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Chapter 40 - The Stalemated Seventies 1968-1980


Major Theme

  • The US struggled to create a more stable post-Vietnam international climate. Detente temporarily reduced Cold war tensions, but difficulties in the Middle East portended a new threat to stability

Major Questions

  • Could any of Nixon’s accomplishments in office compensate for his Watergate crimes?

Although Watergate and the continued bombing of Cambodia were serious crimes, Nixon did some good for the country (I'm not going to say the good compensates, but it shouldn't be ignored...". He allowed for more aid to go to the needy (Old people, single moms, disabled), such Medicaid, AFDC, and Social Security. He also expanded the idea of "affirmative action." While this in itself wasn't so good, helping the African-Americans wasn't bad. Nixon (and the Court) "...opened broad employment and educational opportunities for minorities and women." He also started the EPA and OSHA.

SEE "Nixon on the Home Front" FOR DETAILS

  • What were the consequences of America’s economic vulnerability in the 1970s?

Because America was no longer a world economic power, it became dependent on the rest of the world. It became impossible to revert to any form of isolationism, and the countries involved with OPEC realized they had power over the US. They increased oil prices to painful highs, and didn't let them down for a long time. The deficits in the federal budget increased drastically, and inflation ran rampant (so much fun to type, FYI). The US would begin having trouble "coercing" other countries now (or bribing them even) because it couldn't just sit in it's own production and be safe. It was dependent.


Sources of Stagnation

  • What caused the decrease in productivity?
    • some credited it to the increase in the women & teenager work force who had fewer skills than adult men & were less likely to take full-time, long-term jobs where skills could be developed
    • others blamed declined investment in new machines, expensive cost of gov't-imposed safety & health regualtions, & shift of US economy from manufacturing to services
  • Vietnam War brought about economic change
    • took tax $ away from education improvements, scientific skill & manufacturing capacity from civilian sector, & started a spiral of inflation
  • Inflation:
    • price of oil prices soared in the 1970s adding to the inflation
    • deepest roots of inflation in gov't policies of 1960s
      • LBJ's simultaneous fighting in Vietnam & funding the Great Society programs in US w/o a tax increase to finance the added costs
        • welfare/military spending=inflationary bc people get $ w/o adding to the supply of goods that $ can buy
        • too much $ w/ too few good=raised prices, happening hugely in 1970-the price of living tripled in the 12 yrs after Nixon was inaugurated, longest/steepest inflation cycle in US history
  • Many major US businesses had little incentive to modernize plants & seek more efficient methods of production
    • the Germans & the Japanese recovered from the war & built new factories w/ the most up-to-date technology & management techniques
      • dominated industries of steel, consumer electronics, & automobiles- fields the US once dominated
  • An unpopular & stalemated war & an unresponsive economy marked the end of the self-confident postwar era

Nixon “Vietnamizes” the War

  • Richard Nixon
    • inaugurated Jan. 20, 1969
    • urged Americans to, "stop shouting at one another" over issues like race relations & Vietnam
    • resentments against "liberal establishment"
    • applied himself to putting US' foreign-policy house in order
  • 1st, Nixon wanted to quiet public distress over Vietnam
    • "Vietnamization"= withdraw 540,000 US troops from S. Vietnam
      • then S. Vietnam could take over fighting their war w/ help of US $, training, weapons, & advice
        • This plan came to be known as the so-called Nixon Doctrine
  • The so-called Nixon Doctrine:
    • proclaimed that the US would honor its existing defense commitments, but in the future, Asians & others would have to fight on their own w/o the support of a large amount of US ground troops
    • Nixon didn't want to end the war, he wanted to win it by other means w/o the loss of more American blood
      • American "doves" were still upset & wanted a prompt, complete, irreversible, & unconditional withdrawal
      • Antiwar protesters staged a national Vietnam moratorium in Oct. 1969, nearly 100,000 people crowded the Boston Common & 50,000 crowded the White House carrying lighted candles
    • Nov. 3, 1969, Nixon delivered a a televised appeal to the "silent majority" that supported the war
      • his appeal was deeply divisive
    • Nixon then unleashed VP Agnew to attack the news media who demanded withdrawal from Vietnam
  • Jan. 1970, Vietnam became the longest & 3rd most costly conflict in US history w/ 40,000 killed & 250,000 wounded
    • the war was also very unpopular even among troops in the field bc draft policies excluded college students & men w/ important civilian skills, troops were unprivileged young Americans
    • Blacks were disproportionatley represented in the army & had a high share of combat fatalities
    • Sabotage, drug abuse, & mutiny dulled army's fighting edge

Cambodianizing the Vietnam War

  • the N. Vietnamese and the Viet Cong had been using Cambodia as a springboard for troops, on April 29, 1970, Nixon ordered (w/o Congressional consent) the American forces to join w/ the S. Vietnamese in cleaning out enemy installations in officially neutral Cambodia
    • caused uproar among student protesters
      • 4 killed at Kent State University and 2 killed at Jackson State College in Mississippi
  • withdrew from Cambodia on June 29, 1970
    • bitterness between hawks and doves increased
    • the Senate tried to come up with ways to restrain Nixon
    • disilusionment of "whitey's war" increased among Afican-Americans
    • reduced draft calls afterwards, shortened period of draftability (on a lotto basis), lowered voting age to 18
  • spring of 1971, more riots aroused
    • new reasons came about like leaked pentagon papers

Nixon’s Détente with Beijing and Moscow

  • Nixon believed the way out of Vietnam was through the USSR and China, who were clashing about rival interpretations of Marxism
    • thinking reinforced by Dr. Kissinger
      • trying secretly to make peace w/ N. Vietnam and paving the road for Nixon to go to Beijing and Moscow
    • Nixon accepted an invitation to visit China (much to the surprise of the people) in 1971 and paved the way to improving relations between Washington and Beijing
    • went to Moscow in May 1972
      • talks ushered in an era of relaxation
        • grain deal of 1972: USA would sell at least $750 million worth of wheat, corn, and other food stuffs
    • anti-ballistic missile treaty reached 1972
      • limited each nation to two clusters of defensive missiles
    • Strategic Arms Limitation Talks: stopped building of long-range nuclear missiles for five years starting in 1972


The Nixon Landslide of 1972

  • As the election of 1972 approached the main issue was Vietnam
  • Nixon had promised 4 years earlier to end the war
    • but in the spring of 1972 the war was escalating and N. Vietnam was pushing into S Vietnam
    • this offensive was stopped by nixon
  • Nixons opponent from the democrats was George McGovern who drew support by saying he would bring troops home in 90 days
    • McGovern was basically doomed when his vice pres was shown to have been in psychiatric care and was forced to withdraw from the ticket
  • Nixons position was boosted 12 days before elections when Dr Kissinger said peace was at hand
  • Nixon won by alot... 520 electorals to 17 and 47 million to 29 million popular vote

Bombing North Vietnam to the Peace Table

  • After two weeks of bombing to try and force Vietnam to agree to peace talks
  • On January 23, 1973 a ceasefire was called
    • The US agreed to withdraw the remaining troops for some 560 prisoners of war
    • The US was aloud to keep giving some aid to south Vietnam but no troops
    • An election was to be held in both sides of Vietnam
    • North Vietnam was aloud to keep 145000 troops in S. Vietnam
  • Really was just an American retreat

Watergate Woes

  • On June 17,1972 a burglary was attempted by the Republican Committee for the Re-election of the President.. known as creep
    • 5 men tried to plant bugging equipment in the Democratic Headquarters
    • CREEP also used many underhanded methods against democrats
    • by 1974 29 people were convicted of being involved in Watergate
  • This scandal caused improper use of the FBI and CIA and IRA by Nixon
    • He used these organizations to harrass enemy politicians
  • A Senate Committee headed by Sam Ervin of NC conducted several hearings about watergate
    • John Dean a former white house lawyer testified that several higher ups in the government including Nixon were involved in covering up the watergate break in
    • At the time though it was just Deans word against the White Houses
  • That soon changed

