrom Moriarty

After a three-year hiatus, vintage model trains have filled the Nixon Library once again as the centerpiece of A Whistling White House Wonderland, a holiday celebration open now through January 7th.

The festive 24-foot wide, 10-foot tall snow-capped mountain of toy trains features classic model trains of Christmas past – plus Thomas the Tank Engine – whistling over bridges and chugging through tunnels carefully handcrafted by the Train Collectors Association.

The six-track design, with more than 50 feet of rails, features an all-American 1950s Midwestern town, with billowing factories, quaint family homes and expansive farms.

A miniature replica of New York’s iconic Hell Gate Bridge towers over the ridges and valleys; the bridge, first modeled by Lionel Trains in the 1930s, still stands between Manhattan and Queens.

The showcase reflects President Nixon’s love of trains that began in his Yorba Linda childhood. In his Memoirs, he recalled, “In the daytime I could see the smoke from the steam engines. Sometimes at night I was awakened by the whistle of a train and then I dreamed of the far-off places I wanted to visit someday.” 

 

Candlelight Evenings at the Nixon Library

New at the Nixon Library this year!

Special Candlelight Evenings will celebrate First Lady Pat Nixon’s love of Christmas and the holiday traditions she inspired at the White House. Every Wednesday evening from November 29 through December 27, the Nixon Library will open its doors after hours for photos with Santa, live musical entertainment in the magnificent White House East Room, holiday crafts and cookie decorating for kids, hot cocoa, and opportunities to explore the Nixon Library’s new award-winning museum galleries.

 

Click here to purchase tickets.

Candlelight Evenings are sponsored by Pacific Mercantile Bank.

 

Pat Nixon White House Gingerbread House

Also new this year!

A whimsical White House gingerbread house designed in the spirit of Pat Nixon, who started this beloved White House tradition in 1970. The three-foot tall Pat Nixon White House gingerbread house features classic white icing, colorful gumdrops and chunks of elegantly-arranged candy treats. The gingerbread house is sponsored and created by The Cookie Element in Yorba Linda.

The Nixon Library’s special holiday display is the best reason yet to visit Orange County’s most popular history museum, newly-renovated and chock-full of new technology and family fun!

 

Hours and Admission

A Whistling White House Wonderland will be open daily from November 20 through January 7. The Nixon Library is open Monday through Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM and Sundays 11 AM to 5 PM and open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Adults: $26
Seniors (62+): $22
High School and College Students w/ ID: $20
Military Veterans: $20
Active Military: Free
Children (5-11): $20
Children (4 and under): Free
Members: $10

Special holiday prices effective November 20, 2017 through January 7, 2018.

The display is brought to our guests by the generosity of Ruth Ann Segerstrom Moriarty, Pacific Mercantile Bank and The Cookie Element.

 

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USC Celebrates its Global Ambassador https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/11/usc-celebrate-80th-anniversary-pat-nixons-graduation/ https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/11/usc-celebrate-80th-anniversary-pat-nixons-graduation/#respond Tue, 07 Nov 2017 16:00:25 +0000 https://www.nixonfoundation.org/?p=31725 Melanie Eisenhower leads tributes to her grandmother, First Lady Pat Nixon Melanie Eisenhower joined Dr. C. L. Max Nikias, President of the University of Southern California, to lead more than 500 members of the “Trojan family” in honoring First Lady Pat Nixon, class of 1937. Tuesday’s celebration at Town and Gown marked 80 years since […]

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Melanie Eisenhower leads tributes to her grandmother, First Lady Pat Nixon

Melanie Eisenhower joined Dr. C. L. Max Nikias, President of the University of Southern California, to lead more than 500 members of the “Trojan family” in honoring First Lady Pat Nixon, class of 1937.

Tuesday’s celebration at Town and Gown marked 80 years since Mrs. Nixon’s graduation. To recognize the occasion, the Richard Nixon Foundation joined with Town and Gown of USC to curate The Trojan First Lady: Celebrating 80 Years of USC’s Global Ambassador, a new, special exhibit on the life and lasting legacy of one of USC’s most distinguished alumnae.

Patricia Ryan enrolled at USC in 1934 and graduated cum laude in 1937; her degree in merchandising carried the equivalent of a Master’s, thus she is the first first lady to receive a Master’s degree. The University awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1961.

The new exhibit —located on the first floor of the Town and Gown building— contains more than 40 iconic images of her trips to more than 75 countries around the world, as well as original campaign buttons and mementos reading “Pat for First Lady” and a special section on her undergraduate years at USC.

Ms. Eisenhower joined Dr. Nikias to open the new exhibit, and unveil a newly refurbished portrait of Mrs. Nixon that was commissioned by Ambassador and Mrs. Walter Annenberg in 2000 — with a new plaque.

“What she accomplished in her 81 years is nothing short of extraordinary,” Eisenhower said. “Her story is, I think, the ultimate example of triumph over extreme adversity.”

“I think that today, the world can use a little bit of Pat Nixon’s love, and a bit of her example.”

-Melanie Eisenhower 

“I think that today, the world can use a little bit of Pat Nixon’s love, and a bit of her example.”

“I’ve carried her love and warmth with me through the years… My grandmother’s ability to radiate love and kindness to all she knew has made a deep impact on me.”

