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Monday, April 2, 2012

Remembering the First Operation Babylift Flight

During the collapse of South Vietnam in 1975, President Gerald Ford ordered the evacuation of Vietnamese orphans from Saigon in the face of a massive North Vietnamese offensive. This mission, coined Operation Babylift, began April 4, 1975, and evacuated more than 3,000 orphans throughout the month.

On the first available plane, ground crews loaded 250 small children along with a staff of volunteers and nurses onto a C-5A Galaxy transport. There were 36 female members of the Defense Attaché Office (DAO) Saigon on board to serve as escorts, at least five of whom were Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) employees.

Approximately 12 minutes after takeoff, the locks on the rear cargo door of the C-5 failed, and the aft pressure door, part of the loading ramp, and the cargo door, blew off, severely damaging the flight controls in the tail. The pilots attempted an emergency landing at Tan Son Nhut airbase, but the plane crashed in a marsh two miles short of the runway. The impact crushed the cargo deck, where almost all of the orphans were kept. There were 138 people killed in the crash, including 78 children and 35 DAO personnel.

DIA’s Celeste Brown, Vivienne Clark, Dorothy Curtiss, Joan Pray and Doris Watkins died that day supporting Operation Babylift. It was the single largest loss of life in DIA’s history until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. “The fourth day of April, 1975. I’ll never forget it,” said MG Homer Smith, former U.S. defense attaché in Saigon. “It was the longest day of my life … I recall my [executive officer] telling me, coming in and saying, ‘Boss, we have a disaster. The C-5 just crashed out toward the air base.’ And you could look out and you could see the smoke coming … We set up a morgue over at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital and brought bodies over there. We had a few survivors. They were taken to the hospital. It was a shattering, shattering experience.”

The sacrifice of these women brings honor to their country, to their colleagues at DIA, and to themselves and their families. Their names are listed on the Patriot's Memorial among the other DIA patriots who died contributing to our national security.

On the anniversary of the crash this April, DIA is reminded of the commitment, dedication and ultimate sacrifice of these women whose legacy continues to inspire those serving today.

Public opinion and foreign policy: the Nixon administration and the pursuit of peace with honor in Vietnam.

Long after the Communist takeover, American academics still battle over how and why the United States lost the Vietnam War.(1) Adherents of the conventional" school maintain that U.S. policy makers mistakenly imposed a global conception of communism upon a localized, post-colonial civil war.(2) "Revisionists" argue that intervention was sound, moral, and necessary to the interests of both South Vietnam and the United States.(3) Both sides place great importance on the role of public opinion when essaying the justification and execution of that war. For conventional critics, the problem is one of false consciousness, created not only out of general anti-communism, but also out of deception and manipulation of the public by presidents Johnson and Nixon.(4) Revisionists contend that a more consistent and effective public relations effort on Nixon's part, and avoidance of the Watergate scandal, probably would have preserved South Vietnam's independence.(5)

This debate continues in no small part because of its relevance to an even more fundamental disagreement over interventionism and the public's role in American foreign policy. Analyses of survey data have linked opinions about the war to attitudes toward the commitment of U.S. troops abroad.(6) Those subscribing to the conventional school presumably would oppose most if not all hypothetical interventions as variations upon the unhappy Vietnam experience, while those taking the revisionist view would favor future interventions if government could effectively employ the military and better cope with dissent.

If Nixon meant to shape public opinion on his Vietnam policy, public opinion in turn placed real constraints on what forms that policy could take. War weariness had already set in by the time Nixon took the oath of office in 1969. The president wanted to keep U.S. forces in South Vietnam until an honorable withdrawal could be achieved, regardless of domestic dissent. He had to cope with dwindling support for an intensified effort, and incessant demands for a negotiated settlement. Somehow Nixon had to bring public opinion, the news media, Congress, and the bureaucracy along as he walked a tightrope between a negotiated settlement and unilateral withdrawal.(7) Nixon's task was made all the more difficult by his employment of the seemingly contradictory methods of troop reduction and applications of intense firepower to coerce the North Vietnamese to accept what he considered honorable peace terms. This article analyzes at least some of the ways he sought to shape that support while pursuing complex and somewhat contradictory objectives.

President Nixon, of course, was hardly unaware of the need to build public opinion in favor of his policy. At times, Nixon proclaimed a willingness to act contrary to the polls, and acted accordingly. The question remains of how much he led or followed public opinion. The dominant wisdom on the role of public opinion in foreign policy formulation through the Vietnam period, the so-called Almond-Lippmann thesis,(8) was that the public could be dismissed or led by elites. However, recent research has confirmed that popular opinion has coherence, structure, and impacts on foreign policy decision makers in a reciprocal relationship.(9) Using archival evidence, this inquiry contributes to our new understanding of the role played by public opinion in foreign policy formulation along the lines of other recent case studies.(10)

Seeking to legitimate a rather complex policy,(11) the administration took to polling as an instrumental and symbolic means of achieVing its objectives.(12) Polls serve at least two important purposes, one by disclosing the distribution of opinion in response to possible policy options, and another by supplying ammunition for the public relations task of building and maintaining support for actual policies. I begin my analysis of Nixon's legitimation efforts with an examination of how the administration used polls both to measure and to build public support for its Vietnam policy. I then consider briefly how the White House used polls to minimize congressional "Interference" with its Vietnam policy, and how the administration relied on polls to undermine the opposition.

Using Polling to Shape Policy and Public Opinion

From the outset, Nixon was concerned that he not appear to be "pandering" to popular sentiment. He made that position clear when Roscoe Drummond of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that if Nixon didn't get out of Vietnam he would be a victim of popular outrage just as Johnson had. Nixon instructed John Ehrlichman to tell Drummond that regardless of the polls "`RN will do what his long experience and conviction tells him is right.'"(13) Nonetheless, Nixon hired polling experts and commissioned private polls to give the White House a sophisticated capacity for public opinion analysis that Jacobs and Shapiro conclude was of unprecedented scope.(14) Public or private, favorable information the White House gleaned from polls was promoted to convey to unsuspecting elites and the public the extent of support for Nixon's policies. After all, Nixon understood the "complete revolution in the means of affecting the public" and the consequent importance of television.(15) On February 3, 1971, Nixon assigned Chief of Staff and former advertising executive H. R. Haldeman to sit in on all critical foreign policy meetings to bring consideration of congressional and public relations factors in the decision-making process.(16) Polling was used to gauge the receptivity of the public to Nixon's Vietnam initiatives, to legitimate policies, and to verify when its military and diplomatic strategy required adjustment.(17)

Figure One shows the results of some of Nixon's public opinion intelligence gathering operation. Using poll reports assembled by the White House, we chart the public's approval of Nixon's handling of the Vietnam War as measured by Gallup and the White House's private public opinion firm the Opinion Research Corporation (ORC).(18) Four points of convergence of the disapprove/approve trend lines mark crisis periods for Nixon's Vietnam policy: prior to the unveiling of the Vietnamization program; before the military incursion into Cambodia; during the South Vietnamese invasion of Laos; and at the time of the North Vietnamese 1972 Spring Offensive. In each case Nixon responded by escalating the military pressure spasmodically, all the while offering concessions to the position of his adversaries at home and in Vietnam. We examine in depth below how Nixon addressed public opinion at each of these points.

