Nixon: Foreign and Domestic Policy

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1. Foreign Policy

A study of Nixon's foreign policy makes a great deal of sense if students have already studied the Vietnam War and / or the 1973 Chilean Coup (each of which provides a major area of overlap with Nixon). In this compact study unit, students revisit these topics and broaden out to consider not just Nixon's policies with the USSR and China, but also in South Africa, the Middle East (Yom Kippur War), and Mexico. They then tackle a past paper question in timed conditions.

Students are initially presented with some sample questions from past IB papers:

Paper 2 past questions
For what reasons, and with what results, did the Cold War affect the Middle East between 1956 and 1979?
"Brinkmanship was an effective deterrent to escalation." With reference to two examples, assess the validity of this statement.
Why did detente develop between 1969 and 1979?
For what reasons, and with what results, did the Sino-Soviet split influence the Cold War?

Paper 3 past questions
Assess the successes and failures of Nixon's policy of detente.
Analyse the successes and failures of the foreign policies of either Richard Nixon (1969-1974) or George H W Bush (1989-1993)

Nixon's first administration (1969-1972) | Teacher notes
Students complete a gap-fill exercise providing them with an essential overview of Nixon's foreign policy. They then conduct extra research and reading to answer such questions as:
What were the essential features of the Nixon Doctrine? Use quotes from Nixon himself as appropriate.
Complete the following table to provide an assessment of Nixon's handling of China and the USSR.

"Discussion point: From your investigation, provide an explanation of this photograph"

The 1972 Presidential Election | Teacher notes
"Imagine it's 1972 election year, with inauguration day due to take place in January 1973. You are deciding how to vote, and Gallup (the public opinion pollsters) have asked for your approval rating of Nixon in the realm of foreign affairs. Using your existing knowledge, discuss with a partner what your overall rating would be out of 100%. Be prepared to explain your answer. Your teacher will now get you to write your name along a continuum line on the board, with the extreme left representing 0%, and the extreme right 100% approval. You will now be given some fresh information to consider from your teacher (make notes in the table). Change your position on the line as appropriate after considering this data..."

Nixon's second administration (1972-1974)
"Nixon's second administration was mired in the Watergate Scandal, but no less controversial is is handling of foreign affairs in this period. In this part of the investigation you will reach your own judgement on whether Vietnam, Chile, Israel and the Middle East, or South Africa deserves to be regarded as his greatest area of foreign policy failure using a 'Wheel of Life' format. You will do this firstly by investigating one issue in depth, then discussing your ideas with the rest of the class so we can collaboratively reach a judgement on the most obvious areas of success, and the most obvious areas of failure, ready for the examination".

Model Essay: "Assess the successes and failures of Nixon's foreign policy" [teacher password required]
Students should close this unit by tackling one of the essay questions outlined above in timed conditions. The essay provided here was written by me in timed conditions whilst my own students tacked a similar question.

20 question factual test: Nixon's foreign policy
With teacher answer sheet provided.

2. Domestic Policy

Research Task: What were the successes and failures of Nixon's domestic policies?
"Higher level students will write a timed essay on the key question outlined above. You will self-study this topic in your own time. When it comes to revision time we will compare and contrast Nixon and Johnson’s achievements. Your task will be to use a variety of sources to decide for yourself what the main policy areas are for consideration, and to research their successes and failures"

Model Essay: "Analyse the successes and failures of Nixon's domestic policies"
A timed essay that I wrote in exam conditions to share with students for revision and discussion.

The Watergate Scandal
Students watch a one-hour video documentary to assess the role played in Nixon's downfall by ten key individuals involved in the Watergate Scandal.

3. External Weblinks and Online Video


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