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AMST 3100 The 1960s Richard Nixon


Furthermore, most Vietnamese people were not behind the Americans in this endeavor. ... The FBI was experienced in this illegal subterfuge because of their ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: AMST 3100 The 1960s Richard Nixon

AMST 3100 The 1960sRichard Nixon
  • Powerpoint 14
  • Read Chafe Chapter 13 Farber Chapter 10

Richard Nixon
  • Since 1960, Nixon had been burning over his
    incompetent use of the media. But he was ready to
    run a strong media campaign by 1968.
  • His appearances were now carefully staged and
  • His platform slogan on Vietnam was peace with
  • Nixon exploited Americas resentment against the
    counterculture, portraying himself as the
    spokesperson for the Silent Majority.
  • Nixon vowed a law and order presidency to clean
    the streets of these protesters. This vow would
    be problematic as it later became clear that
    Nixon himself was a law violator.

  • Nixon barely won the 1968 election - by just over
    500,000 votes.
  • By 1968, a rising percentage of American whites
    asserted that blacks wanted too much too fast and
    that the federal government had caved in to black
  • By 1969, student busing epitomized their fears.
    Here, the federal government had intruded into
    the local school districts to enforce the
    integration of schools.
  • Ironically, Nixon unexpectedly embraced
    affirmative action.
  • Nixon, the military hawk, was generally a
    political moderate on economic issues, and a
    conservative on social issues, but he could be
    surprising. His racial justice views were largely

Nixons Social Platform
  • Nixon exploited rising concerns about
  • Violence and crime
  • Drug use
  • Sexual permissiveness
  • Racial tensions
  • The countercultures rejection of authority
  • In order to solidify the support of what he
    called the Silent Majority, Nixon adopted a
    social conservative platform that included
  • anti-abortion
  • pro-censorship
  • government aid to parochial schools
  • This platform appealed to the following social
    conservative constituencies
  • Urban Catholic (ethnic) voters
  • Blue collar workers
  • White Southerners and some suburbanites

Americans were polarized in the late 1960s. Many
were fed up with what they perceived to be the
extremism of the counterculture, as well as a
rise in violent crime, including urban riots.
These moderates and conservatives were ready for
a law and order platform.
Nixons domestic strategy
  • At home, Nixon exploited the polarized themes
    that differentiated liberals from conservatives
    and further divided the nation.
  • His development of the politics of polarization
    was effective but contributed to rising political
    cynicism across the country.
  • He sought to portray liberals as aligned with the
    radicals, and he made radicals seem like they
    were a threat to the nation.
  • Nixon, the law and order President, came down
    hard on the counterculture.
  • In addition to providing resources for the police
    and cracking down on deviance, Nixon began a war
    on drugs that continues to this day.
  • Nixons main goal was to energize his
    conservative base while expanding his base of
    moderates in time for the 1972 election.

Nixon started the War on Drugs program that
continues to be used today. While conservatives
applaud its get tough punishment angle while
upholding what they see as moral decency,
liberals decry it, arguing that it is expensive,
contributes to jail overcrowding, is unfairly
administered, and needlessly targets marijuana
and other relatively benign drugs. The academic
research generally suggests that it has been a
failure, but the program has political appeal.
  • While he was generally a social conservative,
    Nixon did endorse the Philadelphia Plan (1969),
    the first major Affirmative Action program. This
    plan required Philadelphia contractors to hire at
    least some African American workers. By 1970,
    affirmative action plans began to disturb white
    male workers, and by the mid-70s affirmative
    action was the most polarizing racial issue in
  • However, race was not Nixons main focus in 1968.
    It was the Vietnam War, and this would be the
    central issue for Nixon from 1968 through 1971.
    The war was tearing Americans apart.
  • Nixon called his war plan peace with honor
    suggesting a plan to bring the war to an end
    something the majority of Americans wanted but
    on terms that saved Americas face.

