1969-1976, Volume I, Foundations of Foreign Policy|
Released by the Office of the Historian
54. Paper Prepared in the National Security Council Staff/1/
54. Paper Prepared in the National Security Council Staff/1/
/1/Source: National Archives, RG 59, Policy Planning Staff Files: Lot 77 D 112, Director's Files, Selected Lord Memos. Confidential. The paper was sent to Kissinger on January 23 under a covering memorandum from Winston Lord of the NSC Staff. (Ibid.) No drafting information is provided but Lord's covering memorandum suggests that it was drafted by Lord or by Lindsey Grant, another Asian specialist on the NSC Staff. Kissinger subsequently returned the memorandum to Lord with the following handwritten comment: "Winston--I've read belatedly--1st class. How do you suggest we get policy resolutions of unresolved issues?"
THE NIXON DOCTRINE FOR ASIA: SOME HARD ISSUES
It is useful at the outset to recognize that there is no such thing as a grand strategy for Asia. If we can restrain the natural impulse to package a grand strategy, future discussions of American policy in Asia will be more illuminating than past ones. Most treatment of possible U.S. post-Vietnam Asian policies has tended to compartmentalize them neatly under strategic labels that describe U.S. base postures and imply U.S. political postures, e.g., "mainland", "offshore", "Pacific outposts". Such treatment is misleading. The strategic headings are oversimplified and just won't hold up under the glare of Asian complexities. It is fruitless to try and draw abstract defense lines which represent "vital interest" boundaries on which we would "fight". And even if we could construct a master plan, we would not adhere rigidly to it for the sake of consistency if events dictated tactical aberrations.
The Nixon Doctrine Is Already Being Implemented
In current discussion of U.S. policy for post-Vietnam Asia, the conventional wisdom is that:
--The President, Vice-President and Secretary of State during their Asian trips have sketched the outlines of a significant new policy for the region in the 1970s.
--However, this outline has as yet little operational significance, and we must await specific actions in order to assess the real implications of any new policy.
This is not really true:
--Our various statements are very significant, demonstrating a new tone and suggesting a new direction. However, if read literally, the proposed policy is not all that different from the rhetoric of past policy.
--What is even more significant is the many concrete actions that we have already taken or plan to take which have us moving down a clear policy path. These actions, although often not taken with a strategic concept in mind, are already putting flesh on our pronouncements and demonstrating that there is indeed a significant new policy thrust.
We are beginning to implement what in the past we attempted only in part, paid lip service to, or postponed to a vague longer term. There are already many examples and they are beginning to form a consistent pattern, even if this has not been consciously constructed. In some cases our actions have been proposed to us by others--but we have not resisted as we might have previously. In other cases we are taking actions for reasons not primarily keyed to an Asian strategy--but they are consistent with our approach nevertheless. In many cases we are making moves with an awareness of the general direction they are taking us. We do not yet appear to be following any policies which are strikingly discordant with our overall approach. However, Laos--where we have yet to make a clear choice--holds the potential for a very serious diversion.
Major examples of concrete actions that are already reflecting and implementing the Nixon doctrine include:
--Vietnam. Turning the war over to the South Vietnamese and reducing American presence to a supporting role illustrate the precept that the target country bear the brunt of battle.
--General Purpose Forces. Our projected cut in post-Vietnam ready forces underlines the policy that our friends must provide the bulk of the manpower for their defense against non-nuclear aggression.
--Japan. The Nixon-Sato Communiqué/2/ points up U.S.-Japanese partnership and the need for greater regional contributions by our ally.
/2/Reference is to the joint communiqué issued in Washington on November 21, 1969, at the conclusion of a 3-day State visit by Prime Minister Eisaku Sato. For text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pp. 953-957.
--Thailand, Philippines, Japan. U.S. troop withdrawals and/or consolidation of bases lowers the American profile.
--China. Trade and travel moves, the Warsaw talks, neutrality in Sino-Soviet dispute punctuate our approach of diminishing confrontation, dealing with countries on the basis of their actions, not their ideology; we recognize Peking's impact on the region while we maintain our treaty commitments for Taiwan.
--Cambodia. Reestablishment of diplomatic relations was pragmatic step designed to improve communications and prevent misunderstandings.
--Australia-New Zealand. Our encouragement of their forward deployment in Malaysia-Singapore reflects our emphasis on allied contributions and regional cooperation.
--Safeguard. Protection against Chinese-scale attack is a component of our nuclear shield for Asia.
--Overseas Reduction of U.S. Personnel. The 10 percent cutback worldwide slims the American presence in Asia.
Therefore it is now moot to debate, as the forthcoming NSSM 38/3/ on this subject does, whether we should continue to follow our past approach to Asia ("high strategy") or whether we should move to a lower profile and a more supporting role ("low strategy"). This Administration is already set on the latter course, through actions as well as words. What remains to be determined--and this of course is crucial--is how we manage the trend and cumulative impact of our policy and how we apply our new approach to the really tough questions that we will face in the 1970s.
/3/Reference is to anticipated agency responses to NSSM 38, which on April 10, 1969, tasked the Departments of State and Defense and the CIA to assess post-Vietnam Asian policy. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 365, Subject Files, National Security Study Memoranda (NSSMs) Nos 1-42)
Some Hard Issues for the 1970s
It is useful to run through the major components of our Asian approach and suggest some of the difficult questions that they could involve during the next decade. The following is by no means exhaustive and includes some relatively unlikely contingencies as well as predictable issues. There is no attempt to explore the questions in depth or recommend U.S. actions. In some cases the policy implications of our new approach seem clear. In many instances--unsurprisingly--the general guidelines don't give us the answer now. We cannot paint in all the factors in advance; a degree of ad hocism is necessary. This section is designed to locate some of the issues imbedded in our Asian policy components and to begin exploring their ramifications. These issues are not treated in any particular order of importance.
Commitments--The U.S. will keep all of its treaty commitments.
Issue: How do we interpret them when their fuzzy edges are involved?
"Commitment" is a slippery concept. Our actions on specific cases will be guided not by legal phrases but by an assessment of the significance of our interests involved and the nature of the threat. We have said we will "honor" our formal treaty obligations and these are imprecise in the areas where the definition of our interests is especially imprecise. Some specific examples come to mind. Our defense obligations for the offshore islands have been purposely ambiguous to maintain our flexibility and keep Peking guessing. Our explicit commitment is to help defend Taiwan and the Penghus only. Presidential discretion is formally reserved for the offshore islands, which the U.S. would defend only if the President deems such action necessary to secure Taiwan/Penghus. There are no indications that Peking intends to move against the islands, but such a contingency is plausible in the 1970s, if, for example, the communists misread the reduction in our Taiwan Straits patrol. Our new Asian approach does not predict our reaction, especially if we are confronted with pressures like a blockade rather than a naked assault.
We have encouraged Australia and New Zealand to maintain ground and air forces in Malaysia and Singapore after 1971 when the British will have withdrawn. To date our allies have agreed to do so and have not pressed us very hard on the applicability of our ANZUS commitments to their forces in the Malaysia-Singapore area. However, Australian and New Zealand intentions are not firm and they continue to seek general reassurance of American help if their forces get into trouble. As 1971 draws near they could press us for more specific understandings under ANZUS (which obligates us only in the "Pacific area" as well as homelands) as the price for maintaining a forward presence. We would then have to weigh our objectives of regional cooperation and a greater allied defense role against the principle of no new "commitments." The threat to Malaysia-Singapore seems sufficiently remote and our aversion to new obligations sufficiently strong to suggest that we might forego the forward allied presence.
We are committed to defense of the Philippines, and the enemy need not be "communist". Presumably we would choose to stay out of Philippine hostilities with Malaysia over Sabah, but this could involve some bending of our mutual treaty.
Our obligation to defend South Korea is unambiguous. How would we interpret this obligation if our allies initiated hostilities or if it were at least clear that Seoul provoked Pyongyang? Such a contingency might look more likely if there were a substantial reduction in U.S. troops, and with it U.S. operational control, in South Korea.
Nuclear Policy--We will maintain a nuclear shield for our allies or for nations whose survival we consider vital to our security.
Issue: Which is the lesser of two evils--nuclear proliferation or the extension of more concrete American nuclear assurances?
India is likely to pose this issue. It has a nuclear capability, fears the Chinese and is very reluctant to sign the NPT. The obligations of the nuclear powers toward non-nuclear signatories of the NPT are imprecise. While suggesting their importance to countries like India we stressed their unimportance to Senators like Fulbright. Indian nationalism and the Chinese threat could induce New Delhi to demand from us (and the Soviets) much more explicit nuclear assurances as the price of nuclear abstention. We would have to choose between our objectives of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and non-proliferation of U.S. "commitments".
Japan is the other prime nuclear candidate in Asia--it too is on the nuclear threshold and has been slow to sign the NPT. Unlike the Indian case, we cannot be much more explicit in our nuclear assurances for Japan. If it inclines towards the nuclear club it will mean that it is shedding its unique nuclear aversion and it prefers to assume its own defense against China. Such a development would be a function of growing Japanese nationalism/militarism and declining confidence in the American umbrella. Would this necessarily be against our long range interests? If so, what steps, if any, would we take--could we take--to keep Japan from going nuclear?
Conventional Aggression--We will assist our allies but expect them to provide the bulk of the manpower.
Issue: How do we square reaffirmation of treaty obligations with the reductions in our standing forces in Asia?
The NSSM 3/4/ projected cutback in our ready divisions after Vietnam is a fundamental manifestation of the Nixon doctrine for Asia. It was based on a realistic downgrading of likely threats, the feeling that five or six divisions couldn't stop Chinese hordes anyway, the aversion to another Asian ground war, and the need for defense budget savings. We have recognized in effect that for Asia we have been spending a great deal of money for forces that we suspect are insufficient against a threat which we do not believe will materialize.
/4/NSSM 3, issued on January 21, 1969, instructed the Departments of State and Defense and the CIA to analyze the U.S. military posture and the balance of power. (Ibid.)
Closely related to the numbers of our Asian divisions is their deployment. Our main decision will be in South Korea where the return of capable ROK forces from Vietnam (if not before) will provide a logical opportunity to implement our new approach of greater allied self-reliance and a lower American profile by slicing our two divisions.
The fact remains that we are taking a gamble, albeit sensible and conscious. We judge conventional aggression in Asia to be both unlikely and containable by our allies, including in Korea where the threat is most plausible. Reduction of our capabilities, however, at best will not decrease the threat of conventional aggression (although some would argue that a less "provocative" American posture could ease tensions). It might tempt potential adversaries. Our new Asian approach does not--cannot--instruct us in advance on how we would meet our treaty obligations and assist an overwhelmed ally when we have substantially less power than we do now. We would have to explore our options of military assistance, air and naval support, mobilization, tactical and strategic nuclear response.
Insurgency--U.S. supporting role only.
Issue: Would we ever provide American manpower--even where there is massive external intervention--so long as there were an indigenous movement?
Our public and background statements have all but ruled out the use of U.S. troops in any future insurgency. This is an unchallengeable policy where the conflict is wholly domestic, such as Malay-Chinese communal strife in Malaysia. Or where external support for the insurgency is clearly limited, such as Burma (where in addition we have little interest). Or where outside help, though significant, does not tip the scales against the target government, such as Thailand today.
Our new Asian approach is, however, obscure on those cases where massive external intervention shades the nature of the conflict from insurgency towards conventional aggression, such as happened at some point (whether before or after American intervention is debatable to say the least) in South Vietnam. Laos, with 50,000 North Vietnamese troops, and perhaps 5,000 Chinese, is the obvious present case. Our equivocation there reflects not only what we inherited in the past and the linkage with Vietnam but also our uncertainty about how to apply our Asian doctrine in the future. One doubts, for example, that a couple of years ago we would have displayed our current restraint on the Chinese road-building exercise. No one advocates committing American ground forces to Laos, but American manpower is there, however we may choose to label pilots and Meo advisers as non-combat personnel. We do not know what we will do if the enemy, who can overrun Laos if they wish, decide to do so. Our diplomatic and military maneuvers are designed to forestall this contingency, but if we fail we presumably will let Laos go rather than risking another Vietnam-type quagmire.
This would bring us of course to Thailand. A communist takeover of Laos could lead to greatly increased external support for the Thai insurgents. There might be the prospect of semi-conventional aggression, with thousands of North Vietnamese forces, Chinese advisers. In this situation Bangkok could present us with two choices: massive U.S. reassurances or Thai accommodation with their adversaries. The former would have to consist of actions, such as increased military assistance and probably American deployments, as well as words, which would sound hollow to our ally after Vietnam and Laos. Our other option would be acquiescence in Thai overtures to Hanoi and Peking which would no doubt have to include Thai neutrality, renunciation of SEATO, and removal of all American bases and troops. Would this be more palatable than direct American intervention and would it be consistent with our new Asian approach?
