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tv   Reel America President Richard Nixon Silent Majority Speech on Vietnam...  CSPAN  October 19, 2020 11:30pm-12:05am EDT

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evening, my fellow americans. i want to talk to you about a subjective deep concern to fellow americans and people in the world. the war in vietnam. the deep division of vietnam as i'm many americans have lost confidence in what their government has told them about our policy. the american people cannot or should not support a policy overriding issues of war and peace, unless they know the
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truth about that policy. tonight, i would like to answer some of the questions are on the minds of many of you listening to me. how and why did america get involved in vietnam in the first place? how is this administration change a policy of the previous administration? what really happened in the negotiation of paris and the battlegrounds of vietnam? which voices do we have if we were to end the war? where do the prospects for peace? let me begin by describing the situation i found when i was inaugurated on january 20. the war had been going on for four years, 31,000 americans had been killed in action. the journey program for the south vietnamese was on schedule. 540,000 americans were in vietnam with no plans to reduce the number no progress had been made in the negotiations of
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paris, and united states not put forward a comprehensive peace proposal. the war was causing deep division in home, and criticism for many of our friends and enemies abroad. in lieu of the circumstances, some urged i am the word ones by ordering immediate withdrawal of all american forces. from elliptical standpoint this would have been a easy course to follow. after all, we became involved with the war while my predecessor was in office. i could blame the defeat, which would be the result of my action on him, and come out as a peacemaker. some put it to me quite bluntly. this was the only way to allow johnson's word to become nixon's war. i had a greater obligation to think of more than the years i'm administration in the next election. i have to think about the
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effect of my decision on the next generation and the future of peace and freedom in america and in the world. let us all understand that the question before us is not whether some americans are for peace, some americans are against peace. the question at issue is not whether johnson's were becomes nixon's war. the great question is,, how can we win americas piece. let us turn now to the fundamental issue. why and how did the united states become involved in vietnam in the first place? 15 years ago, north vietnam with the logistical support of communist china and the soviet union, launched a campaign to impose a communist government on south vietnam by instigating in supporting revolution. in response to the requests of the government of south vietnam, president eisenhower sent economic aid and military
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equipment to assist the people of south vietnam in their efforts to prevent a communist takeover. seven years ago, president kennedy send 16,000 military personnel to vietnam as combat advisers. four years ago president johnson sent american combat forces to south vietnam. many believe that president johnson's decision to american combat forces to vietnam which wrong. many others, i one of them, have been strongly critical of the way the war has been conducted. but, the question facing us today is now that we are in the war, what is the best way to end it. in january, i could only conclude that redraws of all american forces in vietnam would be a disaster, not only from south vietnam, before the united states, and for peace. for the south of enemies, i
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woodrow would allow the kanye muniz to repeat the massacres which followed the takeover in the north,, 15 years ago. they then murder, more than 50,000 people, and hundreds of thousands more die in slave labor camps. we saw a prelude of what would happen in south vietnam, when the communist entered the city of way last year. during their brief rule there, there was a bloody reign of terror, in which 3000 civilians were club, shot to death, and buried in mass graves. with the sudden collapse of our support, these atrocities would become the nightmare of the entire nation. particularly, for the 1 million and a half catholic refugees who fled to south vietnam, when the communists took over in the north. for the united states, this first defeat in our nation's
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history would result in a collapse of confidence in american leadership. not only in asia, throughout the world. three american presidents have recognized the great states involved in vietnam, and understood what had to be done. in 1963, president kennedy, with his characteristic eloquence and clarity said, we want to see a stable government there, carry on the struggle to remain national independent. we believe strongly in that. we are not going to withdraw from that effort. in my opinion, first to withdraw from that effort would mean a collapse, not only of south vietnam but southeast asia. we will stay there. president eisenhower and president johnson expressed the same conclusion during their terms of office. for the future of peace, precip it would draw would be a disaster of the men magnitude. a nation cannot remain great if it betrayed its allies and lets
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down its friends. our defeat and humiliation in south vietnam without question, would promote recklessness in the councils of those great powers, who have not yet abandon their goals of world conquest. this would sparked violence wherever our commitments are maintain the peace. in the middle east, in berlin, eventually even in the western hemisphere. ultimately, this would cost more lives, it would not bring peace. it would bring more war. for these reasons, i have rejected the recommendation that i should end the war by immediately withdrawing all of our portions. i chose instead, to change american policies on both the negotiating front in the battle front. in order to end the war for many friends, i initiated a
