Time of Troubles
I feel deeply sorry for him. Every weapon he uses
smashes in his hands.
-- Sir Harold Nicolson on Winston Churchill, in The War Years. Diaries and Letters 1939-1945
They could not positively prove it, of course, but some advisers around President Nixon in those days just before his bold gamble to send American troops into Cambodia were convinced he saw a similarity between his own adversity in withdrawing the nation from Vietnam and Winston Churchill's in ridding the world of Adolf Hitler. Others close to the President felt that he saw some similarity between the Cambodian intervention and Kennedy's throwing down the gauntlet to the Russians in demanding the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba in 1962.
If so, the similarities were in the President's soul, not in the objective circumstances, because the circumstances of Cambodia could not conceivably offer Nixon anything like the universal and emotional backing that sustained Churchill during World War II or Kennedy in those brief days when American citizens gave him their total support to do whatever necessary to expel Soviet missiles from Cuba. To the contrary, in the public consciousness Cambodia was a distinctly marginal military undertaking that, whatever its actual significance as one factor in the Vietnam equation, widened the war to another country, and therefore must be bad.
Indeed, Nixon understood perfectly well that this would be the initial reaction by most Americans to the Cambodian invasion and, consequently, resolved to build it up to heroic proportions by rheto-