The Great Tape Controversy

  • In July 1973 a former presidential aide reported the presence in the White house of "bugging" equipment, installed under the president's authority.
  • President Nixon's conversations,in person or on the telephone, had been recorded on tape without notifying the other parties that electronic eavesdropping was taking place
  • Nixon had denied prior knowledge of the Watergate burglary or involvement in the cover-up
  • Now Dean's testimony could be checked against the White House tapes, and the Senate committee could better determine who was telling the truth
  • For months Nixon flatly refused to produce the taped evidence
    • He took refuge behind various principles including separation of powers and executive privilage
  • Vice President Agnew was forced to resign in Oct. 1973 for taking bribes while he was governor and also as vice president
  • President Nixon himself was now in danger of being removed by the impeachment route so Congress invoked the 25th Amendment to prelace Agnew with a congressman from Michigan, Gerald Ford

The Secret Bombing of Cambodia and the War Powers Act

  • In July 1973 America was shocked to learn that the U.S. Air Force had already secretly conducted some thirty-five hundred bombing raids against North Vietnamese positions in Cambodia.
  • They had begun in March 1969 and had continued for some 14 months prior to the open American incursion inMay 1970
  • While the raids were happening American officials including the president were avowing that Cambodian neutrality was being respected.
  • After the Vietnam cease-fire in Jan. 1973 Nixon openly carried on his large-scale bombing of communist forces in order to help the rightist Cambodian gov't
  • The stretching of presidential war-making powers was met with furious opposition
  • Nixon agreed to a compromise in June 1973 whereby he would end the Cambodian bombing six weeks later and seek congressional approval of any future action in that country
  • American air raids had blasted Cambodia's people shredded its economy and revolutionized its politics
  • Pol Pot was forced from Cambodia by a full-dress Vietnamese invasion in 1978 followed by a military occupation that dragged on for a decade
  • The War Powers Act of 1973 required the president to report to Congress within forty-eight hours after committing troops to a foreign conflict or "substantially" enlarging American combat units in a foreign country. Such a limited authorization would have to end within sixty days unless Congress extended it for thirty more days
  • Nixon ended bombing of Cambodia in Aug 1973
  • The draft had ended in Jan 1973 and future members of the armed forces were to be well-paid volunteers
  • Demands arose in Congress for reducing american armed forces abroad but President Nixon headed off all serious attempts at troop reduction

The Arab Oil Embargo and the Energy Crisis

  • Oct. 1973, the Middle East breaks out into war: Syrians & Egyptians surprise attack Israel in an attempt to regain territory lost in the Six-Day War of 1967
    • Kissinger flies to Moscow to stop Soviets from arming the attackers
    • Nixon believes Kremlin will fly combat troops to the Suez area, so he orders for nuclear forces to be on alert, as well as a giant airlift of $2 billions in war materials to the Israelis
    • This helped the Israelis turn the tide; American dipolmacy then brought about an uneasy cease-fire
  • Late Oct 1973 America paid the price for supporting Israel's oil-rich neighbors
    • the Arab nations clamped an embargo on oil for the US & other countries supporting Israel
    • Americans had to lower thermostats & speedometers
    • cars lined up at gas stations, tempers shortened, business recession deepened
  • "energy crisis" brought the attention to long-defferred projects
    • Congress approved the Alaska pipeline
    • national speed limit was set to 55mph to conserve fuel
    • ppl still called for more coal and nuclear power despite the environmental threat
  • 5 months of Arab denial of oil signaled the end of the cheap and abundant energy era
    • 20 yr surplus of world oil supplies had masked the fact that since 1948 US had been a net importer of oil
    • Am's didnt realize that since WWII their oil consumption had more than tripled
    • # of cars increased 250% btwn 1949 and 1972; fuel-efficient engines were not thought about
  • 1974 America was addicted oil and any inturruption of supplies left us very vulnerable
    • Middle East became an extremely important American strategic interest
    • 1990 america found itself in a shooting war w. Iraq to protect it's oil supplies
  • OPEC quadrupled their price for crude oil bills, disrupting the US balance of internation trade & caused more inflation for Am
  • US took the lead in forming the Internation Energy Agency in 1974 as a counterweight to OPEC
    • various parts of the economy began to slow, forcing us to face the facts about our energy dependency
    • but total reconciliation to that was a Very long time coming

