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Richard Nixon and the Watergate Scandal


Perhaps no President of the United States have ever been as unpopular as Richard Nixon who to date has been the only President to have resigned under disgrace. However Nixon did have some remarkable foreign policy achievements. Nixon inherited the disastrous Vietnam War involvement from the previous administration. Nixon quickly realised the quagmire his country was facing and after initially supporting the war, he withdrew American troops successfully to end a painful chapter in the history of US involvement in conflicts worldwide.

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His crowning foreign policy successes included improving relations with China. Nixon’s able Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger engaged China in Ping Pong Diplomacy that helped the US forge a closer relationship with China and put the pressure on the Soviets. The Soviet Union responded by amicably agreeing to Detente with the United States thus Nixon by his astute handling had managed the foreign policy equations with the two largest powers in the world to America’s advantage. In the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Nixon played the role of a stabilizer when the European nations wavered in their support of Israel. Nixon’s adroit handling of the crisis helped the US wean away Egypt from the Soviet sphere of influence. When the Arab countries responded by raising price of oil, causing the oil shock, Nixon responded by taking America off the Gold standard which depressed the price of dollar and a crash in the oil prices. Thus while the oil shock hurt America, Nixon’s actions hurt the Arab countries too who learnt a lesson that using oil as a weapon could boomerang against them also.

However, all the good work done by Nixon on foreign policy came to naught with his handling and involvement in the Watergate case. On 17 June 1972, five men were caught trying to enter the offices of the Democratic Party in the Watergate hotel precincts. Two reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein got inside information that the break in was carried out at the behest of the White House. Nixon denied any wrong doings and dismissed the whole case as political propaganda. Nixon at the same time had been secretly taping all conversations in his Oval office. These tape recorded conservations were asked for by the congressional committee set up to investigate the Watergate case. Nixon refused to hand over the tapes quoting executive privilege despite a subpoena by the lawyers for its production to the investigation committee. Subsequently it was found that 18 and half minutes of recorded conversation had been wiped off. Nixon yet again denied any wrongdoing.

The White House tried to strike a deal by releasing typed transcripts of the President’s conversations. However, since the house was dominated by the Democrats, the House Judiciary Committee insisted on production of the tape. The matter went to the US Supreme court who ruled that since the charges against the President were so serious that they involved impeachable clauses of high crimes and misdemeanours, the tapes were to be made available. The tapes revealed that Nixon had known about the plan to break in to the Democratic offices at Watergate and had also ordered the subsequent cover up to prevent FBI’s investigation of the case. The American public expected the highest conduct of propriety from their President and Nixon’s conduct was deemed as unbecoming that resulted in the people demanding his removal. Faced with a certain impeachment, Nixon tendered his resignation on 8 August 1974.

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1. StudyCorgi. "Richard Nixon and the Watergate Scandal." November 20, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Richard Nixon and the Watergate Scandal." November 20, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Richard Nixon and the Watergate Scandal." November 20, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Richard Nixon and the Watergate Scandal'. 20 November.

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