Watergate and Vietnam: The Cold War Origins of a Constitutional Crisis
15 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2012
Date Written: June 22, 2012
This short essay was written for a symposium marking the 40th anniversary of Watergate. Although it is relatively brief, it makes the important point that the foreign policy origins of Watergate are often overlooked. It locates those origins in the Cold War generally and the Vietnam War in particular. Historians of the Vietnam War have long been aware that there were meaningful links between Watergate and the domestic intelligence operations used by Presidents Johnson and Nixon to counter the war’s critics. This essay reviews those links and also argues, against some recent scholarship, that Watergate was indeed a genuine constitutional crisis.
Keywords: Watergate, Vietnam War, Cold War, presidential power
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