When Nixon took office, 300 American soldiers were dying per week in the Vietnam War. The Johnson administration had negotiated a deal in which the U.S. would suspend the bombing of North Vietnam in exchange for unconditional negotiations, but this faltered. Nixon faced the choice of devising a new policy to chance securing South Vietnam as a non-communist state, or withdrawing American forces completely.
Nixon approved a secret bombing campaign of North Vietnamese positions in Cambodia in March 1969 (code-named Operation Menu) to destroy what was believed to be the headquarters of the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam. The Air Force considered the bombings a success.
In July 1969, the Nixon’s visited South Vietnam, where Nixon met with his U.S. military commanders and President Nguyen Van Thieu. Amidst protests at home, he implemented the Nixon Doctrine, a strategy of replacing American troops with Vietnamese troops, also called "Vietnamization." In a televised speech on April 30, 1970, Nixon announced the incursion of U.S. troops into Cambodia to disrupt so-called North Vietnamese sanctuaries. This led to protest and student strikes that temporarily closed 536 universities, colleges, and high schools.
Nixon formed the Gates Commission to look into ending the military service draft, implemented under President Johnson. The Gates Commission issued its report in February 1970, describing how adequate military strength could be maintained without having conscription. The draft was extended to June 1973, and then ended. Military pay was increased as an incentive to attract volunteers, and television advertising for the United States Army began.
In December 1972, though concerned about the level of civilian casualties, Nixon approved Linebacker II, the codename for aerial bombings of military and industrial targets in North Vietnam. After much fighting, a peace treaty was signed in 1973. Under Nixon, American involvement in the war steadily declined from a troop strength of 543,000 to zero in 1973.
Nixon endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment after it passed both houses of Congress in 1972 and went to the states for ratification as a Constitutional amendment. That same year Nixon signed the landmark laws Title IX, prohibiting gender discrimination in all federally-funded schools and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. In 1970 Nixon had vetoed the Comprehensive Child Development Act, denouncing the universal child-care bill, but signed into law Title X, which was a step forward for family planning and contraceptives.
Nixon had campaigned as an ERA supporter in 1968, but feminists criticised him for doing little to help the ERA or their cause after his election, which led to a much stronger women's rights agenda. In addition to supporting the ERA and signing into law landmark feminist laws such as Title IX, Nixon, facing opposition from many men in his administration, increased the number of female appointees to administration positions.
U.S. Space program In 1969, Nixon's first year in office, the United States sent three men up to the moon, becoming the first nation in the world to do so. On July 20, Nixon addressed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, two of the astronauts, live via radio during their historic Apollo 11 moonwalk. Nixon also placed a telephone call to Armstrong on the moon, the longest distance phone call ever, and called it "the most historic phone call ever made from the White House."
Following his resignation, Nixon and his wife returned to their home La Casa Pacifica in San Clemente, California. Nixon was said to be in seclusion for a number of days in his home, first experiencing shock and later persistent sadness. On September 8, 1974, Ford granted him a "full, free, and absolute pardon". This ended any possibility of an indictment. Nixon then released a statement:
Resignation speech of President Richard Nixon, delivered 8 August 1974. Sound File