Chapter 42 ~ The Stalemated Seventies ~ 1945 – 1952
I. The Economy Stagnates in the 1970s
After the flurry of economic growth in the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. economy grew stagnant in the 1970s. No
year during that decade had a growth rate that matched any year of the preceding two decades.
Part of the slowdown was caused by more women and teens in the work force who typically had less skill and
made less money than males, while deteriorating machinery and U.S. regulations also limited growth.
A large reason for the 1970s economic woes was the upward spiral of inflation.
Former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s spending on the Vietnam War and on his Great Society program also
depleted the U.S. treasury, and this caused too much money in people’s hands and too little products to buy.
iii. Also, since the U.S. did not continue advancing, Americans were caught by the Japanese and the Germans in
industries that the U.S. had once dominated: steel, automobiles, consumer electronics.
II. Nixon “Vietnamizes” the War
Upon taking office, President Richard Nixon urged American’s to stop tearing each other apart and to cooperate.
He was very skilled in foreign affairs, and to cope with the Vietnam dilemma, he used a policy called
“Vietnamization” in which 540,000 American troops would be pulled out of the Southeast Asian nation and
the war would be turned back over to the Vietamese.
The South Vietnamese would slowly fight their own war, and the U.S. would only supply arms and money
but not American troops; this was called the “Nixon Doctrine.”
While outwardly seeming to appease, Nixon divided America into his supporters and opponents.
iii. Nixon appealed to the “Silent Majority,” Americans who supported the war, but without noise.
iv. The war was fought generally by the lesser-privileged Americans, since college students and critically skilled
civilians were exempt, and there were also reports of dissension in the army.
Soldiers slogged through grimy mud and jungle, trusting nothing and were paranoid and bitter toward a
government that “handcuffed” them and a war against a frustrating enemy.
The My Lai Massacre of 1968, in which American troops brutally massacred innocent women and children in the
village of My Lai, illustrated the frustration and led to more opposition to the war.
vi. In 1970, Nixon ordered an attack on Cambodia, Vietnam’s neighbor.
III. Cambodianizing the Vietnam War
North Vietnamese had been using Cambodia as a springboard for funneling troops and arms along the Ho Chi
Minh Trail, and on April 29, 1970, Nixon suddenly ordered U.S. troops to invade Cambodia to stop this.
Much uproar was caused, as riots occurred at Kent State University (where the National Guard opened fire and
killed 4 people) and at Jackson State College.