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Nixon's 'Secret Plan' That Never Was

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As more and more of the Nixon tapes are brought to light - underscoring what a suspicious, vengeful, plotting turn of mind the man possessed - I'm reminded of presidential candidate Richard Nixon's "secret plan" to get the United States out of the Vietnam War if elected in 1968.

It was at a private session with a half-dozen surprised and skeptical editors in the spring of his campaign that Nixon unveiled his get-out-of-the-war plan. Among these Midwest editors were those who had watched Mr. Nixon closely during the cold-war years. They viewed him as a basically hard-line communist-hater who, as president, could be counted on to take a "you can't trust the communists" line.

Two-part strategy

They could hardly believe their ears, therefore, when Nixon said that, upon becoming president, he would (1) arrange a summit meeting with the Soviet leaders to gain their help in ending the Vietnam War, and (2) seek to "de-Americanize" the Vietnam conflict. About the latter, an editor told me that Nixon clearly was indicating he had a plan to phase out US troop involvement in the war.

We know now, of course, that there never was a summit with the Soviets. Nor was any plan to "de-Americanize" the war a visible part of Nixon's approach to that conflict after he became president.

Indeed, in speeches and statements, Nixon continued to give the "hawks" in this country reason to believe he would carry on the war - perhaps even, as they hoped, stepping up our involvement. Not surprisingly, they fully backed him.


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