This photo captures polarized positions on the
Vietnam War. It was taken in New Zealand. The
Vietnam War was a polarizing issue throughout the
Nixon and Vietnam - the Early Nixon
  • Richard Nixon served as the Vice President during
    the Eisenhower administration of 1952-60.
  • His first visit to Vietnam was in 1953, just as
    the French were losing the war. He concluded that
    the French had failed to train and inspire the
    southern Vietnamese sufficiently.
  • Nixon toured the region four more times between
    1961-1968 and concluded that
  • The U.S. had not trained the ARVN sufficiently.
  • The U.S. had adopted a soft military model, such
    as when LBJ halted bombing to pursue talks with
    the North Vietnamese. To Nixon and other
    hard-right hawks, what was needed was a harder
    punch. The Americans needed to show that they
    would not waver in their commitment to win the

Vice President Nixon is celebrated in Guatemala
in 1955 by the ruling elite. The U.S. had
recently toppled a democratically elected
government and installed a right wing
dictatorship friendly to United Fruit Company,
all in the name of anti-communism. This was the
same period in which the U.S. became directly
involved in Vietnam.
Nixons 1968 Vietnam Platform
  • By 1968, Nixon was on the campaign trail and was
    asserting that the goal of his administration
    would be to end the war and win the peace in
    Vietnam under the slogan peace with honor.
  • While Nixon never directly claimed to have a
    secret plan to end the war, he did allow the
    rumor mill to spin this message of hope to
    benefit his campaign.
  • In fact, President-elect Nixon did not have any
    secret plans to end the war, but he privately
    believed he could pound the North Vietnamese to
    the bargaining table with heavy use of airpower.

Nixon is seen here accepting the Republican
nomination from House Representative Gerald Ford.
When Vice President Agnew was forced from office
for corruption, Ford was appointed Vice
President, and when Nixon was forced from office
in 1974, Ford became the first President who was
never elected to the Presidency or the Vice
1968 Election Results
George Wallace, the Southern populist
segregationist, carried most of the Deep South,
while Nixon carried the West, the Rim-South, and
breadbasket America. Hubert Humphrey carried the
North, particularly the New England states.
The Nixon Doctrine
  • By the summer of 1969, he outlined the foreign
    policy known as the Nixon Doctrine.
  • The Nixon Doctrine declared that the U.S. would
    honor its commitment to southeast Asia by
    supplying arms and aid, but not troops, against
    direct or indirect communist aggression in the
  • Nixons policy of turning the war over to the
    South Vietnamese was called Vietnamization.
    However, it was probably doomed from the start
    for reasons that were apparent as far back as the
    Kennedy administration.
  • The ARVN (with a few exceptions by the early 70s)
    were not the motivated army needed to fight for
    the sovereignty of this new nation-state the
    Americans were trying to create. Furthermore,
    most Vietnamese people were not behind the
    Americans in this endeavor.

ARVN troops rush to the scene of a Viet Cong
attack on the outskirts of a town in 1972. Note
the reliance on conventional vehicles using major
highways. The Viet Cong, relying on guerilla
tactics, controlled the conditions of battle and
it is likely that they were long gone by the time
the ARVN troops arrived.
Nixon and the Antiwar Movement
  • In October, 1969, the first major moratorium on
    Vietnam occurred it was a national teach-in
    against the war involving between two and ten
    million Americans in public protest across the
  • This protest enraged Nixon, who vowed to ignore
    the peace movement and accused protesters of
    being traitors.
  • Nixon tried to scapegoat his failed Vietnam
    policy on these protesters, claiming the
    protesters kept the U.S. military from victory.
  • In fact the stalemate was due to North Vietnamese
    stubbornness in fighting off the Americans on
    their own homeland. After the Tet offensive and
    other events of 1968, the communists were
    prepared to wait the Americans out for as long as
    it took.

The Moratorium on Vietnam march involved millions
of people across the country. The march in the
photo above occurred in Wisconsin. President
Nixons vitriolic reaction to the march further
polarized the country and set the stage for the
events of Kent State the next year.
Events of 1971
  • Feb 8, 1971. ARVN troops, with Nixons approval,
    crossed into Laos but were driven back due to
    poor leadership within the ARVN and other
    factors. This defeat revealed the failure of the
    Vietnamization policy.
  • Nixon and Henry Kissinger work on an
    anti-ballistic missile treaty (ABM) with the
    Soviet Union. The treaty would be signed in 1972.
  • Nixons détente policy was very popular around
    the world. The Cold War was winding down.
  • July 15, 1971. Nixon announced that he had been
    having secret negotiations with the Peoples
    Republic of China (Red China) and that he would
    be visiting China soon.

An American officer inspects an ARVN outfit in
this photo. While Nixons Vietnamization program
was generally a failure, his pursuit of détente
in foreign policy is generally considered a
success. Nixon was not a Joseph McCarthy-style
moralistic anticommunist hawk who eschewed
diplomacy. He was indeed a hawk, but he was
pragmatic and flexible in his foreign policy.
Because of these qualities he was difficult to
predict and he liked it that way.
  • Nixon made his famous trip to China in February
    of 1972. There, he officially recognized the PRC
    (Peoples Republic of China).
  • Three months later Nixon traveled to the Soviet
    Union and signed the SALT I treaty. The basic
    principle was to maintain a parity in U.S.
    Soviet arsenals.
  • By election day, Nixon was well situated. His
    ratings had improved since his trips to China and
    the Soviet Union, and the monthly Vietnam
    casualty rate had fallen to only a few dozen
  • In November, 1972 there were only about 27,000
    troops stationed in Vietnam.
  • Nixon authorized bombing raids on strategic
    targets in North Vietnam, including parts of
    Hanoi. He also mined harbors.

Nixon visits with Premier Chou En-Lai in China,
1972. While Nixon favored détente with the big
powers, he often tried to destabilize local and
regional leftist governments. Nixon favored
pro-capitalist right-wing regimes in Latin
America. In Chili, Salvadore Allendes
leftist-leaning democracy was destabilized by
Nixon with the support of U.S. private
corporations with holdings in the region and the
CIA. See this link for more.
The Election of 1972
  • Nixon went into the election with overall
    approval ratings above 50 and going up.
  • His opponent was Senator George McGovern, a
    liberal antiwar candidate from South Dakota who
    never got off on a good footing.
  • Liberal reformers had never fully regrouped after
    the debacle of 1968 and many were still in a
    state of political burn out.
  • By now the counterculture was in rapid decline
    and had split into various single-issue
    movements. Vietnam no longer provided the
    galvanizing force for coalition building.
  • Nixon won 61 of the popular vote, compared to
    37 for McGovern.
  • Nixon carried all but one state (Massachusetts)
    in a landslide victory.

George McGovern
The End Game for Nixon
  • Nixons response to the resurgent antiwar
    demonstrations in 1970 was to order the CIA, the
    FBI and his own secret dirty tricksters to
    infiltrate and sabotage the antiwar movement.
  • The FBI was experienced in this illegal
    subterfuge because of their involvement with
    COINTELPRO, the illegal program used to destroy
    the Black Panthers.
  • In 1971, Nixon created the Plumbers, a secret
    white house operation intended to sabotage his
    enemies often by illegal means.
  • Increasingly, Nixon felt himself under siege by
    the protesters, a Democratic Congress, an
    increasingly hostile press, and even by his own
    government bureaucracy.
  • Nixon had built his career by lashing out at his
    enemies, and by the early 1970s he began to cross
    the line between legal and illegal power.

