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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Office of the Historian > Foreign Relations of the United States > Nixon-Ford Administrations > Volume I
Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Volume I, Foundations of Foreign Policy
Released by the Office of the Historian
Documents 10-38

10. Letter From President Nixon to Secretary of Defense Laird/1/

Washington, February 4, 1969.

/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 220, Agency Files, Department of Defense, Vol. I, 1/12/69. Secret. President Nixon sent an identical letter on February 4 to Secretary of State Rogers. (Ibid., Box 279, Agency Files, Department of State, Vol. I, 1/17/69)

Dear Mel:

I have been giving much thought to our relations with the Soviet Union and would like to give you, informally, my ideas on this central security problem. My purpose in doing so is not to prejudge the scheduled systematic review by the National Security Council of our policy options with respect to the USSR, but rather to set out the general approach which I believe should guide us in our conduct as we move from confrontation to negotiation.

1. I believe that the tone of our public and private discourse about and with the Soviet Union should be calm, courteous and non-polemical. This will not prevent us from stating our views clearly and, if need be, firmly; nor will it preclude us from candidly affirming our attitude--negatively if warranted--toward the policies and actions of the Soviet Union. But what I said in my Inaugural address concerning the tone and character of our domestic debates should also govern the tone and character of our statements in the international arena, most especially in respect of the Soviet Union./2/

/2/In his inaugural address, Nixon said: "We cannot learn from each other until we stop shouting at one another--until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices." (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, p. 2)

2. I believe that the basis for a viable settlement is a mutual recognition of our vital interests. We must recognize that the Soviet Union has interests; in the present circumstances we cannot but take account of them in defining our own. We should leave the Soviet leadership in no doubt that we expect them to adopt a similar approach toward us. This applies also to the concerns and interests of our allies and indeed of all nations. They, too, are entitled to the safeguarding of their legitimate interests. In the past we have often attempted to settle things in a fit of enthusiasm, relying on personal diplomacy. But the "spirit" that permeated various meetings lacked a solid basis of mutual interest and, therefore, every summit meeting was followed by a crisis in less than a year.

3. I am convinced that the great issues are fundamentally interrelated. I do not mean by this to establish artificial linkages between specific elements of one or another issue or between tactical steps that we may elect to take. But I do believe that crisis or confrontation in one place and real cooperation in another cannot long be sustained simultaneously. I recognize that the previous Administration took the view that when we perceive a mutual interest on an issue with the USSR, we should pursue agreement and attempt to insulate it as much as possible from the ups and downs of conflicts elsewhere. This may well be sound on numerous bilateral and practical matters such as cultural or scientific exchanges. But, on the crucial issues of our day, I believe we must seek to advance on a front at least broad enough to make clear that we see some relationship between political and military issues. I believe that the Soviet leaders should be brought to understand that they cannot expect to reap the benefits of cooperation in one area while seeking to take advantage of tension or confrontation elsewhere. Such a course involves the danger that the Soviets will use talks on arms as a safety valve on intransigence elsewhere. I note, for example, that the invasion of Hungary was followed by abortive disarmament talks within nine months. The invasion of Czechoslovakia was preceded by the explorations of a summit conference (in fact, when Ambassador Dobrynin informed President Johnson of the invasion of Czechoslovakia, he received the appointment so quickly because the President thought his purpose was to fix the date of a summit meeting). Negotiation and the search for agreement carry their own burdens; the Soviets--no less than we--must be ready to bear them.

4. I recognize the problem of giving practical substance to the propositions set forth in the previous paragraph. Without attempting to lay down inflexible prescriptions about how various matters at issue between ourselves and the USSR should be connected, I would like to illustrate what I have in mind in one case of immediate and widespread interest--the proposed talks on strategic weapons. I believe our decision on when and how to proceed does not depend exclusively on our review of the purely military and technical issues, although these are of key importance. This decision should also be taken in the light of the prevailing political context and, in particular, in light of progress toward stabilizing the explosive Middle East situation, and in light of the Paris talks. I believe I should retain the freedom to ensure, to the extent that we have control over it, that the timing of talks with the Soviet Union on strategic weapons is optimal. This may, in fact, mean delay beyond that required for our review of the technical issues. Indeed, it means that we should--at least in our public position--keep open the option that there may be no talks at all.

5. I am of course aware that the Soviets are seeking to press us to agree to talks and I know also of the strong views held by many in this country. But I think it is important to establish with the Soviets early in the Administration that our commitment to negotiation applies to a range of major issues so that the "structure of peace" to which I referred in the Inaugural will have a sound base.




11. Editorial Note

Henry Kissinger discussed the Nixon administration's perception of the linkage between political and strategic issues during a background briefing for the press at the White House on February 6, 1969:

"Q. Can you tell us more about why the President wants to have strategic negotiations and political negotiations going forward on separately different facts [tracks?]?

"Dr. Kissinger. I was lured here because I was told you all could hardly wait to hear me expound on the National Security Council system and my exerted influence on it.

"To take the question of the linkage between the political and the strategic environment. We have come through two phases. In the 1950's, it used to be said that a political settlement had to precede an arms settlement. It was said that the arms race is the result of political tensions, not the cause of them, and, therefore, the way to deal with the problems of arms was to solve first all the political problems and then the arms would take care of themselves.

"In reaction to that, they developed an arms control school in which you and I participated in various stages as colleagues in which the argument used to be that the arms race portion was essentially autonomous with producing tension and in which the level of political tension was more or less irrelevant to what could be done in the arms field.

