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球探体育比分app:#218: Nixon Goes to China

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In this Feb 21, 1972 photo, President Richard M. Nixon, left, shakes hands with Chinese leader Mao Zedong during Nixon's groundbreaking trip to China
In this Feb 21, 1972 photo, President Richard M. Nixon, left, shakes hands with Chinese leader Mao Zedong during Nixon's groundbreaking trip to China

STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

Today, we continue the story of the thirty-seventh president of the United States, Richard Nixon.

(MUSIC)

The year is nineteen sixty-nine. Richard Nixon, a Republican, is in the first year of his first term in office. His biggest foreign policy problem is the continuing war in Vietnam. During the election campaign, Nixon had promised to do something to end the war.

The question was: what?

Some Americans want him to withdraw troops from Vietnam immediately. Bring the soldiers home, they say. Others believe the United States should take whatever measures are necessary to win. Expand the ground war, they say, or even use nuclear weapons.

Withdrawing troops would leave South Vietnam alone to resist communist North Vietnam. Yet that was the reason the United States had entered the conflict -- to prevent the communists from capturing the south.

Expanding the war would not be an easy decision either. Already, by nineteen sixty-nine, more Americans had died in Vietnam than had died during the Korean War.

For Richard Nixon, the war is a terrible test. If he fails, his presidency could end the way Lyndon Johnson's presidency ended. Johnson decided not to run for re-election after he lost public and political support for his war policies.

Presidents have advisers, and Nixon's most important adviser was Henry Kissinger. Kissinger was an expert on foreign relations. He later served as Nixon's secretary of state. Together, they tried many ways to settle the conflict in Vietnam. It took several years before the involvement of the United States would finally end.

The American efforts were both diplomatic and military. Peace talks were taking place in Paris. But the Nixon administration started secret peace talks in Paris at the same time. The administration also withdrew some troops from Vietnam. Yet -- secretly -- it sent other troops into Cambodia. And it began bombing Laos.

AUDIO: Bombing

The Nixon administration also started bombing North Vietnam again. Lyndon Johnson had stopped the raids a few years earlier.

(MUSIC)

Efforts to end American involvement in Vietnam did not begin immediately. For his first eight months in office, President Nixon made no major policy changes. Then, in October nineteen sixty-nine, he ordered the withdrawal of sixty thousand troops.

He said he acted to speed the peace talks. He also ordered American commanders to give the South Vietnamese most of the responsibility for fighting.

Americans were happy that fewer troops would be involved. But many were unhappy that the withdrawal was not complete. Huge anti-war demonstrations took place in the United States in the autumn of nineteen sixty-nine. On November fifteenth, several hundred thousand people protested in Washington.

Nixon tried to explain to the American people why he was not ordering an immediate withdrawal. In his words: "It is not the easy way. It is the right way."

In the spring of nineteen seventy, American and South Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia.

RICHARD NIXON: "Tonight, American and South Vietnamese units will attack the headquarters for the entire communist military operation in South Vietnam."

Nixon described to the American public why he had decided to order the actions in Cambodia.

NIXON: "This key control center has been occupied by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong for five years, in blatant violation of Cambodia's neutrality. This is not an invasion of Cambodia. The areas in which these attacks will be launched are completely occupied and controlled by North Vietnamese forces. Once enemy forces are driven out of these sanctuaries, and once their military supplies are destroyed, we will withdraw."

(MUSIC)

Early in nineteen seventy-one, the Nixon administration decided to provide air and artillery support for a South Vietnamese invasion of Laos. The goal was to stop supplies from reaching North Vietnam through that neighboring country.

South Vietnamese forces destroyed many enemy weapons. But they also suffered heavy losses, and many American planes were shot down. After six weeks, the South Vietnamese were forced to withdraw.

Many members of the United States Congress were angry. They said the invasion of Laos was another in a long series of failures. Nixon's administration had said the United States was winning the war. Opposition Democrats in Congress said the administration was lying. Criticism by the American public grew louder, as well.

Demonstrations took place across the country, including on college campuses.

AUDIO: Kent State shooting

On May fourth, nineteen seventy, National Guard troops shot and ?killed four students during protests at Kent State University in Ohio.

This is what Neil Young means when he sings of "four dead in Ohio" in a famous protest song that he wrote in reaction to the killings.

(MUSIC: "Ohio"/Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)

President Nixon said again that the United States must not permit North Vietnam to take over South Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson had said the same thing when he was president.

Many Americans had accepted the war, but as it continued, and as more Americans died in Vietnam, public opinion changed.

In nineteen sixty-five, sixty-one percent of those questioned said they approved of the war. By nineteen seventy-one, sixty-one percent said they did not approve of it.

The official peace talks in Paris offered little hope of a negotiated settlement. Over a period of several years, each side made proposals, only to have the other side reject them.

President Nixon wanted to address the public's anger over the war. So he announced that Henry Kissinger had held twelve secret meetings with North Vietnamese officials. But those secret meetings made no more progress than the official talks.

