Melvin Laird, the architect of Nixon's failed "Vietnamization" of the war in Southeast Asia, wrote last week in the Washington Post:
The brewing fight in Congress..is an ominous reminder of 1975, when Congress cut off funding for the Vietnam War three years after our combat troops had left. With the assistance we promised South Vietnam in the 1972 Paris Accords -- U.S. equipment, replacement parts and ammunition -- it had won every major battle since we left. But Congress lost the will to keep our promise and killed the appropriation. The result was a bloodbath.
This from the man, who as Secretary of Defense lied to Congress from 1969 until 1973, arranged for the bombing of Cambodia that set up the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot, who then proceeded to murder millions in the Killing Fields. That was a bloodbath.
Here is what happened under the Nixon-Laird Vietnamization of the war:
- January 23, 1973 - President Nixon announces that an agreement has been reached which will "end the war and bring peace with honor."
- March 29, 1973 - The last remaining American troops withdraw from Vietnam as President Nixon declares "the day we have all worked and prayed for has finally come."
America's longest war, and its first defeat, thus concludes. During 15 years of military involvement over 2 million Americans served in Vietnam with 500,000 seeing actual combat. 47,244 were killed in action, including 8000 airmen. There were 10,446 non-combat deaths. 153,329 were seriously wounded, including 10,000 amputees. Over 2,400 American POWs/MIAs were unaccounted for as of 1973.
The following year the two foes, North and South Vietnam, engaged in no significant battles. While Laird is swift to note that Congress cut off funding for American involvement in the war in 1974, he still fails to recognize that Vietnamization was simply a cover for our retreat.
As Scott Laderman notes in Iraq, Vietnam, and the Bloodbath Theory:
The Bush administration currently offers two serious public justifications for continuing the war in Iraq. Both have antecedents, though imprecise, in the Vietnam war. The first is the fight against anti-American terrorism. The second, which is my focus in this essay, is what is described as an effort to prevent full-fledged civil war and the chaos and Iraqi bloodshed this would produce. For this the Vietnam war offers possible lessons...
...The bloodbath theory proved beneficial to the Nixon administration because, at a time when a growing number of Americans viewed the Vietnam war as immoral, it restored a moral cast to the American intervention...