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Opening Arguments

Dirty old man

People writing about the newly released Nixon tapes seem to be focusing either on his creepy abortion views (they foster permissiveness and break up the family but are sometimes necessary, "like when you have a black and a white or a rape") or else Watergate and all the intrigue surrounding the Saturday Night Massacre. But this is what I found really disturbing:

Several conversations center on the pressure Nixon placed on South Vietnam's president, Nguyen Van Thieu, to accept the cease-fire agreement. Ken Hughes, a Nixon scholar and research fellow at the Presidential Recordings Project at the University of Virginia, said he was struck by listening on one of the new tapes to Nixon's telling his national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, that to get Thieu to sign the treaty, he would “cut off his head if necessary.”

Mr. Hughes said the conversation bolstered his view that Nixon, Thieu and Mr. Kissinger knew at the time that the cease-fire could not endure, and that it was not “peace with honor,” as Nixon described it, so much as a face-saving way for the United States to get out of the war. In 1975, North Vietnam would violate the cease-fire and conquer South Vietnam.

Speaking of cutting off heads, I wouldn't mind seeing Kissinger's on a stick. None of us ever believed the "peace with honor" nonsense, and it's been clear for a long time that saving face was all that mattered. Oh, well, just names on a wall.