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Nixon Sabotaged Paris Peace Talks and Our Future
By Daniel C. Lavery
Johnson furiously attempted to achieve peace before the 1968 election. Nixon secretly convinced the South Vietnamese leadership that he could win a better deal if he became President. Watergate grand jury testimony from 1975 showed that Nixon complained that the Johnson administration bugged his 1968 campaign. Why? Nixon revealed a secret that LBJ called treasonous about Tricky Dick's 1968 campaign's sabotaging of the Paris peace talks regarding the bloody Vietnam War.
The evidence came from diplomatic cable traffic and Johnson's audiotapes showing a better deal awaited if South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu boycotted the Paris peace talks and awaited Nixon's defeat of Hubert Humphrey, two weeks after Nixon's plumbers were caught at Watergate bugging the Democratic National Committee. Nixon's aide Charles Colson discussed with him a story that the Democrats had bugged Nixon's connection to Thieu, right-wing Chinese-American activist, Anna Chennault. Wanting to make Nixon's 1968 bugging complaint to deflect attention from the Watergate investigation, he proceeded despite the danger to his party leadership by revealing his campaign had sabotaged resolution of the vastly unpopular Vietnam War.
Urging Haldeman to plant a lie about Democratic bugging in the Washington Star, Nixon was quoted as saying, "You don't really have to have hard evidence...just put it out as authority, and the press will write the Goddamn story, and the Star will run it."
When LBJ learned a Star reporter made such an inquiry he threatend to reveal Nixon's malicious subversion of the peace talks when over 500,000 Americans were in the Vietnam War and that if successful would have saved an enormous number of lives and US treasury.
As fate would have it, Johnson died of a heart attack a week and a half later, preventing the public from learning Nixon's dirty secret. Since Nixon and Humphrey were in a tight race, a successful peace agreement at the Paris peace talks would have given a significant surge to the Democratic nominee's chances just before the election. But Thieu announced his refusal to attend three days before the election on Nov. 2, 1968.
"I think it would shock America if a principal candidate was playing with a source like this on a matter of this importance. They're contacting a foreign power in the middle of a war," Johnson said.
Nixon began a series of bald-faced lies denying he had any role in ruining the peace talks in conversations with Johnson. He is quoted as saying, "I'm not trying to interfere with your conduct of it. I'll only do what you and Rusk want me to do. We've got to get this goddamn war off the plate." He even said to LBJ, "The war apparently now is about where it could be brought to an end. The quicker the better. To hell with the political credit, believe me."
Unfortunately for our nation, Nixon prevailed by under one percent of the vote. Instead of being the peace candidate he claimed, immediately after Nixon won the presidency, he escalated the air war against North Vietnam by bombing the dikes experts warned would kill more than 200,000 civilians in a flood, and destroy the Vietnamese staple of rice.
LBJ privately called Nixon's conduct treason to prevent hostilities to cease at a time our troops were in battle. How could anyone responsible have faced the families of 20,763 American military who died, and 111,230 who were injured? Not to mention the more than a million Vietnamese who lost their lives? Apparently the attraction to high political office in America for the immoral candidate without a conscience would even place a huge contingent of our military at the ultimate risk and defile an election for the highest office.
Walt W. Rostow composed a three page memo May 14, 1973 revealing Nixon's conspiracy using others that came to light from the LBJ library as reported by Robert Parry.
How different would America be if Hubert Humphrey had been elected? Many of the kids lost in drugs during those "four more years" would likely have not tuned in, and dropped out, nor would we have undergone Watergate or Nixon's impeachment.
George W. Bush invaded Iraq based on false information about the presence of weapons of mass destruction as a pretense for a war that nearly bankrupted America and killed about five thousand of our troops and estimates of up to a million or more Iraqi deaths. Another military conflict without a congressional declaration of war.
As of this writing, we are assassinating persons with mechanized drones on a "kill list" including Americans, albeit who have proven themselves terrorists willing to kill Americans. Nevertheless, no hearing established their guilt or innocence. Merely intelligent reports. We must demand Congress prevent presidential abuses to protect our country from more extreme and deadly fiascos.
Our future is threatened by more recent destructive developments. Supersonic drones with human input from a computer thousands of miles away are killing a few terrorists and thousands of innocents. We fail to allow the rule of law to adjudicate war crimes by torture, rendition, and assassination as well as indefinite imprisonment of suspects without the right of habeas corpus. We continue down the slippery slope of engaging our military in a state of war without congressional approval allowing restrictions never intended by our Constitution.
The seeds of our own destruction have been planted: The military industrial complex, huge corporations that manufacture the latest weapons, other corporations who fund these endeavors, and those in the financial industry that devise various schemes to bilk consumers, and those that are environmentally ignorant. Any of these entities may dominate and control our future if we let them. We must keep vigilant and demand strict adherence to our cherished constitution or be victims of our indifference.
Daniel C. Lavery graduated Annapolis, navigated a Navy jet, and a ship to Vietnam, fell in love, turned peace activist, and a civil rights lawyer for Cesar Chavez's UFW. His memoir, "All the Difference," describes the experiences that changed his consciousness to an advocate crusading for justice. www.danielclavery.com.