The um...protesters, the anti-war protesters in 1970 and 1971, I think began to be joined by a lot of people who had theretofore supported the war publicly, privately and as strongly as they could. They, they watched with an increasing feeling of frustration a major national effort of our country uh, uh bogging down in um, a, an indeterminate ah, chaos, chaotic condition and a morass insofar as combat operations were concerned.
The uh, feeling was, I think, much more widespread by now that the war was a mistake and really had been a mistake from the, from the very beginning. And people were beginning to uh, feel that it ought to be wound down, that military operations ought to be brought to a close and, if necessary, admit that we had uh, made a mistake.
I remember even a few years before that I had been in a, a bilateral conference between some, in which some Americans and some um, um British individuals participated. One of the subjects of this conference was the subject of American and military involvement in Southeast Asia
. And one of the British participants, whom I had a great respect and whom I enjoyed the battle back and forth during our uh conference sessions. He turned to me one day and he said, "Flynt," he said, "When are you Americans going to realize that you've made a mistake in your war policy in Southeast Asia
He said, "You've gotten yourself in a hopeless situation, one that you cannot possibly win and one that we in England, of course, hope you, you don't lose." But said, "You are going to wind up in a situation that could go on for five, ten, fifteen, twenty, forty years. And it's, uh, insofar as uhm, uhm, achieving what you have, have went into it seeking to achieve, you, you might as well uhm uh give it up as a bad job, and, and, and get out with as much as you can salvage from it."
And then he turned on a broad smile and said, "Take it from one who knows. We learned that lesson the hard way ourselves." And I suppose all of those things uh, uh played, played a role, not only in my own decision in 1971, that the war was a mistake and it ought to be stopped as soon as we could and to get out and save what face we could.
Ah, I think that many people throughout the United States who had previously supported war as strongly as I had, began to feel the same way. We saw a feeling of division in our country, a uh, a manifestation of uh, divisiveness the likes of which this country hadn't seen since over a hundred years ago in the war between the states.