Nixon Foundation President Bill Baribault read a special message sent from the White House for this memorable occasion from Mrs. Nixon’s successor, First Lady Melania Trump.

“Mrs. Nixon is a model first lady who acted with courage and determination to advance the lives of the underprivileged, the sick and the forgotten,” Mrs. Trump wrote.

“Mrs. Nixon is a true role model for us all. I join in honoring her legacy of service and love for humanity, which is worthy of our admiration and remembrance.”

The letter from Mrs. Trump was featured earlier that morning on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith.

Videos sent from First Ladies Rosalynn Carter, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush were also played at the ceremony.

Earlier this year, Town and Gown of USC awarded three students with its prestigious Pat Nixon Scholarship; two Pat Nixon Scholars, Bernadette Lucas and John Bacolores, opened the special exhibit with Ms. Eisenhower and Dr. Nikias.

“The Town and Gown scholarship has meant the world to me,” Ms. Lucas said. “Rossier has four pillars of education: leadership, learning, accountability and diversity. I researched First Lady Nixon and she was the embodiment of all four of those things. I am honored to receive this scholarship.”

 

 

The exhibit features Mrs. Nixon’s 1937 diploma from USC, as well as a graduation announcement and an honorary doctorate the University Trustees awarded her in 1961, in addition to more than 40 iconic images.

The exhibit is graced with a portrait of Pat Nixon that was commissioned in 2000 by Ambassador and Mrs. Walter Annenberg, namesakes of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and lifelong friends of President and Mrs. Nixon.

The exhibit will remain open into 2018.

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Celebration Services for Herbert W. Kalmbach Held Sunday, October 15 https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/10/celebration-services-for-herbert-w-kalmbach-held-sunday-october-15/ https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/10/celebration-services-for-herbert-w-kalmbach-held-sunday-october-15/#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 00:33:59 +0000 https://www.nixonfoundation.org/?p=31642 Photo: Kalmbach and Secretary Rumsfeld at the Nixon Library in 2010. Celebration Services for Herbert W. Kalmbach Held Sunday, October 15 More than 200 family and friends of Herbert Kalmbach, President Nixon’s personal attorney and longtime close friend and advisor, gathered Sunday to celebrate Herb’s life, which ended on September 15 when he passed away […]

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Photo: Kalmbach and Secretary Rumsfeld at the Nixon Library in 2010.

Celebration Services for Herbert W. Kalmbach Held Sunday, October 15

More than 200 family and friends of Herbert Kalmbach, President Nixon’s personal attorney and longtime close friend and advisor, gathered Sunday to celebrate Herb’s life, which ended on September 15 when he passed away at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, California. He was 95.

Nixon Foundation Board Member John Hamilton was host at Sunday’s memorial celebration at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach, and recounted their many years of close friendship. Former White House colleagues Dwight Chapin and Bruce Herschensohn spoke as well. Others from Herb’s years in government included Ken Khachigian, Larry Higby and Sandy Quinn.

Herb was a founding director of the Richard Nixon Library Foundation, which created the Presidential Library in Yorba Linda.

He was the original finance chairman of candidate Richard Nixon’s 1968 Presidential Campaign and 1972 reelection campaign.

Herb is survived by his daughter Lauren Kinsey (Gerry) of Newport Beach, his son Kurt Kalmbach (Barbara) of Coto de Caza and their families. He was predeceased by his wife Barbara in 2005 and his son Kenneth in 1980.

Remembrances may be sent to the USC Kalmbach Memorial Scholarship Fund, Mary Humphrey, USC Advancement, 1150 South Olive Street, 25th Floor, Los Angeles, California 90015.

Photo: The original board of directors of the Richard Nixon Foundation. Kalmbach is seated directly to the left of President Nixon.

Photo: The original board of directors of the Richard Nixon Foundation. Kalmbach is seated directly to the left of President Nixon.

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A Letter from Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/09/letter-tricia-nixon-cox-julie-nixon-eisenhower/ https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/09/letter-tricia-nixon-cox-julie-nixon-eisenhower/#respond Thu, 28 Sep 2017 23:49:43 +0000 https://www.nixonfoundation.org/?p=31260   September 28, 2017 Dear Friends, With the the airing of Ken Burns’ 10-part series, “The Vietnam War” drawing to a close, we want to share with you some of our thoughts about our father’s Vietnam policies and strategies that the episodes covering his presidency misrepresented. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who served in the Nixon […]

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September 28, 2017

Dear Friends,

With the the airing of Ken Burns’ 10-part series, “The Vietnam War” drawing to a close, we want to share with you some of our thoughts about our father’s Vietnam policies and strategies that the episodes covering his presidency misrepresented. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who served in the Nixon White House, once memorably observed, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.” And that applies even to Ken Burns. So here are some facts.

It is not true that Richard Nixon torpedoed what some have maintained was a serious chance for peace announced by President Johnson in the closing days of the 1968 campaign. As William Bundy, a senior State Department official in the Johnson administration, later admitted, there was “no great chance for peace” in November 1968.

In fact, LBJ’s October 31st bombshell announcement gave North Vietnam a major military advantage. And before Johnson left office, the negotiations, that South Vietnam joined, succeeded only in reaching agreement about the shape of the conference table. Johnson’s “October Surprise,” just five days before the election, did, however, provide some voters with the false hope of peace, nearly swinging the election to LBJ’s vice president, Hubert Humphrey.

