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Huw Thomas 12KE

Explain why the Watergate Affair contributed to the withdrawal of US forces from South Vietnam (12 marks)
Historians such as Sanders believe there are a myriad of reasons to why the Watergate Affair contributed to the withdrawal of US forces from South Vietnam. One such reason was because Nixon anticipated a political crisis if Watergate became public knowledge and so was keen to pursue a popular policy in Vietnam. Moreover, the public began to distrust the power that had been amassed in the office of the Executive. Historians agree that the majority of the electorate firmly believed that the separation of powers did not seem to be working as designed by the Founding Fathers. Therefore, due to the growing tide of political and public opposition to the American war effort, the Watergate crisis proved to be the final nail in Nixons political coffin as it put an end to clandestine decision-making, and further increased the importance of public opinion, which favoured a full-scale American withdrawal. Another reason why the Watergate Affair contributed to the withdrawal of US forces from South Vietnam was because the office of the President was weakened and in June 1973, Congress prohibited a military response by law, contrary to Nixons wish for military involvement. Political historians agree that the Watergate Affair allowed Congress to re-assert their authority over foreign policy as the Executive had pulled these transcontinental strings for far too long, and with little success to show for it. Amidst a growing tide of anti-war protests towards Americas war effort in Vietnam, the Watergate Affair prevented a US military response to North Vietnams failure to maintain the accords. This severely dampened Nixons attempts to achieve, peace with honour, through the extensive bombing of the North and the mining of North Vietnams ports as a military strategy was completely ruled out as a result of the Watergate Affair. Instead, Nixon was forced to pursue foreign policies in Vietnam that held a popular mandate and would eventually lead to full-scale American withdrawal from Vietnam. Furthermore, historians such as Bragg advocate that the Watergate Affair contributed to the withdrawal of US forces from South Vietnam as it proved a distraction for Nixon who was thus prevented from further action over Vietnam. As such, historians firmly believe that due to the distraction of Watergate, Nixon was not able to fully uphold his policies such as Vietnamisation and Linkage to their full effectiveness and was denied the right by Congress to escalate militarily. Additionally, Nixon was, even after Paris demonstrably, not fully committed to the total abandonment of South East Asia but Watergate severely limited his political power and this inevitably contributed to the withdrawal of US forces from South Vietnam. Conclusively, there are a magnitude of reasons to why the Watergate Affair contributed to the withdrawal of US forces from South Vietnam, including Nixons

Huw Thomas 12KE anticipation of a political crisis if Watergate became public knowledge and Congress refusal to grant Nixon the right to escalate the situation.