The Unmaking of a President

  • 1974 impeachment was looming on Nixon's dubious [yes that is a vocab word that i chose and it wasn't in the book] integrity
  • Nixon responded to the house Judiciary Committee's constant demand for the Watergate tapes by publishing "relevent" portions of the tapes in the spring of 1974
    • substantial pieces of the tape were missing
    • Nixon's obscenities were replaced with "expletive deleted"
  • July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that "executive privilege" gave him no right to withhold from the special prosecutor portions of the tapes relevant to criminal activity
    • Nixon reluctantly complied
  • the House Judiciary Committee moved ahead w/ articles of impeachment
    • July 1974 the committee adopted the 1st article which charged obstruction of "the administration of justice" [including Watergate-related crimes]
    • 2 other articles were approved, accusing Nixon of having abused the powers of his office & of having shown contempt of Congress by ignoring lawful subpoenas for relevenat tapes & other evidence
  • Seeking to soften the blow, on August 5, 1974 Nixon made public 3 subpoenaed tapes of convos w. his chief aide on June 23, 1972
    • one had him giving orders [6 days after Watergate] to use the CIA to hold back an inquiry by the FBI
    • he convicted himself of being an active party to the attempted cover-up [the crime of obstructing justice]
    • he had told the American ppl that he hadn't known anything about Watergate until 9 months after
  • Public response was overwhelming
    • Republican leaders in Congress concluded that Nixon was a loose cannon on the deck of the ship of state
  • The President was informed that his impeachment was guaranteed, suggesting to him that he resign w. honor, or something close to it
  • Nixon choked back tears & dramaticly announced his resignation on August 8, 1974
    • few pres.'s had flown so high and then sunk so low
    • he admitted to having made some "judgments" that "were wrong" but insisted that he had always acted "in what I believed at the time to be the best interests of the nation"
    • many were unconvinced
  • The Nation had survived a constitutional crisis, proving that impeachment could actually work when the public opinion overwhelmingly demanded that it be done
  • The United States of America, on the eve of their 200th birthday as a republic, had given an impressive demonstration of self-disicipline & sefl-gov't to the rest of the world

The First Unelected President

*Gerald Ford was the first man to be made President solely on the vote of Congress

    • He entered the White House in August 1974 with many handicaps
      • Suspected of being a dim-witted college football player
      • Was selected, not elected, for the VP position
      • There was a sour odor of illegitimacy that hung about his presidency
  • Ford unexpectedly granted a complete pardon for any crimes that Nixon may have committed as President
    • The Democrats were outraged and wanted justice
      • They charged that Ford was carrying out a deal that he cooked up with Nixon to get the VP position
      • Ford claimed that he had a desire to heal wounds and move on
  • Ford at first sought to enhance the détente with the Soviet Union
  • Ford met with 34 other national leaders in Finland
    • This meeting officially wrote an end to WWII by finalizing the Soviet dictated boundaries of Poland and the rest of the European nations
    • In exchange the Soviets agreed to guarantee the liberal transactions of people and info to protect “human rights”
  • The US critics charged that the détente was merely a one-way street
    • The US technology flowed to the USSR and things of little importance came back in return
    • Over time Ford began to hate the détente
      • By the end of his presidency, Ford refused to even say the word “détente”