Foreign Assistance and Trade--No clear policy yet.
Issue: Are increased aid levels and greater access to the American market necessary components of our new approach and are we willing to push a reluctant Congress on these matters?
Although we have not been precise on the point, increased assist-ance to our friends might seem to be a logical corollary to our moving toward a supportive, less conspicuous role. Reduction in the American presence, both in Vietnam and generally, will have both military and economic impact on various countries. We expect them to become more self-reliant, but at least for certain countries for a certain transitional period compensatory American assistance might be in order. This need runs up against a Congress that has steadily whittled down Presidential requests for foreign assistance. A coherent Administration approach and strong Presidential leadership will be required. Perhaps the political and budgetary appeal of a leaner American deployment abroad will produce Congressional support for the aid levels needed to ease the way. However, if Congress remains balky, we might face choices on slowing down our Asian slimming process or running some security, political or economic risks in the area. This general problem will translate into specific issues such as which countries should receive priority; the tradeoffs between military and economic assistance; the proper use of Vietnam surpluses, etc.
Our future emphasis on Asian prescriptions has relevance for our aid programs. This emphasis suggests that we will encourage Asian nations (and regional groupings) to fashion their own security and development needs and then come to us with their proposals. Aside from aid levels and priority recipients, we might face some sticky questions concerning the nature of the proposed hardware or projects. As donor--but less as seller--of the goods and services, we obviously have a strong say on what transactions make sense. Nevertheless our new themes of Asian initiative and Asian definition may make it more awkward for us than now to turn down a request for a jet plane (which we don't think fits the country's security needs) or a steel mill (which we think deserves a lower priority) that the recipient country deems important. It would be more awkward still if a regional grouping presented the request. For economic assistance, we can often use multilateral groups--such as the IBRD or ADB--as a buffer; we cannot do so on military requests.
Our aid and trade policies are closely related, and we face some tough Asian trade issues in the 1970s. The goal of our aid program is to help developing countries stand on their own: Taiwan is a recent graduate, Korea a prospective one. Both are prospering, bolstered by healthy exports in fields our aid programs have encouraged. Their economic performances rely heavily on the American market as our textile manufacturers well know. They will in any event need to find new markets for their expanding exports, but restricting their access to our own greatly exacerbates their difficulties. So will the fading of economic stimuli from the Vietnam War. There may be good domestic reasons for limiting our imports from our friends, but such a policy clashes with our aid policy and our objectives of greater Asian development and self-reliance.
Issue: What do we do about SEATO?
Our approach to our non-SEATO formal Asian alliances seems relatively clear. We will continue to maintain them--and negotiate their terms if necessary--on the basis of mutual perceptions of national interest. Thus the joint reaffirmation of U.S.-Japanese ties and the upcoming adjustments in our Philippine arrangements. Our formal ties with Korea present no immediate issue. As already noted, possible problems with Taiwan concern the offshore islands, with ANZUS the Malaysia-Singapore area.
Our handling of SEATO is less clear. It is essentially an anachronism, designed against unlikely threats, filled with unenthusiastic members. Its main purpose is to cover our defense obligations to Thailand. French and Pakistani membership are meaningless, the British almost so. What would be our reaction if any or all of these countries decide to leave SEATO? Presumably we would acquiesce in their definition of their national interest, but the exodus would prompt a debate about the future of the organization. Our Philippine and ANZUS treaties cover the SEATO Asian members except Thailand, where our formal commitment remains multilateral, although the 1962 Rusk-Thanat communiqué/5/ stipulated that we would be prepared to act on our own if necessary. The Thai recently professed unhappiness with the organization, but they have done this before to reflect uneasiness over U.S. intentions; when pressed by Vice President Agnew they backed off from their threat to opt out of SEATO.
/5/Secretary of State Rusk and Thai Foreign Minister Thanat Khoman issued a joint communiqué in Washington on March 6, 1962, at the conclusion of a visit by Thanat to the United States. The communiqué addressed the related issues of the SEATO treaty and the security of Thailand. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1962, pp. 1091-1093.
There is little inclination from any quarter to attempt to revitalize SEATO, find new tasks for it or draw other Asian nations into the organization. Any fresh regional security efforts will flow from Asian initiatives, perhaps evolving from existing economic and technical groupings like ASEAN. Thus our options on SEATO boil down to either maintaining its facade of a multilateral commitment to Thailand or dismantling the alliance and making our Thai commitment strictly bilateral. Secretary Rogers' attendance and statements at the SEATO Ministerial last spring were essentially a holding action. The Vice-President was more positive about the organization in Thailand. As our Asian doctrine continues to be fleshed out we will have to decide on our SEATO policy in the context of our overall approach to Asian regional security and our relationship with Bangkok.
Regionalism--We welcome and support.
Issue: To what extent do we attempt actively to promote regional cooperation?
Being against regionalism is like being against motherhood. We have always endorsed the principle of regional cooperation, with the major policy questions centering on the extent to which we led and shaped regional efforts. We are now set on a more reactive and supportive course where we will encourage Asian leadership. However, our encouragement can take many forms. For example, we recently tried to relate prospective arms sales to Singapore to its cooperation with Malaysia and to regional Commonwealth defense efforts with Australia, New Zealand and the UK. This proved somewhat premature and we have backed off from anything more than suggesting that Singapore keep its partners informed.
This minor issue shadows significant future decisions wherein we will have to weigh other countries' national prerogatives and U.S. restraint against our desire to encourage regionalism. Will we balk at an Asian country's prescription when it appears to undercut regional cooperation? Will we try to induce regionalism through our assistance policies even though this suggests a more aggressive American role in shaping Asian ventures? Does our emphasis on Asian initiative mean that we merely sit back and wait for regional groupings to get together, no matter how faltering the pace, or will we be prepared to make suggestions to promote their cooperation?
Japan is at the center of any discussion on Asian regionalism. Our policy, culminating in the Nixon-Sato communiqué, has been to prod our ally towards a leadership role in the region that reflects its dominant power, in part to relieve us of some of our responsibilities. We know that we want Japan to increase its economic assistance, its political clout, even its self-defense capacity. We do not know the degree to which we want Japan to participate or take the lead in regional security efforts. Are we--and the rest of Asia--not too close to World War II to contemplate easily a remilitarized Japan? Even a strong Japanese economic and military presence could disturb other Asians. For example, Indonesian Foreign Minister Malik has just told our Ambassador of his apprehension over Japan's growing influence in the region. Certain aspects of Sato's speech to the National Press Club might be interpreted as an impulse toward a U.S.-Japanese blueprint for Asia. We will need to avoid suggestions that our two countries might play the type of dominant regional role that could disturb other Asian countries and would clash with our new doctrine of Asian self-expression.
The Quadrilateral Relationship of Major Asian Powers--No clear policy yet.
Issue: How do we reconcile our policies toward China, Japan, and the Soviet Union?
The interaction of the four great powers in Asia will clearly be crucial, and our policies toward any one of them will have to take into account the impact on the others. Several factors converge to highlight the quadrilateral relationship. These include:
--The general shift in the Asian scene from bipolar confrontation between united blocs toward multipolarity and regionalism.
--Movement in our China policy which will bring into play both the Soviets and the Japanese.
--The Sino-Soviet dispute which makes both communist nations especially sensitive to Japanese and American designs.
--The growing Soviet interest in Asia, including its vague collective security scheme.
--The growing power of Japan and the new U.S.-Japanese partnership whose future health depends greatly on how the two allies manage China policy.
--Japan's conflicting historical, political, and commercial interests in both mainland China and Taiwan.
--Japan's ambivalent relations with the Soviet Union which include the northern territories question and possible Siberian interests.
In the past we have generally focused on our bilateral relationships, although lately we have been sensitive to the U.S.-USSR-China triangle. Japan must clearly be brought into the equations from here on out.
New Neutralism--No clear policy yet.
Issue: What kind of Asia are we prepared to see?
This is a fundamental question that lurks behind all the other issues. It is not the same as asking what kind of Asia we want. While we can influence events, we cannot control, nor do we wish to prescribe, the region's future.
The cumulative impact of the Nixon doctrine--implemented against the backdrop of a world-weary American public, Congressional assertiveness and domestic problems--could move certain of our Asian allies toward neutralism. The doctrine has some suggestive ingredients --our reluctance to commit manpower, fewer U.S. forces and bases, gestures toward Peking, lower American profile.
Are we willing to witness an evolution toward neutralism in Asia? What would this concept mean? Is it a pattern we can or should be trying to encourage? If not, why not? If so, how?
55. Editorial Note
During a conversation in the Oval Office of the White House on January 27, 1970, President Nixon and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson discussed arms control negotiations in the context of the rift between China and the Soviet Union. The President said: "We are taking the line that we cannot have one billion Chinese sitting outside the international community. Dobrynin says this is a dirty trick, but we will move at our pace and in our direction. Some of the Kremlinologists believe we should stonewall the Chinese lest we irritate the Russians, but the SALT talks prove we can talk to the Russians and to the Chinese simultaneously.
"The President then turned to a discussion of ABM and MIRV. He said we won't pay any advance price to get a SALT settlement, but we were very flexible in the SALT discussions. 'You know and I know', he said, 'that it is essential that we don't have a nuclear blowup. You recognize that better than any other world leader.' The Prime Minister said that the Soviet military leaders have more power than the military in our own countries. The President said our line at the talks is this: First, we want agreement; we want to be forthcoming. Second, we won't give up any cards in advance. On Vietnam, he said, our best position is to accept Russian help, but not to ask for it. They won't help us because we ask them; they will help us because they will face the necessity.
"Returning to SALT, the President said that before talks began he had had very little optimism. Now he thinks there's a chance they may need a control on arms because of their problem with the Chinese. A situation may be arising where self-interest requires give and take.
"He then asked Wilson to comment on the possibilities for a détente. Wilson said he agreed with everything the President had said, and added that anything that makes the Soviet Union swallow their words on Germany is harder than either on ABM or Vietnam. We have told Kosygin, Wilson continued, that the Common Market may be a good way to contain Germany.
"Wilson said he had the impression that the President, through his very subtle China policy, was trying to use China to ruffle the back hair of the Soviets. The President said we just don't want them to take us for granted." (Memorandum of conversation; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1024, Presidential/HAK Memcons, Memcon: Nixon-Prime Minister Wilson Jan 27, 1970)
56. Editorial Note
At a National Security Council meeting on January 28, 1970, with British Prime Minister Wilson attending, President Nixon emphasized the importance of coordinating with Western European allies in formulating an approach to the Soviet Union:
"Often we read that the columnists say that Europe does not really matter. What is needed is for the United States and the Soviet Union to sit down and cool the whole process. If this means cooling relations with our Western European friends they say, then so be it. If it means antagonizing China--again, so be it.
"As I said in February and again in August, I reject this approach categorically. First, there is no reduction of our NATO commitment. Certainly this can be a matter for negotiation, but we cannot reduce our level of commitment except on a mutual basis. Second, on Soviet-US relations, there is not a lack of interest in finding an arrangement, but it is vitally important to establish a relationship within the Alliance. We must know what we are going to talk about before getting into summitry."
Later in the discussion, Nixon outlined his support for the development of a strong, independent European community which could provide "friendly competition" for the United States:
"I have never been one who believes the US should have control of the actions of Europe. It is in the interests of the United States to have a strong economic, political and military European community, with the United Kingdom in that community. I have preferred that Europe move independently, going parallel with the United States. A strong, healthy and independent Europe is good for the balance of the world. For the US to play a heavy-handed role would be counter-productive. What we want is friendly competition with the United States." (Minutes of NSC meeting; National Security Council, Secretariat Files, NSC Meeting Minutes, Originals, 1970)
57. Memorandum From President Nixon to His Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)/1/
Washington, February 10, 1970.
/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 325, President's Annual Review of U.S. Foreign Policy, 2/8/70, Vol. I. No classification marking.
A general reaction to the State of the World message/2/ is that it might be strengthened to knock down the assumption that is gaining disturbing currency abroad and in the United States--that this Administration is on an irreversible course of not only getting out of Vietnam but of reducing our commitments around the world. I realize that this thesis is answered in several places with phrases like "This is not a retreat from our obligations but a sharing of obligations," but this is not enough. I think high up in the lead of the introductory statement should be some strong assertions to the effect that the United States recognizes that because of our economic and military position the fate of freedom and peace in the last third of this century will depend upon how we meet our responsibilities in the world. We did not ask for this role but now because the force of circumstances has imposed it upon us we shall meet our responsibilities. However, we believe that our goal of nations living in independence and freedom in a peaceful world will be better achieved if other nations assume responsibilities to the extent of their capabilities just as we do.
