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Richard Nixon Essay

800 words - 3 pages

Richard Nixon

History will inevitably forgive Richard Nixon. Despite his obvious unlawful mistakes, he made a good president. Until 1968, most Americans saw Richard Nixon as a political has-been, a dour pre-McCarthy hunter of Communists. In 1968, however, Nixon won the Presidency by presenting himself as a healer of divisions. He demonstrated that he had greater ability to reinvent himself than any other modern politician. More than any other figure between the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his own resignation in 1974, Nixon was the pivotal postwar President. The architect of detente, he also was the President who ordered secret bombing raids on Laos and Cambodia and then invaded Cambodia. The architect of the conservative Republican "southern strategy," he also was the President who created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Voting Rights Acts. The man who painted himself as a friend of "law and order," he broke the law and was forced to leave office in disgrace. During his presidency, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and Nixon made history by visiting China. The Viet Nam War cast a shadow over Nixon's successes, but the war finally ended in 1973 under his presidency. Nixon set milestones in foreign policy by improving relations with both China and Russia. Nixon's Secretary of State Henry Kissinger relentlessly pursued negotiations in the Mideast, with Israel, Egypt, and Syria.
Yet Nixon is still remembered as a thief and a criminal. Why isn't he best remembered for his foreign policy achievements? Yea, most Americans recognize his failure to bring a speedy, or even "honorable," end to the Vietnam War. Perhaps this notoriety is based on the fact that Nixon was one of the few presidents in American history who practiced foreign policy by design, setting certain goals and moving steadily, if sometimes secretly and ruthlessly, toward them, instead of merely reacting to the conditions of world affairs as had many chief executives in the past. He repudiated his anti-Communist past and became the first US president to visit the Soviet Union when he traveled to Moscow in May of 1972. He sought peace with the opposing super-power and initiated negotiations with the Soviet Union to limit nuclear weapons, which resulted in the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT). At the same time, he was making secret contact with the other great communist nation, the People's Republic of...

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