Nixon, Kissinger, and the War

  • Richard Nixon assumed presidency in 1969, he was committed to restoring stability at home, and create a new stable order in the world.
  • Nixon's running campaign was "peace with honor" with the situation in Vietnam.
  • By 1973, America had pulled out of Vietnam, they did this however with neither peace nor honor. This war had not only expanded geographically, but also with time (four years) and with the amount of lives lost.
  • Henry Kissinger was a Harvard profesor who was Nixon's special assistant for national security affairs. He immediatly establish dominance over William Rogers(Secretary of State) and Melvin Laird (Secretary of Defense). He was intelligent, has well developed bureaucratic skills, and was successful with handling the press. Nixon and him set out to find a solution to the stalemate in Vietnam.
  • There were many steps to the Vietnam policy.
    1. The first was to limit domestic opposition to the war so that it would give the government more political draft to maneuver.
    2. They developed a "lottery" system for the draft, because the draft was so highly disliked. Nixon later pushed for an all volunteer army. By 1973, the Selective Service System was extinct for a temporary time period.
    3. The next step was Vietnamiziation. This process was to train South Vietnamese military to take the place American forces.
    4. In 1969, Nixon reduced the amount of troops from Vietnam by 60,000. This was the first reduction since the start of the war.
    • These reductions continued steadily for three years. By 1972, few American soldiers remained in Vietnam.
  • Vietnamiziation did help to quiet domestic opposition to the war. However, it did not help with the stalemate negotiations with the North Vietnamese. The administration decided that military action would be necessary.
  • Nixon and Kissinger believed that the only way to tip the military balance in favor of America was to start bombing Cambodia. They believed that Cambodia, although a neutral country, where allowing the North Vietnamese to luanch many of their attacks from there. The bombings started and were kept a secret from both Americans and Congress.
  • Then in 1970 Cambodia's neutral government was replaced by General Lon Nol. Lon Nol, who approved American bombings. On April 30th, Nixon announced to the public what had been happening in Cambodia. Americans became enraged, and the dwindling antiwar movement burst into life again.
    • Antiwar demonstrations began in Washington D.C and spread to many campuses. Many thought that a full fledged revolution was coming.
      • The biggest demonstration that caused this mood of crisis to intensify was the one at Kent State University in Ohio. On May 4th, four students were killed and nine students were injured when the National Guard opened fire. This is sometimes known as the Kent State Massacre.
      • On May 14th, in Jackson State University in Mississippi, the police killed two black students at an anti-war demonstration.
  • Congress immediatly reacted by reppealing the Gulf of Tolken Resolution, this action was ignored by Nixon.
  • The New York Times and then other newspapers started to leak the Pentagon Papers. These papers showed how the government had lied about the progress of the war, and the real American motives for being involved in Vietnam.
  • U.S. Soldiers in Vietnam had depleating morales and decipline. They also had problems with desertion, drug addiction, racial hostilities, not obeying orders, and killing unpopular officers.
    • My Lai Massacre- 300 unarmed Vietnamese civilians (mainly women and children) were massacred by American soldiers. It showed the dehumanizing impact of the war on the soldiers.
  • The social unrest for the war only pushed Nixon onward in his attempts to end the war on American terms.
  • In 1971, Americans and the South Vietnamese invaded Laos. Only weeks later they returned, defeated. Bombings of both Vietnam and Cambodia increased. In 1972, the North Vietnamese launched their biggest offense known as the Easter Offensive. Both American and South Vietnamese forces were able to stop the advancement. At the same time Nixon ordered the bombings of Hanoi (Capital), Haiphong (Principal Port), and the mining of seven harbors.
      • Kent_State.jpg
        • (Pictured: Kent State Massacre)
"Peace With Honor"
  • In 1972, Nixon dropped the idea of pulling American troops only after the removal North Vietnamese troops from South Vietnam. At the same time Kissinger was meeting North Vietbamese foriegn secretary, Le Duc Tho, to work out terms for a cease fire. Kissiger told the American public that "peace is at hand." However, by December 16th the negoitations stopped.
  • On December 17th, Americans began air raids on Hanoi, Haiphong, and other North Vietnamese targets. Civilian casualities were incredibly high, and 15 American planes were shot down in this process. The bombings stopped on December 30th.
  • On January 27th, 1973, Americans and Vietnamese signed an agreement which ended the war and was to "restore the peace in Vietnam." The combination of American pressure on Thieu to accept cease-fire and the "Christmas" bombings helped to end the war.
  • Paris Accords- There was an immediate cease-fire. The North Vietnamese would release many American prisoners. The Thieu regime would survive, and the North Vietnamese forces would remain in South Vietnam.
Defeat In Indochina
  • The Paris Accords fell apart only after a short period of time.
  • The Vietnamese suffered the biggest losses than American had in its 10 years of fighting.
  • In March 1975, the North Vietnamese launched a full scale attack on South Vietnam. South Vietnam appealed to American but Congress denied access to the troops.
  • In April 1975, the American Embassy was evacuated and communist forces marched into Siagon causing the Thieu Regime to fall. Communist forces occupied the capital, it was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, and they began reuniting Vietnam under the rule of Hanoi.
  • The Nol Regime in Cambodia feel to the communist leader Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, who killed of more than one third of the population.
  • More then 1.2 million Vietnamese soldiers died in combat, not counting many civilians. For a while Vietnam remained one of the poorest and politically unstable nations in the world.
  • The United States spent $150 billion dollars on the war, and it cost them 55,000 American lives and the injury of 300,000 Americans.
  • On top of the cost, the United States suffered from a blow to its confidence and to its self-esteem.