E. Howard Hunt, above, and G. Gordon Liddy (below
in a recent photo), were White House burglars.
Liddy, a small-time crook who saw himself as a
mastermind, concocted burglary, kidnapping,
firebombing, and other schemes against Nixons
enemies. Hes now a favorite on FOX News and
right wing radio.
The Pentagon Papers, the Plumbers, Watergate
  • When the NY Times published the Pentagon Papers
    in 1971 exposing Presidential lies regarding
    Vietnam from the early period through 1967,
    Nixon created the Plumbers to discredit Daniel
    Ellsberg, the man who had provided them.
  • The Plumbers were charged with
  • Stopping government leaks, and
  • Discrediting Nixons enemies by any means
    necessary. They targeted Nixons political
    enemies, as well as members of the counterculture
    like Daniel Ellsberg.
  • In June, 1972, the Plumbers were caught breaking
    into and bugging the Democratic National
    Headquarters at its Watergate complex.
  • When Nixon learned of their bungled operation he
    immediately sought to cover it up and began to
    obstruct the legal investigation into the break
  • For this cover up, Nixon would be tried for
    impeachment and would resign in 1974 to avoid a
    guilty verdict.

Daniel Ellsberg exposed the top secret Pentagon
Watergate in Washington, DC.
Nixons Personality
  • Nixon had a dual personality.
  • On the one hand he was smart, poised, and
    reflective, while on the other hand he was
    insecure, mean-spirited and frightened.
  • When the first personality reigned, Nixon was at
    his best (ie China, triangulation and détente),
    but when the second personality reigned Nixon was
    at his paranoid worst.
  • Nixon was a drinker who allowed Mr. Hyde to
    come out to torment his enemies.
  • Tragically, it was mainly the second Nixon who
    controlled the White House for the five year
    period after 1968. Perhaps Nixon even enjoyed the
    politics of polarization and repression. The
    secret tape recordings now publicly available -
    seem to suggest this.
  • Nixon tended to dismiss those advisors who
    cautioned humility, preferring the bold advice
    that encouraged polarization and vindictiveness.
    Henry Kissinger and Spiro Agnew appealed to
    Nixons second personality.

President Nixon with an audio tape. The Watergate
investigation exposed the existence of recorded
audio conversations from the Oval Office. These
tapes implicated Nixon in illegal activities
particularly obstruction of justice - and helped
lead to his resignation. Visit this site to hear
key incriminating sections of the secret tapes.
Nixons Personality
  • Nixon often privately spoke of niggers, jigs,
    and jigaboos, and he constantly used 4-letter
    words about his enemies.
  • It appears that Nixon was indeed somewhat
    unstable. He was prone to getting drunk, and
    while drunk he spoke of nuking the commies.
  • His aides feared that he was literally becoming a
    madman so James Schlesinger, his Defense
    Secretary, insisted that the Pentagon contact him
    for approval if Nixon ever ordered nuclear
    weapons to be used.
  • The second Nixon explains the Plumbers and their
    dirty tricks, the vitriolic and criminal
    conspirator Spiro Agnew, and the Watergate event.
  • Nixon came very close to subverting the
    democratic process. Only the persistence of two
    Washington Post reporters exposed the corruption
    of this imperial Presidency.

Nixons Vietnam Controversy
  • While Nixon did reduce U.S. troops in Vietnam, he
    also escalated the war in several ways.
  • He escalated the air war
  • He widened the war into Cambodia and Laos.
  • Nixons policies can be evaluated by their
    success in achieving specific goals for Vietnam
  • Goal 1 Nation building? Nixons policies
    created the impression that South Vietnam could
    stand on its own under Vietnamization. This goal
    was not met. Vietnamization was essentially a
    means for Nixon to buy time while he pursued a
    treaty. He did not realize it would take so long
    to get one.
  • Goal 2 An honorable extraction, even if it takes
    longer than a simple unilateral withdrawal? Did
    Nixon deliver in his peace with honor
    commitment? It depends on whether you see honor
    in the treaty outcome.

In this photo a South Vietnamese farmer holds his
dead son while asking the ARVN soldiers, Why?
Nixons Exit
  • Ironically, Nixon contributed to the burn out
    that most Americans felt by 1974, when he stepped
  • This burn out ultimately helped the
    conservatives, because most people were just too
    tired to continue pushing for reforms.

Nixon bids the nation farewell as he boards a
Presidential helicopter after resigning from
office on August 9, 1974.
AMST 3100