With Vietnamization apparently under way and Apollo 11 on the Moon.
In the 1968 election, Republican Richard Nixon claimed to have a plan to end the war in Vietnam and bring "peace with honor". Insofar as he did, it mainly entailed reducing American casualties by having South Vietnamese soldiers bear more of the ground fighting- a process he called "Vietnamization"- and defusing anti-war...
In the 1968 election, Republican Richard Nixon claimed to have a plan to end the war in Vietnam and bring "peace with honor". Insofar as he did, it mainly entailed reducing American casualties by having South Vietnamese soldiers bear more of the ground fighting- a process he called "Vietnamization"- and defusing anti-war protests by ending the military draft. He would also provide the South Vietnamese army with new training and improved weapons and try to frighten the North Vietnamese to the peace table by demonstrating his willingness to bomb urban areas and mine harbors.
Thus, essentially, he would end the war by winning it, a process that could not occur quickly. In fact, it would take Nixon four years to disengage the United States from Vietnam, and by that time he presided over as many years of war in Indochina as did Johnson (about a third of the Americans who died in combat were killed during the Nixon presidency). However, to fulfill the expectancy from his campaign and give the impression that progress to end the war was being made, Nixon determined upon a way to make his point and gain maximum publicity.
In June 1969, he announced the beginning of the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam. Then on July 8, the very first U.S. troops were withdrawn as 800 men from the 9th Infantry Division were sent home. The troop withdrawal would be phased, it was said. People felt that they could see the war being scaled down, and although in retrospect it was an illusion, it was a very popular move. His approval ratings in the polls reflected the broad support for what appeared to be a pull-back from Vietnam.
Earl Mazo was a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune, New York Times and Newday, and the author of three books about Nixon, including his campaign biography: The Great Debates (1962), Nixon- A Political Portrait (1968) and Richard Nixon- A Political and Personal Portrait (1959). Nixon had few intimates, but trusted Mazo and was about as close to him as he was with any journalist. Mazo wrote Nixon in July 1969, saying that the polls indicated that his policy had high approval ratings. Nixon replied, almost gleefully, and even signed the letter himself rather than having his secretary do it for him.
Typed Letter Signed on White House letterhead, Washington, July 22, 1969, to Mazo. “I just want you to know how much I appreciated your taking the time to forward the results of the New Jersey poll. We could not ask for a better tally had we commissioned the poll ourselves!”
Another reason for Nixon’s atypically upbeat mood- the Apollo 11 had just landed on the moon the day before, television pictures were beaming around a jubilant world, and after Neil Armstrong and his crew, with this success and the token withdrawal from Vietnam, Nixon was as popular as a president could ask to be.
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