/2/Reference is to the foreign policy report submitted to Congress on February 18; see Document 60.
In other words, get back to my theme that the Nixon doctrine rather than being a device to get rid of America's world role is one which is devised to make it possible for us to play a role--and play it better, more effectively than if we continued the policy of the past in which we assume such a dominant position. I would suggest that you take a look at the Colorado Springs speech/3/--some of the tone and strength of that speech on this issue is very much needed in the introductory portion.
/3/See Document 27.
I realize that your staff may well object to this because the peacenik types who will be primarily the reading audience for this report will want to find any evidences possible which will give comfort to their feeling that "the United States should reduce its world role and start taking care of the ghettoes instead of worrying about Afghanistan."
For over twenty years, however, I have been saying "that we can have the best social programs in the world--ones that will end poverty, clean up our air, water and land, provide minimum income, etc., and it isn't going to make any difference if we are not around to enjoy it." I am not suggesting that this be put into the report in such specific, blunt terms but the thought must be put in just as strongly because I feel that the people of the country and even more so our troubled allies in Asia and Europe, as well as our potential enemies, need to hear this.
58. White House Background Press Briefing by the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)/1/
Washington, February 16, 1970.
/1/Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 425, Subject File, Background Briefings, Feb-June 1970. Kissinger, Under Secretary of State Elliot Richardson, and Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard were responding to questions concerning an advance text of the President's report to Congress on foreign policy, which had been distributed to reporters. The report was sent to Congress on February 18; see Document 60. Kissinger opened the briefing.
[Omitted here are White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler's introduction of Kissinger, Richardson, and Packard, and Kissinger's comments on specific references in the President's report.]
Q. Dr. Kissinger, the President used the word "watershed" in introducing this briefing this afternoon./2/ If I understand watershed correctly, it means a separation, division, going in a new direction. I have not had a chance to read this. What are the watershed points in this foreign policy statement?
/2/In his remarks to the reporters, President Nixon characterized the report to Congress, which ran to some 40,000 words, as "the most comprehensive statement on foreign and defense policy ever made in this country." As such, he styled it "a watershed in American foreign policy." (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1970, p. 114)
Dr. Kissinger: What the President meant is the fact that there now exists a comprehensive, philosophical statement of American foreign policy. It makes it clear that for better or worse our policies are not simply tactical responses to immediate situations, but that there exists a coherent picture of the world; that we are taking our action in relation to this picture; and that this document outlines his experience in foreign policy, national security policy and his expectations for the future.
So whatever debate is generated by this would have to be in terms of a general concept of foreign policy and not simply in terms of tactical responses to immediate situations.
Secondly, it is his belief and it is the Administration's belief that we are reaching the end of the post-war era, the end of the post-war era in the sense that in the immediate period after World War II the United States, among the non-Communist countries, was the only one that had emerged from the war with its society and its economy relatively intact. Therefore, it was natural that the United States would assume a predominant role anyplace where it felt that security of the non-Communist world was threatened.
This, in turn, imposed on us the requirement that we were trying to remedy immediate crisis situations rather than deal with the overall structure of peace, or, rather, we identified the overall structure of peace with the solution of immediate crisis.
This is ending now for a number of reasons. It is ending, according to this document and our convictions, because many other parts of the world have now regained a degree of cohesion, have grown into independence, which was, of course, not the case at the end of World War II, and are capable of assuming a greater responsibility, both for their security and for their problems.
In these conditions, the United States should not be the fireman running from one conflagration to the other, but can address itself to the longer-term problems of a peaceful international structure and leave to local responsibilities the immediate task of construction.
In other words, the United States will participate where it can make a difference. It will attempt to contribute to the creation of regional organization where that is appropriate, but the United States in this new era will have to change its position from one of predominance to one of partnership.
Now, we recognize--and to pick up a point that the President made in introducing this report--that there is a danger that in moving from predominance to partnership some people may believe that we are moving towards disengagement or returning to isolation. This is not the philosophy of this Administration.
The philosophy of this Administration is to find a basis for a long-term engagement in the world, one that is consistent with the realities of the contemporary world, one that we can sustain over an indefinite period of time, and one that will give an impetus to our foreign policy of the same order that the Marshall Plan conception did to the conditions of 1947. Those conceptions were appropriate to the realities of the '40s and '50s and early '60s and we are attempting to find conceptions that are appropriate to the realities of the '70s.
[Omitted here are exchanges with reporters about questions arising from the report.]
Q. Dr. Kissinger, I am not sure from all of this whether you think the Cold War is increasing or lessening. Do you think it is increasing or lessening from this broad philosophical statement?
Dr. Kissinger: The Cold War, as it came to be known in the immediate post-war period, we would say has in that forum lessened. At that time, there was a belief in a monolithic communism, and that no longer exists in this forum.
At that time, there was a belief in the notion of irreconcilable hostility. On the other hand, we believe that there are objective causes for the tension that has existed over this period. We believe that we are doing no one a service by pretending that these tensions do not exist or that they can be removed by mere atmospherics.
We are prepared to negotiate seriously, either individually or comprehensively, on these issues with either of the great Communist countries. And, therefore, the foreign policy that was appropriate to the period that was called the Cold War is not appropriate to the period into which we believe we are now entering.
But we make this statement without under-estimating that there are still serious causes of tension, that ideology is not dead, even though it has changed some of its character, and that large areas of potential discord and of hostility remain. But we are prepared to work seriously, and as energetically as we can.
[Omitted here is the remainder of the briefing, which ranged over questions relating to SALT negotiations and developments in the Middle East, Latin America, and Vietnam.]
59. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Buchanan) to President Nixon/1/
Washington, February 18, 1970.
/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President's Office Files, Box 80, Memoranda for the President, Jan 4-May 31, 1970. No classification marking.
Notes from Legislative Leadership Meeting/2/
/2/The meeting with Republican Congressional leaders was held in the Cabinet Room of the White House from 8:34 to 10:51 a.m. Six Senators and nine Representatives attended. In addition to the President, Vice President Agnew, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Robert Finch, and nine members of the White House staff, including Haldeman and Kissinger, were also present. (Ibid., White House Central Files, Staff Members and Office Files, Office of Presidential Papers and Archives, Daily Diary)
The bulk of the leadership meeting was devoted to discussion of the State of the World message/3/ which Dr. Kissinger outlined in extensive and brilliant detail.
/3/Reference is to the report submitted to Congress on February 18; see Document 60.
The President opened the discussion by saying his message would cover foreign and defense policy of the entire world. It was in effect 40,000 words of policy. He described it as the most important statement made by this Administration; that all our foreign and defense policies had been gathered together in one place, that there would be a summary of 3,000 words, and a briefing had been held on the total message and one would be held this afternoon for the bipartisan leadership. The message had been put together over many weeks. It had been put into its final form over the weekend in Key Biscayne. The President described it as interesting reading, and not hard reading.
Henry outlined the extensive message and his discussion took about three quarters of an hour. At the end of it, the President interjected a number of comments in response to some points that had been raised. On Japan for example, the President said it was absolutely indispensable for political reasons that we train troops in Japan, and that we have some U.S. forces there. In the event that China should try to take on Japan, we would not, of course, try to fight it out with conventional forces. The purpose of the troops was to maintain the U.S. presence and involvement in the security of Japan.
Moving on to another point, the President said unless the United States does play a role in the world, if, for example, the United States should return home, the rest of the world in his opinion would come under Communist domination.
One of the questions we answered, he said, is how we can meet our responsibilities without draining ourselves economically and psychologically. The purpose of this foreign policy is to find a way to stay in the world, not a way to get out of the world. The message puts great responsibility indirectly in its language on the other nations of the free world to do more in their own behalf. They must assume an increasing share of the burden of their own defense, said the President. Returning to Japan, he said that while admittedly some time ago there was a good deal of reluctance on the part of the Japanese to involve themselves in world affairs, he wouldn't be surprised if "in five years we didn't have to restrain them." They have gone through a traumatic period since the bomb dropped, he said. Now they are going to do something.
The President indicated that he felt that in Asia the major counter-force to China should not be the U.S. but Japan. He indicated that both the Chinese and the Soviets recognized this; there had been far more interest in the cables on the part of the Chinese and Russians in the reversion of Okinawa to Japan than any other facet of US policy in the area.
Discussion of the difference between soft line and hard line began, and the President said he would consider this policy neither. It is more a pragmatic and realistic line, a peace line. He said in the past it has been his experience that the soft line has led to war more often than the hard line. He can recall some two or three occasions in the post-war era when a soft line resulted in a war where he could not recall a single incident where a hard line had.
The President eschewed gushy optimism of any kind. He said that some Americans think that we can rely on peace by sending a few Fulbright scholars abroad or even Fulbright himself, but that doesn't bring peace. We can avoid war if we are realistic and not soft-headed, he indicated.
As for Laird's report on Vietnam after his return,/4/ the President described it in a single word: encouraging.
/4/Secretary of Defense Laird visited South Vietnam February 10-17. He submitted a report on his trip to the President on February 17. The report is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 224, Agency Files, DOD, Vol. IV, 1 Feb 70-20 April 70; it is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Vietnam, 1969-1970.
Moving on to the Middle East, he said that many American politicians took it that it should be the basis of American foreign policy the simple question of whether or not Israel is to survive. That cannot be the basis of American foreign policy, he said. The interest of the US policy in the Middle East is designed to advance the United States interests primarily. Those interests involve vital stakes in the Mediterranean and Iran; they involve oil interests in the Arab world; they also are coincidental with the survival of Israel as a state. For one hard reason the Israelis are currently the strongest buffer against Soviet expansion in the entire region.
The President asked what the Soviet objectives in the Middle East were, and answered his own question. They want control of the Middle East; they want the oil it contains; they want a land bridge to Africa. Looking over the Middle East, the President said Tunis is too weak to matter. Morocco is distant, out on the Atlantic Coast, and you know what happened in Libya. Algeria, the UAR, Syria, Iraq, the Sudan are all either under great Soviet pressure or Soviet influence at this time. As for Spain, it has been relegated to outer darkness until Franco's death. Italy is paying now for the opening to the left of a few years back, which the President had opposed. We intend to see to it that Israel is not overrun for the reason that Israel is the current most effective stopper to the Mideast power of the Soviet Union. Our policy, said the President, will not be pleasing to some of our political friends. But it is not in Israel's interest for American policy to be one sided. Israel ought to make a deal when it is strong enough to whip anyone in the Middle East and will be strong enough for the next five years. The President said he indicated to Golda Meir when she was in the country that he had only gotten 8% of the Jewish vote and he was supporting the Israelis not for political reasons for the first time in recent history. He was supporting Israel because it was in the interest of the United States to do so.
[Omitted here is discussion of a visit to the United States by French President Pompidou.]
Discussion was now brought up of the withdrawal of all American forces. The President said he thought the withdrawal of all American forces from Europe, for example, would be very detrimental policy. At the very least we ought to retain a "trip-wire." He said there is a significant shift indicated in this statement. We are telling all Asia and Europe they must do more on their part and we are going to do less on our part. Griffin/5/ indicated the President should emphasize how he has reorganized and taken control of policy development. Taft/6/ asked what effect it has on the National Commitments Resolution./7/ I have no precise response on that.
/5/Senator Robert Griffin of Michigan.
/6/Representative Robert Taft of Ohio.
/7/The National Commitments Resolution was a non-binding resolution adopted by the Senate on June 25, 1969, which defined a national commitment and expressed the sense of the Senate that a commitment could only result from a treaty, statute, or concurrent resolution of both Houses of Congress providing for such a commitment. As defined by the resolution, a national commitment involved the promise or use of U.S. financial resources or armed forces to assist a foreign country. S. Res. 85 is summarized in the Congressional Quarterly Almanac, Vol. XXV, pp. 178-181.
Another point made by Dr. Kissinger was that we are being "absolutely candid" with the American people on this. With regard to someone recommending the proposal for mutual cooperation in Latin America, Kissinger indicated it should not be the US proposition for "if it is a US proposal, it tends to be counter-productive." In other words, the countries of Latin America tend to reject out of hand something that bears the American stamp of American initiative. The President indicated that he would hope Congressmen would pick out eight or ten points to be drawn from the message by Safire and Kissinger and others and repeat these points in speeches around the country.
Allott/8/ now returned to the Mansfield resolutions./9/ He said that the NATO countries had not, were not, and are not doing their share and there was a general feeling in the Senate that the only way they could be forced to do so is for the reduction of American contribution to the effort. Allott said this is the feeling that has to be considered when you take into account the vast American investment in places like France and the pipeline arrangement we put into France and our difficulty in getting satisfaction. The President said this is a difficult problem, but if the US were to withdraw now under the pressure of this resolution, the whole thing (NATO) would unravel. On the other hand, we do have a new attitude. And we must remember we are there in Europe not to defend Germany or Italy or France or England, we are in Europe to save our own hides.