"This led to about ten years of negotiations in the arms field which have had some successes, of which the Non-Proliferation Treaty is one, but during which, I think it is fair to say, that the level of arms has increased substantially, both quantitatively and qualitatively and the level of tension has also increased substantially.

"Now, if you review the last 20 years and look at the incidents that significantly increase the dangers of war, I think it would be difficult to think of one that was caused by the general balance of arms. But it is possible to think of very many that were caused by the general balance of political relationships.

"Therefore, the President's view is not that there must be a settlement of all political issues. He has emphatically rejected that in his press conference before this. His view is, if I understand it correctly, that there is a danger, that if arms control and political issues become too much disassociated that arms control may be used as a safety valve to make political conflict safer rather than eliminate political conflict.

"He has, therefore, suggested that there be enough movement in the political field to indicate that the arms control negotiations do not unwittingly, instead of reducing the danger of war, offer a means by which political conflict can be intensified and yet managed. He is asking for enough movement, not to produce a final settlement, but to indicate that there is enough good faith in the direction of trying to reduce the intensity of political conflict.

"In short, he would like to deal with the problem of peace on the entire front in which peace is challenged and not only on the military one." (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 425, Subject File, Background Briefings, Feb-May 1969)

For the record of Nixon's press conference on February 6, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pages 66-76.


12. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Buchanan) to President Nixon/1/

Washington, February 19, 1969.

/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President's Office Files, Box 77, Memoranda for the President, Jan 21-Apr 6, 1969. Confidential.

(One Observer's notes on the President's first meeting with the bipartisan leadership of Capitol Hill.)/2/

/2/The President's briefing of the Congressional leadership took place at 8:35 a.m. in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Eight Senators and ten Representatives attended. Agnew, Helms, Kissinger, and Ehrlichman also attended from the Executive branch. (Ibid., White House Central Files, Staff Members and Office Files, Office of Presidential Papers and Archives, Daily Diary)

With Rogers on his right and Laird to the left, the President opened the meeting with a fifteen-minute discourse on the purposes of these bipartisan meetings, and the objectives of his forthcoming visit to Europe./3/ Speaking slowly and deliberately, the President expressed the hope that the meetings could be used for both the traditional end of "briefing" the leadership, and a secondary end of providing a channel through which the Administration might receive the views of the men of power on the Hill.

/3/From February 23 to March 2, President Nixon visited London, Bonn, Rome, Paris, and NATO Headquarters in Brussels to consult with European allies. (Ibid.)

On Europe, and the coming trip, the President said he was under no illusions that grand tours or "abrazos" or a "new spirit" would resolve basic differences between adversaries, or even allies. He was going, he said, because several basic problems of NATO require immediate attention, because he believed that past administrations had not paid adequate "attention" to Europe, because the views of these Western partners had not been given adequate consideration in the past, even in negotiating the NPT. There was a need for "more consultation in advance."

Secondly, the President had the feeling that perhaps American leadership in the past had been looking "too much to collateral areas" and not enough to what, "some still call the blue chip."

Third, there were very great substantive differences between the allies and the President's trip might establish a basis for "continuing consultation" on such issues as the Mideast. Fourth, going there has a "symbolic importance." We will be "prepared to discuss anything," the President noted, adding that some fifty hours of discussions are currently scheduled in the eight-day trip.

At the close of his monologue, the President cautioned against unjustifiable optimism. We have to recognize, he said, that basic disagreements are not going to be solved by meetings, with these meetings, however, we can reduce to a minimum those disagreements which result from a lack of communication or consultation.

[Omitted here is discussion of the possibility of adding a stop in Malta to the President's European agenda, and a discussion of how to handle the question of ratification of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with the West German Government.]

Arms Control

The President now gave his detailed views on reports in the press--from his first press conference--that he had irrevocably linked progress in arms talks with progress on political problems--so tightly as to make progress in one a "condition" of progress with the other.

Not so, the President said. Certainly, we want to move on them both at the same time, since the history of wars shows that arms races are occasionally a cause of conflict, but in far more instances, it is a political problem that produces the war, and not the level of armaments.

The President wanted progress in both at the same time, but he wanted to emphasize that progress in one is not "a condition" of progress in the other.

With regard to the Soviets, the President pointed out quite clearly that if Soviet aid to North Vietnam were halted, or Soviet assistance to the "more aggressive neighbors" of Israel were halted, the problems would be reduced to a level where they would not require any American intervention. Thus the Soviets did have the "big stroke" in helping to resolve these political problems.

[Omitted here is discussion of other foreign policy issues.]


13. Editorial Note

On February 28, 1969, President Nixon arrived in Paris on the fifth stop of his European trip and met with President Charles de Gaulle. In the course of a wide-ranging conversation, Nixon discussed with de Gaulle prospects for détente with the Soviet Union and asked de Gaulle's opinion on the efficacy of linking negotiations on strategic and political issues:

"The President said that he would like to indicate his reasons for announcing his policy up to this point. When he was inaugurated six weeks ago if he had announced that on the next day he was going to meet Kosygin and Brezhnev at the summit, the US press and the world would have applauded and said that now progress was really being made. He had not done this because he felt it was necessary to have very careful planning for a meeting at the summit, there had been the spirit of Glassboro, of Vienna and of Camp David and these hopes had been dashed. It was different when we were meeting with our friends and people who were basically like us. He felt that it would be a mistake for the President of the United States to go to a meeting without knowing what we were going to talk about or where we were going. This would simply raise hopes that would subsequently be dashed. Consequently he believed that we should have talks first with our friends and allies including France. The Soviets had interest in talks on the limitation of strategic weapons. This was a matter that could affect the capability of the US forces in Europe. Another reason for not rushing into arms talks was that it was generally claimed that an arms race increased the risk of war. He thought it was clear that both the USSR and the US would like to reduce the financial burden on themselves. He wished to make clear that on this matter he would not make the decision in this matter on a financial basis, the US had to be able to afford whatever security required. One had to recognize a historic fact that wars also were caused by political tensions. If a freeze on strategic arms were to take place an explosion would still occur in the Middle East, at Berlin or in Vietnam and this could lead to war. He felt that this opportunity should be seized by the new administration and he shared the General's view that détente was desirable. However we should be hard and pragmatic in dealing with the Soviets. They knew what they wanted and we must know what we want. While we would not make talks on Middle East and other matters a condition for talks on limitation of strategic weapons, we did feel that it was proper to suggest at Ambassadorial level as indeed we had that we felt that we should try and make progress on all fronts to achieve a détente. We should talk in the UN in the framework of the Four Powers on the Middle East and discuss later what could be done there. We would like the Soviets' help on solving the Vietnamese problem, we realized that their situation in this matter was delicate with the Chinese but the Soviets did have great influence on the North Vietnamese. After all 85 percent of their weapons came from the Soviet Union. Perhaps we could also make some progress in the Central [Europe?] area on Berlin. Not of course a solution as neither side could give enough to settle the matter; we could perhaps make some progress. The President said he would like to know the General's opinion whether he thought we were correct in proceeding cautiously in asking the Soviets to talk on several areas rather than discussing only limitation of strategic weapons with them. The reason why the President was opposed to an agreement on arms limitation only without progress on political issues such as the Middle East, Europe and Vietnam was because such an agreement would create a sort of euphoria of peace.

"General de Gaulle said he felt that the President was quite right. A détente was the only acceptable policy. One must be cautious and not speak of everything at once, nor should one be overly polite and make concessions to them. The French who had started the policy of détente with them had never made any concessions even on Germany and they certainly had reasons to do so but had not. Now France was on much better terms with the Soviets and had made no concessions to them. Practically if the US were to start conversations on political subjects as well as on strategic missiles--ABM's and so forth--and if contact could be made with them on other subjects such as Vietnam and the Middle East he felt that the US could do this with all prudence and dignity. He believed that the President should not rush to Moscow and lay out the red carpet before Brezhnev but that the President was quite right in seeking to have adequate preparations made in advance." (Memorandum of conversation; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 447, President's Trip Files, Memcons-Europe, Feb 23-March 2, 1969)

The meeting was held in de Gaulle's office in the Elysée Palace at 3:42 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, Staff Members and Office Files, Office of Presidential Papers and Archives, Daily Diary) The full text of the memorandum of conversation is scheduled to be published in the Supplement to Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, China, 1969-1972.


14. Editorial Note

President Nixon met again with President de Gaulle on March 1, 1969, at the Grand Trianon Palace in Versailles. Among the topics discussed was Nixon's desire to develop "parallel relationships" with China and the Soviet Union:

"The President said that if the General agreed they might talk for an hour on Sunday [March 2]. He would like to have the General's views at that time on Vietnam and Southeast Asia. By that time the President would have been briefed by Lodge and his team. There was one other matter about which they might talk if time permitted. In 1963 when he had talked to the General, and he was talking privately now, not for public announcements that might embarrass the Soviet Union, whether it might not be wise to develop lines of communications with the Soviets and the Chinese and so to speak not put all of our eggs in one basket. There was considerable sentiment in the U.S. State Dept, not only in favor of a Soviet-U.S. détente but also for a lineup of the Soviets, Europe and the U.S. against Chinese. His own view was that while this might be a good short-range policy, he felt that for the longer range it was more important to recognize that our interests might perhaps best be served by recognizing that China and the USSR were two great powers and it might be better to develop parallel relationships with them. This was of course in some measure largely theoretical as it was difficult to have relations with the Chinese."

After a digression on developments in Vietnam, de Gaulle and Nixon returned to a discussion of the possibility of improving relations with China without adversely affecting relations with the Soviet Union:

"General de Gaulle then said that they had been talking about China. What about the possibility of relations with China and how would this affect relationships with the Soviets? Some said that one should try and play the Chinese off against the Soviets and try to divide them. Others felt that it was worth trying to improve relations with both. The French had relations with the Chinese and it had not brought them much advantage except perhaps economically and a bit culturally, but mostly economically and in some cases some exchanges. They had some and might perhaps have more. The Chinese had great economic requirements and diplomatic relations facilitated economic relations. The French had renewed relations with China but had not expected much of it as the Chinese had appeared to be in a state of ebullition. The Cultural Revolution had been accompanied by great agitation and they had done nothing else except agitate. This was not satisfactory for political relations with them. They now appeared to be calming down and returning to a more normal situation. He believed that there was advantage in having relations with them. They were a huge entity and certainly had great resources. They were working and making progress in industry, in technology, in nuclear matters. They had ambitions and actions everywhere, even in Paris, in Africa and in Asia. As time passed they would have more political weight. What attitude should we adopt--that of isolating them and letting them cook in their own juice--of having no opening or contacts with them? He had no illusions but did not feel that we should isolate them in their own rage. We should have exchanges at all levels and we might eventually see the beginnings of a détente. How this would affect the Soviets was difficult to know. The Soviets usually recommended that one should have normal relations with the Chinese. They had such relations themselves even though these were not always easy. That, however, was their business. The West should try to get to know China, to have contacts and to penetrate it. We should try to get them to sit at the table with us and offer them openings. The French felt that this was the best policy and we could see what conclusions could be drawn. If the U.S. began to have relations with China this would mean that China would probably get into the UN. This would have much effect and a lot of dust would be stirred up but he did not believe that the overall results would be bad. The Prime Minister queried on this but the General agreed with him.

