Disturbing Silence: How the Student Movement Shaped Nixon’s Presidency and the Policies of America
President Richard M. Nixon’s fear and hatred of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) resulted in the SDS having an undue influence on his foreign policies. The SDS was a small faction of the larger Anti-Vietnam War movement. Despite that, by 1969, Nixon’s fixation on the movement affected Nixon’s policies surrounding the secret negotiations between National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and the North Vietnamese. Nixon felt it necessary to maintain the perception of an American united front to the Vietnamese. Accordingly, Nixon felt it was imperative to silence the very vocal and visible SDS by any means necessary. His fear of the group led to changes in his domestic policies including the escalation of harsh FBI surveillance on American citizens and an adjusted draft lottery. This same fear translated in foreign policy shifts including his new policy of Détente. It was indeed the President’s fear of a small social movement which changed major governmental actions and goals.