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
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.
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
urged American’s to stop tearing each other apart and
He was very skilled in foreign affairs, and to cope with the Vietnam dilemma, he used a policy
” 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 “
While outwardly seeming to appease, Nixon divided America into his supporters and opponents.
Nixon appealed to the “
,” Americans who supported the war, but without noise.
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.
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.
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
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.