"The President said that he had talked to [André] Malraux on the previous evening. He had seen Mao on the eve of the Cultural Revolution and Mao had said that he had to stir up everything otherwise China would go to sleep.

"The President said that as he saw it, there were two policies which might be followed, a short range policy and a long range policy. In the short range policy there could be no changes for a number of reasons relating to their impact on Asia. On a long range policy he felt that it would be detrimental to the interests of the U.S. in 10 years for it to appear that the West was ganging up with the Soviet Union against China. He felt that it was important for the French to extend their communications and keep a line open into China and in looking down the road towards talks with the Soviet Union we might keep an anchor to windward with respect to China. This did not mean that we would do anything so crude as to suggest we play China off against the Soviet Union. The Soviets would resent this bitterly. In 10 years when China had made significant nuclear progress we would have to have more communications than we had today.

"General de Gaulle said that the French already had relations with the Chinese and it would be better for the U.S. to recognize China before they were obliged to do it by the growth of China. He felt that this would be better and that was why the French had chosen to do it earlier." (Memorandum of conversation; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 447, President's Trip Files, Memcons-Europe, Feb 23-Mar 2, 1969)

The meeting was held at 10 a.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, Staff Members and Office Files, Office of Presidential Papers and Archives, Daily Diary)


15. Editorial Note

On March 4, 1969, President Nixon invited Congressional leaders to the White House to brief them on the results of his trip to Western Europe. In the course of the briefing, Nixon discussed the defense of the Western alliance and his inclination to rely upon a "flexible response."

"The President now discussed two different theories of Western strategy, which have been adopted at one time or another by Western leaders.

"The first is the theory that any conflict in Europe between East and West will inevitably result in a nuclear exchange, and thus all that is needed in the way of American forces there is a 'trip wire,' a 'few battalions.' This has some strong proponents, the President said (although using the argument he did not refer it as 'massive retaliation'). However, 'would an American President' deliver a nuclear strike on the Soviets if they moved into West Berlin, he said. Let's assume they did move in and occupy Berlin. We may want a 'flexible response.' The existence of conventional ground forces could have some military effect there, for us--but an 'enormous political effect.' There is even a question of whether we need to have more options available to us militarily in Europe than we now have, the President said.

"(To sum up briefly, it appeared to this observer that the President quite clearly had rejected the notion of massive retaliation, even should the Soviets move in force into West Berlin. He had opted instead for a 'flexible response' for a range of weapons which we might employ. One of the advantages of having our troops in Germany was thus military options, but more important was the enormous political effect they provided.)

"However, the President noted, it was simply a hard fact that the American military commitment of five-and-a-third or six divisions or whatever it is cannot continue ad infinitum. We did not threaten the Europeans with any withdrawal, but we did make clear the above fact." (Notes on the meeting prepared as a March 4 memorandum to the President by the President's Special Assistant Patrick J. Buchanan; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President's Office Files, Box 77, Memoranda for the President, Jan 21-Apr 6, 1969)

According to the President's Daily Diary, eight Senators and nine Representatives attended the bipartisan briefing. Agnew, Laird, Rogers, and Helms also attended, as did Kissinger, Ehrlichman, Harlow, and Klein of the White House staff. (Ibid., White House Central Files, Staff Members and Office Files, Office of Presidential Papers and Archives, Daily Diary)


16. Letter From President Nixon to the Head of the Delegation to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Conference (Smith)/1/

Washington, March 15, 1969.

/1/Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pp. 227-229. Nixon sent the letter to Gerard Smith, Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, in Geneva, where the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Conference convened on March 18. The letter was released that day. Smith held the personal rank of Ambassador as head of the U.S. delegation.

Dear Ambassador Smith:

In view of the great importance which I attach to the work of the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, I wish to address directly to you, as the new Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the head of our delegation, my instructions regarding the participation of the United States in this conference.

The fundamental objective of the United States is a world of enduring peace and justice, in which the differences that separate nations can be resolved without resort to war.

Our immediate objective is to leave behind the period of confrontation and to enter an era of negotiation.

The task of the Delegation of the United States to the disarmament conference is to serve these objectives by pursuing negotiations to achieve concrete measures which will enhance the security of our own country and all countries.

The new Administration has now considered the policies which will help us to make progress in this endeavor.

I have decided that the Delegation of the United States should take these positions at the Conference.

First, in order to assure that the seabed, man's latest frontier, remains free from the nuclear arms race, the United States delegation should indicate that the United States is interested in working out an international agreement that would prohibit the implacement or fixing of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction on the seabed. To this end, the United States Delegation should seek discussion of the factors necessary for such an international agreement. Such an agreement would, like the Antarctic Treaty and the Treaty on Outer Space/2/ which are already in effect, prevent an arms race before it had a chance to start. It would ensure that this potentially useful area of the world remained available for peaceful purposes.

/2/The Antarctic Treaty was signed December 1, 1959 (12 UST; TIAS 4780) and the Treaty on Outer Space was signed January 27, 1967 (18 UST; TIAS 6347).

Second, the United States supports the conclusion of a comprehensive test ban adequately verified. In view of the fact that differences regarding verification have not permitted achievement of this key arms control measure, efforts must be made towards greater understanding of the verification issue.