Needing to build public support behind his gradual withdrawal plan, Nixon delivered a major televised address to outline Vietnamization on November 3, 1969.(19) Scheduled between two anti-war moratoriums, Nixon pleaded for the support and patience of "the great silent majority of my fellow Americans."(20) He drew a sharp distinction between the decent and proud majority and the "vocal minority" of elitists and isolationists that would bring global triumph to the "forces of totalitarianism." The power of these rhetorical distinctions was bolstered by efforts of White House officials to probe Nixon's Vietnam support in ways that would emphasize favorable sentiment among the "silent majority."(21) Top aides tried to turn some polls,to the president's advantage by proposing loaded questions to pollsters.(22) Several speeches by Vice President Spiro Agnew critical of the national news media provided staffers with an additional avenue to explore through polling.(23) Thus, Dwight Chapin wrote H. R. Haldeman later in November, seeking his input on the wording of six questions for possible submission to Gallup, all pertaining to media bias against the president's Vietnam policy. Haldeman excised one question and changed others to sharpen points the administration wanted made. Thus transformed, one question asked whether Agnew's recent "criticism of bias" in network reporting and pundit commentary was "justified."(24) Chapin also sent Haldeman a statement by Gallup to the press insisting that the polling firm wrote its own questions, not the White House.(25)

Similarly, on November 18, 1969 a memorandum was sent through White House channels to instruct David Derge, the administration's private pollster, to include in his next poll the following text: "There has been considerable discussion surrounding President Nixon's speech on Vietnam Monday night. Criticisms have been made by some commentators who disagree with the President in his views."(26) Derge found that 63 percent of respondents agreed with the president's views on Vietnam, while only 15 percent concurred with the commentators. These poll results provided the administration with ammunition to use against its critics. Along with the twelve-percent increase in polls of Nixon's handling of Vietnam since the Vietnamization (or Silent Majority) speech, the administration was able to convey to audiences at home and abroad the public's view that the problem with the war was not in Vietnam, but with powerful institutions representing minority preferences in the United States.(27) The White House established a plan to distribute this information to the media and Congress, all tied in to the "Silent Majority."(28)

Polling confirmed the wisdom of the Silent Majority appeal when the White House announcement of the withdrawal program and the Vietnamization speech brought Nixon's approval rating for handling Vietnam to its highest point of his first term.(29) He and his advisers, however, harbored no illusions that this support would remain fixed in face of developments on the battlefield. As an example of administration sensitivity to public opinion, Kissinger wrote an extensive summary of a public television special news program "Report from Saigon" aired on January 12, 1970. Nixon scribbled on Kissinger's memo that it was important the United States build up ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) strength and morale, and that the administration be prepared "to handle" any North Vietnamese offensive that Inlight be in the cards during the coming months.(30) He also instructed Kissinger to inform Secretary of State William Rogers to "prepare public opinion for the possibility of an enemy offensive in Vietnam and of some attendant reverses."(31)

Understandably, both the troop withdrawals and the idea of An honorable peace were popular. Nixon's predicament stemmed from the impossibility of manipulating the pace of withdrawals as a diplomatic instrument. After all, as Kissinger warned in a September 10, 1969 memorandum to the president, troop withdrawals "will become like salted peanuts to the American public: the more troops come home, the more will be demanded."(32) Moreover, the boost that Nixon earned on his handling of Vietnam rating began to deteriorate after January 1970 as worsening conditions in Cambodia and Laos seemed to place the president's plan in jeopardy.(33) After all, Nixon had made it clear that future troop withdrawals would be based on the following criteria: progress in the negotiations, success in training the South Vietnamese armed forces, and reductions in the level of enemy activity.(34) On April 20, 1970, Nixon noted that enemy activity had "substantially increased," and that the negotiations were going poorly. Nevertheless, he announced that an additional 150,000 military personnel would be withdrawn over the next twelve months.(35)

Bold military action was the president's only means of giving the North Vietnamese an incentive to negotiate. The administration had some basis to support the idea of an aggressive move, a November/December 1969 internal poll found that 58 percent of the sample thought Nixon's stand with the North Vietnamese was not tough enough, while 28 percent thought it about right, and only 3 percent concluded it was too tough (the remaining 11 percent had no opinion).(36) Contradictory opinion soundings doubtless also entered into the deliberations, however, as a July 1969 poll had found 46 percent against bombing North Vietnamese sanctuaries in Cambodia and Laos if Hanoi refused reasonable peace proposals with only 35 percent in favor.(37) Respondents, of course, were not aware of the secret bombing of Cambodia begun in March 1969 (which continued for fourteen months). Needing a decisive military measure to improve the prospects for Vietnamization and to coerce the North Vietnamese to negotiate, Nixon announced that U.S. and South Vietnamese troops had crossed into Cambodia on April 30, 1970, just ten days after his declaration regarding troop withdrawals.