It is not true that President Nixon continued the war for his own political benefit. In fact, there’s no doubt that an immediate withdrawal of our 540,000 troops in Vietnam on the day he took office would have served his immediate political interests. But it also would have dishonored our commitment to the freedom of South Vietnam for which 37,563 Americans had already died. Furthermore, it would have devalued America’s credibility to friend and foe alike, with dire diplomatic and military consequences for Asia and the world.

It is not true that President Nixon widened the war. In fact, North Vietnam’s active military exploitation of Laos and Cambodia had widened the war years earlier. Our father’s bold and entirely justified actions to disrupt the enemy’s ability to wage war against our troops saved countless American lives. So, too, did the 60-day incursion into Cambodia our father ordered on April 30, 1970. This mission destroyed massive amounts of the enemy’s military supplies and disrupted the military sanctuaries that the Communists had been exploiting to kill American and South Vietnamese troops.

Ken Burns incorrectly maintains that President Nixon was, like presidents Kennedy and Johnson, responsible for the war. But it was JFK and LBJ who got us into the war; Richard Nixon got us out. Our father believed, however, that a hasty retreat from Vietnam would have led to a perilous American retreat from the world. Among those who agreed were Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and a majority of the American people.

In 12 televised “Addresses to the Nation” on Vietnam in his first term, Richard Nixon explained to the American people his plan for ending the war. He won the support of the “Silent Majority” of Americans; did what he said he would do; and never lost their support for his policy.

The Nixon “Vietnamization” strategy gave South Vietnam a chance to defend itself against Soviet and Chinese-backed Communist aggression. It also confirmed America’s bipartisan commitment, dating to the Truman administration, to resist Communist expansionism. His willingness to take strong action affirmed that America would keep its word, making possible his historic opening to China and ultimately leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Our father agonized over the war-driven divisions in our country. He understood that the anti-war passions were rooted in frustration with the war’s duration. But he also knew that their dissent made his goal of a lasting peace more difficult to achieve. It saddened him that so many clashed in America’s streets and on college campuses, and it angered him that some treated our troops returning home from the battlefield as pariahs.

President Nixon wound down America’s involvement in Vietnam to give the people of South Vietnam the chance to live in freedom. To suggest that he strung out the war is flatly wrong. To say that the reason for the war was wrong disparages the honorable service of those who fought in Vietnam, America’s most difficult war. And each of these false contentions dismisses the will of the American people, who re-elected our father with an historic 49-state majority over an opponent who vehemently opposed our father’s Vietnam strategy.

In 1973, as America’s role in the war ended and our prisoners of war came home, Richard Nixon’s vision of a wider, transformative peace was taking hold, a peace that ensured a generation of peace for the American people even as the world’s political order underwent enormous change.

These are the facts. Perhaps if Ken Burns had himself visited the Nixon Library he might have learned the real history of Vietnam during the Nixon years. Unfortunately, he did not. Fortunately, however, the tens of thousands who come to Yorba Linda – or follow the Richard Nixon Foundation on the web or through social media – will find that the truth resides there for all to see and learn from. And for that fact we are grateful to all those who support the Richard Nixon Foundation in its mission to promote the legacy of our father, the 37th President of the United States.

 

Sincerely,

Tricia NIxon Cox (1)

Tricia Nixon Cox

Julie Nixon Eisenhower (1)

Julie Nixon Eisenhower

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Nixon In His Own Words on Vietnam https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/09/nixon-in-his-own-words-on-vietnam/ https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/09/nixon-in-his-own-words-on-vietnam/#respond Wed, 27 Sep 2017 22:37:23 +0000 https://www.nixonfoundation.org/?p=31151 New Online Exhibit All-New! A special online exhibit — featuring original artifacts, newly-uncovered videos and White House tapes — that contributes President Nixon’s voice to the national conversation about the Vietnam War. The Nixon Foundation believes it is vital that President Nixon, who inherited and ended the Vietnam War and brought the POWs home, be […]

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New Online Exhibit

All-New! A special online exhibit — featuring original artifacts, newly-uncovered videos and White House tapes — that contributes President Nixon’s voice to the national conversation about the Vietnam War.

The Nixon Foundation believes it is vital that President Nixon, who inherited and ended the Vietnam War and brought the POWs home, be an active voice in the national conversation on the Vietnam War.

Follow the conversation on social media, and join us using #VietnamConversation.

CLICK HERE to explore the exhibit.

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The Vietnam War – Errors and Omissions – Episode Nine https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/09/vietnam-war-errors-episode-9/ https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/09/vietnam-war-errors-episode-9/#respond Wed, 27 Sep 2017 22:09:51 +0000 https://www.nixonfoundation.org/?p=31209 The Richard Nixon Foundation looks forward to a national conversation about the Vietnam War. The Foundation believes it is vital that President Nixon, who inherited and ended the Vietnam War and brought the POWs home, have an active voice in that conversation. To that end, the Foundation offers Richard Nixon’s own words and writings — […]

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The Richard Nixon Foundation looks forward to a national conversation about the Vietnam War.