In late March nineteen seventy-two, North Vietnam launched a major offensive. In May, Nixon ordered increased bombing against roads and railways in the north. By the end of August, the communist offensive had been stopped. Yet many lives had been lost. The pressure to withdraw American forces grew stronger.

For the next five months, the Nixon administration continued a policy of official talks, secret meetings and increased military action. Finally, the president announced that an agreement had been reached at the peace talks in Paris. There would be a ceasefire, and negotiators from the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam and the Viet Cong would sign the agreement.

Under the terms of the agreement, all American and allied forces would withdraw from South Vietnam. The north and south would be free to settle their conflict without interference from other countries.

President Nixon announced the news from the White House.

RICHARD NIXON: "At twelve-thirty Paris time today, January twenty-three, nineteen-seventy-three, the agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam was initialed by Dr. Henry Kissinger on behalf of the United States and special adviser Le Duc Tho on behalf of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The agreement will be formally signed by the parties participating in the Paris conference on Vietnam on January twenty seven, nineteen-seventy-three, at the international conference center in Paris. ... The United States and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam express the hope that this agreement will insure stable peace in Vietnam and contribute to the preservation of lasting peace in Indochina and Southeast Asia."

Yet the fighting continued -- and would continue even after Nixon resigned from office in nineteen seventy-four.

(SOUND) Fall of Saigon: Automatic weapons fire

April thirtieth, nineteen seventy-five, marked the fall of Saigon, the South Vietnamese capital, after the withdrawal of American troops. The North Vietnamese had planned a two-year campaign to take Saigon; it would take them just fifty-five days.

(MUSIC Transition)

Another foreign policy issue for the Nixon administration was China. Here was Nixon's chance to shine as a statesman.

Communists took power in China in nineteen forty-nine. The United States, however, did not recognize the Communist Party government on the mainland. Instead, it recognized the Nationalist Chinese government in Taiwan.

In the early nineteen seventies, the Nixon administration began trying to improve relations. It eased restrictions on travel to China. And it supported a visit to China by the United States table-tennis team -- so-called "ping-pong diplomacy."

Then President Nixon made a surprise announcement. He himself would visit China.

(MUSIC)

The historic event took place in February nineteen seventy-two. Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and Party Chairman Mao Zedong greeted the American president. Nixon and Zhou held talks that opened new possibilities for trade. The next year, Nixon sent a representative to open a diplomatic office in Beijing. After more than twenty years, the two countries were communicating again.

They would not establish full relations, however, until nineteen seventy-nine, when the United States stopped recognizing Taiwan.

Many Americans were happy at the easing of tensions with China, even as the Cold War with the Soviet Union continued.

(MUSIC)

Many were proud to see their president standing at the Great Wall of China. Historians would later it call it the greatest moment in the presidency of Richard Nixon.

In fact, Nixon might have been remembered as one of America's greatest presidents, if not for a break-in at Democratic Party headquarters. It led to a history-changing series of events that came to be known as Watergate.

That will be our story next week.

(MUSIC)

You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at 球盘体育比分 www.341124.live. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

___

This was program #218.

共和黨籍美國總統尼克松1969年走馬上任。在外交上,尼克松面臨的最棘手的問題是仍在繼續的越戰。競選期間,尼克松曾保證要設法結束越戰。關鍵是怎樣結束。一部分美國人主張立即撤軍,讓美軍將士回家,另外一部分美國人則認為,美國應該不惜一切代價打贏這場戰爭,擴大地面戰爭的規模,甚至動用核武器。

撤軍就意味著放棄南越不管,讓他們單槍匹馬對付北越的共產力量。而美國參加越戰的初衷,就是不想讓南越落入共產主義陣營。另一方面,擴大戰局也沒有那么簡單,1969年時,越戰陣亡的美軍將士人數就已經超過韓戰了。

對尼克松來說,越戰是一次嚴峻考驗。如果失敗,他的總統生涯就會跟前任約翰遜總統有一樣的結局,約翰遜就是因為自己的越戰政策失去了公眾和政界的支持,才決定不參選連任的。

每個總統身邊都有出謀劃策的人。尼克松最重要的智囊是亨利.基辛格?;糧袷峭飩皇攣褡?,后來曾任尼克松的國務卿。尼克松和基辛格為結束越戰嘗試了很多辦法,花了好幾年才終于脫身。

美國在外交和軍事上雙管齊下。巴黎舉行和談的同時,尼克松政府也在巴黎舉行秘密和談。他們從越南撤回了一部分兵力,但同時又秘密派兵前往柬埔寨,并開始轟炸老撾。約翰遜幾年前下令停止的對北越的空襲,也在尼克松任期內重新開始。

尼克松上任頭八個月,沒有做出任何重大的政策變動。1969年10月,他才下令撤回六萬美軍。并下令美軍指揮官將大部分作戰任務交給南越方面。尼克松說,他這樣做是為了加快和談的進程。

