Sunday, October 11, 2015

Secret archive offers fresh insight into Nixon presidency

By David E. Hoffman October 11 at 9:29 AM, WashPost

President Richard Nixon believed that years of aerial bombing in Southeast Asia to pressure North Vietnam achieved “zilch” even as he publicly declared it was effective and ordered more bombing while running for reelection in 1972, according to a handwritten note from Nixon disclosed in a new book by Bob Woodward.

Nixon’s note to Henry Kissinger, then his national security adviser, on Jan. 3, 1972, was written sideways across a top-secret memo updating the president on war developments. Nixon wrote: “K. We have had 10 years of total control of the air in Laos and V.Nam. The result = Zilch. There is something wrong with the strategy or the Air Force.”

The day before he wrote the “zilch” note, Nixon was asked about the military effectiveness of the bombing by Dan Rather of CBS News in an hour-long, prime-time television interview. “The results have been very, very effective,” Nixon declared.

Nixon’s private assessment was correct, Woodward writes: The bombing was not working, but Nixon defended and intensified it in order to advance his reelection prospects. The claim that the bombing was militarily effective “was a lie, and here Nixon made clear that he knew it,” Woodward writes.

(More here.)

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