Nixon on the Politically Correct Time for Communist Victory in Vietnam

You can listen to President Richard Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger mull over the best time–politically–for North Vietnam to conquer the South on a March 16, 1973, tape, one of the 265 hours of White House tapes released by the Nixon Library today. 
Just as Nixon timed his withdrawal of troops from Vietnam to the 1972 presidential election (because a pre-election collapse of the South would have mean the collapse of his hopes for a second term) he also hoped that his fraudulent peace accord with the North would hold together for a year or two after his final troop withdrawal. (Watch Fatal Politics to hear, in their own words, how they pulled it off.) 
The last American troops and POWs were still coming home from Vietnam in March 1973, when Nixon and Kissinger had this conversation. (It’s number 881-2, 16 March 1973, 10:18 to 10:33 A.M., Oval Office, and you can download the whole thing here.) 

President Nixon: In the meantime, what you and I’ve got to do, Henry, is just to work on these big games, the big plays, and that’s what we’re gonna do, by golly. 
Kissinger: I agree.
President Nixon: And, essential to this is not to let them, if we possibly can, do us in on Vietnam this year. We can’t let that happen.
Kissinger: Mr. President–
President Nixon: And that’s why we’re gonna bomb the bejeezus out of them. 
Kissinger: –after the summer of ’74, that’s a different story. 
President Nixon: No, after the elections of ’74. 
Kissinger: After the election of ’74. In fact, if it’s got to happen, the spring of ’75 is better than the spring of ’76. 
President Nixon: That’s right.
Kissinger: But–
President Nixon: I don’t think it’s gonna happen. [Unclear] I’m just not all that–I’m just not all that–I don’t have all that lack of confidence in the South, I don’t have all that confidence in the North, Henry.
Kissinger: I don’t think it’s gonna happen, Mr. President, if we pull them up short a few times. 

(Before they made the deal with Hanoi, Nixon and Kissinger had both privately said it would lead to a Communist takeover.)

The Communist takeover of South Vietnam did ultimately take place at the time when Nixon and Kissinger deemed best politically–in the spring of 1975. 


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