With the tide of opposition to the Vietnam War and our escalation of the war into Cambodia, and with the deaths of four students earlier in the week at Kent State University in Ohio, and with protests and surely more deaths to come, it was time for something resembling damage control to come from the White House. And so Elliot Richardson, Secretary of State for the Nixon Administration made the rounds of Sunday News and Information shows on Radio and TV, to make assurances that our role in Vietnam was in fact coming to an end – a campaign promise Nixon made during the 1968 elections. But that also the U.S. did still have allies in this war, and so support for our continued involvement wasn’t completely abandoned by the rest of the world.
Richardson stands by the Domino Theory that one country falling into the hands of the Communists eventually meant the rest of the region would follow suit. And that both Beijing and Moscow were doing their best to bolster their own interests while helping create an unstable atmosphere in Southeast Asia.
But the Press aren’t buying it – and as is evidenced by this half hour episode of ABC News Issues & Answers from May 12, 1970, Richardson is grilled on just how much support we’re actually getting from other countries.
This interview program, and others like it at the time, serve as a reminder that protest against policies deemed wrong are not new and certainly will be part of our society for generations to come. That it took a National Guard showdown gone wrong and a national sense of outrage to push the conversation to the front of the line is a very necessary part of our society and often comes as the result of a long, simmering series of circumstances and untruths.
Here’s what it all sounded like via ABC News Issues & Answers for May 12, 1970.