Saturday, June 09, 2007

Weigh in on Nixon!

Within the last few weeks about school, we have been learning about President Nixon. We learned that he was involved in the Watergate conspiracy, and that he tried to cover it up. It was considered a crime, and he chose to resign for the good of the people. He was lucky to have been pardoned by Ford before he could be sent to jail. However, Nixon helped end conflicts with China, and he helped put an end to the long-lasting Vietnam War.
Overall, in his 5 years in office, do you think that Nixon was a good president who made a few wrong desicions or just a bad president all together?

1 comment:

fred said...

A democratic historian wrote three books about Nixon and said that first he didn't like him and later he became to understand him. Most people here in Europe prefer the democrats and we adored Kennedy, liked Carter, Clinton. Kerry. But after reading a lot, now my favorite is Nixon.

Nixon didn't have the charisma (inspire people, make them enthousiast) of Roosevelt, Eisenhower or Kennedy. Although Eisenhower had warned him years before he stayed too much a partisan . So he looked at things from the republican side and even saw many democrats as his ennemies and that of course is wrong for a president. Although in public he did not show that and he signed many social (democratic) laws.

But Nixon worked harder for his country than anybody, cared for the people, was not arrogant and loyal to his friends. In foreigh politics he was very experienced and with China and Russia even brilliant. Together with Kissinger, a professor of Harvard university, he could solve every the problem with these countries, without anybodies help. Of course a president should not do that in his own, but the US people were divided and otherwise it would have taken 15 years and perhaps a third world war.

Since 1945 there was a cold war with communist countries and since 1964 many people were killed in Vietnam. Inside the US people were fighting about civil rights. That's why people like Jack Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy even had been killed. So the nation was in big trouble and democrats and republicans could not solve that problem, because everybody was so divided. Divided in left and conservative democrats, liberal and conservative republicans, and as for the cold war and the Vietnam war in hawks and doves. Without Nixon that would have gone on for years. But of course democrats deny that and say that only problem was Nixon with his Watergate. Sometimes democrats have short memories.

In 1956 Vietnam was a colony of France and had won a war of liberty. During the piece treaty in Geneva (Switserland) western countries promised free elections, which the commies would have won. But afterwards that was not allowed. Later North Vietnam started a new war war to conquer the South and the US sent military advisers. We in Europe didn't see North Vietnam as an ennemy, but the US did, because they were commies. Now everybody agrees that the US never should have mixed up with Vietnam.
In 1964 the US marine played an old stupid trick. They pretended to be shot and shot back although there was nothing to shoot at - the Tonkin Incident (in the Gulf of Tonkin). Now the US could send troops without protest from their own people. Johnson was a great president for domestic affairs but not in foreign affairs. He excepted all kinds of stupid ideas from his advisers and the military.
Nixon saw South Vietnam as an ally of the US and the US could not deliver an ally to its ennemies. Jane Fonda could tell you yet another view, but this is about Nixon. So Nixon tried to end the war in an American way. He really tried everthing, offered the North Vietnamese more than anybody before. But the commies were in a winning mood and didn't want to negociate about things that were stolen from them 20 years before. Nixon even tried to frighten the Russians, because they were supplying North Vietnam. Everyday Americans were killed and Nixon became angry.

The power of North Vietnam was that the US could not invade their country, because that would have risked a third world war. Moreover they attacked South Vietnam from Cambodia and the US could not destroy their weapons there, because Cambodia was a neutral country.
All the same Nixon withdrew troops from Vietnam as he had promised to his the American people. In the mean time the commies kept attacking. I think they were unreasonable for their own people. This was not convenient forn the american generals and they agreed under one condition: The weapon arsenal behind the border in Cambodia had to be destroyed. According Nixon in his memoirs it should have been done much ealier. Indeed now there was so much equipment in the jungle that it took many weeks and many innocent Cambodian victims. Many american citizans became very disappointed in Nixon because in their opinion he escalated the war instead of ending it.
In 1972 the Us even mined the biggest harbour of North Vietnam to prevent new weapons coming from Russia.
Actually North Vietnam was losing the war, but the American people didn't realise that. Now they wanted to negociate, not for peace, but to get rid of the Americans. Within two years they attacked South Vietnam again. The American people and Congress were fed up with Vietnam and had stopped all financial aid and so South Vietnam lost. But who cares? We in Europe were glad the war was over.

Nixon also tried to solve the Vietnam problem by becoming friends with China and the Sovjets. It didn't work for Vietnam, but it started ending the cold war. Communists were not a threat anymore, you could talk with them, trade with them. And that meant that Vietnam becoming communist was not a problem anylonger. China would take care for South East Asia, so that the Russians could not go there. This was really a masterpiece of Nixon. Ending the cold war saved everybody lots of money.
The Chinese leades were happy with Nixon, but even the Russians. Nixon used the Chinese against the Russians, but he did not play them out against each other. He was too smart for that. He really was very nice too both of them. The Russian leader Brezjnev even supported Nixon during his Watergate troubles. Untill his death Nixon was the most welcome guest in China. He was the only foreigner he was allowed to critizise Deng Xiaoping. Undoubtedly Deng considered Nixon as a friend and wanted to visit him in 1979, when he lived as disgraced resigned president in exile in San Clemente. How different from the Americans.
But by making friends of communists the poor bastard lost his presidency. How come?

Extreme right was not happy with Nixons new friends. They wanted to win the cold war instead of dealing with the commies and that's why they trapped Nixon with Watergate.
In total the burglars had been four times in the Watergate building without doing anything. It's not feasable that Nixon would have ordered such a stupid thing. Some people of the CIA did.
Nixon was not happy when he realized that the burglars were working for his election campaign and that they were connected with the attack on Cuba in 1960 and with Dallas in 1963. Of course he was not so extreme stupid to let such people work for him. Moreover they were not capable. McCord was, but he mixed up things deliberately, as it seems.
Like always Nixon wanted to protect his people. Moreover. the truth meant trouble for the CIA, some old friends and was bad for the credibility of the US. So Nixon felt it his duty to hide things.
After conversations with John Dean Nixon realized
that Watergate had nothing to do the re-election. It took another two years before Nixon realized that some people had been after their own interests.
Nobody knows whether he ever realized that extreme right used this operation to trap him, by leaking everything to the left press.

Kennedy, of course, would have managed Vietnam much better than Johnson did. But now, after all these years I realize that he also was a little arrogant and especially stubborn. He and his brother wanted to change everything that was wrong in the US within eight years. During the cold war.
Nixon knew from the beginning that you can do a lot good things as long as you don't become ennemies with powerfull groups in the country. One the contrary, he tried to stay on good terms with everybody. Because of the situation that was not always possible. If he would have left Vietnam immediately he would have been in bigger trouble than Kennedy in Dallas.

Regards, Fred