Chapter 42: “The Stalemated Seventies”
~ 1968 – 1980 ~
The Economy Stagnates in the 1970s
After the flurry of economic growth in the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. economy stagnated in
the 1970s, in which not one year of that decade had a growth rate that even matched a year of
the preceding two decades.
Part of it 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.
Lyndon B. Johnson
’s spending on the
and on his
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, they were caught by the Japanese and the
Germans in industries that the U.S. once dominated: steel, automobiles, consumer electronics.
Nixon “Vietnamizes” the War
Upon taking office, President
urged American’s to stop tearing each other
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.
The South Vietnamese would slowly fight their own war, and the U.S. would only
supply arms and money; this was called the
While outwardly seeming to appease, Nixon divided America into his supporters and
The war was fought generally by the least 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 almost paranoid.
My Lai Massacre
of 1968, in which American troops had brutally massacred innocent
women and children in the village of My Lai, also led to more opposition to the war.
In 1970, Nixon ordered an attack on Cambodia, Vietnam’s neighbor.
Cambodianizing the Vietnam War
North Vietnamese had been using Cambodia as a springboard for funneling troops and arms,
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
Two months later, Nixon withdrew U.S. troops from Cambodia.
The Cambodian incident even more split the “hawks” and the “doves” (war vs. peace).
The U.S. Senate repealed the
Tonkin Gulf Resolution
, and in 1971, the
lowering the voting age to eighteen, was also passed.
In June 1971,
The New York Times
published a top-secret Pentagon study of America’s
involvement of the Vietnam War—papers that had been leaked by
Pentagon official—which exposed all the deceit used by the Kennedy and Johnson