Burns, staff from the Council of Economic Advisers, and other economists and business leaders. Two concerns were paramount in these private discussions: the sluggish domestic economy, with the menace of inflation; and challenges to the dollar in international exchange. Since the Bretton Woods Conference of 1944 (which had created the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank), currencies had been based on a regularized exchange rate. The U.S. dollar, the base currency after the war, was linked to gold. In the week before the Camp David gathering, the British ambassador had appeared at the Treasury Department to ask that $3 billion be converted into gold. Nixon's advisers feared that if the United States acceded, other countries might have come forth for further conversions, severely damaging the dollar's standing and creating a run on American currency.
After presiding over two days of concentrated discussion, the president made his surprise announcement on Sunday evening, August 15. The "New Economic Policy" imposed temporary wage and price controls, and—more important in the long run—peremptorily ended the gold connection to the dollar and brought us the system of international currency flotation we have today. 55 The "Nixon shocks" permanently transformed the Bretton Woods international monetary and trading systems, which, like the United Nations, were an integral part of the postwar world. The president made these decisions with no international or multilateral consultation.
Nixon, of course, did not initiate U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and certainly did not authorize the expansion of U.S. ground forces there. In the end, in fact, he disengaged the country from that unfortunate adventure. Yet the trauma of Vietnam, ruinous to Lyndon Johnson's place in history, also tainted Nixon's term in office.
During the campaign of 1968, Nixon had promised that he had a plan, unstated at the time, to resolve the Vietnam quandary. That plan became Vietnamization, which essentially meant reducing American ground forces while increasing bombing raids. As we have seen above, the "Nixon Doctrine" was a codicil to Vietnamization.
Public negotiations to end the war had begun just before the election of 1968 and continued in Paris after Nixon assumed office. In the____________________