Third, the United States Delegation will continue to press for an agreement to cut off the production of fissionable materials for weapons purposes and to transfer such materials to peaceful purposes.

Fourth, while awaiting the United Nations Secretary General's study on the effects of chemical and biological warfare, the United States Delegation should join with other delegations in exploring any proposals or ideas that could contribute to sound and effective arms control relating to these weapons.

Fifth, regarding more extensive measures of disarmament, both nuclear and conventional, the United States Delegation should be guided by the understanding that actual reduction of armaments, and not merely limiting their growth or spread, remains our goal.

Sixth, regarding the question of talks between the United States and the Soviet Union on the limitation of strategic arms, the United States hopes that the international political situation will evolve in a way which will permit such talks to begin in the near future.

In carrying out these instructions, the United States Delegation should keep in mind my view that efforts toward peace by all nations must be comprehensive. We cannot have realistic hopes for significant progress in the control of arms if the policies of confrontation prevail throughout the world as the rule of international conduct. On the other hand, we must attempt to exploit every opportunity to build a world of peace--to find areas of accord--to bind countries together in cooperative endeavors.

A major part of the work of peace is done by the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee. I expect that all members of the United States Delegation will devote that extra measure of determination, skill, and judgment which this high task merits.

I shall follow closely the progress that is made and give my personal consideration to any problems that arise whenever it would be helpful for me to do so.

Please convey to all your colleagues my sincere wishes for success in our common endeavor. Over the years, their achievements at the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Conference have been outstanding. I am confident that in the future our efforts, in cooperation with theirs, will be equal to any challenge and will result in progress for the benefit of all.


Richard Nixon


17. Editorial Note

In a meeting with Australian Prime Minister John Gorton at the White House on April 1, 1969, President Nixon cited the domino theory in expressing his concern about the possible effects of a precipitate United States withdrawal from Vietnam:

"The President said the so-called domino theory is spoken of disparagingly these days, but in fact our posture in Viet-Nam affects the countries of Southeast Asia; countries such as Japan, which would not wish to see a solution in Viet-Nam that encouraged the 'hawks' of the Communist world, and in fact our whole relationship with the Communist powers on the world scene. The Viet-Nam war poisons our relations with certain European countries, the President said; they are not interested in it and do not care about it. The Latin American countries tend to feel the same way. Domestic opposition is substantial. Nevertheless we must persevere in our effort to achieve a workable peace, orchestrating the diplomatic and military instruments we have at hand for the purpose. He said one point that bears emphasis is that we cannot achieve an effective peace without the cooperation of the South-Vietnamese. President Thieu is coming along well and is quite reasonable, but he cannot be rushed unduly." (Memorandum of conversation; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President's Office Files, B Series documents withheld in Box 7 from documents originally filed in folder 7 of Box 57)


18. Address by President Nixon to the North Atlantic Council/1/

Washington, April 10, 1969.

/1/Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, p. 272-276. Nixon spoke at 2:26 p.m. in the Departmental Auditorium of the State Department.

Mr. Secretary, Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General,/2/ Your Excellencies, and our distinguished guests:

/2/Reference is to Secretary of State Rogers; Honorary President of the North Atlantic Council Willy Brandt, Vice Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany; and Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Manlio Brosio.

As we gather here today, we celebrate a momentous anniversary.

We celebrate one of the great successes of the postwar world.

Twenty years ago, as has already been mentioned, a few dedicated men gathered in Washington to cement an Atlantic partnership between the older nations of Europe and their offspring in the New World--and in this very room the North Atlantic Treaty was signed. Some of the men who were here then are here today--and I would like to suggest that those who were here then and who are here today stand for a moment. [Applause]/3/

/3/Brackets in the source text. The North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington on April 4, 1949.

Gentlemen, with our hindsight, we now have saluted your foresight at that time. In referring to that event, I thought I should share with you the conversation that I had with some of the founders in the room prior to coming to this meeting.

Secretary Acheson/4/ recalled that before the signing of the treaty the Marine Band played "We've Got Plenty of Nothing" and "It Ain't Necessarily So."

/4/Dean Acheson, Secretary of State, 1949-1953.

Certainly what has happened in those 20 years proved that as far as the music was concerned, it was not prophetic.

As we sit here today we also look back on those 20 years, what has happened, and we think, as the previous speakers have indicated, of all of those who have contributed to the Alliance and particularly to the one who commanded the armies that liberated Europe, the first Supreme Commander of the forces of NATO, the American President who did so much to bring NATO to its strength and to give life to its principles--to Dwight David Eisenhower.

His life demonstrated that there is a moral force in the world which can move men and nations. There is a spiritual force lodged in the very roots of man's being.

As for NATO, it is precisely because it has always been more than a military alliance that its strength has been greater than the strength of arms. This Alliance represents a moral force which, if we marshal it, will ennoble our efforts.

Dwight Eisenhower was a great humanist. He was also a great realist. If he were with us today, he would have recognized that together, as men of the Old World and of the New World, we must find ways of living in the real world.

As we know too well, that real world today includes men driven by suspicion, men who would take advantage of their neighbors, men who confuse the pursuit of happiness with the pursuit of power.

It also is peopled with men of good will, with men of peace and with men of hope and with men of vision.

No nation, and no community of nations, is made up entirely of one group of men or another. No part of the world has a monopoly on wisdom or virtue.

Those who think simply in terms of "good" nations and "bad" nations--of a world of staunch allies and sworn enemies--live in a world of their own. Imprisoned by stereotypes, they do not live in the real world.