/8/Senator Gordon Allott of Colorado.
/9/Reference is apparently to the resolution introduced in the Senate on December 1, 1969, by Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield which called for a "substantial reduction" of U.S. troops in Europe. Mansfield had initially introduced this resolution in 1966. S. Res. 292 is summarized in Congressional Quarterly Almanac, Vol. XXV, p. 999.
Returning again to the Middle East, he said as for Israel, it's a pretty weak argument when we say we are supporting Israel for simply political reasons. The strongest foundation for our support is that it is in our national interest.
Again to the Mansfield Resolution to bring home troops from Europe, if they pass the resolution to bring home two divisions, said the President, it would have a detrimental impact. We may do it ourselves, but we have to do it our way.
The President then summarized a number of points that he had taken since his Administration had begun that should be emphasized in speeches. First, his new control and coordination of planning and foreign policy. Second, there has been no major crisis with the Soviet Union. Third, there is normalization of relations with Japan after the reversion of Okinawa. Fourth, steps have been taken in CBW warfare. Five, the Middle East's problems were inherited. Six, we have reopened lines of communication with Communist China. For a number of reasons we have done this "which have nothing to do whatever with what we think of them." The President had made successful visits to Asia and Europe which could not have been done under the previous administration. We have put relations in Western Europe on a new perspective. We have re-established contact with General DeGaulle, and from that contact come our current discussions with Georges Pompidou.
[Omitted here is discussion of domestic issues.]
60. Report by President Nixon to the Congress/1/
Washington, February 18, 1970.
/1/Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1970, pp. 116-190. The report, the first annual report on foreign policy, was transmitted to Congress under a covering letter signed by Nixon. (Ibid., p. 115)
According to Henry Kissinger's memoirs, the idea of preparing a comprehensive report on foreign policy originated with a memorandum Kissinger sent to the President-elect shortly before the new administration took office. Kissinger envisioned a document that would "serve as a conceptual outline of the President's foreign policy, as a status report, and as an agenda for action." He anticipated that it would "simultaneously guide our bureaucracy and inform foreign governments about our thinking." (White House Years, p. 158) President Nixon approved the concept on January 30, 1969. (Chronology attached to a memorandum from Haig to Kissinger, February 12, 1970; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 148, Kissinger Office Files, State-WH Relationship) On October 27 Kissinger sent NSSM 80 to the Secretaries of State, Defense, and the Treasury, and the Director of Central Intelligence directing on the President's behalf the preparation of an unclassifed annual report on foreign policy. Kissinger indicated that the report to be submitted to Congress should be analogous to the Defense Posture Statement previously submitted to Congress by Secretary of Defense McNamara. (Ibid., Box 365, Subject Files, National Security Study Memoranda, NSSMs 43-103) Additional documentation on the preparation of the annual report is ibid., Boxes 325-326, Subject Files, The President's Annual Review of U.S. Foreign Policy, and ibid., NSC Secretariat Files, Boxes 1303-1309, Richard M. Nixon Annual Review 1970-1974.
U.S. FOREIGN POLICY FOR THE 1970s:
"A nation needs many qualities, but it needs faith and confidence above all. Skeptics do not build societies; the idealists are the builders. Only societies that believe in themselves can rise to their challenges. Let us not, then, pose a false choice between meeting our responsibilities abroad and meeting the needs of our people at home. We shall meet both or we shall meet neither."
--The President's Remarks at the Air Force Academy Commencement, June 4, 1969./2/
/2/See Document 27.
When I took office, the most immediate problem facing our nation was the war in Vietnam. No question has more occupied our thoughts and energies during this past year.
Yet the fundamental task confronting us was more profound. We could see that the whole pattern of international politics was changing. Our challenge was to understand that change, to define America's goals for the next period, and to set in motion policies to achieve them. For all Americans must understand that because of its strength, its history and its concern for human dignity, this nation occupies a special place in the world. Peace and progress are impossible without a major American role.
This first annual report on U.S. foreign policy is more than a record of one year. It is this Administration's statement of a new approach to foreign policy to match a new era of international relations.
A New Era
The postwar period in international relations has ended.
Then, we were the only great power whose society and economy had escaped World War II's massive destruction. Today, the ravages of that war have been overcome. Western Europe and Japan have recovered their economic strength, their political vitality, and their national self-confidence. Once the recipients of American aid, they have now begun to share their growing resources with the developing world. Once almost totally dependent on American military power, our European allies now play a greater role in our common policies, commensurate with their growing strength.
Then, new nations were being born, often in turmoil and uncertainty. Today, these nations have a new spirit and a growing strength of independence. Once, many feared that they would become simply a battleground of cold-war rivalry and fertile ground for Communist penetration. But this fear misjudged their pride in their national identities and their determination to preserve their newly won sovereignty.
Then, we were confronted by a monolithic Communist world. Today, the nature of that world has changed--the power of individual Communist nations has grown, but international Communist unity has been shattered. Once a unified bloc, its solidarity has been broken by the powerful forces of nationalism. The Soviet Union and Communist China, once bound by an alliance of friendship, had become bitter adversaries by the mid-1960's. The only times the Soviet Union has used the Red Army since World War II have been against its own allies--in East Germany in 1953, in Hungary in 1956, and in Czechoslovakia in 1968. The Marxist dream of international Communist unity has disintegrated.
Then, the United States had a monopoly or overwhelming superiority of nuclear weapons. Today, a revolution in the technology of war has altered the nature of the military balance of power. New types of weapons present new dangers. Communist China has acquired thermonuclear weapons. Both the Soviet Union and the United States have acquired the ability to inflict unacceptable damage on the other, no matter which strikes first. There can be no gain and certainly no victory for the power that provokes a thermonuclear exchange. Thus, both sides have recognized a vital mutual interest in halting the dangerous momentum of the nuclear arms race.
Then, the slogans formed in the past century were the ideological accessories of the intellectual debate. Today the "isms" have lost their vitality--indeed the restlessness of youth on both sides of the dividing line testifies to the need for a new idealism and deeper purposes.
This is the challenge and the opportunity before America as it enters the 1970's.
The Framework for a Durable Peace
In the first postwar decades, American energies were absorbed in coping with a cycle of recurrent crises, whose fundamental origins lay in the destruction of World War II and the tensions attending the emergence of scores of new nations. Our opportunity today--and challenge--is to get at the causes of crises, to take a longer view, and to help build the international relationships that will provide the framework of a durable peace.
I have often reflected on the meaning of "peace," and have reached one certain conclusion: Peace must be far more than the absence of war. Peace must provide a durable structure of international relationships which inhibits or removes the causes of war. Building a lasting peace requires a foreign policy guided by three basic principles:
--Peace requires partnership. Its obligations, like its benefits, must be shared. This concept of partnership guides our relations with all friendly nations.
--Peace requires strength. So long as there are those who would threaten our vital interests and those of our allies with military force, we must be strong. American weakness could tempt would-be aggressors to make dangerous miscalculations. At the same time, our own strength is important only in relation to the strength of others. We--like others--must place high priority on enhancing our security through cooperative arms control.
--Peace requires a willingness to negotiate. All nations--and we are no exception--have important national interests to protect. But the most fundamental interest of all nations lies in building the structure of peace. In partnership with our allies, secure in our own strength, we will seek those areas in which we can agree among ourselves and with others to accommodate conflicts and overcome rivalries. We are working toward the day when all nations will have a stake in peace, and will therefore be partners in its maintenance.
Within such a structure, international disputes can be settled and clashes contained. The insecurity of nations, out of which so much conflict arises, will be eased, and the habits of moderation and compromise will be nurtured. Most important, a durable peace will give full opportunity to the powerful forces driving toward economic change and social justice.
This vision of a peace built on partnership, strength and willingness to negotiate is the unifying theme of this report. In the sections that follow, the first steps we have taken during this past year--the policies we have devised and the programs we have initiated to realize this vision--are placed in the context of these three principles.
1. Peace Through Partnership--The Nixon Doctrine
As I said in my address of November 3,/3/ "We Americans are a do-it-yourself people--an impatient people. Instead of teaching someone else to do a job, we like to do it ourselves. This trait has been carried over into our foreign policy."
/3/Reference is to a televised address on the war in Vietnam. For text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pp. 901-909.
The postwar era of American foreign policy began in this vein in 1947 with the proclamation of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, offering American economic and military assistance to countries threatened by aggression. Our policy held that democracy and prosperity, buttressed by American military strength and organized in a worldwide network of American-led alliances, would insure stability and peace. In the formative years of the postwar period, this great effort of international political and economic reconstruction was a triumph of American leadership and imagination, especially in Europe.
For two decades after the end of the Second World War, our foreign policy was guided by such a vision and inspired by its success. The vision was based on the fact that the United States was the richest and most stable country, without whose initiative and resources little security or progress was possible.
This impulse carried us through into the 1960's. The United States conceived programs and ran them. We devised strategies, and proposed them to our allies. We discerned dangers, and acted directly to combat them.
The world has dramatically changed since the days of the Marshall Plan. We deal now with a world of stronger allies, a community of independent developing nations, and a Communist world still hostile but now divided.
Others now have the ability and responsibility to deal with local disputes which once might have required our intervention. Our contribution and success will depend not on the frequency of our involvement in the affairs of others, but on the stamina of our policies. This is the approach which will best encourage other nations to do their part, and will most genuinely enlist the support of the American people.
This is the message of the doctrine I announced at Guam--the "Nixon Doctrine." Its central thesis is that the United States will participate in the defense and development of allies and friends, but that America cannot--and will not--conceive all the plans, design all the programs, execute all the decisions and undertake all the defense of the free nations of the world. We will help where it makes a real difference and is considered in our interest.
America cannot live in isolation if it expects to live in peace. We have no intention of withdrawing from the world. The only issue before us is how we can be most effective in meeting our responsibilities, protecting our interests, and thereby building peace.
A more responsible participation by our foreign friends in their own defense and progress means a more effective common effort toward the goals we all seek. Peace in the world will continue to require us to maintain our commitments--and we will. As I said at the United Nations,/4/ "It is not my belief that the way to peace is by giving up our friends or letting down our allies." But a more balanced and realistic American role in the world is essential if American commitments are to be sustained over the long pull. In my State of the Union Address,/5/ I affirmed that "to insist that other nations play a role is not a retreat from responsibility; it is a sharing of responsibility." This is not a way for America to withdraw from its indispensable role in the world. It is a way--the only way--we can carry out our responsibilities.
/4/See Document 37.
/5/See Document 52.
It is misleading, moreover, to pose the fundamental question so largely in terms of commitments. Our objective, in the first instance, is to support our interests over the long run with a sound foreign policy. The more that policy is based on a realistic assessment of our and others' interests, the more effective our role in the world can be. We are not involved in the world because we have commitments; we have commitments because we are involved. Our interests must shape our commitments, rather than the other way around.
We will view new commitments in the light of a careful assessment of our own national interests and those of other countries, of the specific threats to those interests, and of our capacity to counter those threats at an acceptable risk and cost.
We have been guided by these concepts during the past year in our dealings with free nations throughout the world.
--In Europe, our policies embody precisely the three principles of a durable peace: partnership, continued strength to defend our common interests when challenged, and willingness to negotiate differences with adversaries.
--Here in the Western Hemisphere we seek to strengthen our special relationship with our sister republics through a new program of action for progress in which all voices are heard and none predominates.
--In Asia, where the Nixon Doctrine was enunciated, partnership will have special meaning for our policies--as evidenced by our strengthened ties with Japan. Our cooperation with Asian nations will be enhanced as they cooperate with one another and develop regional institutions.
--In Vietnam, we seek a just settlement which all parties to the conflict, and all Americans, can support. We are working closely with the South Vietnamese to strengthen their ability to defend themselves. As South Vietnam grows stronger, the other side will, we hope, soon realize that it becomes ever more in their interest to negotiate a just peace.
--In the Middle East, we shall continue to work with others to establish a possible framework within which the parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict can negotiate the complicated and difficult questions at issue. Others must join us in recognizing that a settlement will require sacrifices and restraints by all concerned.
--Africa, with its historic ties to so many of our own citizens, must always retain a significant place in our partnership with the new nations. Africans will play the major role in fulfilling their just aspirations--an end to racialism, the building of new nations, freedom from outside interference, and cooperative economic development. But we will add our efforts to theirs to help realize Africa's great potential.
--In an ever more interdependent world economy, American foreign policy will emphasize the freer flow of capital and goods between nations. We are proud to have participated in the successful cooperative effort which created Special Drawing Rights, a form of international money which will help insure the stability of the monetary structure on which the continued expansion of trade depends.