White House polling revealed considerable support for the Cambodian incursion, though Congress and college campuses were inflamed. A June 1970 Derge/ORC poll found 58 percent of respondents believing sending U.S. troops into Cambodia was the right move, with 27 percent saying it was wrong.(38) The poll also uncovered a good deal of skepticism among the public regarding South Vietnam's capabilities and contributions to its own defense, with 68 percent doubting if the South Vietnamese were carrying their fair share. A policy recommendation to counter this sentiment followed the presentation of these results, suggesting that "(f)ull publicity . . . be given to any successes achieved by the South Vietnamese in the field."(39) Further, owing to concerns about the credibility of the administration's Vietnamization program, Gordon Strachan advocated contrasting the president's performance in keeping to a timetable of troop withdrawals for Vietnam and Cambodia with his critics' doubts of his sincerity.(40)

In the wake of the Cambodian invasion, the White House disclosed internal poll results to convey the perception that there was "`heavy'" (65 percent) public support for Nixon's action. It also mobilized an "Independent" lobbying group called "Tell It to Hanoi" to place pro-Nixon ads in newspapers and on radio, while Haldeman spread the poll results around by calling "`opinion maker types.'"(41) Results from the established opinion survey companies were not as encouraging however, with Gallup reporting 50 percent approval. Moreover, Wells relates that some administration officials were disturbed by evidence from the Harris poll of widespread public questioning of the operation.(42)

We do not know whether White House operatives divulged the poll questions when they passed word that two-thirds of the public supported the president's Cambodia policy, but an examination of question wording is in order. David Derge asked interviewees in Philadelphia: "Do you support the president's action to end the war in Vietnam, to avoid getting into a war in Cambodia, to protect US troops?"(43) By framing the poll question with the very language used by the administration to "spin" the operation, the White House received the support desired, though the high level of approval was the product of a biased survey instrument. Manufacturing of support in this fashion thus became an essential component of the White House public relations battle with critics in Congress and elsewhere who argued that the people wanted a more rapid end to the war than the president considered prudent.

Other, more conventional methods of public lobbying were used by the Nixon White House, including publicizing those activities of opponents that would benefit the administration. For instance, when Nixon was faced by hecklers or violent protest, so much the better to "crank it up," and make it a major story.(44) Appeals to the silent majority's dislike of war protesters--and trying to define the anti-war movement by its most radical elements--was but a small payoff from the insights provided by the White House polling operation.(45)

Any good news provided by the polls on Cambodia was encumbered by Nixon's strategically counterproductive decision to limit the incursion to twenty-one miles and a duration of sixty days. A broad range of former administration personnel and observers contend that domestic political pressure forced the president to curtail the extent of the invasion and thus cripple its intended effect.(46) In the summary of his "Report on Cambodia," Kissinger admitted that a maximum effort "was unacceptable to the American people."(47) The White House devoted much public relations energy persuading Congress and the public that Cambodia was limited in scope, an aid not a hindrance to the withdrawal program, and popular with the "silent majority." Despite administration reiteration of the favorable statistics regarding casualties and troop withdrawals attributed to the incursion, the White House remained concerned that polls continued to show the public dubious about the Cambodian operation.(48) Moreover, adverse domestic reaction to the administration's strategy in Cambodia limited U.S. flexibility in subsequent efforts at coercive diplomacy.

On February 1, 1971, Haldeman noted projections that the president's approval would drop over the coming months and suggested that Nixon not respond to minor criticism "but engage in large scale symbolic events such as the operations in Cambodia, the Paris negotiations, and troop withdrawals."(49) Haldeman knew at the time of the planning for an ARVN invasion of Laos which began on February 7. Unlike Cambodia, the South Vietnamese would have to prove themselves with minimal American support. In part, if successful, Laos would demonstrate the effectiveness of Vietnamization. Crucial, however, is the fact that owing to congressional and public pressure against escalation, Nixon could not insure the success of the operation by committing U.S. ground and close air support. The results of the operations were especially discouraging.(50)

Another instance of public opinion constraining the vigor of Nixon's efforts to compel North Vietnam occurred six months after Laos. Nixon told Kissinger to implement an attack north of the Demilitarized Zone as a "protective reaction," instilling in the North Vietnamese the fear that Nixon might do more if he did not get what he wanted. Revisionist critics always chide Lyndon Johnson for tying the hands of the military in cowering fear of anti-war opinion. While his uniformed advisers advocated five to ten days of bombing Nixon backed down owing to public sentiment.(51) Haldeman's diary entry offers refutation of the claim that a paroxysm of violence could have ended the war more favorably, recording Nixon's regret that "he was sorry that we hadn't been able to actually end the war directly, but ... there really was no way to end it--it was doomed always just to trickle out the way it is, and that's now become clear."(52)

In the aftermath of the ill-fated ARVN invasion of Laos, the administration received some of its lowest poll ratings ever. This was an especially busy time of internal polling. ORC took a total of ten polls on Nixon's handling of Vietnam from March 3 to June 21, 1971. On March 30, 1971, Haldeman predicted that "the basic turning point" in presidential support would be achieved the next week with the announcement that no more draftees would serve in Vietnam coupled with another increment of troop withdrawals.(53) Even as his poll numbers began to improve by late spring of 1971, Nixon confided to Haldeman and Kissinger that "our thin thread with the American people" had been broken by Laos, and concluded "it's going to be very hard to put that together again."(54) Nonetheless, the administration made efforts to assure the public that the war was winding down. For example, the White House made a great deal about the absence of U.S. casualties in Vietnam during the week of September 13-19, 1972.(55) Meanwhile, Nixon's domestic latitude to coerce concessions from the North Vietnamese remained limited.

The revisionist model of how to end the war was provided by Nixon in his response to the North Vietnamese 1972 Spring Offensive. Sandwiched between Nixon's historic trips to Beijing and Moscow, the Spring Offensive of March 30, 1972, came perilously close to ending the war on Hanoi's terms and raising White House concerns about Nixon's re-election. Given intelligence warnings of this impending offensive, it would have been prudent to slow the pace of troop withdrawals until the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) threat could be met. But despite clear indications a major NVA strike was coming, the administration concluded that public opinion needed to be placated with continued withdrawals. Moreover, the administration began 1972 by offering new peace terms and exposing the fact that Henry Kissinger had been conducting secret negotiations with North Vietnamese representatives in Paris.(56) By taking these actions Nixon increased his domestic maneuvering room somewhat, but courted disaster by leaving South Vietnam and the remaining U.S. forces vulnerable to attack. The Spring Offensive placed the president between the proverbial rock and hard place. If the United States stood by, South Vietnam was likely to crumble; if Nixon authorized the necessary massive counterattack, the Moscow summit and his domestic support could evaporate. In addition to these considerations, Nixon did not believe it diplomatically acceptable to go to Moscow if Hanoi, with the help of Soviet arms, stood ready to triumph against America's ally in Southeast Asia.

