Nixon Sabotaged the End of the Vietnam War?
That’s the claim made in a new book by a historian working at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs:
In “Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate,” [historian Ken] Hughes recounts that Nixon ally Anna Chennault was suspected of having interceded with South Vietnamese leaders to keep them from attending the late 1968 Paris peace talks, with or without Nixon’s knowledge and approval. When President Lyndon Johnson confronted Nixon with the report, Nixon flatly denied having anything to do with any such sabotage.
But Johnson had the FBI put a tap on the South Vietnamese embassy that caught Chennault telling Ambassador Bui Diem that her “boss” wanted the nation’s leaders “to hold on, we’re gonna win” — implying they would get a better deal under a victorious Nixon.
Hughes heads up the Nixon team of the center’s Presidential Recordings Project; presumably, he knows what he is talking about, and this is not some questionable headline-grabbing half-invented folly.
It’s a pretty serious charge, given how long the war lasted afterwards, and how many people were killed. And it would kind of be a violation of U.S. Law, the Logan Act to be specific. To the level of treason.
Strangely, at least a few articles going around the web now are claiming that George Will “confirmed” the claim—however, a read of Will’s article seems to be nothing more than a retelling of the claim, and not a confirmation. Will just recounts what Hughes claims, and then ends up by making it seem like Obama’s now-completely-debunked IRS “scandal” is somehow analogous.
That seems to be in line with the reaction by many right wingers—even if it did happen, it didn’t go as high as Nixon, and it was justified because Johnson was the one perpetrating the dirty trick by trying to end the war in tim for an election.
I would not at all be surprised if Hughes’ claims are real. I would be just as unsurprised to hear in 20 or 30 years that Reagan did the exact same thing with Iran and the hostages, or that Bush’s team was involved in the use of Florida felon’s list to disenfranchise Gore voters.
On the other hand, I will be more surprised to hear any evidence of Reagan doing that, and shocked if I hear evidence about Bush—not because I don’t think they did these things, but because I am pretty sure they would not have left any evidence tying any of it to anyone near the presidents involved.