“We have found that our friend, the Republican nominee, our California friend, has been playing on the outskirts with our enemies and our friends both, he has been doing it through rather subterranean sources. Mrs Chennault is warning the South Vietnamese not to get pulled into this Johnson move.”
President Johnson — Phone call to Senator Richard Russell
On January 23 1973, President Richard Nixon announces that Henry Kissinger and North Vietnam’s chief negotiator, Le Duc Tho, signed an agreement to end U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. The official cease-fire, along with the release of all American prisoners of war, is to go into effect on January 28, though troops would remain in Vietnam until the fall of Saigon in 1975. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
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In October 1968, during the Paris Peace Talks, the U.S. was ready to agree to cease bombing Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam, in exchange for concessions that would halt the decades-long conflict which eventually killed an estimated 58,000 American soldiers, 2 million Vietnamese civilians and 1.1 million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong combatants.
But suddenly, the day before the 1968 presidential election — a close race between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon — South Vietnam inexplicably walked away from the negotiating table.
“For decades, rumors have swirled that Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign had interfered in the Vietnam peace negotiations by sending a messages through Nixon aide Anna Chennault to the South Vietnamese embassy and on to President Nguyen van Thieu.
The Nixon campaign, it was rumored, promised the South Vietnamese bigger concessions if they waited to negotiate peace until after Nixon was elected.
The idea was to not give President Lyndon Johnson and Humphrey a PR victory by suspending the war before the election.
Now, political biographer John Farrell, writing in The New York Times’ opinion section this weekend, reports that handwritten notes from Nixon’s future White House Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman show evidence that the 36th president tried to secretly influence the peace talks while still a presidential candidate and a private citizen.”
Direct U.S. military involvement in the war lasted another five years. From 1969 to 1973, about 19,000 additional US soldiers died in the Vietnam war.
Richard Nixon-Address to the Nation on an Agreement to End the War in Vietnam (January 23, 1973)
LBJ: “This is Treason.”
In this clip from the Miller Center’s American Forum, author Ken Hughes introduces audio of a call between LBJ and Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen, in which the two discuss secret interference of the Vietnam peace talks during the 1968 election.
Hughes is the author of “Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair, and the Origins of Watergate.”
Notes Indicate Nixon Interfered With 1968 Peace Talks — By Jason Daley Smithsonian.com (January 2, 2017)
On This Day — Nixon Announces Vietnam Peace Agreement (January 23, 1973)