On the other hand, those who believe that all it takes to submerge national self-interest is a little better communication, those who think that all that stands in the way of international brotherhood is stubborn leadership--they, too, live in a world of their own. Misled by wishful thinking, they do not live in the real world.

Two decades ago, the men who founded NATO faced the truth of their times; as a result, the Western world prospers today in freedom. We must follow their example by once again facing the truth--not of earlier times, but of our own times.

Living in the real world of today means recognizing the sometimes differing interests of the Western nations, while never losing sight of our great common purposes.

Living in the real world of today means understanding old concepts of East versus West, understanding and unfreezing those concepts, but never losing sight of great ideological differences that still remain.

We can afford neither to blind our eyes with hatred nor to distort our vision with rose-colored glasses. The real world is too much with us to permit either stereotyped reacting or wishful thinking to lay waste our powers.

Let us then count ourselves today among the hopeful realists.

In this same spirit of hopeful realism, let us look at NATO today.

We find it strong but we find it challenged. We find disputes about its structure, political divisions among its members, and reluctance to meet prescribed force quotas. Many people on both sides of the Atlantic today find NATO anachronistic, something quaint and familiar and even a bit old-fashioned.

As the Alliance begins its third decade, therefore, there are certain fundamentals to be reaffirmed:

First, NATO is needed; and the American commitment to NATO will remain in force and it will remain strong. We in America continue to consider Europe's security to be our own.

Second, having succeeded in its original purpose, the Alliance must adapt to the conditions of success. With less of the original cement of fear, we must forge new bonds to maintain our unity.

Third, when NATO was founded, the mere fact of cooperation among the Western nations was of tremendous significance, both symbolically and substantively. Now the symbol is not enough; we need substance. The Alliance today will be judged by the content of its cooperation, not merely by its form.

Fourth, the allies have learned to harmonize their military forces; now, in the light of the vast military, economic, and political changes of two decades, we must devise better means of harmonizing our policies.

Fifth, by its nature, ours is more than a military alliance; and the time has come to turn a part of our attention to those nonmilitary areas in which we all could benefit from increased collaboration.

Now, what does all this mean for the future of the Western Alliance?

To deal with the real world, we cannot respond to changing conditions merely by changing our words. We have to adapt our actions.

It is not enough to talk of flexible response, if at the same time we reduce our flexibility by cutting back on conventional forces.

It is not enough to talk of relaxing tension, unless we keep in mind the fact that 20 years of tension were not caused by superficial misunderstandings. A change of mood is useful only if it reflects some change of mind about political purpose.

It is not enough to talk of European security in the abstract. We must know the elements of insecurity and how to remove them. Conferences are useful if they deal with concrete issues which means they must, of course, be carefully prepared.

It is not enough to talk of détente, unless at the same time we anticipate the need for giving it the genuine political content that would prevent détente from becoming delusion.

To take one example, a number of America's Western partners have actively supported the idea of strategic arms control talks with the Soviet Union. I support that idea. When such talks are held, we shall work diligently for their success.

But within our Alliance we must recognize that this would imply a military relationship far different from the one that existed when NATO was founded. Let's put it in plain words. The West does not today have the massive nuclear predominance that it once had, and any sort of broad-based arms agreement with the Soviets would codify the present balance.

How would progress towards arms control affect the nature of consultation within our Alliance?

Up to now, our discussions have mainly had to do with tactics--ways and means of carrying out the provisions of a treaty drawn a generation ago. We have discussed clauses in proposed treaties; in the negotiations to come, we must go beyond these to the processes which these future treaties will set in motion. We must shake off our preoccupation with formal structure to bring into focus a common world view.

Of course, there is a diversity of policies and interests among the Western nations; and, of course, those differences must be respected. But in shaping the strategies of peace, these differences need not block the way--not if we break through to a new and deeper form of political consultation.

To be specific, the forthcoming arms talks will be a test of the ability of the Western nations to shape a common strategy.

The United States fully intends to undertake deep and genuine consultation with its allies, both before and during any negotiations directly affecting their interests. That is a pledge I shall honor--and I expect to consult at length on the implications of anything that might affect the pattern of East-West relations.

In passing that test together, this Alliance will give new meaning to the principle of mutual consultation.

To seize the moment that this opportunity presents, we would do well to create new machinery for Western political consultation, as well as to make greater use of the machinery that we have.

First, I suggest that deputy foreign ministers meet periodically for a high-level review of major, long-range problems before the Alliance.

Second, I suggest creation of a special political planning group, not to duplicate the work now being done by the Council or by the senior political advisers, but to address itself specifically and continually to the longer-range problems we face.

This would by no means preclude efforts to develop a fuller European cooperation. On the contrary, we in the United States would welcome that cooperation. What ties us to Europe is not weakness or division among our partners but community of interest with them.

Third, I strongly urge that we create a committee on the challenges of modern society, responsible to the deputy ministers, to explore ways in which the experience and resources of the Western nations could most effectively be marshaled toward improving the quality of life of our peoples.

That new goal is provided for in Article II of our treaty, but it has never been the center of our concerns. Let me put my proposal in concrete terms and in personal terms. On my recent trip to Europe I met with world leaders and private citizens alike. I was struck by the fact that our discussions were not limited to military or political matters. More often than not our talks turned to those matters deeply relevant to our societies--the legitimate unrest of young people, the frustration of the gap between generations, the need for a new sense of idealism and purpose in coping with an automating world.

These were not subjects apart from the concerns of NATO; indeed they went to the very heart of the real world we live in. We are not allies because we are bound by treaty; we bind ourselves by treaty because we are allied in meeting common purposes and common concerns.

