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When that North Vietnam was a “pawn”

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When the American National Election Study asked about trust in government in 1958, about three fourths of Americans had trust in the federal government to do the right thing either most of the time or all of the time. Public trust in government started to abrade during the 60s, during the escalation of the Vietnam War and Civil Rights movement, and the decline continued in the 1970s with the Watergate scandal. There were also economic issue that the government was blamed for. Since the 1970s, trust in government tend to be, and for the most have been, higher among members or supporters of the party that dominates the White House than among the opposition party. Republicans have been much more reactive than Democrats to changes in political power, though. Republicans have expressed much higher levels of trust during Republican than during Democratic presidencies, while Democrats’ attitudes have tended to be more consistent, regardless of which party controls the White House.Vietnam Numerous factors contributed to the US involvement in Vietnam. The Cold War, a mistaken belief that North Vietnam was a “pawn” of Moscow, and anxiety that withdrawal from Vietnam would result in domestic political criticism. The most prevalent factor would be fears of communist domination of Indochina, or the fear of communism in general. So did a series of events in the 1960s, including the attack on Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, the construction of the Berlin Wall. Also, the threat made by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to sponsor national liberation movements around the world.In the 1968 election, Republican Richard Nixon claimed to have a plan to end the war in Vietnam. It took him 5 years to disengage the US from Vietnam. About ? of the Americans who died in combat were killed in Vietnam was during the Nixon presidency.By the time Nixon took office, in 1969, the US combat troops had already been fighting in Vietnam for nearly 4 years. Close to 31,000 had been killed in the war. Military support had made little progress in defeating and preventing the North Vietnamese troops and the Viet Cong. Under fierce and intense protests and criticism in and outside the country, Nixon and his squad looked for a way to take US combat forces without appearing to quit on South Vietnam in the war against the communists forces. Nixon and his advisors came out with a new strategy called “Vietnamization”.Nixon gave a speech announcing the strategy to the people in a broadcast speech on November 3, 1969. There he emphasized how his approach contrasted with the “Americanization” strategy of Lyndon Johnson. In June 1969, 25,000 US troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. US Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird came up with Nixon’s Vietnamization strategy. January 1973, the United States, the Viet Cong, North Vietnam and South Vietnam signed a ceasefire agreement which stated that  the United States will agree to withdraw from South Vietnam “without any comparable commitment from North Vietnam.” Analyst and historians do not agree on whether President Nixon believed that this gave South Vietnam a real chance to survive as an independent nation, or if he viewed the agreement as an easy way out  that gave the United States a way to withdraw from the war with a sense of “honor.”Crime Rates in the 1960sThe dramatic increase in violent crime from the 1960s changed the American culture in many ways. “Mugger jokes became a staple of comedians, with mentions of Central Park getting an instant laugh as a well-known death trap. New Yorkers imprisoned themselves in their apartments with batteries of latches and deadbolts, including the popular “police lock,” a steel bar with one end anchored in the floor and the other propped up against the door.” Fear of crime (which was mostly fearing minorities—>mass incarceration) helped conservative politicians a lot: Richard Nixon carried out the “Law and Order” platform (overshadowing the Vietnam War as a campaign issue), that many politicians used along with promising to “get tough on crime”(Clinton). Though the popular reaction was exaggerated, the sense that violent crime had multiplied was not a phantasm.Citizens in the 60s were dissatisfied with the social and political conditions, and particularly with the treatment of minorities(Civil Rights movement). During this time, the US Supreme Court decided a series of landmark cases that limited the investigative techniques used by police officers(Which were eventually reversed(thanks bill))The court decided in the case Mapp v. Ohio, that evidence obtained during a search and seizure that violated citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights could not be used against them in a court of law. Given the exclusionary rule, Mapp guaranteed that the fruits of an unconstitutional search could not be used during prosecution. 1966, Miranda v. Arizona, states that a suspect must be advised of his or her right against self-incrimination (protected by the Fifth Amendment) and the right to council (protected by the Sixth Amendment) before police can interrogate that suspect. Any admission of guilt obtained prior to giving the Miranda warnings cannot be used against the suspect during prosecution. Critics of these and other decisions claimed that the Supreme Court was “handcuffing” police. 1969 Election and Nixon’s platformUse of problems in the 1960s to elevate his platformRichard Nixon in 1968 with his “Law and Order” platform lead a political agenda feeding off of the fears that Americans had regarding crime and violence in the country. More divide came when people accused the concept of being an example of dog whistle politics, or racial coding in the expense of minorities(typically Black Americans) “Americans are acutely aware that none of these objectives can be achieved unless order through law and justice is maintained in our cities. Fire and looting, causing millions of dollars of property damage, have brought great suffering to homeowners and small businessmen, particularly in black communities least able to absorb catastrophic losses. The Republican Party strongly advocates measures to alleviate and remove the frustrations that contribute to riots. We simultaneously support decisive action to quell civil disorder, relying primarily on state and local governments to deal with these conditions.”Nixon campaigned on a platform designed to reach the “silent majority” of middle class and working class Americans. He promised to “bring us together again,” and many Americans, weary after years of anti war(Vietnam) and civil rights protests, were happy to hear of peace. It looked like a huge win and the triumph of liberalism, though it wasn’t. Out of the trash of Barry Goldwater’s candidacy rose a conservative “star”, Ronald Wilson Reagan. Reagan took Goldwater’s place as first in the conservative movement, confronting Nixon with a respectable rival for the 1968 nomination. Reagan had never