Nixon responded to the threat to South Vietnam's survival with a massive military response. In Haldeman's words: "We're doing virtually everything we can do, short of putting American troops in, which we won't do."(57) Initially, the White House was optimistic that close air support and heavy bombing would be sufficient to reverse Hanoi's gains. With the Soviets still enthusiastic about the upcoming summit and the domestic scene relatively quiet, Haldeman wrote in his diary (April 12, 1972) that Nixon saw an opportunity to "go all out to win" the war while public opinion was "somewhat toned down."(58) The same could not be applied to the North Vietnamese offensive, as on May 1, the NVA captured the northern provincial capital of Quang Tri. The White House contemplated a truly monumental response: unprecedented bombing of Hanoi and the mining of the North's principal port, Haiphong. These provocative acts posed the risk that the Kremlin would cancel the upcoming summit. Internal polling informed the White House that such a prospect could be politically disastrous with 60 percent of respondents believing the president should go ahead with the summit despite the North Vietnamese assault.(59) Nixon decided to proceed with the bombing and mining anyway and to wait to see Moscow's reaction. Meanwhile, he also authorized an opinion poll to be taken fight after his televised speech announcing these steps as part of the public relations campaign to generate broad-based support for his aggressive tactics.(60)

The Nixon administration moved quickly to deflect congressional and public opposition to the Haiphong mining by releasing its own very favorable polls first to shape opinion formation. After all, Nixon claimed that the public, "`hear[s] the poll results and that makes an impact on them.'"(61) As long as his actions halted the North Vietnamese advance and didn't threaten relations with the Soviets and Chinese, Nixon could be confident that the public would support his policy of escalation.(62) As Figure One shows, Nixon's response to the Spring Offensive began the climb in approval for his handling of Vietnam that peaked with the signing of the Pan's Accords. Revisionists would be wise to remember that before he could deliver on such bellicose threats (which Nixon had delivered numerous times before(63)) the president had to assuage public opinion by reducing the American ground presence in South Vietnam to a negligible number, and pull off the diplomatic feat of separating the Vietnam conflict from Cold War competition.

His masterful handling of U.S. relations with China and the Soviet Union, coupled with his successful response to the Spring Offensive doubtless contributed to Nixon's impressive re-election victory. Yet, Just one month after his electoral triumph Nixon learned from White House commissioned polls that public patience on Vietnam was running out. A December 5, 1972 ORC poll revealed that only 30 percent approved (55 percent disapproved and 15 percent had no opinion) of a "proposal ... that the U.S. should continue military operations until North Vietnam agrees to a settlement that gives the U.S. and South Vietnam everything they want." Further, 44 percent approved while 39 percent disapproved (17 percent no opinion) of settlement terms that included an end to U.S. ground and aerial involvement, a cease-fire, supervised elections, "but North Vietnamese troops will continue to occupy those areas of South Vietnam they now control."(64) The proposal outlined in the poll query mirrored closely the terms of the Pans Accords signed eight weeks later, but by permitting NVA troops to remain in the South it did not bear much resemblance to conditions once considered necessary for South Vietnam's survival.(65)

Irrespective of Nixon's re-election, the lack of public support for continued military involvement in Vietnam would be given voice by the newly elected 93rd Congress. Time to secure a settlement was running out, if as anticipated, Congress(66) came to Washington and cut off funding for the war. Thus, the administration began to contemplate a resumption of heavy bombing to compel Hanoi off its post-election path of intransigence and to persuade Saigon to accept Nixon's definition of honorable peace terms.(67) Disagreeing with Henry Kissinger's proposal that the president go on TV to announce his decision to begin bombing, Nixon, Haldeman, and Special Counsel to the President Charles Colson argued there were limits to going to the well of public opinion and that "[y]ou can't rally the people again."(68) Instead, the Christmas bombing was begun with minimal publicity, nevertheless accompanied by the attendant congressional and editorial outrage and public skepticism.

Whether Nixon achieved "peace with honor" through the Pan's Accords ins a contentious question.(69) It remain that cannot be answered here is clear, how ever, that the Nixon administration gradually abandoned all negotiating planks save retaining the RVN government of Nguyen Van Thieu, an achievement of dubious merit given the North Vietnamese army's success against the ARVN when it had the support of a half million U.S. troops.(70) The continued presence of North Vietnamese troops in the South, coupled with the Saigon government's weakness, lends support to the thesis that the Pans Accords provided solely the fig leaf cover for a "decent interval."(71) Nixon and Kissinger maintain that all other concessions were made as early as October 1970, accordingly only North Vietnamese intransigence delayed an honorable peace.(72) Yet, the White House solicited opinion soundings on what a prospective settlement should look like. For example, on October 23, 1972, ORC produced results showing 41 percent approving a peace agreement leaving North Vietnam in control of areas held since the 1972 invasion (34 percent disapproved, 25 percent no opinion). A similar poll six days later found 36 percent approval, 43 percent disapproval, and 21 percent with no opinion. Other questions in this series of surveys revealed a willingness to abandon Thieu (40 percent, with 28 percent disapproving, 32 percent no opinion), wide approval for a settlement that included some of the terms actually contained in the Paris Accords (including the tripartite election commission, the National Council on Reconciliation and Concord), and 49 percent disapproval of an agreement that led to a Communist takeover.(73) Therefore, despite protestations to the contrary, the pervasive attention to public opinion measurement confirms that Vietnam policy was not made in the White House in response to international conditions, but instead the policy to salvage honor required persistent efforts to legitimate policy and manufacture an image of public support.

Polling and Congress.

From the start, Congress was an integral component of the Nixon administration's public opinion strategy. Not only did the White House try to prevent anti-war legislation from emerging in either chamber, it tried to use evidence of public support to persuade members to stay with the Vietnamization plan and not accept what the administration considered congressionally inspired surrender. Nixon's lieutenants used public opinion polling information for three broad purposes when dealing with Congress. First, they believed Congress both reflected and influenced public opinion. Second, they used polls to persuade members to support the president's Vietnam policy. Third, Nixon himself threatened anti-war members that he would "go to the people" if their legislative efforts threatened his peace with honor plan.

