Nixon appealed to what he claimed was the "silent majority" of socially
conservative Americans who disliked the "hippie" counterculture and civil rights and anti-war demonstrators.
Nixon also promised "peace with honor," and without claiming to be able to win the war, Nixon claimed that "new leadership
will end the war and win the peace in the Pacific." When a reporter pressed Nixon for specifics, he did not reveal any details.
Because of this, Nixon's opponents criticized him for not revealing his secret plan to end the Vietnam
War, although Nixon had not used this famous phrase. Still, many voters supported Nixon because they believed
he would end the war.
He proposed the Nixon Doctrine to establish a strategy of turning
over the fighting of the war to the Vietnamese. During the war, on July 30, 1969, Nixon made an unscheduled visit to South Vietnam,
and met with President Nguyen Van Thieu and with US military commanders. American
involvement in the war ended while Nixon was in office, but only after four more years of strategic bombing and defeat on the ground that led to the withdrawal of US troops, and left the battle to the ineffective South Vietnamese army.
Nixon's administration secretly began a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia in March, 1969 (code-named Menu) to
destroy what were believed to be the headquarters and large numbers of soldiers of the National Front
for the Liberation of Vietnam. The bombing campaign was kept secret from the American public and the U.S. Congress. Militarily ineffective, the bombing campaigns killed approximately one hundred thousand
Cambodian peasants. However, NVA communist forces did use Cambodian soil as a supply line to the Vietcong in the south.
In ordering the bombings, Nixon realized he would be extending an unpopular war as well as breaching Cambodia's "official" neutrality. He also understood that the war was politically un-winnable due
to massive demonstrations. Details of the bombing were kept secret even from high ranking officials such as Secretary of State
William P. Rogers and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During deliberations over Nixon's
impeachment, his unorthodox use of executive powers over the ordering of these bombings were considered as an article of impeachment,
but the charge was dropped. This bombing (and an incursion by US forces into Cambodian
territory in April 1970) added to the administration's tacit support for the overthrow of the neutralist royal government
of Norodom Sihanouk by the rightist military dictator Lon Nol, created chaos, and drove much of the peasant population of that country into the arms of the Khmer
Rouge, a Maoist revolutionary movement that would eventually kill 1.7 million Cambodians after taking power.