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The Secret Life of Richard Nixon


John Simkin
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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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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. 

John, upon reading this story a few years ago I got the itch to figure out if it was true, and voila! here I am trying to figure out our recent history. While I've read some online reviews of Summers' book in which the reviewer scoffs at this story as a Summers invention, the story actually adds up. LBJ, Dean Rusk, and Clark Clifford all mention it in their memoirs; Nixon mentions it as well, albeit only in the context that that evil LBJ was bugging him--which is LAUGHABLE. I mean, if a President isn't justified wire-tapping a political candidate on the grounds that the candidate is conducting treason and subverting peace talks for political gain, I'm not sure what the term "national security" could possibly mean. Nixon, who claimed "national security" as a defense more than anyone else, should DEFEND LBJ on this. Instead, Nixon tried to use this bugging to muddy the waters when his own efforts at bugging were exposed. Victor Lasky takes his cue in It Didn't Start With Wartergate."

BTW, If LBJ used Nixon's treachery to blackmail him it was to blackmail him to cover up something else (can you spell a-s-s-a-s-s-i-n-a-t-i-o-n?). Nixon had been elected as a "peace with honor" president. If he didn't at least pay lip service to negotiations he would have lost face with his constituency.

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Guest John Gillespie

pat,

I agree with an earlier correspondent that the "wanna-be" in your signature doesn't apply.

Regards,

johnG

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