The Foundation believes it is vital that President Nixon, who inherited and ended the Vietnam War and brought the POWs home, have an active voice in that conversation.

To that end, the Foundation offers Richard Nixon’s own words and writings — in video interviews, on hundreds of pages of yellow pads, on many hours of White House tapes, in speeches from the Oval Office, and in his 1985 bestselling book No More Vietnams.

The Vietnam War is a new 18-hour documentary directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick currently airing on PBS stations nationwide.

The film deals extensively with President Nixon and the Nixon Foundation will be correcting any factual errors and unsupported allegations.

Click To Share On Facebook!

Click To Share On Twitter!

 

Episode Nine: “A Disrespectful Loyalty” (May 1970-March 1973)

Premieres September 27 at 8/7c

Burns/Novick/Ward claim:

The film’s narrator says that President Nixon wrote the head of the construction workers’ union, expressing support for construction workers who were conducting violent counter-protests in downtown Manhattan.

NARRATOR: At an antiwar demonstration in Manhattan, hundreds of construction workers in hardhats attacked protesters, sending 70 to the hospital.

And when workers marched on City Hall a few days later, Nixon wrote the president of their union to say how pleased he was to see the tremendous outpouring of support for our country, demonstrated in your orderly and most heartening rally.

The Facts:

The Burns/Novick/Ward account of the hard hats incident is very misleading. By leaving out all the pertinent details of the story, the filmmakers are able to convey the notion that President Nixon encouraged and rewarded violence against anti-war protesters.

The film does not mention the pivotal fact that the confrontations began when New York Mayor John Lindsay — a liberal Republican who was one of the country’s most prominent antiwar voices — ordered all American flags at City Hall to fly at half-staff after the Kent State killings.

The protesters, some of them waving NLF flags, demanded the release of “political prisoners” in the United States, and an end to all military research, had been assembled at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets for three days before the construction workers arrived.

As the Wall Street Journal noted on May 11, 1970, there were “inflamed tempers on both sides.”

 

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Burns/Novick/Ward claim:

The film’s narrator says that Nixon “searched” for a “face saving way to end the war.”

NARRATOR: As the President searched for a face-saving way to end the war, he continued to withdraw troops.

The Facts:

Here, again, the Burns/Novick/Ward opinion about President Nixon’s motives is presented as fact. The Nixon opinion about Nixon’s motives is not even mentioned. The search for a face-saving way to end the war wouldn’t have taken very long — if that was what Nixon wanted to do. At any time from 1969 through 1972, his decision to withdraw American forces would have been met with great acclaim. It was precisely his refusal to make “saving his face” the criterion for American policy that prolonged the war during his first term. He subordinated his own political interests to his responsibilities as President, because he believed an expedient, face-saving, peace would only be the inevitable prelude to other, even more terrible wars.

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Burns/Novick/Ward claim:

The film’s narrator says that Nixon, like LBJ, believed that the antiwar movement was directed by communist agencies all over the world.

NARRATOR: Nixon was convinced, just as Lyndon Johnson had been, that the antiwar movement was somehow being directed from Hanoi, Beijing and Moscow.

The Facts:

It is true that President Nixon, like his predecessor Lyndon Johnson, believed that the antiwar movement was, at least in some cases, influenced by communists in other countries. Based on the abundant evidence available, this was not an unreasonable belief to hold.

It was reinforced when Radio Hanoi broadcast a message of encouragement and support from North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong to the antiwar Moratorium on October 15, 1969: “May your fall offensive succeed splendidly.”

The North Vietnamese negotiators at Paris made it clear that they were intimately informed about the activities of the domestic American antiwar movement.

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Burns/Novick/Ward claim:

In regard to the Pentagon Papers, the film’s narrator says that Kissinger “quickly” convinced Nixon to take action to prevent their publication because it was “only a matter of time” before “his own” secrets leaked. Nixon, the film’s script states, “may have privately” feared that files in a safe in the Brookings Institute which “might reveal” the “secret role his campaign had played in torpedoing the peace talks on the eve of his election three years earlier, which President Johnson had then considered treason,” would leak. These also included allegations that Nixon lied about the secret bombings of Cambodia and Laos.

NARRATOR: At first Nixon was not unduly disturbed about the newspaper’s revelations. They reflected badly on his Democratic predecessors, not on him. But Henry Kissinger quickly convinced Nixon that if the New York Times was permitted to reveal the classified secrets of earlier presidents, it was only a matter of time until someone leaked his own.

NARRATOR: Nixon feared Ellsberg possessed more classified material that would show that he himself had lied about the secret bombing of Cambodia and Laos. And he believed that Ellsberg had had help and wanted to know the names of his co-conspirators.

NARRATOR: Nixon may have privately feared something else as well. He was told that the safe at another think tank, the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., contained files that might reveal the secret role his campaign had played in torpedoing the peace talks on the eve of his election three years earlier, which President Johnson had then considered treason.

The Facts:

The basic fact is that the “Pentagon Papers” were top secret classified government documents that had been illegally removed from the headquarters of the Department of Defense at the end of the Johnson Administration and were, illegally, in the possession of private non-governmental think tanks. The President was informed that, at the same time the “Pentagon Papers” were offered to the New York Times and other newspapers, copies had been left at the Soviet Embassy in Washington.

