The president did let Humphrey know and gave him enough information to sink his opponent. But by then, a few days from the election, Humphrey had been told he had closed the gap with Nixon and would win the presidency. So Humphrey decided it would be too disruptive to the country to accuse the Republicans of treason, if the Democrats were going to win anyway.
com·pas·sion /kəmˈpaSHən/ (noun)
1. Callous indifference to or pleasure in causing pain and suffering.
2. Behavior that causes pain or suffering to a person or animal.
cruelty - atrocity - inhumanity - barbarity - savagery - ferocity
At times, the book focuses so intently on efforts to get peace talks started that it loses sight of the fact that there is a difference--a very big difference--between beginning peace talks and ending a war. In the context of 1965 and 1966, the search for a formula that would allow peace talks to begin served only to confirm to the parties what they already knew--namely, that they differed over who should rule in Saigon, and there was no way to compromise on this issue or to put it off until later. ...
On the American side, the Johnson administration was both explicit and consistent in its approach to how the Marigold peace initiative (and all the others as well) should progress. The Johnson administration wanted to talk about mutual de-escalation, whereby both sides would do less of what they already were doing. Ideally this would mean that the United States would stop bombing North Vietnam; the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong would halt their attacks in and around Saigon; and the North Vietnamese would cut back and ultimately halt infiltration of soldiers, weapons, and supplies into South Vietnam.
... In effect, the Johnson administration saw mutual de-escalation as a pathway to victory, because once infiltration from North Vietnam into South Vietnam had been halted or even largely reduced, communist forces in South Vietnam would have been no match for American and South Vietnamese forces. ...
Seen this way, there was no "lost chance for peace in Vietnam," at least not in 1966, when the events covered by Hershberg's book were played out. Each side was willing to hold the door open while the other walked away, but neither was willing to walk away itself. The war for South Vietnam was a civil war. Civil wars rarely end in negotiated compromises. Usually one side wins, and the other escapes into exile (if it can).
... while Nixon has not shown his hand with regard to Vietnam, Humphrey has shown his, and it is Johnson’s. The best that can be said of Humphrey’s speech of September 30 is that it reiterates Johnson’s position. The worst that can be said about it is that it goes beyond Johnson’s position in asking Hanoi not only for some kind of reciprocity—explicit or implicit—in exchange for a complete cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam, but specifically for “Communist willingness to restore the demilitarized zone between North and South Vietnam.”
The role Humphrey has played in the conduct of the Vietnam war has been deliberately obscured and falsified. It has been said that the Vice President could not help defending the President’s policy in public while trying to change them in private, and that he would emerge with a different policy once he could be “his own man.” The trouble with this argument is that there never have been two Humphreys—any more than there have been two Nixons—one willy-nilly supporting the war, the other opposing it. There has only been one Humphrey, wholeheartedly and passionately supporting the war in private as well as in public. ...
Nixon's assets and liabilities are the reverse of Humphrey’s. He has shown no intellectual understanding of the momentous issues with which the next president will have to deal. Most disturbing is his apparent conviction—I stress here as elsewhere “apparent,” for in Nixon’s case the distinction between appearance and reality is extremely hazardous—that the more nuclear weapons a nation has the better off it is militarily. His remedy for the disintegration of American society appears to be private enterprise and the police. However, Nixon has one quality, indispensable but not sufficient in a political leader, in which Humphrey is lacking: the gift of political organization and manipulation. He transformed the Republican Party, virtually moribund four years ago, into an instrument of his power and victory. He has done this by organizing the party from the grass roots up, by giving his competitors enough rope to hang themselves, by straddling the issues, such as Vietnam, or by glossing them over with unexceptionable generalities, such as those on the cities and race.
These political gifts are at the service not of a great political vision nor even of a limited political program, but of a drive for personal power. Nixon thus far has shown all the qualities of a politician of the second rank, but none of those of a political leader or statesman. The mistakes Humphrey would have made enthusiastically, unthinkingly, well-meaningly, Nixon is likely to make by limiting his calculations to the effect his actions might have upon his personal political fortunes. Thus, as Johnson, in spite of his different intentions, was reduced to executing in Vietnam approximately Goldwater’s policies, so Humphrey, his intentions and insights notwithstanding, would in all likelihood be forced to put Nixon’s policies into practice on the domestic scene because he would have failed in the tasks of political leadership, organization, and manipulation. While Nixon would embark upon an unlimited nuclear arms race deliberately, and with conviction, Humphrey, lacking the political savvy to make his convictions prevail against strong hostile pressures, would do so hesitatingly and regretfully but would be likely to acquire Nixon’s convictions in the process. However different the two contenders are in personality, ability, and style, they offer us the prospect of the same calamities.
That grim picture has only one redeeming feature, favoring Nixon. Nixon is more likely than Humphrey to make an end to the Vietnam war; for in contrast to Humphrey, he is not emotionally committed to it, nor does he bear any responsibility for it. He can afford to allow political calculations to determine his actions, and these calculations point unmistakably in the direction of speedy liquidation of the losing enterprise. If the cost of liquidation should be painfully high, the Democrats are available for blame.
The BBC's former Washington correspondent Charles Wheeler learned of this in 1994 and conducted a series of interviews with key Johnson staff, such as defence secretary Clark Clifford, and national security adviser Walt Rostow.
"There exists, within the political class of Washington, DC, an open secret that is too momentous and too awful to tell" (6) But Hitchens is made of tough stuff and bravely lets the cat out of the bag. During the 1968 presidential campaign, Kissinger, at that time a Democrat, was working for Lyndon Johnson, assisting with the peace talks taking place with the North Vietnamese. Hitchens claims that Kissinger told Nixon that Johnson was contemplating a bombing halt to help the campaign of Hubert Humphrey, Nixon's opponent. Nixon's supporters in turn told the South Vietnamese government that a Nixon government would offer a better deal than any that could be offered by the Democrats. The South Vietnamese promptly withdrew from the Paris talks, damaging the 'peace plank' on which the Democrats were contesting the election.
In calls recorded with Clifford they express the fear that going public would require revealing the FBI were bugging the ambassador's phone and the National Security Agency (NSA) was intercepting his communications with Saigon.
So they decided to say nothing.
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