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pursuit for peace on many fronts. in a television speech on may 14th, in this before the united nations, on a number of other occasions, i send forth our peace proposal angry detail. we have offered the complete withdrawal of all outside forces, within one year. we have proposed a cease-fire, under international supervision. we have offered feel actions under super national supervision. organizational no conduct of the election as a political force. the government has pledged to accept the results of the election. we have not put forth a proposal on the ticket or leave it basis. take, it we are willing to discuss the proposal being put forth on the other side. we have declared that anything is negotiable. except, the right of the people of south vietnam to determine their own future. at the peace conference, we
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demonstrated our flexibility in good faith in 40 public meetings. hanoi has refused even to discuss our proposal. they demand our unconditional acceptance of their terms, which are that we withdraw all american forces immediately and unconditionally, and then we overthrow the government of south vietnam as we lead. we have not unlimited our peace initiatives to public forums in public statements. i recognize, january, has been a long and bitter war like this cannot be subtle in a public forum. that is why in addition to the public statement negotiations, i have explored every possible private avenue that might lead to a summit. tonight, i am taking the unprecedented step of disclosing tissue some of our other initiatives for peace. initiatives we undertook privately, and dignity. because, we thought we thereby
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might open the door would publicly would be closed. i did not wait for my inauguration to begin my quest for peace. soon after my election, to an individual who is directly in contact, on a personal basis with the leaders of north elam. i made to private offers for a rapid comprehensive senate. hanoi's replies called in effect for our surrender before negotiations. since the soviet union furnishes most of the soviet equipment for vietnam, secretaries did rogers, doctor kissinger, and i personally have met on a number of occasions representatives the soviet government to get their assistance and getting meaningful snow bushy shun started. we have extended discussions directed towards that's a band with representatives of other
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governments, which have diplomatic relations with north vietnam. none of these uninitiated have produce results, today. image ally, i became convinced that it was necessary to make a major move, to break the deadlock in the paris talks. i spoke directly to an individual, who had known which human on a personal basis for 25 years. through him, i sent a letter to ho chi minh. i did this outside of the usual diplomatic channels, with the hope of making statements for propaganda removal. constructive progress, for bringing the war to an end. let me read from that letter, do you know. do you mister president, i realize that it is difficult to communicate meaningfully across the gulf of four years of war. precisely because of this golf,
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i wanted to take this opportunity to reaffirm in all serenity, my desire to work to adjust piece. i deeply believe that the war in vietnam has gone on too long. a delay in bringing it to an end can benefit no, i'm least of all the people of vietnam. the time has come to move forward, at the conference table for an early resolution of this tragic war. you will find us forthcoming, and open minded. a common effort to bring the blessings of peace to the brave people of vietnam. let history record that at this critical juncture, both sides turned their face towards peace. rather than towards conflict and war. i received ho chi minh's reply on august 30th, two days before his death. it simply reiterated the public position vietnam had taken in paris, flatly ejected my
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initiative. both letters are being released to the press. in addition to the public meeting that i have referred to, vietnam's chief negotiator in paris, in a private session and we met. we have taken other significant initiatives which must remain secret to keep open some channels of communication which may still prove to be productive. the effect of all of the public, private, and second ago she ocean, which have been undertaken since the bombing a year ago. since this administration came into office in january 20th, can be summed up in one sentence. no progress, whatever has been made, except agreement on the shape of the bargaining table. who is at fault? it has begun clear that the obstacle of negotiating the end of the war is not the president
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of the united states. it is not the south the enemies government. the obstacle is the other side's refusal to show willingness to join us in seeking justice mps. it will not do so. it is convinced all it has to do is to wait for our next concession. our next concession after that one, until they get everything it wants. there could now be, no longer any question, that progress in negotiation depends only on hanoi's deciding to negotiate seriously. i realize that our efforts on the diplomatic friends is discouraging to the american people. but the american people are entitled to know the truth, the bad news as good as news. -- let me turn to a more encouraging report on another front. at the time we launched our
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search -- i recognize you might not succeed bringing an end of the war through negotiation. and therefore put into effect another plan to bring peace. a plan which will bring the world to an end, regardless of what happens on the negotiating front. it is in line with the major shift in u.s. foreign policy, which i described in my press conference in july 25th. then me briefly explain what has been described as a nixon dock. a policy which will not only help and the war in vietnam, but which is an essential element of our program to prevent future vietnam's. we americans are do-it-yourself people. impatient people. instead of teaching someone else to do a job, we like to do it ourselves. this has been carried over into our forefathers. in korea, and again in vietnam.
