The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker. This honor now beckons America—the chance to help lead the world at last out of the valley of turmoil, and onto that high ground of peace that man has dreamed of since the dawn of civilization” (Richard Milhous Nixon: First Inaugural Address). While analyzing the international and domestic challenges that the United States faced while Richard Nixon was in the office there were plenty of things that showed Nixons negative aspects, but also his positive aspects.
Richard Nixon came into the office during a very difficult time, not only were there international problems but also back at home there was lots of issues, Nixon did an exceptional job dealing with the foreign issues, but not as well dealing with the international issues, for instance he is remembered especially for his watergate scandal, along with his dealing with the economy in a negative way, but positively for his international relations with both China and Vietnam.
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Nixon came into the presidency in 1968 after serving in Washington DC since about 1946 when he was in the congress, as well as when he was the Vice President under Eisenhower. Before Nixon came into office, the Vietnam war had been going on for nearly 10 years; his main promise as a president was to end the war peacefully. He came up with a process called Vietnamization where he would slowly be taking out American troops, while simultaneously training the South Vietnamese to fight their own battle.
It took about 3 years, but in 1973 Nixon had removed all troops and signed an agreement with South Vietnam. When Nixon entered the office as president, he had lots of promises he planned on keeping and more. From the beginning he had said that he wanted “peace with honor” talking about the Vietnam war. He planned on doing this with a process called Vietnamization. In Document B, it shows a letter written by Nixon to Ho Chi Minh early into his presidency, showing his first step to peace.
Nixon also understands that the Americans don’t understand the point of this war, the fact that we are fighting a war for a different country doesn’t make any sense. Therefore, in Document D, it shows how he is asking the people of the country for support on the war, because he can’t end the war without the support of the people. Also, besides the process of Nixon ending the war and Vietnamization, he was simultaneously strengthening our relations with China. Nixon was the first president ever to visit the Peoples Republic of China.
His reasoning behind doing this was because he sees the United States, USSR, China, Western Europe, and Japan as the world powers, and if they were all able to interact it would be profitable for the entire world. Before Nixon was president, when we was running he said “We simply cannot afford to leave China outside the family of nations”. This shows that he understood the importance of having this interaction with China, and it was a very impressive accomplishment that he was able to create a relationship with China for the first time in a very long time (American Experience).
Lastly, in Document F, Nixon’s second inaugural speech, he is discussing the new era of peace they have reached. At this point he has gained relationships in Russia, along with China, and nearly ended the war in Vietnam. This shows all of the progress he got through in two years. Clearly, Nixon was a very good international negotiator, and did a great deal of work on that aspect. Another big thing that Nixon had to deal with while president was the economy. From when Nixon started in office, to when he resigned, the inflation nearly doubled.
While, at the same time the unemployment rate was increasing, this was known as stagflation. In Richard Nixon’s first acceptance speech, he speaks of how we are the worlds strongest nation, however the richest nation [United States] is tied down in a war, without end at sight, as well as us not being able to manage our economy, he believed it was time for change; change to him as the leader (Document A). Economically, however, Nixon didn’t do a great job dealing with it, partly because he put 80% of his time dealing with international issues, not leaving a lot of time to handle the economy back home.
On a chart shown in Document C, it shows the price in food, the price of fuel, and price of transportation from 1968 to 1976. From the start of his presidency in 1968, the prices were low, therefore showing the prices before the inflation began. Next, in 1974 near the end of Nixon’s presidency the prices have nearly doubled, showing the inflation with picture proof. Finally, in Document H, Nixon has to address the nation because it was running out of heating oil, he had to close down gas stations and had to request no more long distance travels, because the relations in the middle east weren’t at its peak to say the least.
Overall, Nixon had a lot of struggles economically, because he was putting a lot of his time into his international problems, instead of worrying about the domestic problems. Another big issue that was dealt with was the scandal that put Nixon out of office, Watergate. Nixon is mainly remembered for not only being the only president to resign from office, but for the secrets he kept from the people of the United States throughout his presidency. The first secret he kept, was the bombing of Cambodia, which in the end he did end the war so people forgave him from that mistake.
However, when new came out of the Watergate Scandal, people were all over it. In Document I a journalist is discussing all of the secrecy from the Cambodia bombing to the Watergate Scandal, he was talking about how the anger came from so much of Nixon’s decisions being kept private, and then when one surfaced they all surfaced. The Watergate break in happened in 1972, therefore with about 2 years of investigation Nixon was being attacked with rumors and hatred, and tried to clean his name, which in a sense made him look more guilty.
In the image shown in Document G, it emphasises Nixon as a lone guy, while the people and media are a huge scary animal, and Nixon clearly has something they want. The tapes, which contained most of the evidence of this, Nixon had in his hand. He tried to clear them, and when the supreme court took them from him, there were blank spots in them, being cleared was a guilty sign of Nixon. He tried to clear his name, by having new tapes, shown in the image, that he was offering to the dog so that the dog would take them and his hunger would be satisfied, but they [people of United States] new what they wanted.
Nixon took the brave decision to resign before the case could be brought on trial. Anyways, this is another example of Nixon’s not so good job of domestic issues, which led him to have to resign from the presidency. With the many international and domestic challenges that Nixon was faced to deal with, it’s clear that he did a much better job internationally than he did domestically. If it weren’t for the few scandals that he got into back home, he could have been remembered as the great president that improved our relations with China, as well as got us out of the war through his tactic of ‘Vietnamization’.