Defeat in Vietnam

  • Early in 1975 the North Vietnamese began to drive southward at full throttle
    • Ford urged Congress to send more weapons
    • Without these weapons and American aid the South Vietnamese quickly collapsed
  • The remaining Americans had to be evacuated by helicopter
    • 140,000 South Vietnamese were also rescued
      • Ford admitted these individuals to the US
      • Eventually some 5000,000 arrived to the US
  • America’s longest, most frustrating war ended with a “loss for the client nation”
    • The US fought to a standstill, but the South Vietnamese failed to prevail even with the assistance of American aircraft, tanks, and munitions
    • The cost for America was $118 billion (in current American dollars) with 56,000 dead and 300,000 wounded
  • The US lost more than a war
    • Lost self esteem
    • Lost confidence in American military
    • Lost the economic muscle that led to global leadership after WWII

Feminist Victories and Defeats

  • The antiwar movements got replaced with Feminist ones
    • The Women's Stride for Equality (on the 50th anniversary of women suffrage 1970) included 1,000s of women
    • Comngress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments (1972):
      • Ended sex discrimination in any "federaly assisted educational program or activity"
      • Allowed for women's/girl's athletics to improve
        • In the 1980s and 1990s this would lead to professionalization of Women's Sports
    • Equal Rights Amendment 1972:
      • "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the US or by any state on account of sex."
      • (Although it says Amendment there, it still needed to be ratified)
      • 28 states ratified it immediatiely
    • HOWEVER:
      • The ERA needed 38 states to ratify it
      • Phyllis Schlafly was antifeminist (because she was secretly a man.....not really) and worked hard to stop the ERA
        • She felt that it ruined the American family because the wife wouldn't need to support her husband...or something
      • 1979: Congress extended the deadline for ratification
      • 1982: Still not ratified (3 states short) so it was "killed"
    • Supreme Court was working for Feminism
      • Reed v. Reed(1971)/ Frontiero v. Richardson(1973):
        • Court fought against discrimination in legilsation/employment
      • Roe v. Wade(1973):
        • Court ruled abortion legal because it was a woman's decision, and it was protected by the "right to privacy" inferred in the Constitution

The Seventies in Black and White

  • Race and integration were still big issues in the '70s
    • Milliken v. Bradley: Supreme Court said that desegregation plans couldn't require students to move across school district lines
      • Basically excused suburban districts, so they don't have a part in the inner-city desegregation, so more whites left for the 'burbs
      • This left desegregation in the most poverty-stricken areas, so the "most disadvantaged elements" of blacks and whites were against one another
    • Affirmative Action was still being questioned
      • White workers/students who were denied (a promotion or acceptance to a school) felt that it was reverse discrimination
      • Rights were being violated because race was being considered above ability
      • Allan Bakke (1978) took the issue to the Supreme Court
        • He said that his application to med. school had been denied because minority candidates were favored
        • The Court agreed, and said tha the U of California had to admit him, and "preference in admissions could not be given to mambers of any group..."
        • But, the Court also said that "racial factors might be taken into account in a school's overall admissions policy."
        • Thurgood Marshall (only black justice) argued that an end to affirmative action would set back the achievements of the recent past
  • Native Americans stood up, too
    • Indians used the Civil Rights Movement as an example and used the courts and civil disobedience
    • Instead of wanting integration, they wanted to be recognized as independent sovereign people
    • 1970: They took Alcatraz back
    • 1972: Took Wounded Knee back
    • United States v. Wheeler (1978) said that Native American tribes had a unique and limited sovereignty
      • Indians had to obey Congress, but not individual states

