Watchmen is an alternative history, depicting the rise of costumed heroes beginning in the 1940's in America. The story is set in the contemporary world of the 1980's, in which masked vigilantes have been outlawed, and the United States is posed on the brink of war with the Soviet Union. The first generation of masked heroes, called the Minutemen, operated successfully for a number of years, legally sanctioned and supported by the US government. Following their retirement in the 1950's, they were eventually replaced by the Watchmen, or the Crimebusters, in the 1960's. Several members of the Watchmen worked on behalf of the government as official agents, fighting during the Vietnam war, and helping to keep order back in the States. The involvement of superheroes caused the United States to win the Vietnam War, and for President Nixon to be reelected multiple times. Following the eventual outlawing of masked crimefighters in the 1970's, several continued to work on behalf of the government, others retired, and still others continued to operate outside of government control, albeit illegally.