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This mission destroyed massive amounts of the enemy’s military supplies and disrupted the military sanctuaries that the Communists had been exploiting to kill American and South Vietnamese troops.
Ken Burns incorrectly maintains that President Nixon was, like presidents Kennedy and Johnson, responsible for the war.
But it also would have dishonored our commitment to the freedom of South Vietnam for which 37,563 Americans had already died.
Furthermore, it would have devalued America’s credibility to friend and foe alike, with dire diplomatic and military consequences for Asia and the world.
It also confirmed America’s bipartisan commitment, dating to the Truman administration, to resist Communist expansionism.
His willingness to take strong action affirmed that America would keep its word, making possible his historic opening to China and ultimately leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
It is not true that President Nixon continued the war for his own political benefit.
In fact, there’s no doubt that an immediate withdrawal of our 540,000 troops in Vietnam on the day he took office would have served his immediate political interests.
In fact, North Vietnam’s active military exploitation of Laos and Cambodia had widened the war years earlier.
Our father agonized over the war-driven divisions in our country.
He understood that the anti-war passions were rooted in frustration with the war’s duration.
In 1973, as America’s role in the war ended and our prisoners of war came home, Richard Nixon’s vision of a wider, transformative peace was taking hold, a peace that ensured a generation of peace for the American people even as the world’s political order underwent enormous change. Perhaps if Ken Burns had himself visited the Nixon Library he might have learned the real history of Vietnam during the Nixon years. Fortunately, however, the tens of thousands who come to Yorba Linda – or follow the Richard Nixon Foundation on the web or through social media – will find that the truth resides there for all to see and learn from.
And for that fact we are grateful to all those who support the Richard Nixon Foundation in its mission to promote the legacy of our father, the 37th President of the United States.