- Slides: 52
Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter: 1968 -1980
The Paris Peace Talks By 1968, President Johnson was very close to establishing a peace agreement between the North Vietnamese communists… And the US’ South Vietnamese allies. Unfortunately, the South Vietnamese unexpectedly decided to withdraw from the peace talks… And there is strong evidence that they were ENCOURAGED to withdraw… By Richard Nixon. Why? Nixon’s opponent in the 1968 Presidential election was Johnson’s Vice President Hubert Humphrey… The collapse of the peace talks allowed Nixon to say… “The previous administration couldn’t get the job done… Vote for me and I’ll END THE VIETNAM WAR. ” Nixon ended up winning the 1968 election by less than 500, 000 votes– a margin of victory of less than 1%.
Four More Years of War Nixon had probably given a secret promise 1. 2. 3. to the South Vietnamese President: Withdraw from the peace talks; wait until I’m elected; I’ll get you a better deal. For four years, Nixon tried various methods to secure the South Vietnamese a better deal: The “Madman Theory”—spreading the idea that Nixon was INSANE and willing to do ANYTHING—including the use of nuclear weapons—to end the war. Expansion—ordering the invasion of both Laos and Cambodia (Vietnam’s neighbors) on theory that the communists were using those nations as a safe haven between attacks on US forces. Vietnamization—the policy of transferring the defense of South Vietnam from the Americans to the South Vietnamese. None of these tactics worked and by 1971, Nixon privately admitted that the war was lost.
► ► ► ► The US’ invasion of Cambodia caused massive protests in the United States… Many of the demonstrations took place on college campuses… At Kent State University in Ohio, the National Guard was called in to prevent one protest from getting out of hand… The Guardsmen apparently panicked—and shot into an unarmed crowd of students… Killing four and wounding nine. The shooting caused most of the nation to turn against the war. And Nixon suggested that the students had caused the tragedy. Kent State
n n n n If Nixon realized in 1971 that the war was lost, why didn’t he seek an immediate peace agreement? The 1972 Presidential election was looming… And he believed that a US pullout—followed by a collapse of the South Vietnamese government… Would lead to him losing his campaign for reelection. And so he delayed until AFTER winning the 1972 election… To authorize US participation in the 1973 Paris Peace Accords… The terms were EXACTLY the same as those that had been drawn up by President Johnson… Back in 1968. Vietnam 1969 -1973
► ► ► ► US Withdrawal From Vietnam The peace agreement called for a complete US withdrawal from South Vietnam… And the process caused panic and terror across the country, and especially in Saigon (the South Vietnamese capital)… ANYBODY who had worked with the Americans during the twenty year war… Was DESPERATE to escape the country… Before the arrival of the North Vietnamese Army. Those that couldn’t escape by helicopter fled by boat (200, 000 were lost at sea)… And a total of 1. 5 million people left the country.
The Evacuation of Saigon
US forces were involved in the effort to prevent South Vietnam from falling to the Communists… From 1950 to 1973. 58, 269 Americans died in the fight… 1. 1 million NVA and Vietcong were killed… Approximately 4 million Vietnamese civilians… And the US invasion of Cambodia destabilized the Cambodian government… And led to the takeover of Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge… Who killed an additional 2. 5 million people. Vietnam is currently a communist nation today… But it’s also a hot tourist destination… And they LOVE Americans! The Aftermath
Nixon Goes to China n n n n n Nixon’s Presidency was a DISASTER… But he was responsible for one MAJOR achievement… As two communist superpowers, it would seem that China and the USSR would have been firm allies… However, both nations harbored a deep distrust of one another. When Nixon came to power, the US’ relations with Russia were COLD… But we had not officially SPOKEN to the Chinese in 22 years. Nixon, however, realized that a USChina relationship would put Russia on the defensive… And, to the shock of everybody, flew to Beijing and formalized relations. The move was a tactical masterstroke.
Richard Nixon’s Paranoia Nixon believed (correctly) that he was facing a network of “enemies”… Who were determined to bring down his Presidency. His response was to create an “enemies list”… Composed of people who he believe were out to get him. He then ordered the FBI to provide him with “dirt” on these individuals… To be used as blackmail… And to intimidate people from speaking out against him. The FBI cooperated— Installing wiretaps on the phones of hundreds of reporters, activists and rival politicians.
