Memo dramatizes Nixon White House dilemma over Vietnam

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WASHINGTON — Documents released Tuesday from Richard M. Nixon's White House years shed new light on just how much the government struggled with growing public unrest over the protracted war in Vietnam.

The National Archives opened nearly 200 hours of White House tape recordings and 90,000 pages of documents.

A newly declassified memo to Nixon from his secretary of defense at the time reflects just how much the administration felt and discussed public pressure — even as it weighed U.S. geopolitical strategy — in anguished internal debate over war policy.

The seven-page document cautions the president against a proposal from military brass to conduct a high-intensity air and naval campaign against North Vietnam.

Then-Defense Secretary Melvin Laird said such a plan would involve the United States in "expanded costs and risks with no clear resultant military or political benefits."

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