This is not the first time that a presidential candidate has requested foreign interference in his election campaign. The first time occurred when Republican nominee Richard Nixon directed his campaign chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, to sabotage President Johnson’s efforts for productive peace talks in Vietnam.

The purpose was so that a frustrated American electorate would turn to the Republicans as their only hope to end the war. Henry Kissinger was also involved with his willingness to inform on his U.S. diplomatic colleagues and keep Nixon updated on Johnson’s efforts for a cease-fire and a negotiated end to the Vietnam War before the 1968 election.

At that time Vice President Hubert Humphrey was leading in the polls. This political operation came to be known as “The Chennault Affair,” named for Anna Chennault, the Republican fundraiser who was Nixon’s back channel to the South Vietnamese government. Chennault was the widow of U.S. Major General Claire Chennault, the leader of the “Flying Tigers” during World War II. The offer was the prospect of a better deal for South Vietnam and President Nguyen Van Thieu under Nixon should he become president.

As a result, peace negotiations collapsed, an additional 23,650 U.S. soldiers were killed, and tens of thousands more were wounded or given PTSD. That was the price paid because candidate Nixon asked a favor from a foreign government to benefit his election prospects.

So when any candidate gets a foreign country to interfere or assist in their campaign, look no further than Vietnam to see what can happen.

 

Michael Grove

Belgrade


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