Friday, April 28, 1972
Pullout to Continue
Nixon: Won't Halt Bombing
The President's announcement, delivered in a nationwide radio and television address from his White House office, meant that American troop strength would be down to 49,000 men within two months. The new rate of withdrawal was 10,000 a month, compared to about 23,000 per month under Nixon's last withdrawal statement.
Still, the President said his Vietnamization program had "proved itself sufficiently" in the month-old Communist offensive "that we can continue our program of withdrawing American forces without detriment to our over-all goal of ensuring South Vietnam's survival as an independent country."
While continuing the U.S. air and naval assault on military-targets in North Vietnam, Nixon said, the United States is going back to the bargaining table in Paris with the first order of business: "To get the enemy to halt his invasion of South Vietnam, and to return the American prisoners of war."
The President said ambassador William J. Porter was not resuming the Paris talks "simply in order to hear more empty propaganda and bomblast" from the Communists but "with the firm expectation that productive talks leading to rapid progress will follow through all available channels."
Unlike his previous troop withdrawal announcements, Nixon did not promise at the same time Wednesday night to make another similar announcement when the next withdrawal phase is completed by July 1.
But neither did the President speak of any "residual force" of American support personnel and military advisers which would remain in Vietnam indefinitely, as has been widely predicted.
He said simply that "the South Vietnamese have made great progress and are now bearing the brunt of the battle. We can now see the day when no more Americans will be involved there at all."
By leaving open the departure date for the 49,000 Americans remaining in Vietnam after July 1, the President could be using the prospect of a U.S. "residual force" as a bargaining point for Communist release of American prisoners of war, while giving himself room for additional withdrawals before the November elections.
In a briefing for reporters in the White House East Room before the President went on the air, Henry A. Kissinger, his national security affairs adviser, refused to speculate on any rock-bottom residual force.
"I have flatly rejected the proposal that we stop the bombing of North Vietnam as a condition for returning to the negotiating table," Nixon said. "They sold that package to the United States once before, in 1968, and we are not going to buy it again in 1972."
The tone of much of Nixon's speech was a call for domestic persistence and steadfastness at a time when he pictured American involvement in the long and costly war as drawing to a close.
"We must not falter," he said at one point.
"Let us then unite as a nation in a firm and wise policy of peace -not the peace of surrender, but peace with honor - not only peace in our time, but peace for generations to come."
" NIXON: WON'T HALT BOMBING", by Saigon (UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Friday, April 28, 1972 and reprinted with permission from European and Pacific Stars and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
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