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John Simkin

The Secret Life of Richard Nixon

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This television documentary that was yesterday shown on UKTV History was largely based on Anthony Summers’s book, The Arrogance of Power: Nixon and Watergate (2000). It told the story of how Richard Nixon successfully undermined LBJ’s attempts to negotiate a peace deal to end the Vietnam War. Nixon used friends to visit the South Vietnamese government to tell them that if he won the election he would bring a halt to these attempts by the government to withdraw US troops from Vietnam.

LBJ had government buildings in South Vietnam bugged. He therefore knew what Nixon was up to. However, he was unable to stop South Vietnam leaders from refusing to attend the Paris peace talks. This helped Nixon get elected in 1968.

According to several of LBJ’s political advisers, he had a meeting with Nixon after the election. He told Nixon that he had the evidence that showed he had undermined his peace negotiations. Apparently, LBJ blackmailed Nixon into betraying the South Vietnamese leaders by resuming peace negotiations.

On the programme John Dean said that the evidence that Nixon had undermined these peace negotiations had been place in the Brookings Institute. This was the reason why Nixon gave orders that the Brookings Institute should be broken into. The programme played several tapes of Nixon insisting that this material was removed from the institute. Summers pointed out, if Nixon’s men had been caught doing this, the Watergate burglary would never have taken place.

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