Carter’s Humanitarian Diplomacy

  • President Carter diisplalyed from the outset an overriding concern for "human rights" as the guiding principle of his foreign policy
  • The presidents most sepectaular foreign-policy achievement came in Sep. 1978 at Camp David.
    • He courageously risked humiliating failure by invitint President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Isreal to a summit conferance at Camp David
    • After 13 days Carter persuaded the two to sign an accord that held considerable promise of peace.
    • Isreal agreed in principle to withdraw from territory conquered in the 1967 war and Egypt in return promised to respect Isreal's borders.
    • Both countries pledged themselves to sign a formal peace treaty within three months
  • The president resumed full diplomatic relations with China in early 1979 after a nearly 30 year interruption.
  • Carter also successfullly proposed two treaties turning over complete ownership and control of the Panama Canal to the Panamanians by the year 2000
  • Overshadowing all international issues was the reheating of the Cold War with the Soviet Union
  • Thousands of Cuban troops assisted by Soviet advisers appeared in Angola, Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa to support revolutionary factions
  • Arms control negotiations with Moscow stalled

Economic and Energy Woes

  • Adding to Jimmy's probs was the failing health of the economy
    • prices were rising, increasing at a rate of >10% by 1974
    • crippling oil-prices from OPEC gave another blow to the economy
    • recession during Ford's presidency brought inflation down temporarily, but prices resumed their ascent driving inflation rate above 13% by 1979
    • imported oil cost $40 billion in 1978
    • we paid more for our imports then we were able to earn selling our own goods overseas
  • the "oil shocks" of the 1970s made us realize we could never be isolated again.
    • for most of Am. history our foreign trade had accouneted for no more than 10% of GNP
    • huge forign-oil bills drove that figure steadily upward in the 1970s and after
    • by end of 20th cen. 25% of GNP depended on foriegn trade
    • we couldn't dominate in foriegn trade as we had before
  • deficits in the federal budget [reaching about $60 billion in 1980] furhter aggravated the US economy's inflationary probs
    • am. ppl on fixed incomes suffered from inflation [mostly the elderly or workers w/o a strong union to fight for them]
    • ppl w/ $$ to lend pushed interest rates higher hoping to protect themselves from beign repaid in badly depreciated dollars
    • the "prime rate" [ the rate of interest that banks charge their very best customers] vaulted on an unheard-of 20% in ealry 1980
    • small businesses suffered as well as the construction industry [depended on loans to finance new housing & other projects]
  • Carter diagnosed America's economic prob as the costly dependence on foreign oil
    • the pres. called for legislation to improve energy conservation, esp. by curtailing the manufacture of large, gas-guzzling cars
    • april 1977, the ppl protested this, forgetting about the long lines at the pump in 1973
    • public and congressional opposition smother Carter's hopes of quickly initiating an energetic energy program
  • Mohammad Reza Pahlevi [installed as shah of Iran w/ help from the CIA in 1953] had long ruled his oil-rich land w/ a will of steel
    • overthrown January 1979
    • violent revolution was spearheaded in Iran by Muslim fundamentalists who fiercely resented the shah's campaign to westernize and secularize his country
    • US denounced as the "Great Satan" that had helped the shah's efforts
    • OPEC hiked petroleum prices again when Irianian oil stopped flowing into the stream of world commerce
    • Americans were back in long lines at the pump
  • Carter sensed the rising popular discontent of the oil crisis
    • July 1979 he retreated to Camp David, staying for 10 days, calling in over 100 leaders from all walks of life to give him their views while the nation waited for the next step
  • July 15, 1979 Carter came back and revealed his thoughts to the american ppl, scolding them for falling into a "moral and spiritual crisis" and for being too concerned with "material goods"
    • Carter's address stunneand perplexed the nation
  • Carter then fired 4 cabinet secretaries
  • he then circled his Georgian advisers more tightly about the White House by reorganizing and expanding the power of his personal staff
    • critics began to wonder aloud whether Carter, man of the ppl, was losing touch w/ the popular mood of the country
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