Following Nixon's move into Cambodia, White House assistant Charles Colson gained the impression that the president's standing in Congress had improved. In a September 9, 1970, memorandum to Haldeman, Colson observed that senators now had a real respect for Nixon's leadership that was absent before Cambodia. Colson attributed the newly sympathetic attitudes of several senators, including George McGovern (D-SD) and Mark Hatfield (R-OR), on the end-the-war amendment to "the fact that notwithstanding several months of enormous abuse in the press, the President's standing in the public opinion polls remains very high."(74)

As congressional committees debated legislation sponsored by John Sherman Cooper (R-KY) and Frank Church (D-ID) to compel the United States out of Cambodia, Nixon ordered a White House poll showing support for his actions brought to bear in the debate.(75) A similar, carefully coordinated lobbying plan was implemented following Nixon's announcement of the mining of Haiphong harbor. The White House public relations machine hand-delivered copies of ORC's poll on the mining to the wire services, networks, and major newspapers. In his memorandum providing the details of the poll's distribution to Haldeman, Gordon Strachan noted that Colson believed mass distribution Of the release should be delayed until the results surfaced in media reports in order "to protect ORC's credibility." Preferring to have this poll information disseminated as quickly as possible on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, Haldeman scribbled on the margin of Strachan's Monday memo: "do it Tues--whether it plays or not." He also jotted down additional distribution instructions to various assistants, including that Ken Clawsen have a senator "accuse press of deliberately overlooking it."(76)

Finally, as evidence of his willingness to invoke the prospect of a "who lost Vietnam" debate, Nixon warned prominent Democrats that if anti-war legislation "tied his hands" and let South Vietnam fall, "he would have no choice but to go directly to the people ... taking on Congress and blaming them for this situation."(77)

Undermining Opponents

Because the administration considered the media a potent force in the formation of public opinion, it actively attacked media bias, and cited opinion polls to identify the Fourth Estate as a radical minority. On occasion, even before poll or media reaction was at hand, the White House planned a number of pre-emptive strikes designed to intimidate the press from negatively influencing the public's reaction to scheduled events. For example, concurrent with the November 1969 Silent Majority speech, the administration orchestrated a public relations campaign replete with letters, an advertisement, and "100 vicious dirty calls to The New York Times and The Washington Post about their editorials."(78) Later, in December 1970, when Haldeman learned that certain correspondents had conspired to make the president's press conference "tougher," he and other aids mobilized the White House's "independent" attack group.(79)

Perceptions that the media were unalterably biased against the Nixon administration pervaded the White House. There was concern that Nixon was not given credit for keeping his promises on Vietnam, and that the media produced negative coverage about Cambodia and Laos. In a conversation with then-Democrat Treasury Secretary John Connally, Haldeman admitted the depths of White House preoccupation with polling. He recorded in his diary the White House feeling "that we should meet each problem as it's shown in the polls, and worry about how the statistics play and so forth." Connally, on the other hand, "thinks it's a mistake to worry about the bits and pieces, that we overreact and worry too much." Haldeman dismissed the thrust of Connally's critique, attributing the Treasury Secretary's complacence about polls to his party affiliation. According to Haldeman, as a Democrat Connally was accustomed to having the press with him, while the White House lacked that luxury.(80) Indeed, White House officials so distrusted the motives of the media that speech writer Bill Safire predicted Nixon would get minimal attention and credit as the peacemaker when a settlement was reached.(81)

To the administration, declines in polling trends could just as easily be blamed on media coverage as public exhaustion. For example, as Nixon's numbers declined in April 1971, Haldeman reminisced about all events since the last poll that could be responsible. Because it had been a good period for the president, with the exception of heavy news coverage of a Vietnam Veterans' anti-war demonstration, Haldeman concluded that the media's treatment "is the cause, so we've got to see if somehow we can't make the media the issue."(82)

Nixon believed that by hitting hard at domestic critics, as when Haldeman accused anti-war members of Congress of aiding and abetting the enemy, his bargaining position with the North Vietnamese improved.(83) Similarly, Agnew's fusillades against the media and anti-war movement were part of the administration's effort to create the image of broad-based popular support for its Vietnam policy. To threaten recalcitrant members of Congress with popular retribution, the administration generated radio spots, recall petitions, and wrote speeches for delivery on the floor criticizing the media.(84) Dovish senators up for re-election in 1970 were to be "hit hard." The "aiding and abetting" line was to be used against Democrats who exercised the temerity of undercutting the president during the 1972 Spring Offensive.(85) In all, symbolic polling was applied in a negative sense to cajole the media into offering more sympathetic coverage, to scare members of Congress that there were political risks to challenging Nixon on Vietnam, and to reinforce the perception that opponents of the president's Vietnam program were part of a vocal minority hostile to the values of the silent majority.


Unlike his predecessors of the post-World War II era, Nixon could not rely on what John Mueller termed followership to build public support sufficient to secure his goals.(86) Rather, public opinion and policy-makers interacted in a complex, two-way fashion. Yes, the White House used symbolic polling to maximize its freedom of maneuver in trying to achieve peace with honor. At the same time, however, its public opinion intelligence capacity kept the administration fully aware of the limits imposed by the public's war weariness. While Nixon was certainly not a slavish adherent to what the polls indicated, whenever he took aggressive actions public opinion constrained his ambition. In several respects then, the Vietnam War became principally a public relations problem for the Nixon administration; Nixon succeeded in the battle to buy time, but failed to build sufficient political support at home so he could fulfill his initial requirements for peace with honor in Vietnam.

In August 1971 Kissinger and Haldeman were discussing the upcoming presidential election in South Vietnam and the grave U.S. domestic political problems Thieu's unopposed candidacy presented. Kissinger began to reflect on how discouraging the whole war had been, and wishing that if there were only one more dry season for effective military campaigning the opponents would finally come to realize that the U.S. was winning. Haldeman wrote in his diary of Kissinger's musings:

This, of course, is the same line he's used for the last two years, over

and over, and I guess what all of Johnson's advisors used with him, to keep

the thing escalating. I'm sure they really believe it at the time, but it's

amazing how it sounds like a broken record.(87)

In the end, Nixon's requirements for an honorable peace had to succumb to the public's reluctance to sink more resources into a losing investment. The evidence presented here demonstrates that no amount of public opinion polling or manipulation would give the president the political support to alter this equation.


(1.) For reviews of Vietnam historiography, see Gary R. Hess, "The Unending Debate: Historians and the Vietnam War," Diplomatic History 18 (Spring 1994): 239-64; Thomas G. Paterson, "Historical Memory and Illusive Victories," Diplomatic History 12 (Winter 1988): 1-18; Robert A. Divine, "Vietnam Reconsidered," Diplomatic History 12 (Winter 1988): 79-93. Nixon foreign policy revisionists, who differ with the prevailing wisdom that Nixon deserves high marks for his international achievements as they criticize his domestic leadership, must be distinguished from Vietnam War revisionists who praise Nixon's approach to ending the war. See Joan Hoff, "A Revisionist View of Nixon's Foreign Policy," Presidential Studies Quarterly 26, no. 1 (Winter 1996): 107-29.