Until Daniel Ellsberg’s identity was discovered, the thief’s identity was a mystery. It was also clear that more than one person had to be involved with the theft and copying of so many thousands of pages. Even after Ellsberg’s identity was known, his motive or motives, and those of any other possible conspirators, were unknown.

Over the years, the Nixon Administration’s opposition to publication of the Pentagon Papers has been presented as an attempt to curb First Amendment freedoms. Rather, it was an attempt to prevent the release and publicizing of secret government documents involving national security during wartime.

In 1983, former President Nixon stated: “Daniel Ellsberg, whatever his intentions, gave aid and comfort to the enemy. And under those circumstances, that is inexcusable . . . It had the effect, again, of making the enemy more intransigent at the conference table by bringing home to them the fact that there was division in the war here. And under the circumstances, it prolonged the war, and it cost American lives, without any question, in my opinion.”

The suggestion that President Nixon was concerned about the existence of documents dealing with his alleged activities during the 1968 presidential campaign is a conspiracy theory for which there is no proof.

Burns/Novick/Ward also totally and uncritically accept and state as fact the highly speculative allegation that President Nixon wanted to obtain documents that might have indicated his alleged attempt to derail President Johnson’s announcement of peace talks six days before the 1968 presidential election.

This theory, which is too conspiratorial and extreme even for Nixon’s most serious critics, is the hobbyhorse of Ken Hughes, a researcher at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, who was a consultant on the Burns Vietnam project. The problem, in terms of the standards traditionally applied to historical scholarship, is that there not any evidence supporting it, much less any proof.

To the extent that Nixon may have been interested in materials relating to the 1968 election, it was because he believed that President Johnson, and/or people at the highest levels of the Johnson White House, saw the last minute bombing halt and peace talks as a way to tilt the election to the Democratic candidate, Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

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Burns/Novick/Ward claim:

Bombing of Hanoi and mining of Haiphong harbor in April 1972 was an escalation of the war. The narrator says that “some saw” increased bombings as Nixon once again escalating a war he had promised to end.

NARRATOR: Americans may have approved of the renewed use of American air power to stop the communist advance into the south. But Nixon had also ordered American planes to resume sustained bombing of North Vietnam, which had been halted since the Johnson administration. Some saw the new bombing, which vastly exceeded all previous campaigns, as evidence that a war Nixon had promised was winding down was once again being escalated.

The Facts:

It is specious to argue that any rigorous prosecution of the war — in this case in direct response to a major enemy offensive – amounts to an escalation. And it is either naïve or tendentious to claim that any such response by President Nixon contradicts his stated hope to end the war as soon as was honorably possible.

President Nixon believed that responding to renewed enemy offensives with intense air power would show the North Vietnamese that they could no longer take advantage of the Johnson Administration’s restrictive rules of engagement to advance their positions. In addition, he thought that decisive applications of air power might cause the North Vietnamese to withdraw from South Vietnam, while cutting their supply lines across the DMZ and down the Ho Chi Minh Trail might end the war in a way that would provide South Vietnam with the opportunity to survive.

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Burns/Novick/Ward claim:

The film quotes Nixon and Kissinger on one of the Nixon White House tapes saying, “South Vietnam probably can never even survive anyway.”

TAPE

RN: Let’s be perfectly cold-blooded about it. Because I look at the tide of history out there, South Vietnam probably can never even survive anyway.

The Facts:

Over the course of the years that President Nixon was Commander-in- Chief of the American forces in Vietnam, his thinking naturally evolved about the possibility, or likelihood, of South Vietnam’s survival after the U.S. troops withdrew. One thing, however, is clear: until the Paris Peace Accords mandated American withdrawal, he intended to give the South Vietnamese forces every possible opportunity and advantage of training and supply. And after January 1973, he intended to honor his pledge to provide South Vietnamese forces with U.S. air support if North Vietnam broke the terms of the Paris Accords and sent troops into South Vietnam.

It was the decision of Congress to withdraw funding for replacement parts for South Vietnam’s military equipment that allowed the success of the North Vietnamese troops and South Vietnamese insurgents, and then led to the fall of South Vietnam in 1975.

From his first day as President in 1969, until he announced the end of the war with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, President Nixon hoped that the democratic nation of South Vietnam, despite its government’s many imperfections, would be able to survive on its own.

Years later, in 1985, he wrote in No More Vietnams: “Other hawks suggested a different approach. They conceded to the doves that we should not have gone into Vietnam in the first place, but contended that now that we were there, we had no choice but to see it through. Our goal, they argued, should not be to defeat the enemy but to stay long enough so that after we withdrew there would be a ‘decent interval’ before South Vietnam fell to the Communists. I believed that this was the most immoral option of all. If our cause was unjust or if the war was unwinnable, we should have cut our losses and gotten out of Vietnam immediately. As President, I could not ask any young American to risk his life for an unjust or unwinnable cause.” [p. 103]

The film quotes this same tape that Nixon believed that his election was of utmost importance. He said on the tapes, “Winning an election is terribly important. It’s terribly important this year.”

TAPE

RN: We also have to realize, Henry, that winning an election is terribly important. It’s terribly important this year.

The Facts:

That any consideration — much less the results of an election — was more important than the lives of American soldiers is perhaps the most serious charge that can be made against any American, much less any president.