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the united states furnace most of the money, most of the men, to help the people of those countries defend their freedom against communist rain. before any american troops were committed to vietnam, a leader of another asian hundred stress this opinion to me, when i was traveling in asia as a private citizen. he said, when you were trying to assist another nation to defend its freedom, u.s. policy should be to help them fight the war, but not to fight the war for them. in accordance with this wise council, i laid down three principles as guidelines for future american policies towards asia. first, the united states will keep all of its treaty commitments, second we provide a shield for nuclear color vending initial live with us, or of a nation's survival we
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consider vital to our security. third, in cases involving other types of aggression, we shall have burned niche military and economic assistance in accordance -- we shall look to the nation directly threatened to presume primary responsibility to provide man power for its defense. after this policy, i found the leaders of thailand, south korea, vietnam, i don't issues which might be that, and welcomed this new direction in american foreign policy. the defensive freedom is everybody's business, not just americas business. it is particularly the responsibility of the people whose freedom is threatened. in the previous administration, we americanize the war in vietnam. in this administration, we are vietnam eyes-ing the search for peace. the policy of the previous
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administration, not only resulted the primary responsibility for war, but more significant, did not adequately stress the goal of strengthening the saudi enemies to defend themselves when we left. the plan was launch following secretary larry's visit to vietnam and march. under the plan, i ordered a substantial increase in the training and equipment of south vietnamese forces. in july, on my visit to vietnam, a change labor order so that they were consistent with the objectives of our new policies. under the new orders, the primary mission of our troops is to enable the south vietnamese forces to assume the full responsibility for the security of south we had numb. our air operations have been reduced over 20%, and now we have begun to see the results of this long overdue change in american policy in vietnam.
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after five years of americans going into vietnam, we are finally bringing american men home. by december 15, over 60,000 men will have been withdrawn from south vietnam, including 20% of all of our combat forces. the south vietnamese will continue to gain strength, as a result, they have been able to take over combat responsibilities from our american troops. two other significant development have occurred, since this administration took office. anime infiltration, which is essential if they are to launch a major attack, over the last two months, isn't 20% of what it was last year. most important, the united states casualties have declined during the last two months to the lowest point in three years. let me now turn to our program.