(2.) David Halberstam, The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam during the Kennedy Era (New York: Knopf, 1964); Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Bitter Heritage: Vietnam and American Democracy, rev. ed. (Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1968); Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam (New York: Random House, 1972); David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest (New York: Fawcett Publishing, 1972). For our purposes, we consider all works conventional that, as historian Robert Divine has observed, "shared a strong distaste for American intervention and a fervent belief that U.S. policy was seriously mistaken." Divine, "Vietnam Reconsidered," p. 81.

(3.) For example, see "America Now: A Failure of Nerve?--A Symposium," Commentary 60, 1 (July 1975): 16-87; Charles Horner, "America Five Years After Defeat," Commentary 69, 4 (April 1980): 50-8; Norman Podhoretz, "Making the World Safe for Communism," Commentary 61, 4 (April 1976): 33-41. For reviews of this literature, see Walter LaFeber, "This War, The Next War, and the New Revisionists," Democracy 1 (January 1981): 272-82; and Marilyn Young, "Revisionist Revised: The Case of Vietnam," Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Newsletter 10, no. 2 (1979): 1-10.

(4.) Accounts that provide indications of this sentiment include: David W. Levy, The Debate Over Vietnam (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991); Larry Berman, Lyndon Johnson's War: The Road to Stalemate in Vietnam (New York: Norton, 1989); George C. Herring, America's Longest War (New York: John Wiley, 1979); George McT. Kahin, Intervention: How America Became Involved in Vietnam (New York: Knopf, 1986); Kathleen J. Turner, Lyndon Johnson's Dual War: Vietnam and the Press (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1985). An early work of synthesis that has enduring relevance is: Leslie Gelb with Richard K. Betts, The Irony of Vietnam: The System Worked (Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1975).

(5.) Along with others, this is the position of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. See Richard Nixon, No More Vietnams (New York: Avon Books, 1985), pp. 174, 181-2, and Henry Kissinger, Years of Upheaval (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1982), pp. 326-7. An early proponent of this view is Sir Robert Thompson, who argues that after the 1972 Christmas bombing the United States had won the war. See W. Scott Thompson and Donaldson D. Frizzell, The Lessons of Vietnam (New York: Crane, Russak, 1977), p. 105.

(6.) Eugene Wittkopf, Faces of Internationalism: Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1990); Ole R. Holsti and James N. Rosenau, American Leadership in World Affairs (Boston, MA: Allen & Unwin, 1984); Ole R. Holsti and James N. Rosenau, "Consensus Lost. Consensus Regained?: Foreign Policy Beliefs of American Leaders, 1976-1980," International Studies Quarterly 30, no. 4 (1986): 375-409; Also see Ole R. Holsti, "Public Opinion and Foreign Policy: Challenges to the Almond-Lippmann Consensus," International Studies Quarterly, 36, no. 4 (1992): 439-66, esp. p. 449. William LeoGrande, "Did the Public Matter? The Impact of Opinion on Congressional Support for Ronald Reagan's Nicaragua Policy," in Public Opinion in U.S. Foreign Policy: The Controversy Over Contra Aid, ed. Richard Sobel (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1993), pp. 167-89, esp. p. 173 and 178.

(7.) This relates to the literature on international bargaining that views negotiations as encompassing the Chief of Government (COG), the international interlocutor, and the domestic groups that must ratify any international agreement. See Robert D. Putnam, "Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games," International Organization 42, no. 3 (1988): 427-60; and Peter B. Evans, Harold K. Jacobson, and Robert D. Putnam, eds., Double-Edged Diplomacy (Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1993).

(8.) A designation first applied by Ole It. Holsti, "Public Opinion and Foreign Policy," pp. 439-66.

(9.) Benjamin Page and Robert Y. Shapiro, The Rational Public (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1992); John Aldrich, John L. Sullivan, and Eugene Borgida, "Foreign Affairs and Issue Voting: Do Presidential Candidates `Waltz Before a Blind Audience?'" American Political Science Review, 83, no. 1 (1989): 123-42; Bruce Russett, Controlling the Sword (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), and Grasping the Democratic Peace (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993); Larry M. Bartels, "Constituency Opinion and Congressional Policy Making: The Reagan Defense Buildup," American Political Science Review 85, no. 2 (1991): 457-74. For a comprehensive review of this literature, see Holsti, "Public Opinion and Foreign Policy," 439-66. Philip J. Powlick, "The Sources of Public Opinion for American Foreign Policy Officials," International Studies Quarterly 39, no. 4 (1995): 427-51.

(10.) Ronald H. Hinckley, People, Polls, and Policymakers: American Public Opinion and National Security (New York: Lexington Books, 1992); Richard Sobel, ed., Public Opinion ill (I. S. Foreign Policy; John Mueller, Policy and Opinion in the Gulf War (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994).

(11.) Alexander George, "Domestic Constraints on Regime Change in U.S. Foreign Policy: The Need for Policy Legitimacy," in American Foreign Policy: Theoretical Essays, ed. G. John Ikenberry (Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1989), pp. 583-608; Richard A. Melanson, American Foreign Policy Since the Vietnam War: The Search for Consesnus From Nixon to Clinton (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1996).

(12.) Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro, "The Rise of Presidential Polling The Nixon White House in Historical Perspective," Public Opinion Quarterly 59, no. 2 (1995): 187; Susan Herbst, Numbered Voices: How Opinion Polling has Shaped American Politics (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

(13.) Stephen E. Ambrose, Nixon Vol. 2: The Triumph of a Politician (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), p. 280. Also see H. R. Haldeman, The Haldeman Diaries (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1994), diary entry February 3, 1969, p. 26; Jacobs and Shapiro, "The Rise of Presidential Polling," p. 183.

(14.) Jacobs and Shapiro, "The Rise of Presidential Polling," p. 165; Haldeman, Diaries, April 4, 1969, p. 49; Bruce Oudes, ed., From the President: Richard Nixon's Secret Files (New York: Harper & Row, 1989), p. 3; Melvin Small Johnson, Nixon, and the Doves (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers, 1988), p. 168.

(15.) Haldeman, Diaries, June 30, 1970, p. 178.

