Nixon’s War 15

An allied force of twenty thousand men, supported by American aircraft, were attacking the two main North Vietnamese and Vietcong bases in Cambodia as Nixon spoke. The South Vietnamese had ini¬tially crossed the border two days before. The drive against COSVN, the Communist headquarters supposedly situated in the “Fish Hook,” turned out to be quixotic. Instead of the miniature Pentagon ... Read More »

Nixon’s War 14

“We don’t anticipate that any request will be made,” replied Sec¬retary of State Rogers on March 23, when a reporter asked him whether the United States might grant military assistance to Lon Nol. But Rogers was excluded from the decisions being made at the White House. Six days earlier, on the eve of Sihanouk’s ouster, Kissinger had told Nixon that ... Read More »

Nixon’s War 13

The French had set up the eighteen-year-old Sihanouk as their pup¬pet ruler in 1941, when they controlled Cambodia as a colonial pro¬tectorate, and they felt a special responsibility for him. Now, after his overthrow, they began to ponder the possibility of an international initiative to reinstall him in Phnompenh. There was a precedent for the idea. In 1964, the major ... Read More »

Nixon’s War 12

Early in 1970, aware that the battlefield was deadlocked, the Com¬munists began to revamp their strategy. With Nixon under pressure at home to remove the GIs from Vietnam, time seemed to be on their side. Nevertheless, they faced grave uncertainties. The unpredictable Nixon might halt the U.S. troop withdrawals. Nor could they be sure of defeating the South Vietnamese army, ... Read More »

Nixon’s War 11

To spare Nixon the appearance of indignity, the job of pursuing the “liberals” was entrusted to Agnew. The vice-president began by assailing the news media as “a small and unelected elite” that “do not—I repeat not—represent the view of America.” The Democrats counterattacked, Hubert Humphrey denouncing the diatribe as an appeal to the public’s “baser instinct.” Television network execu¬tives howled, ... Read More »

Nixon’s War 10

For a brief moment, Nixon appeared to have checked domestic dissidence. In September he announced a second troop withdrawal as well as a reduction in draft calls, the latter calculated to quell antiwar protests by students returning to college campuses. He also labored to convince legislative critics of his sincerity, silencing even Senator Fulbright. An opinion poll conducted in October ... Read More »

Nixon’s War 9

Laird’s eagerness to disengage in Vietnam annoyed Kissinger, who spoke differently to different people. He assured his liberal Harvard friends that he was working to extract the United States from Vietnam, adding that he had no desire to end up like Walt Rostow, whose toughness on the war issue had earned him excommunication from the ranks of Ivy League intellectuals. ... Read More »

Nixon’s War 8

The answer was that Nixon had no intention of retreating entirely from Vietnam—not, at least, during his presidency. To placate public opinion at home, he sought an agreement that would gain the release of the American prisoners, then numbering about four hundred, being held in brutal conditions in North Vietnamese jails. For the same reason, he envisioned the removal from ... Read More »

Nixon’s War 7

Nixon initially procrastinated. But late in February, he proposed the bombing of Cambodia in retaliation for a renewed Communist offensive in South Vietnam. The impulsive decision worried Kissin¬ger, Rogers and Laird for practical rather than ethical reasons. Kis¬singer was concerned about embarking on the venture without preparing for the diplomatic consequences; Rogers feared its potential effect on private peace talks; ... Read More »

Nixon’s War 6

Kissinger, like Nixon, believed that the war had to be ended “hon¬orably” for the sake of America’s global prestige. Like Nixon, more¬over, he was not averse to deploying force to compel the North Vietnamese to acquiesce. But they differed in at least two important respects at the start of their liaison. Though he subscribed to Nixon’s “linkage” concept, Kissinger seemed ... Read More »

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