For 20 years, our nations have provided for the military defense of Western Europe. For 20 years we have held political consultations.

Now the alliance of the West needs a third dimension.

It needs not only a strong military dimension to provide for the common defense, and not only a more profound political dimension to shape a strategy of peace, but it also needs a social dimension to deal with our concern for the quality of life in this last third of the 20th century.

This concern is manifested in many ways, culturally and technologically, through the humanities and the sciences.

The Western nations share common ideals and a common heritage. We are all advanced societies, sharing the benefits and the gathering torments of a rapidly advancing industrial technology. The industrial nations share no challenge more urgent than that of bringing 20th century man and his environment to terms with one another--of making the world fit for man, and helping man to learn how to remain in harmony with the rapidly changing world.

We in the United States have much to learn from the experiences of our Atlantic allies in their handling of internal matters: for example, the care of infant children in West Germany, the "new towns" policy of Great Britain, the development of depressed areas programs in Italy, the great skill of the Dutch in dealing with high density areas, the effectiveness of urban planning by local governments in Norway, the experience of the French in metropolitan planning.

Having forced a working partnership, we all have a unique opportunity to pool our skills, our intellects, and our inventiveness in finding new ways to use technology to enhance our environments, and not to destroy them.

The work of this committee would not be competitive with any now being carried on by other international agencies. Neither would it be our purpose to limit this cooperation and the benefits that flow from it to our own countries. Quite the opposite; our purpose would be to share both ideas and benefits, recognizing that these problems have no national or regional boundaries. This could become the most positive dimension of the Alliance, opening creative new channels to all the rest of the world.

When I visited the North Atlantic Council in Brussels I posed the question: "In today's world, what kind of an alliance shall we strive to build?"

Today I have sketched out some of the approaches that I believe the Alliance should take.

I believe we must build an Alliance strong enough to deter those who might threaten war, close enough to provide for continuous and far-reaching consultation, trusting enough to accept the diversity of views, realistic enough to deal with the world as it is, and flexible enough to explore new channels of constructive cooperation.

Ten years ago, addressing the North Atlantic Council in this same room, President Eisenhower spoke of the need for unity. Listen to his words: There is not much strength in the finger of one hand, he said, but when five fingers are balled into a fist, you have a considerable instrument of defense.

We need such an instrument of defense and the United States will bear its fair share in keeping NATO strong.

All of us are also ready, as conditions change, to turn that fist into a hand of friendship.

NATO means more than arms, troop levels, consultative bodies, and treaty commitments. All of these are necessary. But what makes them relevant to the future is what the Alliance stands for. To discover what this Western Alliance means today, we have to reach back, not across two decades, but through the centuries to the very roots of the Western experience.

When we do, we find that we touch a set of elemental ideals, eloquent in their simplicity, majestic in their humanity, ideals of decency and justice and liberty and respect for the rights of our fellow men. Simple, yes; and to us they seem obvious. But our forebears struggled for centuries to win them and in our own lifetimes we have had to fight to defend them.

These ideals are what NATO was created to protect. It is to these ideals, on this proud anniversary, that we are privileged to consecrate the Alliance anew. These ideals--and the firmness of our dedication to them--give NATO's concept its nobility, and NATO's backbone its steel.


19. Report on Meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy/1/

Washington, April 10, 1969.

/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President's Office Files, Box 77, Memoranda for the President, Jan 21-Apr 6, 1969. No classification marking. No drafting information provided. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room. Among those present were President Nixon, Vice President Agnew, Secretary of Agriculture Hardin, Secretary of Commerce Stans, Budget Director Mayo, Counselor to the President Arthur Burns, and Deputy Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Nathaniel Samuels.

[Omitted here is discussion of trade issues, particularly as they bore on agricultural exports. The focus of the discussion was Secretary Stans' upcoming trip to Europe.]

Mr. Samuels suggested that Secretary Stans stress "outwardness" rather than "inwardness" in trade policy. "Americans and Europeans have had some protectionist problems in the short run, but we have to make clear that this policy cannot be permanent." The President added, "Our mid-western friends here in America will stick with us on NATO but if we start fooling around with their soy beans, their votes are gone. Maury [Stans], if I were you, I would point out the growing isolationism in America. There's Vietnam, there are the obvious failures in foreign aid--overlooking the places it succeeded--and also there is the concern here with our own cities.

"There is no question about what the new leadership stands for," the President continued, "but we face a political problem at home. If the American people get the impression that the European economy is turning inward, the Europeans can forget about political cooperation; no administration could survive supporting their case.

"This isolationism is a troublesome trend," the President went on. "The people are saying now 'Why don't we cut the military budget? Why not bring home the divisions in Europe?' The next step could be 'Let the rest of the world go hang.' Of course, that would be a disastrous policy in the long run, but the Europeans and the Japanese have to understand that the string is running out. Maury, you have to use great discretion on this and not refer to it publicly at all. But tell them our problem. They don't hesitate to tell us theirs."

[Omitted here is discussion of a broad range of economic issues.]


20. Memorandum From the President's Deputy Assistant (Butterfield) to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)/1/

Washington, April 12, 1969.

/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 341, Subject Files, HAK/President Memoranda 1969-1970. No classification marking. A copy was sent to Keogh.

