In a nationally broadcast policy statement on Vietnam last night, President Nixon outlined a plan designed to gain "a peace we can live with." He said that any peace settlement would have include mutual withdrawal of all non-South Vietnamese forces and guarantee elections for South Vietnam.
Speaking on what he called "our most difficult and urgent problem," Nixon implored the American people to until behind his proposal. "Nothing could have a greater effect in convincing the enemy that he should negotiate in good faith than to see the American people united behind a generous and reasonable peace offer," he said.
The President ruled out unilateral withdrawal and said that such a move would be betraying his office, since it would not guarantee a permanent peace. He also excluded the possibility of a "disguised defeat" at the negotiating table, and said "prestige is not an empty word."
The peace proposal will be presented to the North Vietnamese and the NFL in Paris on Friday by Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge '23.
Nixon outlined a series of points in his proposed peace plan:
* Within a 12 month period, a withdrawal of all non-South Vietnamese troops would be substantially completed;
* At the end of that period, any remaining outside forces would move into enclaves and would not engage in combat operations;
* The remaining American and allied troops would complete their withdrawal as the remaining North Vietnamese troops were pulled out;
* An international supervisory body would be created to oversee the withdrawal;
* As soon as the international body was functioning, elections open to all not involved in "the use of force or intimidation" would be held;
* Arrangements would be made for "the earliest possible release of prisoners of war on both sides;
* All parties would agree to observe the 1954 Geneva accords and the 1962 Laos accords.
Nixon said that it might be easy for him to simply withdraw American forces, but he argued that the "cause of peace would not survive the damage that would be done to other nations' confidence in our reliability."
Nevertheless, he said, "The fact that there is no easy way to end the war does not mean that we have no choice but to let the war drag on with no end in sight...."