It is a new year and time for a new blog post! Hopefully, 2017 has already presented the opportunity for new changes and growth for you. Even though it is a new year not everything is new…there are some topics of conversation that will always be relevant and present themselves with even more relevance and vigor with each passing year.
Although we entered into the Vietnam war in 1955 it is still significant as we enter 2017. In fact, a recent article from the New York Times (published online on December 31st, 2016 . . . just before the new year) reveals some interesting truths about the escalation of the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon’s involvement. The article, which can be found HERE, is written by John A. Farrell who is working on his book “Richard Nixon: The Life.” While doing research for this upcoming book, Farrell came across documentation of Nixon’s correspondence with his Chief of Staff: H.R. Haldeman. For more information on Haldeman, click here to view his Wikipedia page.
In Farrell’s article he explains that, “Haldeman’s notes were opened quietly at the presidential library in 2007.” In the notes you can find documented correspondence, which indicates that Nixon actively tried to keep the war going for personal political gain.
Farrell writes about how the letters reveal that Henry Kissinger “[alerted] Nixon that a deal was in the works: If Johnson would halt all bombing of the North Vietnam, the soviets pledged to have Hanoi engage in constructive talks to end a war that had already claimed 30,000 American lives.” The communication between Nixon and Haldeman brings to light that, “Nixon directed his campaign’s efforts to scuttle the peace talks, which he feared could give his opponent, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, an edge in the 1968 election.” In fact," . . . [Nixon] ordered Haldeman to ‘monkey wrench’ the initiative.” This order was given on October 22, 1968 and is in reference to the negotiations Johnson was trying to initiate.
This is exactly what author Richard Pena, outlines in his book, Last Plane Out of Saigon. Pena, who served as an OR tech in Vietnam kept journal notes about his observations and thoughts about the war. The excerpts below, written in 1972, correlate with what Farrell writes about in his piece on Nixon.
In the past there was a “lack of evidence of Nixon’s direct involvement” what were acts of treason such as the “Chennault affair.” However, as this article shows, proof is finally coming to light in 2017. Nixon denied his involvement repeatedly, and Farrell writes, “Nixon had cause to lie. His actions appear to violate federal law, which prohibits private citizens from trying to ‘defeat the measures of the United States’.”
In contrast to Nixon’s dishonesty, the passages from Last Plane Out of Saigon, which are included above, show the truth. In Last Plane Out of Saigon Pena conveys important messages on how America must learn from the mistakes it made with the Vietnam war. The reality is, that Nixon’s “treachery” was felt then and now. It was felt during the time of the Vietnam war by our soldiers and felt now, as veterans still deal with the aftermath of Nixon’s decisions.
Ultimately, Farrell’s opinion piece from the New York Times gives credence to the messages found in Last Plane Out of Saigon and illustrates the importance and significance of the book. As we enter 2017, we must remain mindful that the Vietnam War and its distresses are still very much prevalent.
In addition to bein published online, this article was sent to print and was released on January 1, 2017 on Page SR9 of the New York edition. It is featured under the headline: Tricky Dick’s Vietnam Treachery.