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Giant U. S. Air, Naval Task Force Begins Mining Entrances to Haiphong, Other Ports

Nixon Takes Stern Steps

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP)- President Nixon has coupled the mining of North Vietnamese harbors with stern military steps intended to choke off Hanoi's war supplies- moves which imperiled his Moscow summit and rekindled domestic polemics on the Indochina war.

In a nationwide broadcast Monday night, Nixon delivered what amounted to an ultimatum for the Soviet Union to quit supplying arms and materiel to "the international outlaws of North Vietnam" within three days or face destruction of Soviet ships.

Besides risking collapse of summit talks with Soviet leaders due to begin in two weeks, Nixon's sea quarantine of North Vietnam posed the potential for perhaps the greatest confrontation of world superpowers since the Cuban missile crisis a decade ago.

The chief executive combined disclosure of the toughest military moves ever ordered by an American president in Vietnam with what some Washington officials view as a softening of peace terms.

An offer to withdraw all U. S. forces from Vietnam within four months after American prisoners of war are released and an internationally supervised ceasefire has begun.

In the hours following his address, Washington tensely awaited response from Moscow, Peking and Hanoi to the mining, the intensified air and naval strikes on military targets and the efforts to slice all North Vietnamese supply lines, including railroads that carry most of the Soviet and Chinese military aid.

Domestic reaction came more quickly.

Demonstrations against Nixon's action were in progress within hours on at least four of the nation's campuses.

Republicans in Congress generally hailed the President's moves as courageous and necessary while Democrats generally denounced them as dangerous and foolish.

"A dangerous flirtation with World War III," said Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota. Fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Edmund Muskie said Nixon was "jeopardizing the major security interests of the United States."

Evans as the Preside solemnly told the nation of his decisions, U. S. airplanes were sowing North Vietnamese ports- presumably including Haiphong- with mines set to activate at 6 a. m. EDT Thursday.

The chief executive openly sought the support of the American public, saying his sole purpose was "to end this war and to win the kind of peace that will last."

And he openly sought too, Soviet understanding of his actions.

"Let us not slide back toward the dark shadows of a previous age," Nixon said after citing U. S. Soviet moves toward nuclear arms limitation and other agreements.

Beaming his words directly at Moscow, where he is due to arrive May 22 for talks with Soviet leaders, he added:

"We are on the threshold of a new relationship that can serve not only the interests of our two countries but the cause of world peace. We are prepared to build this relationship. The responsibility is yours if we fail to do so."

Soviet leaders apparently learned formally of Nixon's quarantine order when Moscow's ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Dobrynin, was summoned to Kissinger's office an hour before the speech. White House officials said other countries were notified "through diplomatic processes."

Nixon said he is faced a "clear, hard choice among three courses of action: immediate withdrawal of all American forces; continued attempts at negotiation; or decisive military action to end the war."

He conceded many Americans favor withdrawal now and said "from a political standpoint, this would be an easy choice to me to accept"- an oblique reference to the fact that his Vietnam policies loom as a major issue in his re-election campaign.

But he said immediate withdrawal of all U. S. forces- slated to number 49,000 by July 1 under the plan Nixon announced 12 days ago- would mean turning 17 million South Vietnamese "over to Communist terror and tyranny," and would leave no bargaining leverage to free American POWs.

The President said he would continue to seek a negotiated settlement. But he complained bitterly that the North Vietnamese have flatly refused all public and private approaches, responding with "bombastic rhetoric…insolence, and insult" and an escalation of the war.

So, he continued, "by simply getting out we would only worsen the bloodshed. By relying solely on negotiations we would give and intransigent enemy the time he needs to press his aggression on the battlefield.

"There is only one way to stop the killing, and that is to keep the weapons of war out of the hands of the international outlaws of North Vietnam."

As he ticked off the measures being implemented as he spoke, Nixon said any president who failed to act decisively now "would have betrayed the trust of his country and the cause of peace."

Within hours after his address, an armada of American aircraft were bombing rail lines and highways throughout North Vietnam.

Earlier, even before Nixon met with his National Security Council to outline his plans, U. S. warplanes had attacked targets near Hanoi, the first such raids in three weeks.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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There is currently no available "Beginner" label. The following is the default level label: On Monday, May 8, 1972, President Nixon announced that North Vietnamese harbors would be mined in order to cut off supplies. Foreign ships would have three day to leave the ports before the mines were set to activate. In addition to the mining, rail lines and highways would be bombed. He took this action without first consulting Congress. Nixon warned that these actions would stop only when all U.S. prisoners of war were returned and an internationally supervised cease-fire was initiated. If these conditions were met, the United States would "stop all acts of force throughout Indochina and proceed with the complete withdrawal of all forces within four months." This announcement triggered antiwar protests which led to 1,800 arrests on college campuses. Republicans generally supported the measures, while Democrats denounced it as dangerous. "A dangerous flirtation with World War III," said Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota. Fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Edmund Muskie said Nixon was "jeopardizing the major security interests of the United States."


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"Giant U.S. Air, Naval Task Force Begins Mining Entrances To Haiphong, Other Ports" article from Greenfield Recorder newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Recorder
author   Gaylord Shaw
date   May 9, 1972
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   19.0"
width   4.25"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L07.002

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See Also...

"ACLU Would Impeach Nixon" letter in The Greenfield Recorder newspaper

"Anarchists Blamed for Dissension" article in The Greenfield Recorder newspaper

"Senate Bill Would Limit U.S. Combat" article in The Greenfield Recorder newspaper

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