Sunday, December 12, 2010
Interesting Random Piece of History 7
Did Richard Nixon sabotage the 1968 Paris Peace conference.
Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States in November 1968. The Vietnam war was raging at this time and it was not going well for the Americans. In January of 68 the Viet Cong had launched the Tet offensive which the Americans ultimately repulsed but which led many commentators to argue that the war was untenable. In May of 68, a peace conference took place in Paris where the US entered negotiations with the north and south Vietnamese governments in order to bring an end to hostilities. The talks failed and the US would remain involved for a further five years. Today's random piece of interesting history addresses a controversial subject, one which I have come across in many books but am unaware of a definitive source. Did Richard Nixon, or someone acting on his orders make contact with the South Vietnamese delegation during the Presidential election campaign and urge them to reject the terms of the peace treaty in Paris, arguing that a Republican administration would achieve a better deal for the anti communist south. This is one of those thing that is often said but I am not sure if there is any historical basis. But I would love to know. Because if it is true, then the actions of Nixon must be perceived as an act of evil. At best he went behind the governments back (very taboo in any democracy for the opposition to exercise executive power) and undermined American national Interest. At worst he sabotaged a peace conference and prolonged a truly horrific war just so that he could get elected. All the more shocking when you consider that when his government finally did negotiate a peace deal with the Vietnamese in 1973, it was on almost the exact same terms as those on the table in 1968. It is an interesting thought, if Nixon was guilty of this, just how bad an act was it ? Any thoughts ?