At the same time, according to Kutler, "Nixon had . . . inherited a vastly weakened and increasingly vulnerable presidency" (The Wars 10). The nation had passed through the turbulent decade of the 1960s which was marked by political assassinations, the civil rights struggle, racial violence, rising urban crime, and the divisive domestic effects of the Vietnam War, which had driven his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, from office. Much of Nixon's electoral support came from what he called the 'great silent majority' in his speech of November 3, 1969, who, according to Small, felt "threatened by these social and cultural revolutions" (33). White explained the ideas and beliefs of Nixon's closest political advisers, men like White House Chief of Staff Robert Haldeman, John Erlichman, John Mitchell, Attorney General Richard Kleindienst and Charles Colson. White stated that they ˘believed the new culture was not only undermining the authority of their President to make war and peace, but striking into their homes, families, and schools [and] undermining the values with which they had grown up and still held dear" (331).
Nixon and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger wanted to end the war in Vietnam, but believed they had to do so in a manner, which preserved American world power and prestige in the world. These beliefs led them to enga