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 ?


Gary said...

I have read the same stories, one important one was in Vanity Fair and lists some impressive sources. I do not know if they are completely true but I believe them completely. In my opinion Richard Nixon was a lying scheming criminal and should have been impeached and tried for his many crimes.
This is the man that ran for President and lost, ran for Governor of California and lost then ran for President again and won. He knew and used every trick in the book to get elected -his nick name was "Tricky Dick". I think Ford's giving him a pardon after he was forced to resign as President "to heal the country" was a huge mistake.

Ted Leddy said...


Again, I wish I could say that this was historical fact. Not until then would I be prepared to call him the worst President in history, and an evil man.

I have to say. I think Richard Nixon was one of the most fascinating men to occupy the White House. His Presidency is probably the one I enjoy reading about the most. He was brilliant in many ways. His grasp of geopolitics was second to none. But his vanity, jealosy and insecurities overwhelmed his personality and brought out the worst in him. As the actor playing Nixon's senior advisor, Erlicmann said in the movie "Nixon". There are people dying because he didn't make the football team at Whittier. Perhaps it is these personal flaws that make his presidency so fascinating. It is a great study of the human personality.

On Ford's pardon. I suppose its legacy was that some people are in fact above the law.