Robert Byrd: Iraq War Critic Raised Question About Vietnam

Monday 28 June, 2010 at 12:24 pm Ken 1

Robert Byrd, the longest-serving senator in U.S. history, has died, and his obituary rightly focuses on his criticism of the war in Iraq, but I’m impressed by a question he raised decades earlier about a different war.
Back then the President claimed that he had to keep U.S. soldiers fighting and dying in Vietnam to win the release of American prisoners of war from Hanoi. Richard Nixon’s secretly recorded White House tapes confirm that he knew this was not so–the only thing that would free the POWs was withdrawal of American ground forces.
Nixon maintained public support for the war by announcing a series of partial troop withdrawals throughout his first term, but leaving enough in Vietnam to ensure that it didn’t collapse before Election Day 1972. His political decision to prolong the war had the consequence of prolonging the POWs’ captivity.
Which brings us to Byrd’s excellent question, raised with the President shortly before he went on television to announce another (partial) troop withdrawal: If Hanoi had not released our prisoners in, say, 1969, when Nixon had more than 500,000 U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, why would they do so in 1972, when the number of U.S. soldiers fell below 50,000? It was a question Nixon couldn’t really answer, for reasons you’ll see when you click the link below.

Leave a Reply

  • You have told a very good morale story. I like it.

  • 1 comment

    1. the football shirt Comment:April 9, 2012 at 6:46 am

      You have told a very good morale story. I like it.

    You must be logged in to post a comment.