Nixon, Kissinger, and the World
Nixon considered the construction of a new international order to be the most important job that he intended to carry out. He believed that the world was becoming "multipolar," this means that it is run by many nations. Nixon and Kissinger believed that these nations could create a "balance of power."

China and the Soviet Union

  • After the fall of the Chaing Kai-Shek in 1949, America treated China like it didn't even exist. They acknowledged the exiled government in Tiawan as the legitimate government.
  • Nixon and Kissinger wanted to end this unacknowlegement, and China wanted to prevent a Soviet-American alliance against the Chinese, and to end chinese isolationism from the international arena.
  • In 1972, Nixon went to China and ended the American animosity toward the Chinese. They started low-level diplomatic relations.
  • In 1969, American diplomats met with Soviet diplomats in Helsinki, Finland to talk about limiting the amount of nuclear weapons.
    • In 1972, they produced SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty), this froze the making of new nuclear missiles. In May the President went to Moscow to sign the agreement.
    • Then Leonid Brehnev (Soviet Premier) traveled to Washington D.C. to discuss speeding up the the next steps of the arms control negotiations.
The Problems of Multipolarity
  • Great-power relations was not the only thing that could hold together international stability, third world countries remained at the spot light for international tension.
  • The Nixon Doctrine was the policy that the United States would defend and help the development of allied nations, but would leave basic responsibilites to the nations themselves. It showed the declining interest of America in third world countries. These countries were gaining powers by their numbers, and increasing support by authoritarian regimes.
    • In 1970, the CIA gave support to Chile to overthrow the right fully elected president, Salvador Allende. He was overthrown, ultimately killed, and replaced by General Augusto Pinochet.
  • Middle Eastern conditions were getting far worse after the Six Day War. This war took place when Isreal gained control over Jerusalem, and occupied new territories. There was an increase of refugee Palestinians, which caused instability in Jordan, Lebanon, and other surrounding countries. Jordan's ruler, King Hussein, was concerned that with all the radical groups in his country would effect the relationship with the United States. In 1970, Huessien had the Jordanian army expel them, where the Palestinians moved to Lebanon.
  • On October 1971, Egyptain and Syrian forces attacked Isreal. For 10 days the Isreal forces struggle but finally launched a strong counter attack. The U.S. intervened causing Isreal to issue a cease-fire.
    • This settlement showed United States dependency of foriegn oil. By allowing Isreal to push into Egypt might have cut off American oppertunites for their oil. The Arab Nations then set in an oil embargo, had a tremendous impact on America. Therefore America could no longer interfere on the behalf of Isreal against the Arab Nations.
    • The lesson of 1973 was that Third World Countries would no longer be passive and cooperative to bigger nations. Also, the United Sates could no longer depend on cheap, easy access to raw materials as it had in the past.