Nixon, Kissinger and Vietnam - Cold War

Nixon, Kissinger and Vietnam - Cold War

So Nixon and Kissinger do something that’s really strange. They say that the secretary of state William Rogers is speaking for administration and speaking for the White House, but really Nixon and Kissinger, who was sort of taken power into the White House. They’re admitting that State Department is way across the town and Washington, D.C. in the place called Foggy Bottom, that is 3 metro stops away. Kissinger is right in the White House.

Digression
Nixon shouldn’t take himself, because most presidents can get away with stupid things, Nixon take everything into the White House and everybody knows what kind of stupid things he would say. He tried to embed (?) Kissinger and Kissinger was a smart guy. He knew who is boss, so they’re always conversations about Nixon and Kissinger talking together and Henry Kissinger had to agree with Nixon and Nixon say: “You know Henry what’s the problem with the world? It’s the Jews!” And Kissinger say: “Yes Mr. president.” “What do you think about that Henry?” “Well, there are Jews and the Jews.” This is the sort of guy that Nixon was. He would try to make Kissinger feel uncomfortable and Kissinger was easy to make uncomfortable.

The first they had to do was to decide how to get out of Vietnam. Kissinger used to say: “Recognize the inevitable and exploit it to your advantage!”, what basically meant they were gonna try to get out of Vietnam with the least damage possible to the American prestige. Both Nixon and Kissinger were against this idea that the American could just pull out. Have anyone ever seen the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.? There are 58.000 names on this wall. In 1968 when Nixon took power only half that many. And that got the war with ending. A lot of people said to Nixon: “You knew you were gonna lose this war and you still wanna get out with honor?” “A lot of people died for honor.” – this is what a lot of people are saying now.

Digression
I saw debate this weekend. Somebody was talking about Iraq right now. They were starting to say: “That is like Nixon stayed and it is stubborn. If you can get out, get out all the way.” The other guy said: “No. It’s cowardly. What would the world think about America?”. It was like a déjà vu from 1969. I mean that they were based on the same arguments.

Nixon decided to do something that he thought was a half-way measure between complete pullout and escalating the war, because he knew he couldn’t really escalate the war. He called it Vietnamization, what basically means: “We supply the weapons, you supply the soldiers.” Nixon announced this in a place called Guam and now it is called Guam Doctrine. It basically meant: “Listen! We cannot win that war for you. You are going to have to fight with our weapons, but you’re going to have to fight yourself!” That’s what he decided to do in a way. And Nixon started to do things like the candles of draft (?), so young people were happy with this. Nixon basically started to pull out the Vietnam but not all the way.
The Democrats had the same problem that they do now. Vietnam killed the Democratic Party, cause the Democratic Party used to be made up sort of tough guys, workers, blue collar guys, Southerners and intellectuals. Lyndon Johnson, who was a Democrat, won 70% of votes in 1964. By 1968 he was so unpopular in Democratic Party, that he couldn’t run for office (?). The Democrats were so split that they became known as sort of the pacifist party.

Digression
The democrats did something that Hillary Clinton just trying to avoid right now like the flag. Hillary Clinton has read any book on 1968: “How to screw up the presidency?”. “Look like you’re soft.” Is anyone knows what is Hillary Clinton’s solution to Iraq right now and there is no coincidence: “Send more troops!”. She knows that the Republicans gonna say: “Oh. You’re a woman. You’re not tough.” I think it might work. I don’t know.

But the Democrats in 1969 didn’t say that. They were basically saying this, and I’m paraphrasing a little bit, I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I have to make a point. The Democrats in 1969 were basically saying: “Vietnam means that America is just like the Soviet Union. We’re empire, they’re empire; we’re bad, they’re bad, everybody is bad. People were starting to say about things like My Lai massacre . This was the sort of the underground, hippies saying that America is like the Nazi’s Germany, American soldiers are even worse than the Nazis, Henry Kissinger is like Albert Speer etc. I mean this was around!
And the democratic leaders talked debate. There was something in October 1969. Nixon has been in office for about 7 months and he’s really no idea what to do about Vietnam. He doesn’t know what to do, he’s unpopular, but he can’t pull out, what’s he gonna do? The Democrats had antiwar protestors calling for something what is called Vietnam Moratorium Day. It basically means that everybody walked out of work and out of class and out of colleges and they took the day off and they protested the war.

Digression
If you ever have watched “Wonderful years” there is Kevin Arnold who doesn’t know what to do, whether to leave on Moratorium Day. And I think it’s basically autobiographical from whoever wrote that episode. He knows that his principal is gonna get mad, he left, but the hippie political science teacher wanna him do or something I don’t know.

But you get the idea. People were saying: ”Are we gonna protest it with the Moratorium Day?” What the Moratorium Day turned out to be was like this giant sort of Viet Cong rally (?). The hippies went out with Viet Cong flags, burning American flags. Nixon always used to talk about this what turn is presidency around when he saw kids injunerating (?) on the steps of the George Washington monument in New York City. Nixon was sitting in the White House and he loved Moratorium Day, because he saw people like George McGovern and Ted Kennedy and Edmund Muskie (this guys who were sort of a democratic prontmatters (?)) giving speeches. And in the crowd you could see people waving Viet Cong flags, and North Vietnamese, Chinese, Soviet flags and hammers and sickles. It was Ted Kennedy’s probably the dumbest thing he ever did, second dumbest – going to Moratorium Day and being photographed with this kind of people.
Nixon goes into the White House and he’s going to give a speech a week later. And he’s going give a major speech, the first major speech on Vietnam. And everyone is wondering what he’s gonna do. “Is he gonna pull out?” In a research I did a couple of years ago in the Library of Congress I have this great letters backing him for (?) from Brzeziński and Kissinger. Brzeziński was saying: “Listen! You can bring the country together. Give a good speech, get out of Vietnam. Let’s bring the country together again.” Kissinger writes back: “Thank you for your advice. We’ll talk to you later.” And he wrote the same what wrote Nixon. Nixon wrote his speech himself. They say the only one Nixon actually wrote himself. It wasn’t Buchanan, it wasn’t William Sapphire. And Richard Nixon gets on the TV and he says this basically: “I’m against this war. I didn’t get us into this war. It’s the terrible war. The Democrats got us into this war. But now I looked (?) to you – the great, silent majority in America who doesn’t believe America is evil, who doesn’t believe America is standing for oppression and an empire… (I w tej oto podniosłej chwili opatrzność chciała, żeby skończyła się strona – P.F.).

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