The Vietnam War was the major obstacle for the new president. Even before his inauguration, Nixon had Kissinger speak in secret with North Vietnam in hopes of having a speedy American withdrawal from the country. Nixon announced replacement of American forces with South Vietnamese, planning to have all American troops out of Vietnam by the end of 1970. He pledged not to back down and in early 1970 escalated the war by authorizing bombings on North Korea and attack on Cambodia. By January 28, 1973 a cease fire was established that allowed the removal of the remaining 23,700 troops.
Nixon is remembered for his foreign policy achievements, despite his failure to bring an “honorable” end to the Vietnam War and Kissinger’s inability to end the Middle East tension brought on by Israel’s victory over Arab countries in the Six-Day War of 1967. He became the first U.S. president to visit the Soviet Union and traveled to Moscow in Mat of 1972. He sought peace with Russia and negotiated with the Soviet Union to limit nuclear weapons which resulted in the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty or SALT. At the same time he was making secret contact with the People’s Republic of China, opening official diplomatic relations with China for the first time since the communist takeover in 1949.
Despite the final peaceful outcome of the Vietnam situation and his accomplishments overseas, Nixon’s blatant scoffing of the anti-war movement had ignited domestic upheavals including the shooting of fifteen students at a Kent State anti-war demonstration. The public dissatisfaction with the president brought out Nixon’s insecurity and his “dark side”. This led Nixon to form the Special Investigations Unit known as the “plumbers”, an outfit illegally