--The great effort of economic development must engage the cooperation of all nations. We are carefully studying the specific goals of our economic assistance programs and how most effectively to reach them.
--Unprecedented scientific and technological advances as well as explosions in population, communications, and knowledge require new forms of international cooperation. The United Nations, the symbol of international partnership, will receive our continued strong support as it marks its 25th Anniversary.
2. America's Strength
The second element of a durable peace must be America's strength. Peace, we have learned, cannot be gained by good will alone.
In determining the strength of our defenses, we must make precise and crucial judgments. We should spend no more than is necessary. But there is an irreducible minimum of essential military security: for if we are less strong than necessary, and if the worst happens, there will be no domestic society to look after. The magnitude of such a catastrophe, and the reality of the opposing military power that could threaten it, present a risk which requires of any President the most searching and careful attention to the state of our defenses.
The changes in the world since 1945 have altered the context and requirements of our defense policy. In this area, perhaps more than in any other, the need to re-examine our approaches is urgent and constant.
The last 25 years have seen a revolution in the nature of military power. In fact, there has been a series of transformations--from the atomic to the thermonuclear weapon, from the strategic bomber to the intercontinental ballistic missile, from the surface missile to the hardened silo and the missile-carrying submarine, from the single to the multiple warhead, and from air defense to missile defense. We are now entering an era in which the sophistication and destructiveness of weapons present more formidable and complex issues affecting our strategic posture.
The last 25 years have also seen an important change in the relative balance of strategic power. From 1945 to 1949, we were the only nation in the world possessing an arsenal of atomic weapons. From 1950 to 1966, we possessed an overwhelming superiority in strategic weapons. From 1967 to 1969, we retained a significant superiority. Today, the Soviet Union possesses a powerful and sophisticated strategic force approaching our own. We must consider, too, that Communist China will deploy its own intercontinental missiles during the coming decade, introducing new and complicating factors for our strategic planning and diplomacy.
In the light of these fateful changes, the Administration undertook a comprehensive and far-reaching reconsideration of the premises and procedures for designing our forces. We sought--and I believe we have achieved--a rational and coherent formulation of our defense strategy and requirements for the 1970's.
The importance of comprehensive planning of policy and objective scrutiny of programs is clear:
--Because of the lead-time in building new strategic systems, the decisions we make today substantially determine our military posture--and thus our security--five years from now. This places a premium on foresight and planning.
--Because the allocation of national resources between defense programs and other national programs is itself an issue of policy, it must be considered on a systematic basis at the early stages of the national security planning process.
--Because we are a leader of the Atlantic Alliance, our doctrine and forces are crucial to the policy and planning of NATO. The mutual confidence that holds the allies together depends on understanding, agreement, and coordination among the 15 sovereign nations of the Treaty.
--Because our security depends not only on our own strategic strength, but also on cooperative efforts to provide greater security for everyone through arms control, planning weapons systems and planning for arms control negotiations must be closely integrated.
For these reasons, this Administration has established procedures for the intensive scrutiny of defense issues in the light of overall national priorities. We have re-examined our strategic forces; we have reassessed our general purpose forces; and we have engaged in the most painstaking preparation ever undertaken by the United States Government for arms control negotiations.
3. Willingness to Negotiate--An Era of Negotiation
Partnership and strength are two of the pillars of the structure of a durable peace. Negotiation is the third. For our commitment to peace is most convincingly demonstrated in our willingness to negotiate our points of difference in a fair and businesslike manner with the Communist countries.
We are under no illusions. We know that there are enduring ideological differences. We are aware of the difficulty in moderating tensions that arise from the clash of national interests. These differences will not be dissipated by changes of atmosphere or dissolved in cordial personal relations between statesmen. They involve strong convictions and contrary philosophies, necessities of national security, and the deep-seated differences of perspectives formed by geography and history.
The United States, like any other nation, has interests of its own, and will defend those interests. But any nation today must define its interests with special concern for the interests of others. If some nations define their security in a manner that means insecurity for other nations, then peace is threatened and the security of all is diminished. This obligation is particularly great for the nuclear superpowers on whose decisions the survival of mankind may well depend.
The United States is confident that tensions can be eased and the danger of war reduced by patient and precise efforts to reconcile conflicting interests on concrete issues. Coexistence demands more than a spirit of good will. It requires the definition of positive goals which can be sought and achieved cooperatively. It requires real progress toward resolution of specific differences. This is our objective.
As the Secretary of State said on December 6:/6/
/6/Reference is to an address by Secretary Rogers to the Belgo-American Association in Brussels, Belgium. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, December 29, 1969, pp. 622-625.
"We will continue to probe every available opening that offers a prospect for better East-West relations, for the resolution of problems large or small, for greater security for all.
"In this the United States will continue to play an active role in concert with our allies."
This is the spirit in which the United States ratified the Non-Proliferation Treaty and entered into negotiation with the Soviet Union on control of the military use of the seabeds, on the framework of a settlement in the Middle East, and on limitation of strategic arms. This is the basis on which we and our Atlantic allies have offered to negotiate on concrete issues affecting the security and future of Europe, and on which the United States took steps last year to improve our relations with nations of Eastern Europe. This is also the spirit in which we have resumed formal talks in Warsaw with Communist China. No nation need be our permanent enemy.
These policies were conceived as a result of change, and we know they will be tested by the change that lies ahead. The world of 1970 was not predicted a decade ago, and we can be certain that the world of 1980 will render many current views obsolete.
The source of America's historic greatness has been our ability to see what had to be done, and then to do it. I believe America now has the chance to move the world closer to a durable peace. And I know that Americans working with each other and with other nations can make our vision real.
[Omitted here is the 68-page body of the report.]
61. Memorandum From President Nixon to His Assistant (Haldeman), His Assistant for Domestic Affairs (Ehrlichman), and His Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)/1/
Washington, March 2, 1970.
/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 341, Subject Files, HAK/President Memos 1969-1970. Eyes Only.
For discussion with the group and implementation.
After a great deal of consideration of our performance during the first year, I have decided that our greatest weakness was in spreading my time too thin--not emphasizing priorities enough. This may sound strange in view of the fact that I did arrange my time to do the November 3rd speech and the State of the Union adequately; but the balance of this memorandum will demonstrate what I want implemented for the future. Also, while this applies primarily to my time, I want Ehrlichman and Kissinger to apply the same rules to allocating their time to the extent that they find it possible.
What really matters in campaigns, wars or in government is to concentrate on the big battles and win them. I know the point of view which says that unless you fight all the little battles too that you do not lay the ground work for winning the big ones. I do not agree with this point of view to the extent that it means that I will have to devote any significant part of my time to the lower priority items, or to the extent that Ehrlichman and Kissinger have to do so.
This means that there must be delegation to the Departments and within the White House staff of complete responsibility for those matters which are not going to have any major effect on our success as an Administration.
Applying this general rule to specifics, in the field of Foreign Policy, in the future all that I want brought to my attention are the following items.
1. East-West relations.
2. Policy toward the Soviet Union.
3. Policy toward Communist China.
4. Policy toward Eastern Europe, provided it really affects East-West relations at the highest level.
5. Policy toward Western Europe, but only where NATO is affected and where major countries (Britain, Germany and France) are affected. The only minor countries in Europe which I want to pay attention to in the foreseeable future will be Spain, Italy, and Greece. I do not want to see any papers on any of the other countries, unless their problems are directly related to NATO. At the next level out where I am indicating policy toward the Mid-East and then finally in the last is policy with regard to Vietnam and anything that relates to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc. As far as the balance of Asia is concerned, that part of Africa which is not directly related to the Mid-East crisis, and all of Latin America and all countries in the Western Hemisphere with the exception of Cuba and anything else that may be concerned with the East-West conflict, I do not want matters submitted to me unless they require Presidential decision and can only be handled at the Presidential level.
This is going to require a subtle handling on Kissinger's part. He must not let members of his staff or members of the establishment and the various Departments think that I do "not care" about the under-developed world. I do care, but what happens in those parts of the world is not, in the final analysis, going to have any significant effect on the success of our foreign policy in the foreseeable future. The thing to do here is to farm out as much of the decision-making in those areas to the Departments, and where Kissinger does not have confidence that State will follow up directives that I have previously laid down with regard to Latin America, Africa and the under-developed countries of Asia, he should farm that subject out to a member of his staff but he, himself, should not bother with it. I want him to concentrate just as hard as I will be concentrating on these major countries and these major problem areas.
In the future, all that I want to see with regard to what I consider the lower priority items would be a semiannual report indicating what has happened; and where a news conference is scheduled, of course, just enough information so that I can respond to a question, although it is interesting to note that we have received very few questions on the low priority items in news conferences to date.
Haldeman, in the arranging of my schedule, have in mind these priorities. Great pressures will build up to see this and that minor or major official from the low priority countries. All of this is to be farmed out to Agnew. For example, the Minister of Mines from Venezuela is a case in point; he should not have been included on the schedule, and I do not want this to happen again.
With regard to domestic affairs, our priorities for the most part will be expected but a couple will be surprising for reasons I will indicate.
I want to take personal responsibility in the following areas:
1. Economic matters, but only where the decisions affect either recession or inflation. I do not want to be bothered with international monetary matters. This, incidentally, Kissinger should note also, and I will not need to see the reports on international monetary matters in the future. Problems should be farmed out, I would hope to Arthur Burns if he is willing to assume it on a confidential basis, and if not Burns to Houthakker/2/ who is very capable in this field. I have confidence in the Treasury people since they will be acting in a routine way. International monetary matters, incidentally, are a case in point in making the difficult decision as to priorities. I feel that we need a new international monetary system and I have so indicated in several meetings. Very little progress has been made in that direction because of the opposition of Treasury. I shall expect somebody from the White House staff who will be designated who will keep the pressure on in this area. The man, however, who could really be the lead man is Arthur Burns because he feels exactly as I do and it might be that he could exert some influence on the others. Ehrlichman, of course, could be helpful on the staff side but he is not familiar enough with the intricacies of the problem to assume the lead responsibility.
/2/Hendrik S. Houthakker, member of the Council of Economic Advisers.
[Omitted here is a rank ordering of the President's priorities on domestic issues.]
In writing this memorandum I failed to include under the Kissinger section the national defense positions. Here I am interested only in those positions where they really affect our national security and East-West relations. That means that in the case of ABM I, of course, will consider that a high-priority item as long as it is before us. Where an item like foreign aid is concerned I do not want to be bothered with it unless it directly affects East-West relations. I have already indicated in my meeting with Pedersen/3/ (?) that I want some reform here and I shall expect that reform to be accomplished in some degree or the other.
/3/Reference is to Rudolph Peterson; see Document 35.
A lot of miscellaneous items are not covered in this memorandum but I think you will be able to apply rules based on what I have already dictated.
For example, trade policy is a case in point. This is something where it just isn't going to make a lot of difference whether we move one way or another on the glass tariff. Oil import is also a case in point. While it has some political consequences it is not something I should become deeply involved in. A recommendation should be made and responsibility given at other levels and I will then act without getting involved at lower levels of the discussion.
[Omitted here is a concluding paragraph on government reorganization.]
62. Editorial Note
On March 26, 1970, Secretary of State Rogers sent to President Nixon a policy overview prepared in the State Department on the "U.S. and Africa in the 70's." The 25-page paper ranged over the full spectrum of relations with the nations of Africa. The essence of the approach to Africa, as defined in the paper, derived in considerable measure from a statement made by then Vice President Nixon in 1957:
"We seek a relationship of constructive cooperation with the nations of Africa--a cooperative and equal relationship with all who wish it. We are prepared to have diplomatic relations under conditions of mutual respect with all the nations of the continent. We want no military allies, no spheres of influence, no big power competition in Africa. Our policy is a policy related to African countries and not a policy based upon our relations with non-African countries.
"As early as 1957, when he returned from a mission to Africa on behalf of President Eisenhower, the then Vice President Nixon recommended that the U.S. assign a higher priority to our relations with Africa, which he recognized to be of growing importance to the United States. Specifically he said:
"'The United States must come to know these leaders better, to understand their hopes and aspirations, and to support them in their plans and programs for strengthening their own nations and contributing to world peace and stability. To this end, we must encourage the greatest possible interchange of persons and ideas with the leaders and peoples of these countries. We must assure the strongest possible diplomatic and consular representation to those countries and stand ready to consult these countries on all matters affecting their interests and ours.'" (Letter with attached enclosure from Secretary Rogers to President Nixon, March 26, 1970; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 281, Agency Files, State, Vol. VI)
The full text of the policy statement is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Africa, 1969-1972.