撤軍是美國民眾希望看到的,但是部分撤軍又讓很多人感到不滿。1969年秋天美國出現了大規模反戰抗議,11月15號首都華盛頓也發生了幾十萬人的示威游行。尼克松試圖向美國民眾解釋,他為什么沒有下令全部撤軍,按他的話說,"這樣做不是最簡單的做法,但卻是正確的做法。"

1970年春天,美國和南越部隊進攻柬埔寨。尼克松就這一行動向美國民眾做出解釋說:"那里的重要控制中心已經被北越和越共控制了五年,公然違背柬埔寨的中立地位。這次行動不是侵略柬埔寨,行動領域都是北越部隊控制的地帶,一旦將他們趕出這些避難處,一旦他們的軍事供給被徹底摧毀,我們馬上撤軍。"

1971年初,尼克松政府決定為南越進攻老撾提供空中和炮火支持,目的是阻止軍用供給途經老撾進入北越。南越部隊摧毀了敵軍的很多武器,但自身也損失慘重,很多架美軍戰斗機被擊落。六個星期后,南越部隊就被迫撤退了。

美國國會很多議員都感到氣憤。他們說,入侵老撾是一系列失敗中的又一次。尼克松政府一直說,美國正在打贏這場戰爭,但是國會里的反對派民主黨議員指出,政府在撒謊,美國民眾的批評聲浪也不斷提高。全國各地抗議示威不斷,包括大學校園。

1970年5月4日,國民警衛隊在俄亥俄州的肯特州立大學學生抗議活動中開槍打死了四個學生,歌手尼爾.揚還專門為這件事寫過歌。

尼克松總統再次強調,美國不能允許北越吞噬南越,他的前任約翰遜總統也曾說過同樣的話。很多美國人一度接受了這場戰爭,但是隨著戰爭的繼續,隨著美軍官兵陣亡人數的增加,公眾輿論發生了變化。1965年時,百分之61的受訪者支持越戰,到1971年時,已經有百分之61的受訪者反對越戰了。

法國巴黎舉行的和談毫無進展,幾年來,任何一方提出議案,往往立即就會遭到另一方的拒絕。尼克松總統為了安撫民眾的不滿情緒,告訴大家,基辛格私下里跟北越官員已經舉行了12次秘密會談,但是這些秘密會談也沒有取得任何進展。

1972年3月底,北越發起猛烈進攻。5月,尼克松下令加強對北越道路和鐵路的轟炸。到8月底的時候,北越停止進攻,但是這次行動造成了大量人員傷亡,美國國內要求撤軍的壓力倍增。

在接下來的五個月里,尼克松政府繼續執行官方會談,私下接觸和加大軍事打擊力度的綜合策略。最后,尼克松宣布,巴黎和談終于達成了?;鸚?,美國、南越、北越和越共代表都在協議上簽了字。

根據協議,美國和所有盟軍部隊撤出南越,北越和南越在不受其他國家干預的情況下自行解決分歧,尼克松在白宮宣布這一消息時說:"1973年1月23日,巴黎時間12點30分,基辛格代表美國,黎德壽代表越南民主共和國,提出了一項結束戰爭,在越南重建和平的協議。參加巴黎會議的各方將于1973年1月27日在巴黎國際會議中心簽署這份協議。美國和越南民主共和國都表示,希望這份協議能保證越南穩定和平,有利于印度支那和東南亞實現持久和平。"

然而,戰斗還在繼續,而且要一直繼續到尼克松1974年辭職以后。美軍撤離后,1975年4月30日南越首都西貢失陷。北越為了攻陷西貢,原本準備打兩年的仗,沒想到短短55天就結束了戰斗。

尼克松任期內另一個重要外交議題是中國,中國問題讓尼克松作為外交家大放光彩。中國共產黨1949年奪取政權,但是美國政府一直沒有承認大陸共產黨政權的合法化,在外交上繼續承認臺灣的國民黨政權。

70年代初期,尼克松政府開始努力改善跟中國大陸共產黨政權的關系,先是放松了去中國旅行的限制,并支持美國乒乓球隊到中國去訪問,有了后來著名的"乒乓外交"。隨后,尼克松意外地宣布準備訪華。

尼克松訪華這一歷史事件發生在1972年2月,中國國家總理周恩來和黨主席毛澤東接見了尼克松。尼克松跟周恩來的會談,為兩國貿易打開了大門。次年,尼克松又派特使,在北京開設了外交辦事處,經過20多年后,兩國終于又恢復了溝通的渠道。中美正式建交還要等到美國不再承認臺灣的1979年。雖然當時美國跟蘇聯的冷戰還在繼續,但是很多美國人對美國跟中國關系的緩和還是感到很高興。

很多美國人看到自己的總統站在中國長城上都感到很驕傲。歷史學家后來認為,這是尼克松當總統期間,最為輝煌的一刻。事實上,如果不是后來發生了水門事件的話,尼克松本可能成為美國歷史上最偉大的總統之一。

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