Well, I think the American people had become fed up with the Vietnam War and the fact that American troops had been co—become bogged down there and had taken over the complete responsibility. Ah. I, I believe that there were pressures that were felt from the Congress and certainly during the campaign. I think if President Humphrey ah, or Vice President Humphrey at that time, ah would have indicated in the slightest that there was another plan to get Americans out of Vietnam, because each year during McNamara's term the number of troops went up and up and up during that Johnson Administration.
During Clark Clifford's ten months in the, as secretary of defense, during the end of the Johnson Administration, the number of troops went up and up and up. Ah. And, I think if Humphrey would have indicated that there was some plan, he probably would have won the election. Ah. But, as you know, President Johnson ah had Clark Clifford go on Meet the Press ah two weeks before the ah November election of 1968 and indicated to the American people that there was no plan to remove a single American from Vietnam. And, this position was echoed by the then Vice president, the
democratic candidate for president of the United States that they had no plan to withdraw any American.
As a matter of fact, ah, Secretary of Defense Clifford, at the time, when I came out and said there was a plan in the Pentagon and that that plan should be implemented, ahhh, denied that there was even a plan in ISA or any other place in the Pentagon to withdraw a single American from Vietnam. I think that was a mistake because the pressures were on as far as the American people were concerned. The pressures were on as far as the Congress was concerned and, if we wouldn't have moved in the direction of Vietnamization, our whole military force structure would have been
destroyed in the United States and we would not have been able to meet the NATO commitments and the other commitments which were treaty commitments that had been made but, had been made by the American government, because the Defense Department was suffering, the ah military acceptance of, even people, the military people ah was going down and it was necessary for us to come up with a plan that would give the South Vietnamese the responsibility in that area. We couldn't assure that they had the will and the desire to carry forward.
We couldn't estimate that the Russians wouldn't live up to the peace agreement of Paris, but ah certainly ah we had to act and ah I felt that the pressures were on from the Congress and from the American people. Matter of fact, there was... my plans for withdrawal were always in greater numbers than really were approved but I had to keep the pressure on on the withdrawal program from the time of Midway
in late May of 1969
right through the four years I served in the Pentagon.