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we have adopted a plan, which we have worked out in cooperation with the south in the movies, with a complete withdrawal of all u.s. combat ground forces, and their replacement. by south vietnamese forces on an orderly schedule timetable. this will draw will be made from strength and not from weakness, and south vietnamese forces become stronger, the rate of american withdrawal can become greater. i have not and do not intend to announce the timetable for our program. there are obvious reasons for this decision, which i am sure you will understand. as i have indicated on several occasions, the rate of ajar will depend on developments on three fronts. one of these is the progress which can be or might be made, in the paris traps. an announcement of a fixed timetable for our withdrawal will completely remove any incentive for the enemy to negotiate an agreement. they would simply wait until
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our forces have withdrawn, and then move in. the other two factors in which we will base our draw decisions, the level of enemy activity in the progress of the training programs of the south vietnamese forces. i am glad to be able to report tonight, progress on both of these friends has been greater than we anticipated when we started the program in june, forward jean. as a result, our timetable or withdrawal, is more optimistic now than only we had our first estimates in june. this clearly demonstrates why it is not wise to be on a fixed timetable. we must retain flexibility -- rather than an estimates that are no longer valid. along with this optimistic estimates, i must candor, leave one note of caution. if the level of enemy activity
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significantly increases, we might have to adjust our timetable accordingly. however, i want the record to be completely clear on one point. at the time of the bombing, just to you or go, there was some confusion as to whether there was an understanding on the part of the enemy, that if we start the bombing of north vietnam, they would stop the shelling of cities in south vietnam. i want to be sure that there is no misunderstanding on the part of the energy, in regard to the withdrawal program. we have noted the reduced level of infiltration, the reduction of our casualties,, and i'm basing our drama decisions on those factors. it's a level of infiltration or are casualties increase, while we are trying to scale down the fighting. it will be the result of a conscious decision by the enemy. hanoi can make no greater
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mistake, to assume an increase in violence will be to it's advantage. if i conclude an increased enemy action jeopardizes are remaining forces in vietnam, i shall not hesitate to take strong and effective measures to deal with that situation. this is not a threat, this is a statement of policy, which is commander-in-chief of our armed forces. i am making him eating my response ability for the protection of american fighting men, wherever they may be. my fellow americans, i'm sure you can recognize what i've said, we really only have two choices open to us. if we want to end this war. i can order an immediate withdrawal of all americans from vietnam, without regard to the effects of that action. or, we can persist in our search for a just peace,
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through a negotiated seminars possible, or do continued implementation of our plan for vietnamization if necessary. a plan and which people would draw all of our forces from vietnam, and a schedule, in accordance with our program as a south the enemies become strong enough to defend their own freedom. i have chosen the second course. it is not the easy way, it is the right way. it is a plan that will end the war, and serve the cause of peace, not just in vietnam but in the pacific. in speaking of the consequences of a precipitous of woodrow, our allies would lose confidence in america. for more dangers, we will lose confidence in ourselves. the immediate reaction would be a sense of relief that our man were coming home. as we saw the consequences of
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what we had done, inevitable remorse would scar our spirit as a people. we have faced other crises in our history, and we have become stronger by rejecting the easy way out and taking the right way and leading our challenges. our greatness as a nation has been our capacity to do what has to be done when we knew our course was right. i recognize that some of my fellow citizens disagree with the plan for peace i have chosen. anna simply dramatic americans have reached different conclusions, as to how he should be achieved. in san francisco, a few weeks ago i saw demonstrators carrying sign, we can lose in vietnam. bring the boys home. one of the strengths of our feet society that any american has the right to reach second
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collusion, and advocate that point of view. as president of the united states, i would be untrue to my oath of office if i allow the policy of this nation to be dictated by the minority who hold up when the view, and who try to impose it on the nation by amounting demonstrations in the street. for almost 200 years the policy of this nation has been made under our constitution by those leaders in the congress, in the white house, elected by all the people. if a vocal minority, however fervent its cause, prevails over reason and the will of the majority, this nation has no future as a free society. now, i would like to address a word if i may, to the young people of this nation who are particularly concerned. i understand why they are concerned about this war. i respect your idealism, i
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share your concern for peace, i want peace as much as you do. there are powerful personal reasons i want to end this war. this we, i will have to sign 83 letters to mothers, fathers, wives loved ones, a men who have given their lives for america in vietnam. it is very little satisfaction to me, but this is one third as many letters as i signed the first week in august. there is nothing that i want more than to see the day come, when i do not have to write any of those letters. i want to end the war, save the lives of those brave young men in vietnam. i want to end it in a way which will increase the chance that their younger brothers and their sons will not have to fight in some future vietnam, someplace in the world. i want to end the war for
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another reason. i want to end it so the energy and dedication of you, our young people, now too often directed in the bitter hatred against those responsible for the war. can we turn to the great challenges of peace, a better life for all americans, a better life for all people on this or. i have chosen the plan for peace, i believe it will succeed. if it does not succeed, what the critics say now won't matter. or, if it does succeed, what the critics say now won't matter. if it does not succeed, anything i say then, won't matter. i know it may not be fashionable to speak of patriotism or national destiny this day, but i feel it is appropriate to do so on this
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day. 200 years ago, of this nation was weak and pour. even then, america was the hope of millions in the world. today, we have become the strongest and richest nation in the world. the
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