REAGAN, Ronald. Autograph draft signed (''RR'') as Governor of California, to Sergeant Ernie A. Siegrist, [Sacramento, CA], 28 June 1967. 2½ pages, 8vo (8 3/8 x 4¾ in.), in very fine condition. [With:] Sergeant Siegrist's original letter to Reagan.
REAGAN, Ronald. Autograph draft signed ("RR") as Governor of California, to Sergeant Ernie A. Siegrist, [Sacramento, CA], 28 June 1967. 2½ pages, 8vo (8 3/8 x 4¾ in.), in very fine condition. [With:] Sergeant Siegrist's original letter to Reagan.
REAGAN ON THE VIETNAM WAR: "[THE ENEMY] SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE TO PLAN HIS STRATEGY FEARFUL THAT WE MIGHT USE THE ULTIMATE WEAPON"
A fine letter which clearly displays Reagan's opinions about the military situation in Vietnam. Ronald Reagan served as Governor of California during the peak years of conflict in Vietnam. As his constituents led the movement to protest the war, Reagan struggled with his own uncertainties. As a product of the generation that lived through World War II and witnessed the rapid conquest of the European continent by German forces, Reagan believed that a nation had to be armed and prepared to meet all enemies. However, he disapproved of the way that the nation waged its current war in Asia. As a result, Reagan grew prominent as "a spokesman for those who believed the United States was losing the war in Vietnam because Washington lacked the will to win it" (Cannon, President Reagan, pp. 289-290).
Here, the Governor responds to the letter of an American sergeant in Vietnam who had candidly expressed his opinions about the war and Reagan's position: "Your charge that no one who hasn't been there should make decisions on the conduct of mil[itary] operations in Vietnam finds agreement with me. I have taken a public position for some time now that when a Nat[ion] asks its young men to fight and die then that nat[ion] has an obligation to put its full resources behind those men to bring victory as quickly as possible. In that connection it is my view that our mil[itary] leaders not the state department should guide our mil[itary] strategy." Reagan clarifies his position that nuclear weapons should be used as a deterrent: "I have never suggested using nuclear weapons but have expressed agreement with former Pres[ident] Eisenhower who said 'the last one to be told we won't use these weapons is the enemy.' He should always have to plan his strategy fearful that we might use the ultimate weapon."
Responding to native Californian Siegrist's criticism of his management of the state, Reagan defends his policies: "As for the Presidency I can only continue to repeat that I am not a candidate...if you were here you would be aware...that I inherited a state on the verge of bankruptcy...Almost half the tax bill is simply to pay off the debt... the leader in the campaign of distortion about our policies were in large part the same ones who are lending comfort to the enemy you are fighting." In a final flurry, Reagan uses Siegrist's own argument against him: "You have challenged that no one should give opinions on Viet Nam who hasn't been there to know the situation 1st hand. May I propose that you do the same thing about our battle here in Calif[ornia]."
Reagan's belief in the necessity of military preparedness created the foundation for foreign policy during his administration based upon the strength of the nation's nuclear arsenal.
Provenance: Kenneth W. Rendell, 1985.