Wiretapping Nixon was also concerned that some of his staff members were secretly “enemies”… And in 1969, he ordered Henry Kissinger to install wiretaps on their telephones… These wiretaps were ILLEGAL under the 4 th amendment… And a violation of federal law by the chief law enforcement officer of the United States— the President. Eventually, Nixon began recording his own telephone conversations… A decision that led to this downfall.
The Pentagon Papers In the Spring of 1971, the NY Times and the Washington Post… Were provided with a set of CIA documents that came to be called the Pentagon Papers… They proved that the US Government— Beginning with the KENNEDY administration— Had been deliberately LYING to the American public about the Vietnam War. The documents also outlined NIXON’s lies… And when they were published, Nixon was FURIOUS.
The Watergate Break-In ► ► ► After the publication of the Pentagon Papers, Nixon’s behavior grew increasingly unhinged… And in 1972, he ordered a team of henchmen to wiretap the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee… Which was based at the Watergate Hotel in Washington. The men were arrested as they were trying to break in… And when they were searched, turned out to have pockets full of cash that was traced back to Nixon’s reelection campaign.
The Election of 1972 n n n During the summer of 1972, Nixon did EVEYRTHING POSSIBLE (hush money; blackmail) to keep the news of the break-in away from the public. He felt that if he could hang on until the November election, Watergate would be forgotten. It worked—and in the election of ‘ 72, he DESTROYED Democrat George Mc. Govern… 520 electoral votes to 17. It was one of the most lopsided victories in US History.
Woodward and Bernstein Despite the president’s best efforts to bury the Watergate story, two Washington Post reporters began closely investigating the case… n They were encouraged and assisted by a secret informant—nicknamed “Deep Throat”—who was close to the president. n Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein eventually followed the chain of evidence directly back to Richard Nixon. n
Secret Tapes The US Senate began holding hearings on the Watergate breakin in the summer of 1974. A Nixon aid testified to the existence of secret tape recordings of conversations held by Nixon in the Oval Office. Nixon—citing “executive privilege”—refused to release the tapes, but was ordered to do so by the Supreme Court. The tapes were full of racist slurs, Nixon’s orders to harass his “enemies”… And proof that he had ordered the Watergate break-in. A famous “eighteen-minute gap” in one of the tapes—officially “an accident”—has long fascinated historians.
► In July of 1974, the House of Representatives filed articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon… ► On the grounds of “obstruction of justice”. ► Facing certain conviction, and removal from office, Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. ► Gerald Ford, Nixon’s Vice President, became the new President of the United States. ► One of Ford’s first actions was to issue a presidential pardon of Nixon—who otherwise would have gone to prison. Impeachment
The Gerald Ford Administration Ford’s goal was to end public bitterness and distrust of the government… ► That resulted from the Vietnam War and Watergate. ► His reputation suffered badly when he decided to issue a full pardon to Richard Nixon… ► Without obtaining an admission of guilt, or determining all of the facts surrounding the scandal. ► This decision, combined with bad economy of the late 1970’s… ► Led to his defeat in the 1976 Presidential election. ►
The Jimmy Carter Administration “I’ll never lie to you” —Carter’s campaign pledge… He was the first president elected from the deep south since 1848. He vowed to return trust and openness to the US government… But his presidency suffered greatly due to its mishandling of a number of crises.
The Iranian Revolution In 1979, the US- supported Shah (King) of Iran was overthrown… After many years of brutal dictatorship… And an Islamist nation was established… Led by the Ayatollah Khomeni… Who labeled the US “The Great Satan”. . . And regularly called for “Death to America”.
The Hostage Crisis n n n With the support and encouragement of Khomeni, on November 1, 1979… Thousands of student protesters gathered outside the US Embassy in Tehran (capital of Iran)… On November 4, the protesters attacked and overwhelmed the Marines guarding the embassy… And 60 Americans were taken hostage. The students demanded that the Shah be returned to Iran to stand trial; the US refused to negotiate.
Operation Eagle Claw ► ► ► Carter instead decided to order a secret mission to rescue the hostages. The US Special Forces were selected for the mission. Two helicopters broke down in a sandstorm in the deserts outside of Tehran and the mission was aborted… As the aircraft were taking off, a mid-air collision killed 8 soldiers and injured 4 more… The botched rescue was hugely damaging to Carter’s presidency.
444 Days Although most hostages were treated well, many were beaten. ► And they were often paraded in front of TV cameras, handcuffed and blindfolded. ► The Carter administration attempted to negotiate for their release for the rest of his presidency… ► As a final insult to Carter, the hostages were released moments after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. ►