154. Letter From President Reagan to Richard Nixon1

Dear Dick:

While I had earlier expressed my concurrence with your article appearing in The Wall Street Journal, “Don’t Let Salvador Become Another Vietnam,” I wish to tell you how thoroughly I agree with your analysis.2

As you so persuasively illustrate, the significant Vietnam/Salvador parallels are not those sometimes urged upon Americans by liberal writers.3 The important parallels are instead the arming of guerrillas with Soviet-bloc weapons, the demands that the governments negotiate and share power with the communists before elections and, most importantly, the terrible consequences to the country, its citizens, and its neighbors in the event of submission to a communist regime.

Your article should also bring home to all Americans where the parallel ends. Unlike the expansion of communism into bordering states on the other side of the world, voluntary submission to further Soviet-bloc [Page 618] control in Central America would constitute a weakening of our resolve and the beginning of the conflict for communist control of the United States itself. Can reasoning, informed Americans let this happen?

Thank you for the public statement of truths which seriously concern me.


  1. Source: Reagan Library, Paula Dobriansky Files, Country File, Presidents, Former; NLR–145–5–18–5–1. No classification marking. An unknown hand wrote “Lenczowski” in the top-right hand corner of the letter and circled the name.
  2. Richard M. Nixon, “Don’t Let Salvador Become Another Vietnam,” Wall Street Journal, May 2, 1983, p. 30.
  3. Nixon wrote: “There are chilling parallels between what is happening in El Salvador and what happened in Vietnam. In both cases, the myth that what is involved is simply a civil war with guerrilla forces armed with pitchforks and a few weapons captured from the government has been exploded. In Vietnam, we now know from the North Vietnamese themselves that the Soviet Union was the primary arms supplier to the guerrillas in South Vietnam. In El Salvador, it has been clearly established that the guerrillas are primarily armed with Soviet-bloc weapons funneled through Cuba, Nicaragua and Libya.” (Ibid.)