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During the decade, a new policy of détente existed as each side settled in to an era of negotiations and attempts at being cordial to one another. Strategic arms limitation treaties were negotiated and one of America’s great Cold Warriors, Richard Nixon, opened relations with Red China and struck a personal relationship with Soviet leadership. Presidents Ford and Carter continued on this path until the USSR invaded Afghanistan, increasing tensions.


June 13 -- The New York Times begins publishing the “Pentagon Papers,? classified documents that reveal government wrongdoing in the prosecution of the Vietnam War.


February 21 -- President Nixon travels to China for a week-long visit.


May 20 -- President Nixon begins a trip to Austria, the USSR, Iran, and Poland and signs the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT), limiting the number and deployment of intercontinental ballistic missiles.


January 23 -- President Nixon announces an agreement to end the war in Vietnam has been reached.  Five days later a cease-fire agreement effectively ending U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War is signed in Paris.


October 6 -- Egypt and Syria attack Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism.  The war rages for twenty days, and the U.S. aids Israel.  When the Soviets threaten to intervene following a successful Israeli counteroffensive, American troops are placed on high alert worldwide before Soviet and American leaders negotiate a cease-fire.


October 24 -- President Nixon vetoes the War Powers Act, legislation curtailing powers granted the president during the Johnson Administration.  Two weeks later Congress overrides his veto.


December 6 -- Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as Vice President following the resignation of Spiro Agnew.




August 9 -- Richard Nixon resigns the presidency under threat of impeachment over the Watergate scandal.  Gerald Ford is sworn in as president.


November 17 -- President Ford begins an Asian trip that takes him to Japan, South Korea, and to the eastern Soviet city of Vladivostok to ease allies’ concerns over America’s role in the Pacific region as well as Soviet concerns over détente.




April 28 -- President Ford orders American personnel and high-risk South Vietnamese nationals evacuated from Saigon, which soon falls to Communist forces.  American involvement in Vietnam effectively ends.


July 28 -- President Ford joins leaders from 34 other nations, including the Soviet Union, in Helsinki, Finland, where he signs an accord whose human rights provision strengthens dissenters behind the Iron Curtain.


December 19 -- Congress passes a defense appropriations bill that prohibits the funding of U.S. activities designed to defeat Soviet and Cuban factions in the civil war in Angola, a measure President Ford opposes.


February 18 -- President Ford signs Executive Order 11905, which changes the oversight of intelligence agencies and prohibits the United States from engaging in political assassinations.


July 4 -- The United States celebrates 200 years of independence.


October 6 -- President Ford and Governor Carter meet in a second televised debate, which focuses on foreign policy and during which Ford asserts, “there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.?

1977 May 22 -- President Carter speaks at Notre Dame University, announcing that human rights will be a cornerstone of his foreign policy.

September 7 -- President Carter signs an agreement to turn over the Panama Canal to Panama despite criticism that the canal might fall under Communist influence.


September 17 -- The Camp David accords, brokered by President Carter, are signed by Israeli and Egyptian leaders, each agreeing to a framework for peace following decades of conflict.


January 1 -- The United States and the People’s Republic of China establish official diplomatic relations.  Later that month Deng Xiaoping visits the United States, sealing the new Sino-U.S. relations.

  June 18 -- President Carter and Secretary Brezhnev sign the SALT II agreement, but it is never ratified by the U.S. Senate.

November 4 -- Armed students in Iran seize the American embassy and hold 52 State Department diplomats hostage for 444 days.


December 21 -- The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.  In protest 62 nations, including the United States, boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics.