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The expansion of the war into Cambodia

The rapid economic growth of the 1950s slowed in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. As the U.S. spent more money on military campaigns, it had less to invest in business growth and social programs. More research and development went into bombs, not cars and other consumer products. Unburdened with big military expenses, the World War II losers Japan and Germany became economic winners by producing products people wanted to buy. The U.S. economy slid into inflation and slow growth, called stagflation.

Richard Nixon said he would end the war in Vietnam, but he didn't. As the war dragged on and deaths mounted, antiwar demonstrations increased. Frustrated young soldiers in Vietnam became more disorderly, sometimes attacking their own officers. The Pentagon Papers (1971) leaked to the press showed 20 years of American secrets. Desperate to win, Nixon expanded the war to neighboring Cambodia.

In the United States, hard-pressed National Guard troops killed four student demonstrators at Kent State University in 1970; police got into shootouts with black nationalists. Young war protestors got some official reprieve as military draft calls were reduced, and the Twenty-sixth Amendment (1971) allowed young people to vote starting at age eighteen.


Question: What happened at Kent State University?

Answer: Protesting students were shot by the National Guard in 1970.

China and the SALT talks

President Nixon's 20 years of experience in international affairs finally began to pay off with visits to China and the Soviet Union. Nixon normalized previously frozen U.S. relations with China and set the stage for further détente, or discussion. Nixon arranged the sale of much-needed American food to the U.S.S.R. and started U.S.-Soviet SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) (1972) that limited missile deployment.


Question: What are some examples of détente in Nixon's foreign relations policies?

Answer: Nixon reestablished relations with China, sold food to the Soviet Union, and initiated the SALT talks.

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