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Vietnamization and Détente

Vietnamization and Détente
Skilled in foreign politics, Nixon gracefully pulled the United States out of Vietnam by turning over the conflict to the South Vietnamese. With a major Cold War conflict over, the president proceeded to lessen American-Soviet tensions through a call for "peaceful coexistence."

Bombing of Laos and Cambodia: As Nixon began to withdraw American forces in Vietnam in 1972, he sent Henry Kissinger to negotiate with the communists’ foreign minister, Le Duc Tho. In order to force a compromise, the president ordered massive bombings of Cambodia and Laos, the locations of communist supply lines.

Kent State and Jackson State incidents: In 1972, the invasion of Cambodia spread the war throughout Indochina which sparked massive American protests on college campuses. The Kent and Jackson State universities were sites of protest in which student protesters were killed.

Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers: Daniel Ellsberg was a analyst for the Department of Defense, who in 1971 released to the press the Pentagon Papers, an account of American involvement in Vietnam created by the department during the Johnson administration. The papers revealed government lies to Congress and the American people.

My Lai, Lt. Calley: Lt. Calley was an inexperienced commander of an American army unit massacred 347 defenseless women, children, and old men in 1968. The horrors of the massacre were revealed to the public and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, an organization of returning soldiers that renounced their war medals as a result.

Hanoi, Haipong: Hanoi was the capital of Vietnam before the war. It was located in the northern part of the country. During the war it was heavily bombed in an attempt to force the North Vietnamese to negotiate a peace treaty. Haiphong was located 10 miles from the Gulf of Tonkin. It was the largest port in Southeast Asia and site of the Indochina naval base.

Fulbright, Senator: Senator Fulbright was an American senator of Arkansas, who proposed the Fulbright Act of 1964. This act established the exchange program for American and foreign educators and students. Senator Fulbright also served as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He opposed the war.

Vietnamization: Popular discontent forced Nixon to pull out of the Vietnam war, but he could not allow the United States to lose face. Leaving Vietnam without honor would endanger U.S. global dominance and give a considerable advantage the Soviet Union. Vietnamization, the process of replacing the American armed forces with South Vietnamese troops trained by American advisors, allowed the U.S. to save its reputation and satisfy an American public weary with a futile struggle.

Paris Accords, 1973: In 1973, after Lyndon Johnson died of a heart attack, Nixon declared that a peace had been reached in Vietnam. The Paris Accords ended the war between the North Vietnamese government and Thieu government of South Vietnam. It was also agreed that the future of North Vietnam would not be determined by war.

SALT I Agreement: At a meeting in Vladivostok, Siberia, in 1974, the SALT I agreement allowed Ford and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev to make enormous progress towards the new arms-control treaty. This agreement was to limit each side to 2,400 nuclear missiles which would reduce the rate of war to a mere fraction.

Détente: The evacuation of American troops from Vietnam helped Nixon and Kissinger reduce Chinese-American tensions and achieve détente with the communist superpowers. This dramatic development marked a significant change in American foreign policy by developing a cordial attitude towards the communists.

China visit, 1972; recognition of China: On February 22, 1972, the President’s plane landed in China. Part of his policy of détente, Nixon took advantage of the Sino-Soviet split to pit the former allies against each other by recognizing China. The China visit sealed the new Chinese-American friendship, leaving Russia more isolated.

War Powers Act, 1973: As an act passed by Congress, the president was given unprecedented authority. Thousands of special wartime agencies suddenly regulated almost every of American life. After the war, 15 million men had been trained and equipped with armed forces ready for battle.

Six Day War, 1967: Israel’s decisive triumph in the Six Day War had left the Arabs humiliated and eager to reclaim the militarily strategic Golan Heights which was taken from Syria. Aided by massive U.S. shipments of highly sophisticated weaponry, the Israelis stopped the assault and counterattacked.

Yom Kippur War:
Syria and Egypt, backed by Russia, led an all out attack on Israel in 1973 on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. This war between the Israelis and their neighboring countries spanned several years. There were frequent bombings and raids amongst the countries for oil.

Kissinger, Henry, "shuttle diplomacy":
Henry Kissinger flew from capital to capital and bargained with the Israelis and the Egyptian people. He organized a cease-fire in November of 1973. Kissinger negotiated the peace agreement with the aid of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to end the Yom Kippur war. His "shuttle diplomacy" ameliorated the hostility between the Middle Eastern countries and the United States.


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