(16.) Ibid., February 3, 1971, p. 243.

(17.) Joan Hoff, Nixon Reconsidered (New York: Basic Books, 1994), pp. 220, 230-1.

(18.) Vietnam Invasion Poll--April 27-29, 1972, Box 350, Staff Members' Office Files, hereafter SMOF. White House Special Files, hereafter WHSF. Nixon Presidential Materials, hereafter NPM. National Archives and Records Administration, hereafter NARA, College Park, Maryland. American Institute of Public Opinion, Gallup Opinion Index (Princeton, NJ), 1969-1973. A complete set of this poll data is available from the author.

(19.) Nixon first announced troop withdrawals on June 8, 1969, during his meeting with South Vietnamese President Thieu on Midway Island.

(20.) Richard M. Nixon, "The Pursuit of Peace in Viet-Nam," Speech to the Nation, November 3, 1969, Department of State Bulletin (November 11, 1969): 437-43; quote, p. 442.

(21.) For a discussion of the "silent majority" concept and policy legitimation see Melanson, American Foreign Policy, p. 47-57.

(22.) Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro, "The Nixon Administration and the Pollsters," Political Science Quarterly 110, no. 4 (1995-96): 519-38; Nixon was not the first president to utilize pollsters in this manner, see Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro, "The Rise of Presidential Polling The Nixon White House in Historical Perspective," Public Opinion Quarterly 59, no. 2 (1995): 163-95; and Jacobs, "The Recoil Effect: Public Opinion and Policymaking in the U.S. and Britain," Comparative Politics 24, no. 2 (1992): 199-217.

(23.) For an overview of Agnew's efforts to intimidate the media and the anti-war movement see Small, Johnson, Nixon, pp. 189-92, and Tom Wells, The War Within: America's Battle Over Vietnam (Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1994), pp. 382-8.

(24.) Memorandum from Dwight L. Chapin to Haldeman, November 18, 1969, Gallup Poll, Box 134, H. R. Haldeman, hereafter HRH. Alpha Subject Files, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(25.) Memorandum from Dwight L. Chapin to Haldeman, November 10, 1969, Poll File, Box 134, HRH Alpha Subject Files, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(26.) Memorandum from Larry Higby to Jeb Magruder, November 11, 1969, Gallup Poll, Box 134, HRH, Alpha Subject Files, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(27.) In an interview, Dwight Chapin confirmed that by providing questions to Gallup, the administration could better demonstrate public support, and "`Isolate the Vietnam protesters from the silent majority.'" From Jacobs and Shapiro, "The Nixon Administration and the Pollsters," p. 527. Thus, the Nixon administration tried to put into effect what Elisabeth Noell-Neuman later coined the "spiral of silence." As interpreted by Thomas Michael Norton-Smith, this theory proposes that "polls contribute to the creation and silencing of minority viewpoints." From Norton-Smith, "Can the Increasing Use of Public Opinion Polling Be justified?" The Midwest Quarterly 36, no. 1 (1994): 97-112; quote on p. 106.

(28.) Gallup Poll Game Plan, Gallup Poll, Box 134, FIR Haldeman, Alpha Subject Files, WHSF, SMOF, NPM, NARA. Also, memorandum from Harry Dent to the President, October 20, 1969, President's Handwriting October 16-31, 1969, Box 3, President's Office Files, hereafter POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(29.) The White House celebrated the results of the Silent Majority speech, one memo noting in unidentified handwriting, "Never in history has a speech rather than an event changed opinion so greatly." Gallup Poll Game Plan, Box 134, HRH Alpha Subject Files, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA. Also see, Memo from Stephen Bull to Haldeman, March 27, 1970, "Relationship Between Presidential Activities and Public Approval," Box 388, HRH, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(30.) Memo from Kissinger to Nixon, "Report from Saigon," President's Handwriting, January 1-15, 1970, Box 4, POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(31.) Memorandum for the Secretary of State from Henry A. Kissinger, President's Handwriting, January 16- 31, 1970, Box 5, POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(32.) Henry A. Kissinger, White House Years (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1979), p. 1481. Kissinger also reports that the only time troop withdrawals were delayed owing to battlefield conditions occurred in August 1969, p. 283.

(33.) Between January and April 1970, the situation in these countries became tense- as North Vietnamese- inspired activity threatened whatever stability these nations had. For the concern these developments generated among Americans, one can examine the transcripts of presidential news conferences where Nixon was frequently asked about the dangers of heightened Communist aggression in Laos and Cambodia, For example, see "President Nixon's News Conference of March 21," Department of State Bulletin (April 6, 1970): 437-8.

(34.) Nixon, "Progress Report on Our Plan for Peace in Viet-Nam," delivered December 15, 1969, Department of State Bulletin (January 5, 1970): 1-3; p. 1.

(35.) Nixon, "A Report on Progress in Viet-Nam," delivered from San Clemente, CA, April 20, 1969, Department of State Bulletin (May 11, 1970): pp. 601-4; p. 602.

(36.)"The Public Appraises the Nixon Administration and Key Issues November/December 1969," Gordon Strachan: 1972 Campaign Materials, p. 81, Box 406, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA. Also, officials from Gallup advised Chapin "that the people will support a Hawkish approach if it is properly phased (sic)." Memorandum for Haldeman from Chapin, October 10, 1969, Meeting with Gallup Poll People, Poll File, Box 134, HRH Alpha Subject Files, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(37.) "The Public Appraises the Nixon Administration and Key Issues (with Particular Emphasis on Vietnam) August, 1969," Gordon Strachan: 1972 Campaign Materials, p. 52, Box 406, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(38.) "The Public Appraises the Nixon Administration, (Revised) (June 1970)," p. x, Gordon Strachan: 1972 Campaign Materials, Box 406, WHSF, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(39.) Ibid., p. xi.

(40.) Ibid., p. x.

(41.) Memorandum from Alexander Butterfield to the President, October 17, 1969, President's Handwriting October 16-31, 1969, Box 3, POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(42.) Wells, The War Within, pp. 423-4, notes the Harris poll provided evidence of widespread public questioning of Cambodia. In White House Years, Kissinger reports the Gallup poll revealed 50 percent approving of Cambodia (35 percent disapproving, 15 percent no opinion), p. 512.