As president during wartime, when many of his political opponents were recommending policies of unilateral withdrawal and not insisting on the return of the POWs, President Nixon felt that his re-election was important in order to save American lives, preserve America’s honor, and prevent wars in the future.

Two prominent historians, Professors Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter, note in The Nixon Tapes, 1971-1972:

“There is no question in our minds, after listening to thousands of hours [of the Nixon tapes], that Nixon was a ruthless political operator, fully in control of his White House foreign policy agenda . . . He truly feared that if he did not win reelection in 1972, a weak pacifist like Ted Kennedy or George McGovern would slash defense budgets to the detriment of American security.” [p. xv]

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Burns/Novick/Ward Claim:

The film notes that the “Christmas bombing” was widely unpopular and denounced.

NARRATOR: Around the world, antiwar demonstrators returned to the streets. The prime minister of Sweden compared the United States to Nazi Germany. The pope called the bombing which killed more than 1,600 civilians the object of daily grief. James Reston of the New York Times pronounced the raids “war by tantrum.” Republican senator William Saxby of Ohio said the president had taken leave of his senses.

The Facts:

The “Christmas bombing” was bitterly controversial, and widely misunderstood. The fact that it was successful and ended the war within weeks made the decision no less easy or painful for him.

In his Memoirs, President Nixon described the decision to bomb North Vietnam in December 1972 as “the most difficult decision I made during the entire war.” Specific attention was paid to limiting the bombing to purely military targets, and minimizing any possible civilian casualties, although the North Vietnamese purposely placed military facilities amidst civilian populations.

In 1983, President Nixon said: “Insofar as carpet bombing is concerned, [New York Times columnist] Anthony Lewis and other commentators practically went out of their minds, because they said we were bombing thousands of innocent people and hospitals, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Not true. We lost some [B-52s] because we insisted that it not be area bombing. It was very precise. It was on military targets only, and the North Vietnamese later admitted that less than nine hundred people were killed, civilians who were living right in the area. Now, that’s too many, but, on the other hand, this was not aimed at Northern civilian populations. It was only on military targets. It was effective. It brought the North Vietnamese to the conference table, and they made an agreement.”

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The Vietnam War – Errors and Omissions – Episode Eight https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/09/vietnam-war-errors-omissions-episode-8/ https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/09/vietnam-war-errors-omissions-episode-8/#respond Tue, 26 Sep 2017 20:31:52 +0000 https://www.nixonfoundation.org/?p=31117 The Richard Nixon Foundation looks forward to a national conversation about the Vietnam War. The Foundation believes it is vital that President Nixon, who inherited and ended the Vietnam War and brought the POWs home, have an active voice in that conversation. To that end, the Foundation offers Richard Nixon’s own words and writings — […]

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The Richard Nixon Foundation looks forward to a national conversation about the Vietnam War.

The Foundation believes it is vital that President Nixon, who inherited and ended the Vietnam War and brought the POWs home, have an active voice in that conversation.

To that end, the Foundation offers Richard Nixon’s own words and writings — in video interviews, on hundreds of pages of yellow pads, on many hours of White House tapes, in speeches from the Oval Office, and in his 1985 bestselling book No More Vietnams.

The Vietnam War is a new 18-hour documentary directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick currently airing on PBS stations nationwide.

The film deals extensively with President Nixon and the Nixon Foundation will be correcting any factual errors and unsupported allegations.

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Episode Eight: “The History of the World” (April 1969-May 1970)

Premieres September 26 at 8/7c

 

Burns/Novick/Ward Claim:

Privately, Nixon knew that military victory was impossible.

NARRATOR: “Privately, Nixon knew that military victory was impossible, that things would have to be settled at the bargaining table in Paris. He had to find a way to extricate Americans from Vietnam without seeming to surrender.”

The Facts:

If Mr. Burns, Ms. Novick, or Mr. Ward are somehow privy to what President Nixon knew privately, they have the duty to provide the sources and citations to support this statement.

In 1985, the former President wrote in No More Vietnams, “If our cause was unjust or if the war was unwinnable, we should have cut our losses and gotten out of Vietnam immediately. As President, I could not ask any young American to risk his life for an unjust or unwinnable cause.”

The Burns/Novick/Ward version of Vietnam is based on what they believe to be desperation and duplicity on the part of President Nixon. They purport to know what he thinks privately, and what he thinks privately turns out to be what they think he thinks privately, which is trying to find a surreptitious way to surrender.

“Surrender” never occurred to President Nixon. The word was not part of his vocabulary.

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Burns/Novick/Ward Claim:

According to Tom Vallely, identified throughout the film as a Marine, Nixon and Kissinger developed a secret strategy to surrender without saying that they surrendered.

TOM VALLELY: “Nixon and Kissinger. Their job is to clean up. The war’s over. Okay. When Nixon and Kissinger, when they come, they’re not going to win the war. So they develop a secret strategy to surrender, without saying they surrendered. This is not a bad strategy. This is the only strategy.”

The Facts:

There is no factual basis for this statement. Even among Nixon critics this is an extreme statement. It is an opinion to which Mr. Vallely is entitled. But Mr. Vallely expresses it as fact, which should oblige the filmmakers, at the very least, to acknowledge that there are different opinions.

