Newstalgia Reference Room - Elliot Richardson Talks About Cambodia - 1970

Newstalgia Reference Room - ABC News Issues and Answers from May 10, 1970 with Elliot Richardson, assistant Secretary of State, discusses the invasion of Cambodia, the storm of protests to it and how the White House and the protesters actually wanted the same thing. Fancy that.

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When Nixon decided to invade Cambodia in May of 1970, even the most ardent supporters of the White House position on the war were taken aback. The wave of protests (culminating in the shootings at Kent State and Jackson State) and general condemnation of such an action stunned even our allies throughout the world.

So when Under Secretary of State Elliot Richardson was sent out to the Sunday talk shows, carrying what was essentially the White House Kool-aid, he was met with withering cross-examination by the Press.

When asked if there really was any support anywhere in the world for this operation, Richardson blurted out a fascinating list of supporters:

Elliot Richardson: “There’s been a public expression of support, for example, by Prime Minister Sato of Japan, President Marcos of The Philippines, who has written the President in support of the position. The Southeast Asian countries in general communicated support to us. The government of The Netherlands, among others in Europe. And in general, they are . . .simply anxious to be certain that the course we followed does have the results predicted for it and that we do follow through on the basis of withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Cambodian occupied areas within the timetable that the President announced.”

When asked, pointedly, if any NATO allies had actually approved of the action, Richardson muttered The Netherlands "kind of" did. But in the end - no, no one from NATO thought it was a good idea at all. Richardson was shuffled out of the State Department less than two months later.

Such was life in the Nixon White House.

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