(43.) File: A Study of Public Opinion Regarding President Nixon's 4-30-70 Announcement of his Decision on American Involvement in Cambodia #9448, Gordon Strachan: 1972 Campaign Material, Box 392, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(44.)Haldeman, Diaries, October 29, 1970, p. 205. Also, Hanoi's contact with demonstrators, and the involvement of Communist and left-wing groups in the October 15, 1969, moratorium was circulated to sympathetic ears in the media and on the Hill to discredit the anti-war movement and sympathetic members of Congress. Memorandum from Jack Caulfield to John D. Ehrlichman, October 10, 1969, President's Handwriting, October 1-15, 1969, Box 3, POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(45.) Small, Johnson, Nixon, pp. 162-224 chronicles the administration's efforts to defuse the antiwar movement. At the same time, though, Nixon's policy to end the war deprived his supporters of a reason to rally behind the goal of victory, Ambrose, Nixon Vol. 2, p. 302.

(46.) A position shared by Kissinger, White House Yeats, p. 507; also see Walter Isaacson, Kissinger: A Biography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), p. 270; Ambrose, Nixon Vol. 2, p. 537; Wells, The War Within, pp. 435, 447.

(47.) Summary of Report on Cambodia 6/30/70, President's Handwriting, June 1970, Box 6, POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(48.) This made Nixon all the more anxious to "make the public see" the achievements of the 1971 Laos invasion. Haldeman, Diaries, February 2, 1971, p. 245.

(49.) "Projected Gallup Approval Ratings February 1971-August 1972, February 1, 1971," Box 388, HRH, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(50.) Ambrose, Nixon Vol. 2, pp. 419-21; Haldeman Diaries, March 23, 1971, p. 259.

(51.) Haldeman, Diaries, September 17, 1971, p. 355.

(52.) Ibid., September 19, 1971, p. 356.

(53.) Ibid., March 30, 1971, p. 262.

(54.) Ibid., May 26, 1971, p. 292.

(55.) Ibid., September 20, 1972, p. 506.

(56.) Hoff reports that Kissinger opposed making the record of these talks public: Hoff, Nixon Reconsidered, p. 119.

(57.) Haldeman, Diaries, April 10, 1972, p. 438.

(58.) Ibid., April 12, 1972, p. 439.

(59.) Ibid., May 2 and May 3, 1972, pp. 451 and 453.

(60.) Ibid., May 7, 1972, p. 456.

(61.) Jacobs and Shapiro, "The Rise of Presidential Polling," p. 188.

(62.) Comments from Tom Benham on May 9-10, 1972 Telephone Survey, Vietnam Mine Poll May 9- 10,1972 [II], Box 357, SMOF, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA, Tom Benham's analysis of the survey expressed concern that the threatening situation could undermine public confidence; also, from another unidentified analysis, if NV wins "(t)he consequences for President Nixon could be extremely grave ... (because) the public has been led to expect that the Communists will be held off and that Vietnamization is working." Vietnam Invasion Poll-April 27-29,1972, Box 350, SMOF, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(63.) A plan of massive American action was proposed in 1969 under the code name Duck Hook. Nixon set November 1, 1969, as the "deadline" for North Vietnam to show some indication of willingness to compromise. The ultimatum was never delivered on. For discussion, see Small, Johnson, Nixon, pp. 180-7; Similarly, at the Camp David swimming pool during the Cambodia incursion, Nixon fantasized about striking a crippling blow. This threat too never came to fruition. See Ambrose, Nixon Vol. 2, pp. 342 and 407.

(64.) Poll data from the Roper Center.

(65.) See Nixon's May 14, 1969, speech, "Peace in Viet-Nam," Department of State Bulletin (6/2/69): 457-61, where he notes that "a settlement will require the withdrawal of all non-South Vietnamese forces from South Viet-Nam," p. 459.

(66.) On this see, Haldeman, Diaries, December 6, 1972, p. 550; Andrew Z. Katz, Congress, Public Opinion, President Nixon, and the Termination of the Vietnam War, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University, 1987.

(67.) Interestingly, an internal poll completed on October 29, 1972, found 53 percent preferring that the president order a bombing halt instead of continuing with the air assault during negotiations, ORC poll conducted for the Nixon Administration, Roper Center.

(68.) Haldeman, Diaries, December 5, 1972, p. 548.

(69.) Representative negative evaluations of Nixon's Vietnam record are offered by Isaacson, Kissinger, p. 480-90; Hoff, Nixon Reconsidered. An interesting positive assessment is provided by Timothy J. Lomparis, The War Everyone Lost--and Won: America's Intervention in Viet Nam's Twin Struggles (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 1984), pp. 90-104. Also see Guenter Lewy, America in Vietnam (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 190-222.

(70.) See Kissinger's reference to this problem; Kissinger, White House Years, p. 444.

(71.) Frank Snepp, A Decent Interval: An Insider's Account of Saigon's Indecent End (New York: Random House, 1977).

(72.) Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 1347-8.

(73.) Roper Center.

(74.) Memorandum for H. R. Haldeman from Charles W. Colson, September 9, 1970, President's Handwriting, September 1970, Box 7, POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(75.) Haldeman, Diaries, May 18, 1970, p. 167.

(76.) Memorandum from Strachan to Haldeman, May 1, 1972, Distribution of Vietnam Mine Poll May 9-10,1972, Box 357, HRH, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(77.) Haldeman, Diaries, March 26, 1971, p. 260 and June 23, 1971, p. 305.

(78.) Haldeman, Diaries, November 3, 1969, p. 104; the ad idea resurfaced shortly thereafter, when The New York Times failed to cover the overwhelming approval of "Support the President" resolutions in the House and Senate, November 14, 1969, pp. 107-8.

(79.) Haldeman, Diaries, December 11, 1970, p. 219.

(80.) Haldeman, Diaries, March 9, 1972, p. 427.

(81.) William Safire, "Thoughts Regarding the Peace Announcement," undated, Vietnam, Box 178, SMOF, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(82.) Haldeman, Diaries, April 23, 1971, p. 278.

(83.) Ibid., February 14, 1972, p. 410.

(84.) William Timmons memorandum to Harry Dent, Charles Colson, Jeb Magruder, and Robert Odle, May 20,1970, Cambodia, Alpha Subject Files, Box 116, SMOF, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(85.) Haldeman, Diaries, July 14, 1970, p. 182 and April 26, 1972, p. 448.

(86.) John E. Mueller, War, Presidents and Public Opinion (New York: John Wiley, 1973).

(87.) Haldeman, Diaries, August 24, 1971, p. 349

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