Further, Mr. Vallely, in addition to being an articulate and compelling interviewee, is also the film’s Senior Advisor. Unless viewers stay tuned through the credits, where this role is acknowledged, it is perhaps misleading to include him among the other interview subjects without disclosing that association.

President Nixon had a clear strategy for Vietnam. It included not just ending the war, bringing the POWs home, and securing the right of the people of South Vietnam to determine their own political future. Through achieving better relations with China and the Soviet Union –what became known as “linkage”—Nixon planned to build the framework for a generation of peace.

If President Nixon had decided to “surrender” he could have announced the immediate withdrawal of all American troops in his Inaugural Address in 1969, or following it. He well knew what he was told by Democrats and Republicans: that he had about six months after he became President until “Johnson’s war” became “Nixon’s war.” He accepted that responsibility because he believed a dishonorable peace, such as one achieved by surrender, might be temporarily popular but would inevitably lead the way to future and even more difficult wars.

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Burns/Novick/Ward Claim:

According to Vincent Okamoto, identified as an Army solider, justification for the war shifted in its latter days to maintaining America’s credibility. 

VINCENT OKAMOTO: “No 19, 20 year old kid wants to die to maintain the credibility of Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon.”

The Facts:

From his first days as President (indeed, foreshadowed by his seminal article “Asia After Vietnam” published in the October 1967 issue of Foreign Affairs), Nixon felt that America’s reputation as a dependable ally, and role as a great power working for peace around the world, would depend on the way the United States dealt with ending the Vietnam War.

Nixon would have had considerable domestic and international support if he had decided to leave Vietnam on any terms and begin his new administration with a clean slate. But, as Nixon wrote in his Memoirs, “To abandon South Vietnam to the Communists now would cost us inestimably in our search for a stable, structured, and lasting peace.”

He elaborated in a 1983 interview: “I had been there [Vietnam] going back to 1953. I was there in ’53, ’56, and four times in the sixties, and I knew that if we were to get out of Vietnam then, the Communists would overrun it. I also knew that if we got out under those circumstances, it would have a devastating effect on our other allies in that area — the Thais, for example, the Filipinos, and so forth. And I also knew, and this is a conviction I have even today, I knew it would have a devastating effect on American morale, on our willingness to play a credible role in the world, because there’d be instant relief for a while, and then there would be a turning inward and saying ‘Why did we have this loss of life for nothing?’”

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Burns/Novick/Ward Claim:

The narrator says that Nixon ended up widening the war, just as his predecessors did.

NARRATOR: Richard Nixon, having promised a swift end to the war, would, like all the presidents who came before him, end up widening it. In the process, he would reignite opposition to the war on American campuses that threatened to tear the country apart again.

The Facts:

President Nixon’s predecessors, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson, began the Vietnam War and expanded it until, when Richard Nixon was inaugurated on January 20th 1969, there were more than 500,000 Americans in Vietnam. Beginning in his first year as President, Nixon began withdrawing U.S. troops, until there were only some 23,000 by the time he was able to end the war in 1973.

The idea that Nixon widened the war is based on his announcement of the Cambodian incursion in April 1970. This incursion sent American and South Vietnamese troops a limited number of miles across the Cambodian border, where invading North Vietnamese soldiers had established sanctuaries (supplied via the Ho Chi Minh trail which extended from North Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia). More than one thousand Americans were killed during his first two months in office, many of them the result of attacks staged from these sanctuaries.

Nixon announced a timetable by which the sanctuaries would be destroyed and the Ho Chi Minh trail interdicted, and the American and South Vietnamese forces would then return to their bases in South Vietnam. Following that timetable, the troops moved into the Cambodian sanctuaries on the 29th of April, and had been completely withdrawn from Cambodia by July 22nd.

In No More Vietnams, the former president wrote, “Our incursions into Cambodia in 1970 did not widen the war. Since 1965, North Vietnam’s forces had occupied the border areas of Cambodia. In March 1970, Hanoi infiltrated into Cambodia over 200,000 Khmer Rouge guerillas who had been trained in North Vietnam. In April, after Cambodia’s government tried to assert its authority over its own territory — hardly an unreasonable demand — North Vietnam launched an invasion of the country. Hanoi’s delegate to the private peace talks freely admitted to us that North Vietnam intended to bring down the government of Phnom Penh. In May and June, when American and South Vietnamese forces cleared out the Communist sanctuaries, Cambodia was already swept up in the war.”

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Burns/Novick/Ward Claim:

Nixon used the POW issue to change the narrative about the war and rebuke the anti-war movement, “who seemed more sympathetic to North Vietnamese civilians than those who were doing the bombing.”

NARRATOR: The Johnson Administration had generally downplayed the issue, hoping quiet diplomacy might bring the men home. The Nixon Administration launched a “go public” campaign instead, meant to put the plight of American prisoners and those missing in action at the center of things. It also provided a rebuke to those in the antiwar movement who seemed more sympathetic to North Vietnamese civilians who had been bombed, than they were to U.S. airmen who had been shot down doing that bombing.

The Facts:

After three years, the Johnson administration’s general downplaying of the issue, and counting on “quiet diplomacy,” had clearly failed.