In a letter to Rogers on the same day, Nixon approved the policy statement on Africa. In doing so, he wrote: "You know of my keen personal interest in relations with the African countries. We have both felt the spirit and dynamism of this continent and its people. I believe we now have a special opportunity to maintain and to expand our present relationships and am pleased that you and your staff have made so positive an examination of the paths that are available to us." (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 281, Agency Files, State, Vol. VI)
63. Letter From President Nixon to President Chiang/1/
Washington, March 27, 1970.
/1/Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 72 D 230, Presidential and Secretary of State Correspondence with Heads of State, 1961-1971, Box 18, China (Nationalist). Nodis. Also printed in Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, China, 1969-1972.
Dear Mr. President:
Your letter of March 1 was most welcome./2/ I greatly appreciated your frankness and your sincere concern for the success of my efforts to bring a lasting peace to East Asia.
/2/In his March 1 letter to Nixon, Chiang Kai-shek wrote that he did not object to talks between the United States and Communist China, but he warned that accepting Peking's five principles of peaceful coexistence or discussing the "so-called Taiwan problem" would be "infringing on the sovereign rights of the Republic of China." (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 520, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. IV)
From the conversations which we had together before I became President and from the previous correspondence which we have exchanged, I know of your deep distrust of Communist China's motives. In my own evaluation of Communist China, I do not ignore the legacy of the past, nor do I ignore the threat which the Chinese Communist regime may pose in the future. In my report to the Congress of February 18, 1970 on United States Foreign Policy,/3/ I stated that in dealing with the Communist countries we would not underestimate the depth of ideological disagreement or the disparity between their interests and ours. You may recall, too, that in my press conference of January 30 I cited the potential danger to the United States posed by the growth of Communist China's nuclear weapons capability.
At the same time, Mr. President, I believe that I would be remiss in my duty to the American people if I did not attempt to discover whether a basis may not exist for reducing the risk of a conflict between the United States and Communist China, and whether certain of the issues which lie between us may not be settled by negotiation. The alternative of maintaining a hostile relationship indefinitely while weapons of mass destruction increase in numbers and power is a terrible one, and demands that every reasonable effort be made to promote understandings which will contribute to peace and stability in Asia.
In undertaking this effort, I of course have in mind not only the essential interests of the American people, but of our allies as well. In your letter you have expressed concern for certain aspects of our talks with the Chinese Communists at Warsaw. Secretary Rogers has received from your Ambassador in Washington a detailed statement of your Government's views on these matters and is replying to them.
I wish, however, to assure you personally and in the strongest terms of my determination that there shall be no change in the firmness of our commitment to the defense of Taiwan and the Pescadores and of my earnest desire that these talks will not affect the friendship and close cooperation which has existed between our Governments for so many years. I deeply value our long personal relationship as candid friends and am confident that this will serve us well in the future.
Mrs. Nixon joins me in extending our best wishes and warmest regards to you and Madame Chiang. We trust that Madame Chiang's health has improved.
64. Memorandum From President Nixon to His Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)/1/
Washington, April 22, 1970.
/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 341, Subject Files, HAK/President Memos 1969-1970. Confidential. Also scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Southeast Asia, 1969-1972.
I think we need a bold move in Cambodia, assuming that I feel the way today (it is five AM, April 22) at our meeting as I feel this morning to show that we stand with Lon Nol. I do not believe he is going to survive. There is, however, some chance that he might and in any event we must do something symbolic to help him survive. We have really dropped the ball on this one due to the fact that we were taken in with the line that by helping him we would destroy his "neutrality" and give the North Vietnamese an excuse to come in. Over and over again we fail to learn that the Communists never need an excuse to come in. They didn't need one in Hungary in 1956 when the same argument was made by the career State people and when Dulles bought it because he was tired and it was during the campaign. They didn't need one in Czechoslovakia when the same argument was made by the State people, and they didn't need one in Laos where we lost a precious day by failing to make the strike that might have blunted the whole offensive before it got started, and in Cambodia where we have taken a completely hands-off attitude by protesting to the Senate that we have only a "delegation of seven State Department jerks" in the Embassy and would not provide any aid of any kind because we were fearful that if we did so it would give them a "provocation" to come in. They are romping in there and the only government in Cambodia in the last 25 years that had the guts to take a pro-Western and pro-American stand is ready to fall. I am thinking of someone like Bob Murphy who would be sent there on a trip to report back to me and who would go in and reassure Lon Nol. This, of course, would be parallel to your activities which will be undertaken immediately after the NSC meeting,/2/ in the event that I decide to go on this course,/3/ with some of the lily-livered Ambassadors from our so-called friends in the world. We are going to find out who our friends are now, because if we decide to stand up here some of the rest of them had better come along fast.
/2/An NSC meeting on Cambodia took place on April 22 but at the President's instruction no notes were taken. Additional information on the meeting is scheduled for publication ibid.
/3/On May 1 U.S. forces crossed the border of South Vietnam into Cambodia. They followed South Vietnamese forces which had invaded North Vietnamese sanctuaries in Cambodia 2 days earlier.
I will talk to you about this after the NSC meeting.
65. Memorandum of Conversation/1/
Washington, May 6, 1970, 3-4:15 p.m.
/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 340, Subject Files, Stanford University, May 1970. No classification marking. Drafted by David Young of Kissinger's office and initialed by Kissinger. The meeting was held in the Situation Room of the White House.
/2/The reaction on the campuses of American colleges and universities to what was generally perceived as the "invasion" of Cambodia was widespread, largely peaceful, but occasionally violent. It turned tragic on May 4 at Kent State University in Ohio when anti-war demonstrators were killed by Ohio National Guardsmen. The effects of anti-war demonstrations are not often cited in official documents but as Haldeman makes clear in The Haldeman Diaries, pp. 158-164, they had a profound effect on the state of mind of the President and his advisers. Kissinger recalls in White House Years, p. 510, that he met with 10 student groups on Cambodia during May 1970 alone. Memoranda of these conversations are in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 268, Memoranda of Conversation, 1968-1977, Dec 1968-Nov 1970.
Mr. Kissinger opened by stating the ground rules for the meeting; namely, that he did not mind how they characterized or described the meeting, but that in the interest of promoting a frank discussion he did not want to be quoted. They agreed.
Q: Patrick Shea, Student Body President from Stanford, read part of a resolution adopted by the Stanford Academic Senate which, in effect, stated that they believed that the machinery which was used for making decisions in the country did not seem legitimate and that they were therefore sending a delegation to express their concern to the President and to deliver to him a petition signed by 3,800 students from Stanford. Mr. Shea stated that the violence, which seemed to be increasing, was outrageous and that the situation was becoming impossible; but that the students could not condemn the violence here when what the U.S. government was doing in Southeast Asia was so violent. He continued that there was what he called a "generational solidarity" developing which was more than a gap and that the student generation was seeking to mobilize itself to solve the problems which the older generation did not seem to be able to solve.
A: Mr. Kissinger was asked if he had any comments. He replied that he thought Mr. Shea's remarks were too sweeping for direct comment but that he would like to start by stating a few of his observations on the current situation. He stated that we must assume that both sides realize that no one has a monopoly on righteousness and that, as a former professor, what students thought and felt was of great significance to him. Mr. Kissinger then expressed his own personal view, drawing upon his practice while at Harvard to meet with the SDS members there in order to find out what they represented. He concluded that they were characterized by two things: one, extraordinary intensity and two, an extraordinarily superficial knowledge of the facts.
Mr. Kissinger continued that we agree on ending the war in Vietnam; there is no doubt about that. We also agree that it should be ended as quickly as possible. Our only difference is in what is meant by "as quickly as possible." This in his view was not worth tearing the country apart. He then commented on the problem of the generation gap which he felt was inevitable. In the present circumstances, however, the younger generation had very good reason to attack the older generation because, in Mr. Kissinger's opinion, his generation had failed--it had become cynical and skeptical. It had "taken the clock apart" without being able to put it together and it collapses and turns into mush when it is pushed.
Q: Mr. Shea commented that in the past a war would destroy lives and property, but that today it might destroy humanity.
A: Mr. Kissinger agreed and went on to point out that even if we did away with all the nuclear weapons in the world we would not have solved the problem of being able to destroy humanity since you cannot destroy the technology--men would still know how to produce nuclear weapons. The problem is how to relate knowledge to the preservation of humanity.
Q: Professor Lewis asked what had occurred within the Administration since March 18, the date of the Cambodian coup. It had been his understanding that the Administration's policy was to contain the war but that it now appeared that it was being expanded. China was even being brought into it in view of its expressed solidarity with the Indochinese people. The resulting situation therefore is not what he had understood the Administration's objective to be. In short, what puzzled him was that it seemed that certain political ramifications were not anticipated. Do the professors know more than the policy-makers?
A: Mr. Kissinger replied that he would first like to make some general comments before answering the specific question. In the process by which decisions are made it is possible for a judgment to be wrong, but that does not justify attacking the fabric of the society. The press has characterized this as an "invasion" of Cambodia. But this territory was not controlled by the Cambodians. The primary objective of the operation was simply to remove supplies, and it is limited in time. (Shea interjected, "Even if Phnom Penh falls?", and Mr. Kissinger replied, "We intend to stick by what we have said.")
On the disaffection of political science professors, Mr. Kissinger stated that he had seen the impact of the war on academicians and that he understood their misgivings. He pointed out that the thrust of their point of view had always been against the war and that it was difficult for them to believe that anything we did could be an improvement. Vietnamization was not a brilliant choice, but it was the best we had in January of 1969. We had to respond not in light of what people would think tomorrow but in light of what people would think five years from now.
In regard to the events since March 18, Mr. Kissinger stated that it may be difficult for the persons present to believe but we had nothing to do with the overthrow of Sihanouk. There were no CIA personnel there and, in fact, we did not even have an Ambassador, but only a chargé d'affaires there. Indeed, it would have been better for us to have Sihanouk in Cambodia with a rough equilibrium than to have the conflict expand. We were, are, and remain committed to extricating ourselves from Vietnam and ending the war. We have made very strenuous efforts to bring about serious negotiations, some of which cannot be made public at this time, and we continue to keep these channels open.
In response to the question of whether or not the Administration had reversed its policy and was now expanding the war, Mr. Kissinger replied, "No, we were not altering our policy." In fact, the Administration believed that what it had done would shorten the war.
Q: Mr. Shea mentioned that earlier today they had talked with Congressman McCloskey who stated that Mr. Kissinger had recently told him that one of the two alternatives of the Nixon plan for ending the war had failed.
A: Mr. Kissinger replied that this was untrue. What Mr. McCloskey may have been thinking of was that our policy is based on two tracks--one negotiation, and two, Vietnamization--and that Mr. Kissinger had told him that the negotiations were not proceeding as rapidly as everyone had hoped.
Q: Professor Lewis then asked how much political input there had been in the decision to attack the sanctuaries in Cambodia, whether it was based on soft or hard intelligence, and why we had not let the dust settle before making our decision.
A: Mr. Kissinger replied that he seems to always be conducting both tactical and theoretical conversations simultaneously. On the tactical side, there is no doubt that we ought to talk to concerned people as to whether or not the tactical decision was wise, but it does not seem to be worth tearing our campuses apart. On the theoretical side, Mr. Kissinger stated that his own conclusions, for what they were worth, were as follows: The North Vietnamese people were a very heroic and tenacious people and they were very good at making war, as their history proves. But the question remains as to whether or not they can also make peace. Mr. Kissinger noted that we also see this problem in the Middle East.
The North Vietnamese tactic has been to sell us the beginning of negotiations over and over again. Some people think that negotiating with them is like a detective story in which they throw out vague clues and it is up to us to discover them. There are a number of channels through which they can communicate with us directly, and we believe that when they are serious about negotiating they will not let us know through vague clues. The more fundamental problem, however, is that they cannot conceive of sharing political power. They want it foreordained that they will have control.
Q: Professor Lewis then asked whether we had given sufficient attention to Sihanouk's position or whether we had gotten him into the situation which brought about the coup.
A: Mr. Kissinger replied that, for what it was worth, his analysis of what caused Sihanouk's downfall was as follows: First of all, Mr. Kissinger stated that he considered Sihanouk a political genius in that he managed to keep himself in power between the right and the left. This depended on his maintaining Cambodia's international neutrality and his manipulating the internal political structure so that he appeared to the Communists to be as far left as he could be without provoking a reaction from the right. Sihanouk therefore needed a strong right, and it was he who put Lon Nol and Matak into power. Sihanouk, when he left the country, was trying through political means to squeeze the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese there. He had gone to Paris and was on his way to Moscow and Peking to pursue this course on the diplomatic front. Consequently, he approved of Lon Nol's activities since they gave him evidence of the troubles he was having on his right. The result, however, was that the assumption by Lon Nol got out of hand and the right wing took over. The problem now is that if Sihanouk came back he would not be the same because the balance has changed. For this reason, we cannot seek to bring him back. Our position has been the same as the French, the U.K., and most every other nation (even the Chinese until yesterday) in that we have continued to deal with the existing government.
