Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 00:38:14 -0500 (CDT)
Workers World <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Why Nixon fell
Tricky Dick, aka President Richard Nixon, Christmas bomber of Hanoi, secret warmaker in Cambodia, persecutor of the Black Panthers and author of the June 5th Conspiracy, resigned from office under duress 25 years ago this August. He had a record of scurrilous, red-baiting and racist campaigns that aroused disgust in every progressive activist of his time and even in honest liberals who were glad to see him go.
Many supporters of this newspaper were among the huge crowd who
brought their anti- war anger to his first inaugural in January 1969,
carrying banners that read
Billionaires profit off GI blood and
wearing motorcycle helmets as they confronted a phalanx of cops and
Secret Service agents.
That said, it is most important to answer the corporate media, which is rewriting history once more during this anniversary. Despite Watergate, they are reclaiming Nixon as an effective capitalist diplomat and executive—with perhaps some idiosyncrasies and a narrow grasp of how to wield power. Worse, they distort how the impeachment process allowed his removal from office.
In addition to Nixon's deep unpopularity with the masses, a battle to unseat him developed within the political establishment of the ruling class. It revolved around two events: his June 5th Conspiracy to centralize all organs of the state's repressive apparatus in his hands, and the policy of detente.
On June 5, 1970, Nixon called a meeting at the White House of FBI
Director J. Edgar Hoover, CIA Director Richard Helms, Defense
Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Donald Bennett and National
Security Agency Director Adm. Noel Gayler. The alleged purpose of the
meeting was to
strengthen the government's domestic intelligence
In reality, this unprecedented meeting aimed at coordinating the main repressive forces available to the federal government. It included the CIA, which legally was barred from carrying out operations within the United States, and representatives of the U.S. military itself, as well as the FBI. It was an illegal maneuver designed to centralize totalitarian control in the hands of the president.
This was not only a threat to the masses of the people, it also threatened those elements in the ruling class that were not in tight with Nixon. He arm-twisted all the corporate heads for donations to his 1972 campaign, but gave out the goodies only to his cronies. And his policies threatened to completely discredit the government and arouse the masses of the people against it.
It was revealed later that FBI Director Hoover—himself a vicious right-winger—refused to go along with the conspiracy and began instead to work against Nixon. Hoover did so not for any love of democracy but only to defend his own independent power base in the FBI that he had built up over decades.
A loose coalition of diverse forces began to unite against the Nixon gang, and the exposure of the Watergate break-in allowed it to open up the battle against the president and his private gestapo.
How does detente fit in? The Nixon administration opened up U.S. relations with People's China and also worked out arms agreements with the USSR. Nixon and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, made these maneuvers to try to slow down the losses U.S. imperialism was facing in Vietnam and other parts of the world. They also meant to use this new triangular relationship as a wedge to break up solidarity between the two largest socialist countries.
But as far as the U.S. ultra-rightists were concerned, and with them a section of the U.S. military, this was an unnecessary concession to world communism. Thus some of those who otherwise would have been Nixon's strongest defenders were willing to see him brought down.
In the absence of a mass movement strong enough to throw out the
president, it was this coalition of powerful capitalist
forces—and not the
democratic action of the free press
and Congress—that combined to force out first Vice President
Spiro Agnew and then Nixon. The battle exposed the instability of a
capitalist establishment dependent on war and the military-industrial
complex—an instability that continues today.