The North Vietnamese insisted that the POWs were “war criminals” rather than prisoners of war, and treated them accordingly. During this period of “quiet diplomacy,” the American POWs were tortured, starved, denied medical treatment, mentally abused, subjected to beatings. Some were beaten to death and others died as a result of inadequate, or no, medical attention.

These facts rebuked the anti-war movement, not Nixon’s decision to “go public” with them.

During his first weeks in office, President Nixon met with wives, mothers and sisters of POWs and responded to their concerns. In No More Vietnams, he described that meeting: “It was an emotional and heartwarming experience to hear them express support for the administration’s policies and reject the demands of the antiwar politicians that we accept defeat and simply withdraw our forces in exchange for our POWs.”

In May 1969, Defense Secretary Melvin Laird announced the “Go Public” policy at a Pentagon press conference, saying that, although “the North Vietnamese have claimed they are treating our men humanely,” there was “clear evidence that this is not the case.” They had not identified the names of the prisoners they held, nor had they complied with requirements of the Geneva Conventions. The “prompt release of all American prisoners” became a non-negotiable contention at the Paris peace talks.

The first improvements in the conditions of the POWs finally began as the result of public pressure after stories about their inhumane treatment continued.

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Burns/Novick/Ward Claim:

NARRATOR: A Gallup Poll now found that most Americans believed Vietnam had been a mistake.

The Facts:

This is correct. A Gallup poll taken February 1-6, 1968 was first time that most Americans agreed that the Vietnam War had been a mistake. That was the belief of most Americans from that point on.

Beginning in January 1969, the Gallup Poll also asked on 20 separate occasions, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Nixon is handling the situation in Vietnam?” Eighteen of the 20 times, more Americans said they approved than disapproved of Nixon’s handling of Vietnam.

NARRATOR: Richard Nixon knew he needed to signal to the public that an end was in sight. The National Security Council had warned Nixon that the joint chiefs of staff, the secretaries of State and Defense, the CIA, and the U.S. embassy in Saigon all privately agreed, that without U.S. combat troops, the South Vietnamese cannot now, or in the foreseeable future, stand up to both Viet Cong and sizable North Vietnamese forces.

The Facts:

At best, this is a non sequitur. The narration jumps, without notice, from February 1968 when Nixon has just announced his presidential candidacy, to early 1969 when he is already President and Commander-in-Chief.

The only document that we can find in the archives that matches the description in the Burns/Novick/Ward film, is “Vietnamizing the War (NSSM 36)” from Henry Kissinger to the President on June 23, 1969. This document, which was top secret at the time, was declassified in 2012. You can read it here: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/LOC-HAK-502-1-5-7.pdf

If the film’s producers are referring to a different document, they should cite it.

This document begins, “Secretary Laird has forwarded you the outline plan (Tab A) prepared by the Joint Chiefs for Vietnamizing the war. This plan has been coordinated with the Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency.”

On the first page of Secretary Laird’s covering memo, he describes his reservations about the situation he had observed during a recent trip to South Vietnam. All the contributors (the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of State) were understandably cautious and wary. But far from sending a warning, the document expresses a prudent optimism about the possibility of success and a guarded enthusiasm about the benefits of the policy.

Nixon needed no warning, or reminding, of the difficult situation he had inherited.

NARRATOR: Nonetheless, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird said, the war was now to be Vietnamized. Saigon’s troops would gradually take over responsibility for engaging the enemy.

The Facts:

“Nonetheless” is misleading, because it implies that the prudent reservations —that were expressed about a policy that would be unfolding against the background of an ongoing war— were the point of this document.

The risks were clearly understood, but the possibility of success made the risks acceptable:

“Positive effects of Vietnamizing the war could include improving the negotiating climate; encouraging mutual withdrawal of North Vietnamese Army forces; stimulating RVNAF leaders resolve to fight while reducing their dependence on the United States; promoting additional US public support for the US effort in Vietnam; and saving US lives. The Vietnamese public could be led to accept the gradual approach if such reductions appears to be in each instance the result of a joint assessment and agreement between the United States and the Government of Vietnam and if the public were persuaded that the plan considered such factors as the military situation, the RVNAF’s capabilities, and progress in Paris.”

In a clear example of presenting advocacy as fact, from its first mention in the Burns/Novick/Ward film, the Nixon policy of Vietnamization is described only in negative terms and characterized as a secret and face-saving way concocted to protect President Nixon’s reputation.

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Burns/Novick/Ward Claim:

MERRILL McPEAK: The reason I was ordered home early was because President Nixon announced the policy of Vietnamization. Now, Vietnamization was a lie. But it had an element of truth in it. We were leaving, okay? And that sealed the South’s fate. I knew it. And I think anybody who was conscious and could see what was going on, knew it.

The Facts:

General McPeak deserves respect for his service in Vietnam and later as Air Force Chief of Staff. Viewers will have to decide how they feel about his statement in the documentary that “we were fighting on the wrong side.”
That opinion may inform this extreme and simplistic statement about the policy of Vietnamization that was developed by many military and civilian experts and leaders over four wartime years. The fact that Vietnamization was a complex, sophisticated, and controversial policy is totally ignored.

Calling an official policy of the United States and South Vietnamese governments “a lie,” which “sealed the South’s fate,” does little to facilitate a national conversation about Vietnam.

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To see errors and omissions from the previous episode, click here.

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