As a result of the Lon Nol takeover, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese started to expand their sanctuaries. We warned them, publicly and privately, and we even approached the Russians to try to discourage such expansion. Finally we did not act against the sanctuaries until they moved out.
Q: A professor of anthropology stated that he wanted to impress upon Mr. Kissinger the gravity of the situation on the campuses, that the middle ground had disappeared, and that there had been a drastic change. After Cambodia it was not just a strike but a complete stoppage in order to determine a political consensus as to what was to be done. This dissent was not going to fade away and there was a growing feeling that one could not work through the existing political structure.
Q: Another professor stated that in view of the report of the Cambodian tribesmen being trained by the Green Berets, does this mean that we are now going to go to "Cambodianization" and "Laosization." He felt (1) that unless we stopped the war our credibility would be zero, (2) that there was growing feeling among academics that they could no longer be believed since their universities were so closely related to defense operations, and (3) that many of the students consider the war a racist war and that it was time for us to get back to the problems of the United States. In this connection, he mentioned that the attitude of the Vice President was not very helpful since it seemed to represent a repressive atmosphere.
Q: A Mexican-American student spoke next and explained how tired the minority groups were with handouts. He said that he also spoke for the Indian-American and Chinese-American students present in expressing the frustration and alienation they felt with the system. He stated that they did not feel that minority problems should be dealt with by programs. He also felt that it was inconsistent to fight Communism in Europe with Radio Free Europe but in Southeast Asia with bullets. He mentioned that minorities die in the war at a disproportionately higher rate than do whites. Finally, he stated that he was not concerned about saving the university since it was so closely associated and involved with the war-death machine.
Another professor stated that Cambodia really was the straw that broke the camel's back, that there had been great division and distrust on the campuses already. He went on to state that if Cambodia is only a tactical question and Vietnam is the moral question, what are the Administration's long-range plans; or what kind of peace are we planning for in Asia?
A: Mr. Kissinger replied that he thought the students had given a correct and factual description of the campuses of the country. The real question here is, faced with this situation, what can be done? Cambodia made it easy for some to do what they wanted to do anyway, but they confused a tactical question with a fundamental question. The real issue is that any society to survive must have a modicum of trust. The bureaucracy is the curse of the modern state, and there is profound dissatisfaction with it. Mr. Kissinger stated that on the other hand he did not know what student riots contributed to the solution of the problem. In order to have world order we must maintain a modicum of confidence in authority. Anything worth doing takes time and order.
It is a very simple rule but whenever the scope for action is the greatest, the knowledge of the facts is the least. Whether an assessment is right or wrong can never be proved until afterwards. Our view is that we must get out of Vietnam in a way that the peace does not divide the country more than the war. Historically, a student revolution has never succeeded. If there is a revolution, it will not be by a bunch of upper-middle class college students on the left, but by some other more uncivilized group on the right. We are not playing with lives to prove our manhood. It may be one of the curses of our age that to be thoughtful requires one to be tough.
Mr. Kissinger stated that the Administration had made an effort to look many years ahead and to make decisions which would produce the kind of world and peace vehicle we all sought. Politics, however, is a grubby business and the easy decision is usually the immediate tactical one. One does not always have the time or room to make the decision that is in the long-term best interests of world peace. There have been institutions, however, in which we have had room to make long-range decisions such as in the SALT talks, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the Chemical and Biological Warfare decision.
In Southeast Asia we do not believe that the situation is going to be improved simply by giving economic aid. Nor do we subscribe to the more conservative view that guerrilla warfare can solve all these problems. We are trying to ask the right questions, to stop the pedantic Americanization approach, and to get more regional cooperation. Our specific answers are not going to be very profound but they will be even less promising if we have to take a good part of our energy to deal with the present problems on our own campuses.
Q: Dean Gibbs interrupted here to ask why there was so much reverse rhetoric, for instance, from the Vice President, which in no way seemed conducive to a forward look.
A: Mr. Kissinger replied that the Administration had a spectrum of opinion and that each person there knew how difficult it would have been for Mr. Kissinger to have the dialogue he had had with them today if they had met on the campus at Stanford. He concluded by saying that he recognized the inadequacies of his own side, but that he also thought the universities should recognize the inadequacies on their part and on the part of their faculties. It seemed that too many professors were more interested in being popular than in being right, and that a resolution voted on in a large academic senate would tend to be the result of the emotions of the moment.
Mr. Patrick Shea, the incoming Student Body President, summed up the attitude of the students in a prepared statement saying that they hoped the Administration would re-evaluate its position in Southeast Asia.
David R. Young
66. Memorandum for the President's File/1/
Washington, May 7, 1970, 11:12 a.m.-12:32 p.m.
/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President's Office Files, Box 81, Memoranda for the President, May 3, 1970. No classification marking. Drafted and sent to the President by Edward L. Morgan, Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs.
Present at this meeting with the President were eight members of the Association of American Universities and three members of the White House staff. The names of those attending are attached at Tab A./2/
/2/Not printed. The university presidents were William C. Friday of the University of North Carolina, Fred H. Harrington of the University of Wisconsin, G. Alexander Heard, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University, Charles C. Hitch of the University of California (Berkeley), Edward Levi of the University of Chicago, Malcolm Moos of the University of Minnesota, Nathan M. Pusey of Harvard University, and W. Allen Wallis of the University of Rochester. Ziegler, Kissinger, and Morgan also attended.
After some opening small talk regarding the redecorating of the Oval Office, the President began by stating that in view of the conversation he had had with this group a couple of weeks ago,/3/ and given the recent developments on college campuses, there were certain questions he would like to consider with them. Namely, what ought to be the Federal role, even the Presidential role, regarding student problems? Should the Federal government step into university administration in some way? And the more sensitive question, What is, or should be, the relationship of state and local governments and the national guard to the university?
/3/The President met with the same group of university presidents on April 22 from 10:35 to 11:23 a.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, Staff Memos and Office Files, Presidential Papers and Archives, Daily Diary)
The President noted that the National Guard tends to be thought of as Federal, even though it is not, which probably grew in part out of the federalizing of national guard troops by President Eisenhower in Little Rock.
He stated that there is probably no question that the Cambodian action sparked a considerable amount of the current turmoil. Kent State certainly dramatized it all./4/ He further noted that he was not asking the support of the college presidents for his action in Cambodia, an action that he had to take, ironically, for the very reason that the demonstrations are about. He stated that when the Cambodian action is completed in early June, he will have bought at least ten months more time. Our actions in Cambodia avoid either complete capitulation on the one hand or leaving our forces indefensible on the other.
/4/In a telephone conversation on May 4 at approximately 4:45 p.m., Nixon told Kissinger that: "At Kent State there were 4 or 5 killed today. But that place has been bad for quite some time--it has been rather violent." Kissinger suggested that they would be blamed for the killings and he noted that 33 university presidents were appealing to the President to leave Vietnam. The President asked about the student strike, observing: "If it is peaceful it doesn't bother me." He worried, however, that if the students were "out of classes they'll be able to raise hell." Kissinger thought they would hold teach-ins and possibly march on Washington. Nixon hoped "we can get some people of our own to speak out." (Memorandum of telephone conversation; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 363, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File, 1-5 May 1970)
The President then went on to note that he met yesterday with six Kent State students, all of whom were basically against the war in Viet Nam./5/ The students had stated to him that their purpose in coming to Washington was not just to protest the war but to try and explain what was happening. The students noted that the origin of the Ohio State disturbances had not been a protest against the war but against the curriculum. The students said that the issue of Black Power had actually started the demonstration at Kent State, although Cambodia and Viet Nam were soon added as issues.
/5/Nixon met with the students on May 6 from 10:41 to 11:36 a.m. In addition, Congressman William Stanton from Ohio and Thomas Bell of the Kent State University Alumni Association of Washington, D.C. attended. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, Staff Memos and Office Files, Presidential Papers and Archives, Daily Diary) Nixon was still reflecting on the student demonstrations on June 8 when he told Kissinger "we ought to think what we are going to do with our young people. We don't want to set up opposition." He would continue to meet with them, he said. (Memorandum of telephone conversation, June 8, 1970, 10:15 p.m.; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 363, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File, 6-10 June 1970)
The President then noted that while he has made a difficult decision in Cambodia, he is the one who must take the responsibility and see it through. Nonetheless, he absolutely respects everyone's right to disagree.
The President went on to ask the broader question: Once we are out of Cambodia, what happens? He stated that it would be a mistake to consider that solving the war problem would solve the campus problem, and that we must get to the more fundamental roots of the issue of campus turmoil.
The President passed on some more of the observations of the Kent State students: the student body at Kent State is basically apathetic; a well organized group of about 200 has been developing destructive activities; at least 18,000 had not been involved in the disturbance but were spectators. The students further pointed out that the student body generally hates the City of Kent police, who they feel are ill trained; and finally they noted that if the President of the school, or someone with like authority, had stepped up and tried to negotiate the situation, the resulting tragedy might not have occurred. The President indicated that the students might have been naive in this conclusion; however, he indicated that the students said that when the national guard comes on campus, the university administration abdicates. Thus, the President raised the question of "communication" and "control" between the national guard and the university administration.
The President indicated that at Yale we sent troops at the governor's request, but we had also been working with the situation quietly. He noted that the October and November moratoriums had been handled by regular army troops, who were better trained, and that even though there was $100,000 damage done in the city, no one was killed or injured. At this point the President said that he had personally gotten the Court to waive the thirty (fifteen?) day notice requirement for demonstrations for whatever demonstrations are planned this Saturday.
The President asked what the Federal government can do, if anything, noting that when state and local governments cannot handle situations the question immediately becomes, "What is Washington going to do?" He said that the usual answer is that we will study the problem and it is clear that students would reject just another commission. The question today is, "What can we do now?"
Dr. Nathan Pusey: Stated the group was grateful to be asked to come to see the President and they all wanted to be candid, even though most of them were sleepy as the result of the week's activities on their respective campuses. He stated that the situation on campus this week seems new, different, and terribly serious. The question has become whether or not we can get through the week. He indicated that no longer are we dealing with a small group of radicals, but rather a broad base of students and faculty who are upset. Even the conservatives are filled with anxiety and he feels that this new unrest springs from three things:
(1) Cambodia. He indicated that none of the men present were there to pass judgment on Cambodia, but it does seem on campus to have been the last straw. The students just don't see it the same way the President must see it, but rather feel it is an expansion of the war, or sort of a "here we go again."
(2) Kent State, which needs no elaboration.
(3) Speeches from the administration about campus events. The students feel that the Vice President does not understand the campus community. He apparently doesn't understand or believe in the freedom of speech and right of dissent.
Pusey feels the next three days may see a "terrible thing." He noted that students and faculty are now convening numerous meetings, turning away from their academic duties, and a feeling that they want to declare war is increasing.
Pusey stated that he feels we (the college presidents) must speak to the academic community. He indicated the group feels that if the President could find a man (for instance, a university president or even a Senator) who would represent a rallying point for the President it would be very helpful. Such a man should know and appreciate college institutions and be presented as a channel of communication to the President. Perhaps he could be placed temporarily on the White House staff for a month and even have a student assistant.
Allen Wallis: Noted that he was very surprised to learn that the President had been surprised regarding what the Kent State students had said. He further noted that he continues to be surprised that the White House staff is always surprised to learn what is going on. Finally, he was even more surprised that the President would raise the long range question of campus disturbance, which seemed to him analogous to discussing future insurance policies while your building was ablaze. He wonders whether these institutions will even hold together 'til Monday without more people getting killed. Up until now we were gaining a coalescence of people against violence who were willing to work in such things as Congressional elections and were opposing student occupation of buildings, but that may be lost.
Fred Harrington: Stated that Wisconsin does not share the same concern about the national guard that Kent State does, but at Wisconsin the university is in control over the national guard when they move onto campus. He expressed great concern that the moderates are going over to join the radicals.
William Friday: Noted that students and faculty are now beginning to hire busses to come to Washington next week to talk to Congressmen, not the President, about Cambodia and Viet Nam. He stated that there is a real need to stabilize this situation and felt the President is the only person who can do this.
The President: Inquired whether appointing a man to be a listener isn't somewhat like appointing a commission. Wouldn't it indicate that we are just trying to push the students off? He further asked if this wouldn't look like a scholar in residence?
(The group generally felt that such an appointment would be very helpful and would not be analogous to appointing a commission.)
