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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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very difficult to answer this question of withdrawal in any other terms than that the Times certainly never advocated and I certainly never would have advocated -- as some peace people did -- that we just declare that we won [chuckling] the war and withdraw the American troops. It just was not a practical thing, and it wouldn't have been a feasible thing. Our (the Times') whole emphasis was not on withdrawal of troops, just sudden withdrawal, without having reached a settlement in which we would undoubtedly -- we, the U.S. -- would undoubtedly have to make more concessions than we would want to make, but would have to make a settlement that would permit an honorable or at least a semi- respectable withdrawal. I don't think I really ever would have been willing to advocate -- and I'm pretty sure we never did in any of the editorials in this whole period -- advocate, okay, we, the U.S. has had it, and we're just going to pull out. I don't think that such a policy really could have, would have been acceptable. But I do think that we, if the New York Times had been doing the negotiating, we would unquestionably have accepted peace terms that would concede to the other side a whole lot more than the Johnson administration would have been willing to concede. That's about the best answer I can make to your question.


In November of 1965 there was an editorial with the title “The Chance That Was Missed,” revealing that Hanoi had tried to initiate talks a year earlier. Do you recall that moment? That piece?


I don't specifically recall that editorial, but I think that the tone of it is very much in line with what I just said to you, is it not? That we were advocating there that we, the U.S., could and should have made certain offers or negotiation offers that we missed.

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