How and why did America experience a severe economic crisis in the 1970s? • What effect did Nixon’s presidency have on domestic politics? • How did expanding social activism lead to a conservative reaction at the end of the decade? • Why did President Carter fail to develop an effective style of leadership? How did foreign affairs affect his administration?
The Nixon Years The Republican Domestic Agenda
Nixon’s policies heralded a long-term Republican effort to trim back the Great Society and shift some federal responsibilities back to the states. • The 1972 revenue-sharing program distributed a portion of federal tax revenues back to the states as block grants. • Nixon reduced funding for most War on Poverty programs and dismantled the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1971.
He impounded billions of dollars appropriated by Congress for urban renewal, pollution control, and other environmental issues, and he vetoed a 1971 bill to establish a comprehensive national child-care system, fearing that such “communal approaches to child rearing”would “Sovietize”American children. • As an alternative to Democratic social legislation, the administration put forward its own antipoverty program by proposing a Family Assistance Plan that would provide a family of four a small but guaranteed annual income; the bill floundered in the Senate, leaving the issue of welfare reform a contentious issue for the next thirty years.
Nixon agreed to the growth of major entitlement programs such as Medicare,Medicaid, and Social Security. • In 1970, Nixon signed a bill establishing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in 1972, he approved legislation creating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). • Nixon demonstrated his commitment to conservative social values most clearly with his appointments to the Supreme Court; during his administration Warren Burger became chief justice, and conservatives Harry Blackmun, Lewis F. Powell Jr., and William Rehnquist became justices.
Nixon’s War • In March 1969 Nixon ordered clandestine bombing raids on neutral Cambodia , through which the North Vietnamese had been transporting supplies and reinforcements, to convince North Vietnam that the United States meant business about mutual troop withdrawal. • When the intensified bombing failed to end the war, Nixon and Henry Kissinger adopted a policy of Vietnamization — the replacement of American troops with South Vietnamese forces.
"Angel's Wing" and the "Crow's Nest" Svay Rieng Province
Antiwar demonstrators denounced the new policy, which protected American lives at the expense of the Vietnamese; on October 15, 1969, millions of Americans joined a one-day “moratorium” against the war and a month later more than a quarter of a million people mobilized in Washington in a large antiwar demonstration.
Nixon’s response was to label student demonstrators as “bums” and his statement that “North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.”
Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia culminated in a 1970 American incursion into Cambodia to destroy enemy havens there; though only a short-term setback for the North Vietnamese, it helped to destabilize the country, exposing it to takeover by the Khmer Rouge later in the 1970s.
When the New York Times uncovered the secret invasion of Cambodia, an antiwar national student strike ensued; at Kent State University, National Guardsmen fired into a crowd at an antiwar rally killing four and wounding eleven and, soon afterward, National Guardsmen stormed a dormitory at Jackson State College, killing two black students.
More than 450 colleges closed in protest, and 80 percent of all campuses experienced some kind of disturbance; in June 1970, a Gallup poll identified campus unrest, not the war, as the issue that most troubled Americans.
Congressional opposition to the war also intensified with the invasion of Cambodia; in June 1970, the Senate expressed its disapproval for the war by repealing the Tonkin resolution and cutting off funding for operations in Cambodia. • Soldiers themselves were showing mounting opposition to their mission; those who refused to follow combat orders increased and thousands deserted. Of the majority who fought on, many sewed peace symbols on their uniforms, and incidents of “fragging” occurred.
In 1971, Americans were appalled by revelations of the sheer brutality of the war when Lieutenant William L. Calley was court-martialed for atrocities committed in the village of My Lai.
A Few Survivors TRUONG THI LEE TRUONG MOI PHAM THI THUAM
The antiwar movement was weakened in part by internal divisions within the New Left and by Nixon’s promise to continue troop withdrawals, end the draft, and institute an all-volunteer army by 1973.
Withdrawal from Vietnam and Détente • Nixon’s policy of détente was to seek peaceful coexistence with the Communist Soviet Union and China and to link these overtures of friendship with a plan to end the Vietnam War. • Nixon traveled to China in 1972 in a symbolic visit that set the stage for the establishment of formal diplomatic relations
"This was the week that changed the world,” proclaimed President Richard M. Nixon in February 1972, emphasizing the stunning turnaround in relations with America's former enemy, the People's Republic of China. Nixon's trip was meticulously planned to dramatize the event on television and, aside from criticism from some conservatives, won overwhelming support from Americans. The Great Wall of China forms the setting for this photograph of Nixon and his wife Pat.
He then traveled to Moscow to sign the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) between the United States and the Soviet Union. • The treaty limited the production and deployment of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and antiballistic missile systems (ABMs) and signified that the United States could no longer afford massive military spending to regain the nuclear and military superiority it had enjoyed after World War II.
The Paris peace talks had been in stalemate since 1968; in late 1971, as American troops withdrew, Communist forces stepped up their attacks on Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam. • After yet another North Vietnamese offensive against South Vietnam, Nixon ordered B-52 bombings against North Vietnam and the mining of North Vietnamese ports.
With the help of a cease-fire agreement, Nixon won a resounding victory in the 1972 elections; however, the peace initiative stalled when South Vietnam rejected a provision concerning North Vietnamese troop positions. • Nixon stepped up the military actions with the “Christmas bombings”; the Paris Peace accords were signed on January 27, 1973.
The accords did not fulfill Nixon’s promise of “peace with honor,” but they did call for the withdrawal of American troops in exchange for the return of American prisoners of war (POWs) and for most Americans that was enough. • The South Vietnamese government soon fell to Communist forces; horrified Americans watched as American embassy personnel and Vietnamese citizens struggled to board helicopters leaving Saigon before North Vietnamese troops entered the city. • On April 29, 1975,Vietnam was reunited, and Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the Communist leader who had died in 1969
The Legacy of Vietnam • The Vietnam War occupied American administrations for nearly thirty years; U.S. troops fought the war for over eleven years, from 1961 to 1973.
Some 58,000 U.S. troops died in Vietnam, and another 300,000 were wounded. • Those troops who returned unharmed encountered a sometimes hostile or indifferent reception, making the transition to civilian life abrupt and disorienting and led to recurring physical and psychological problems.
In Southeast Asia, the war claimed an estimated 1.5 million Vietnamese lives and devastated the country’s physical and economic structure; Laos and particularly Cambodia also suffered when between 1975 and 1979 the Khmer Rouge killed an estimated 2 million Cambodians in a brutal relocation campaign. • The war produced nearly 10 million refugees, many of whom immigrated to the United States; among them were more than 30,000 Amerasians, the offspring of American soldiers and Vietnamese women.
Pol Pot AKA 'Brother Number One'. Birth name Saloth Sar. Kill tally: One to three million (or between a quarter and a third of the country's population).