Malcolm Moos: Felt that any repressive moves would be bad. He categorically stated that the Vice President must be muzzled. When the Vice President attacked the president of the University of Michigan, things exploded beyond control. Stated that the President must let the country know that this is not what he (the President) believes. Asked whether the Vice President was going to make the speech at Stone Mountain.
The President: Replied that he was, and indicated that these men should not worry about the speech, since he (the President) wrote the Vice President's speech himself. The President indicated that it would be a good speech and that it would say the right things.
Mr. Moos further indicated that the students are now going to the Congressmen and not to the President.
Malcolm Levi: Stated that the President must give the impression that he cares and is willing to talk to people. He noted that those who want violence may now have the ability to take over. Stated that he feels the President has been isolating himself and should come out now and say that he welcomes student views. Naturally, one cannot open up this solicitation of student views to questions of whether or not students should be running the universities, making the decisions in Cambodia, or anything like that.
The President: Noted that he was having a press conference on Friday and pointed out to the group that it was he who had arranged for the administration to communicate with people such as Sam Brown during the moratoriums. Naturally, decisions such as Cambodia cannot be made based upon how many people come in and out of the White House.
Levi: Stated that he felt it was unfortunate that the President had gone to the Pentagon after the Cambodia speech, which made the whole thing seem quite military.
The President: Stated that we're not going to fight in Cambodia or Laos, and that this summer should well bring the best news out of the Viet Nam war.
Alexander Heard: Said that the message he brought was one of attitude being communicated. Feels the students believe that it's their lives that are at issue and we are facing a fundamental crisis in our political system. The moderate students are saying, "Here we are, working away, wanting to change the system in an orderly fashion (such as by protest or demonstration) and yet we are derided and condemned and our motives impugned by the Vice President and the Attorney General, who lump us together with those who would burn buildings.
He further stated that somehow the President should convey a feeling of sympathy and understanding to those willing to work in outspoken ways short of violence. The students are asking, "Where do I go now, if I'm condemned when I work within the framework of the system?" Feels that the students must sense a warmth and receptivity from the administration or they will join the other side.
Moos then stated that the universities are being separated from the nation and that perhaps this group could meet with the President from time to time to keep some visibility.
Dr. Pusey indicated that they would like to hold a press conference this afternoon and indicate that they had been here, stated their views, and found the President concerned and receptive.
The President said that they should naturally meet with the press and he certainly wouldn't tell them what to say. The President went on to say that no one believes more strongly in the right to dissent than he does, short, of course, of the right to violence.
Dr. Kissinger: Stated that we are listening and certainly have compassion with their anguish.
The President said the issue is the means.
Kissinger indicated that we get only one guess when we take such actions as Cambodia, and we must often act on things we cannot always prove.
A short discussion followed regarding who such a man might be, if the President appointed one as a "listening post." Those mentioned were Roben W. Fleming, President of the University of Michigan, and Charles Young of the University of California at Los Angeles.
Pusey noted that the black issue is still smoldering and should not go unnoticed.
Wallis came down rather hard on the Vice President, noting that the Vice President had attacked Cornell when he didn't even have the facts straight and really meant Connecticut. He stated he feels the Vice President is somewhat like McCarthy, who goes around hitting individuals who can't defend themselves or possibly recover. He noted that in many cases he agreed with the Vice President regarding the merits of what he is saying, but he nonetheless feels somewhat outraged that the Vice President would attack persons individually and name them. Even if what he's saying makes sense, does he consider what effect it's having?
The President stated that of course one must assume the responsibility for any remarks he's made, even if they are taken out of context.
There was some final discussion regarding the selection of a man to work at the White House for the President. Some suggested possibly Secretary Shultz or Secretary Finch. Mr. Levi felt that it should not be someone from within the administration.
The President noted all this, but did not commit to appointing someone.
67. Interview With President Nixon/1/
Los Angeles, California, July 1, 1970.
/1/Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1970, pp. 546-549. The interview, conducted by Howard K. Smith of ABC, John Chancellor of NBC, and Eric Sevareid of CBS, was broadcast live at 7 p.m. on television and radio from an ABC studio in Los Angeles. The interview focused primarily on the fighting in Southeast Asia and, to a lesser extent, on U.S. policy in the Middle East.
[Omitted here is the opening portion of the interview which dealt with Southeast Asia.]
Mr. Smith. Mr. President, one of the things that happened in the Senate last week was the rescinding of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution/2/ by the Senate. Mr. Katzenbach,/3/ in the previous administration, told the Foreign Relations Committee that resolution was tantamount to a congressional declaration of war. If it is rescinded, what legal justification do you have for continuing to fight a war that is undeclared in Vietnam?
/2/On August 7, 1964, Congress responded to a North Vietnamese attack on U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin by passing a joint resolution expressing Congressional approval and support of the "determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression." On August 10 President Johnson signed the joint resolution into law as Public Law 88-408. (78 Stat. 384)
/3/Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, Under Secretary of State from 1966 to 1968. [Footnote in the source text.]
The President. First, Mr. Smith, as you know, this war, while it was undeclared, was here when I became President of the United States. I do not say that critically. I am simply stating the fact that there were 549,000 Americans in Vietnam under attack when I became President.
The President of the United States has the constitutional right--not only the right, but the responsibility--to use his powers to protect American forces when they are engaged in military actions, and under these circumstances, starting at the time that I became President, I have that power and I am exercising that power.
Mr. Smith. Sir, I am not recommending this, but if you don't have a legal authority to wage a war, then presumably you could move troops out. It would be possible to agree with the North Vietnamese. They would be delighted to have us surrender. So that you could--
What justification do you have for keeping troops there other than protecting the troops that are there fighting?
The President. A very significant justification. It isn't just a case of seeing that the Americans are moved out in an orderly way. If that were the case, we could move them out more quickly, but it is a case of moving American forces out in a way that we can at the same time win a just peace.
Now, by winning a just peace, what I mean is not victory over North Vietnam--we are not asking for that--but it is simply the right of the people of South Vietnam to determine their own future without having us impose our will upon them, or the North Vietnamese, or anybody else outside impose their will upon them.
When we look at that limited objective, I am sure some would say, "Well, is that really worth it? Is that worth the efforts of all these Americans fighting in Vietnam, the lives that have been lost?"
I suppose it could be said that simply saving 17 million people in South Vietnam from a Communist takeover isn't worth the efforts of the United States. But let's go further. If the United States, after all of this effort, if we were to withdraw immediately, as many Americans would want us to do--and it would be very easy for me to do it and simply blame it on the previous administration--but if we were to do that, I would probably survive through my term, but it would have, in my view, a catastrophic effect on this country and the cause of peace in the years ahead.
Now I know there are those who say the domino theory is obsolete. They haven't talked to the dominoes. They should talk to the Thais, to the Malaysians, to the Singaporans, to the Indonesians, to the Filipinos, to the Japanese, and the rest. And if the United States leaves Vietnam in a way that we are humiliated or defeated, not simply speaking in what is called jingoistic terms, but in very practical terms, this will be immensely discouraging to the 300 million people from Japan clear around to Thailand in free Asia; and even more important it will be ominously encouraging to the leaders of Communist China and the Soviet Union who are supporting the North Vietnamese. It will encourage them in their expansionist policies in other areas.
The world will be much safer in which to live.
Mr. Smith. I happen to be one of those who agrees with what you are saying, but do you have a legal justification to follow that policy once the Tonkin Gulf Resolution is dead?
The President. Yes, sir, Mr. Smith, the legal justification is the one that I have given, and that is the right of the President of the United States under the Constitution to protect the lives of American men. That is the legal justification. You may recall, of course, that we went through this same debate at the time of Korea. Korea was also an undeclared war, and then, of course, we justified it on the basis of a U.N. action. I believe we have a legal justification and I intend to use it.
Mr. Sevareid. Mr. President, you have said that self-determination in South Vietnam is really our aim and all we can ask for. The Vice President says a non-Communist future for Indochina, or Southeast Asia. His statement seems to enlarge the ultimate American aim considerably. Have we misunderstood you or has he or what is the aim?
Mr. President. Mr. Sevareid, when the Vice President refers to a non-Communist Southeast Asia that would mean of course, a non-Communist South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. That is the area we usually think of as Southeast Asia.
This is certainly something that I think most Americans and most of those in free Asia and most of those in the free world would think would be a desirable goal.
Let me put it another way: I do not think it would be in the interest of the United States and those who want peace in the Pacific if that part of the world should become Communist, because then the peace of the world, the peace in the Pacific, would be in my opinion very greatly jeopardized if the Communists were to go through that area.
However, referring now specifically to what we are doing in Vietnam, our aim there is a very limited one, and it is to provide for the South Vietnamese the right of self-determination. I believe that when they exercise that right they will choose a non-Communist government. But we are indicating--and incidentally, despite what everybody says about the present government in South Vietnam, its inadequacies and the rest, we have to give them credit for the fact that they also have indicated that they will accept the result of an election, what the people choose.
Let us note the fact that the North Vietnamese are in power not as a result of an election, and have refused to indicate that they will accept the result of an election in South Vietnam, which would seem to me to be a pretty good bargaining point on our side.
Mr. Chancellor. Mr. President, I am a little confused at this point because you seem in vivid terms to be describing South Vietnam as the first of the string of dominoes that could topple in that part of the world and turn it into a Communist part of the world, in simple terms.
Are you saying that we cannot survive, we cannot allow a regime or a government in South Vietnam to be constructed that would, say, lean toward the Communist bloc? What about a sort of Yugoslavia? Is there any possibility of that kind of settlement?
The President. Mr. Chancellor, it depends upon the people of South Vietnam. If the people of South Vietnam after they see what the Vietcong, the Communist Vietcong, have done to the villages they have occupied, the 40,000 people that they have murdered, village chiefs and others, the atrocities of Hue--if the people of South Vietnam, of which 850,000 of them are Catholic refugees from North Vietnam, after a blood bath there when the North Vietnamese took over in North Vietnam--if the people of South Vietnam under those circumstances should choose to move in the direction of a Communist government, that, of course, is their right. I do not think it will happen. But I do emphasize that the American position and the position also of the present Government of South Vietnam, it seems to me, are especially strong, because we are confident enough that we say to the enemy, "All right, we'll put our case to the people and we'll accept the result." If it happens to be what you describe, a Yugoslav type of government or a mixed government, we will accept it.
Mr. Chancellor. What I am getting at, sir, is, if you say on the one hand that Vietnam--South Vietnam--is the first of the row of dominoes which we cannot allow to topple, then can you say equally, at the same time, that we will accept the judgment of the people of South Vietnam if they choose a Communist government?
The President. The point that you make, Mr. Chancellor, is one that we in the free world face every place in the world, and it is really what distinguishes us from the Communist world.
Again, I know that what is called cold war rhetoric isn't fashionable these days, and I am not engaging in it because I am quite practical, and we must be quite practical, about the world in which we live with all the dangers that we have in the Mideast and other areas that I am sure we will be discussing later in this program.
But let us understand that we in the free world have to live or die by the proposition that the people have a right to choose.
Let it also be noted that in no country in the world today in which the Communists are in power have they come to power as a result of the people choosing them--not in North Vietnam, not in North Korea, not in China, not in Russia, and not in any one of the countries of Eastern Europe, and not in Cuba. In every case, communism has come to power by other than a free election, so I think we are in a pretty safe position on this particular point.
I think you are therefore putting, and I don't say this critically, what is really a hypothetical question. It could happen. But if it does happen that way we must assume the consequences, and if the people of South Vietnam should choose a Communist government, then we will have to accept the consequences of what would happen as far as the domino theory in the other areas.
Mr. Chancellor. In other words, live with it?
The President. We would have to live with it, and I would also suggest this: When we talk about the dominoes, I am not saying that automatically if South Vietnam should go the others topple one by one. I am only saying that in talking to every one of the Asian leaders, and I have talked to all of them. I have talked to Lee Kuan Yew--all of you know him from Singapore of course--and to the Tunku/4/ from Malaysia, the little countries, and to Suharto from Indonesia, and of course to Thanom and Thanat Khoman, the two major leaders in Thailand--I have talked to all of these leaders and every one of them to a man recognizes, and Sato of Japan recognizes, and of course the Koreans recognize that if the Communists succeed, not as a result of a free election--they are not thinking of that--but if they succeed as a result of exporting aggression and supporting it in toppling the government, then the message to them is, "Watch out, we might be next."
/4/A Malaysian title meaning Prince or My Lord; Tunku Rahman Al-Haj was Prime Minister. [Footnote in the source text.]
That's what is real. So, if they come in as a result of a free election, and I don't think that is going to happen, the domino effect would not be as great.
[Omitted here are the concluding questions relating to Southeast Asia and the Middle East.]
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