held public office and had to run for governor of California before he could be a credible presidential candidate. He won the 1966 gubernatorial race in a landslide and immediately began seeking the presidential nomination. Nixon had a head start and spent 1966 campaigning for Republican candidates and cultivating party conservatives. His hard work paid off. Thanks in part to an ill-timed blast from President Lyndon Johnson, who called Nixon a “chronic campaigner,” the presidential hopeful found himself the center of attention right before an election in which Republicans made tremendous gains. It was going to be a Republican year anyway, with Vietnam and urban unrest dominating political debate, but Johnson’s attack helped make it Nixon’s year as well.1st termOnce in office, Nixon a faced the problem of how to end the Vietnam War, which had been detrimental to Johnson’s administration. As protesters in America’s cities called for an immediate withdrawal, Nixon made a televised address on November 3, 1969 calling on the “silent majority” of Americans to “renew their confidence in the American government and back his policy of seeking a negotiated peace in Vietnam.” Earlier that year, Nixon and his Defense Secretary, Melvin Laird, had announced the policy of “Vietnamization” which entailed reducing American troop levels in Vietnam and transferring the burden of fighting to South Vietnam. US troop strength in Vietnam fell from 543,000 in April 1969 to 0 by March 29, 1973. The Nixon administration was harshly criticized for its Cambodia attacks and its stepped-up bombing raids during the later years of the first term.February 1972, Nixon traveled to China for talks with leaders like Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai. Nixon’s trip was the first contact between the United States and the People’s Republic of China in more than 20 years(Chinese civil war led to communism which led to their break up with the U.S. which led to U.S. interacting with Taiwan instead), and it ushered in a new era of relations between Washington and Beijing. May 1972, Nixon visited Russia for a meeting with Leonid Brezhnev and other Soviet leaders. Their talks led to the signing of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, the first comprehensive and detailed nuclear weapons limitation pact between the two superpowers.ScandalsWhen corporations gave money to CREEP, they were in violation of a federal law called the Tillman Act. Even today, no corporation can give money directly to federal candidates’ campaign committees. But this illegality didn’t stop the CREEP fundraisers from asking for money. One company that had a reason to be responsive to Nixon fundraisers was International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, or  I.T.T. (as in the I.T.T. scandal), because it needed to settle its antitrust suits by the Department Of Justice and it needed the DOJ approval of its merger with Hartford Fire Insurance. The settlement of I.T.T.’s troubles happened in 1971. At nearly the same time, I.T.T. pledged $400,000(which would be roughly 2 mill today)  for the Republican National Convention in 1972 to be held in San Diego. WatergateAccusations and denial The Watergate scandal arose from illegal activities by Nixon and his aides regarding  the burglary and wiretapping of the national headquarters of the Democratic Party at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. The five men involved in the burglary, who were hired by the Republican Party’s Committee to Reelect the President(which would be CREEP), were arrested and charged in 1972. In the days after the arrests, Nixon secretly directed the White House counsel, John Dean, to hide and try to cover up his(Nixon’s) administration’s involvement. Nixon also obstructed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).Public opinion throughout the scandal  and trialsThe Washington Post’s Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, along with several other newspapers investigated the possible involvement of the White House in the burglary. Their stories were based largely on information from an anonymous source called “Deep Throat.” W. Mark Felt came out in 2005 as the source. February 1973 a special Senate committee was established to investigate the Watergate affair. In televised committee hearings, Dean accused the president of involvement in the cover-up, and others testified to illegal activities by the administration and the campaign staff, including the use of federal agencies to harass Nixon’s perceived enemies (many of whose names appeared on an “enemies list” of prominent politicians, journalists, entertainers, academics, and others) and acts of politically inspired espionage by a special White House investigative unit, known as the “plumbers” because they investigated news leaks.Nixon agreed to the appointment of another special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, and promised that he would not fire him without congressional consent. After protesting in a news conference that “I am not a crook,” Nixon released seven of the nine tapes requested by Cox(which he originally refused), one of which contained a suspicious gap of 18 and one-half minutes. Although damning, the tapes did not contain the “smoking gun” that would prove that the president himself ordered the break-in or attempted to obstruct justice. Jaworski later got a subpoena for 64 tapes that Nixon continued to withhold on grounds of “executive privilege,”July 1974 the Supreme Court ruled that Nixon’s claims of executive privilege were invalid. House Judiciary Committee had already voted to recommend 3 articles of impeachment, relating to obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and failure to comply with congressional subpoenas by the time his claims were ruled invalid. August 5, Nixon submitted transcripts of a conversation taped on June 23, 1972, in which he discussed a plan to use the CIA to block the FBI’s investigation of the Watergate break-in. This is the smoking gun.Nixon’s resignationFaced with impeachment by the House and conviction in the Senate(? presidents to face impeachment like this), Nixon announced his resignation on August 8, 1974. The resignation would be  effective at noon on the next day. Gerald Ford, whom he had appointed vice president in 1973 would take office after Agnew resigned his office amid charges of having committed extortion, bribery, and tax evasion during his time as the governor of Maryland. Nixon was pardoned by President Ford on September 8, 1974.AftermathRepublicansThe public distrust in government started in the 1960s. Saying they could trust the federal government to do the right thing nearly always or most of the time, the people’s trust reached an all-time high of 77% in 1964( John Fitzgerald Kennedy). Within a decade, a period that included the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal, trust had fallen by more than1/2, all the way down to 36%. By the end of the 1970s, only about ¼ of Americans felt that they could trust the government at least most of the time.

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