Notes from the President (Action Item)

The following item concerning "U.S. Power" appeared in the President's April 10th News Summary: "The U.S. has lost 'the desire and ability' to be the dominant power in the world, Britain's Institute for Strategic Studies said. In the past year Russia has become the 'full equal' of the United States in military and political terms and is likely to overtake America in Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles by mid-1969. It said, however, that with its great stock of submarines and planes the United States will nevertheless retain a lead in total number of nuclear weapons. The survey predicted the possibility of a less active American role in the world in the 1970s--maybe the smallest U.S. international role since before World War II. 'It was largely accidental that the end of the American desire and ability to be the universal and dominant power should coincide with the end of eight years of Democrat rule,' the survey said. This course is not due to a choice of Americans of 'isolation for its own sake, but because their recent experience at home and abroad, had exhausted their confident sense of purpose and ability.'"

With reference to the content of this paragraph, the President addressed these comments to you:

(1) Very important and accurate.
(2) We need to get this broadly circulated.

Alexander P. Butterfield/2/

/2/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


21. Editorial Note

On April 21, 1969, Secretary of State Rogers defined administration policy objectives in Asia in an address at the annual luncheon of the Associated Press in New York City. He used the address to send another signal of the administration's desire for improved relations with China:

"One cannot speak of a future Pacific community without reference to China.

"The United States Government understands perfectly well that the Republic of China on the island of Taiwan and Communist China on the mainland are both facts of life.

"We know that by virtue of its size, population, and the talents of its people, mainland China is bound to play an important role in East Asian and Pacific affairs.

"We have attempted to maintain a dialogue with the leaders of Communist China through periodic meetings in Warsaw; and we were disappointed 2 months ago when those leaders saw fit to cancel at the last moment a continuation of those talks.

"We have made a number of specific suggestions--an exchange of journalists, a relaxation of travel restrictions, the sale of grain and pharmaceuticals--in the hope that such steps would lead to a better climate between us. We regret that these overtures have been rejected--and that the leaders of Communist China have elected instead to attack the Nixon administration public pronouncements.

"Of course we recognize and have treaty relations with the Republic of China, which plays a responsible and constructive role in the international community. Whatever may be the ultimate resolution of the dispute between the Republic of China on Taiwan and the People's Republic of China on the mainland, we believe strongly it must be brought about by peaceful means.

"As things stand now, Communist China is in trouble domestically and externally. The present leaders look with enmity or suspicion upon their neighbors. They are hostile toward the United Nations; hostile toward the United States; hostile toward the Soviet Union; and have shown little interest in normal diplomatic relations with other countries. They still preach violence as a permanent way of life.

"We can expect all this to change with time. Not even a nation as large as mainland China can live forever in isolation from a world of interdependent states.

"Meanwhile, we shall take initiatives to reestablish more normal relations with Communist China and we shall remain responsive to any indications of less hostile attitudes from their side."

In the course of his address, Rogers also summarized the administration's objective of shifting the burden of combat in Vietnam to South Vietnam forces:

"The United States is committed to achieving a peace in Viet-Nam which will permit the people of South Viet-Nam to determine their own future, free from outside interference by anyone.

"That is our objective. It has been stated many times. It is known to all concerned. It is not subject to change.

"The South Vietnamese, together with the five allies who responded to their appeal for help, have denied the North Vietnamese Communists the military victory they were seeking. Together we have safeguarded the right of the people in the South to make their own decisions.

"The leaders in Hanoi know that they cannot win by military means.

"That is why there is a new sense of self-confidence in South Viet-Nam.

"And that is why we can now be deeply engaged, as we are, in an intensive program of upgrading the equipment and combat capability of the armed forces of the Republic of Viet-Nam so they are able to take over an ever larger measure of their own defense.

"I want to emphasize that this is something that the leaders of South Viet-Nam very much want--and have so stated publicly and privately.

"This, of course, is what we want, too.

"The readiness of replacement forces, the level of offensive actions by the enemy, or progress in the Paris peace talks will determine the scope and timing of actual transfers of responsibility--and the consequent release of our forces.

"In Paris we have put forward concrete proposals for bringing an end to armed conflict in Viet-Nam. These proposals have been drawn up on the assumption that the leaders of North Viet-Nam are, in fact, now prepared to negotiate an end to the war. On this assumption, we seek to negotiate the withdrawal of all outside combat forces from the territory of South Viet-Nam. This process of troop withdrawal cannot get started by postulating abstract propositions. It cannot get started by taking last things first. It must begin at the beginning." (Department of State Bulletin, May 12, 1969, pages 397-400)


22. Editorial Note

On April 28, 1969, Secretary of Commerce Maurice Stans reported to President Nixon on the results of a mission he had just led to consult with the economic and trade ministers of Western European nations. Stans reported the trip a success, with the European officials reacting favorably to the administration's efforts to improve relations with Europe by consulting on matters of mutual concern before policy decisions were made in Washington. He also reported positive reactions to his emphasis on four economic freedoms as the basis for dealing with international economic problems:

"In my public speeches and meetings with the American and European business leaders, I expressed the basis of the Administration's approach to international economic problems in terms of four economic freedoms expressed as ideals:

"1. Freedom to trade
"2. Freedom to travel
"3. Freedom to invest
"4. Freedom to exchange technology

"The response was positive and favorable." (Memorandum from Secretary Stans to President Nixon, April 28, 1969; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 213, Agency Files, Commerce, 1970, Vol. I)


23. Editorial Note

The Nixon administration's determination to "Vietnamize" the combat in Vietnam was balanced by President Nixon's concern that a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam would lead to an isolationist reaction. In a conversation on May 12, 1969, with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew at the White House, Nixon expressed his concern:

"The President said that he is personally quite familiar with the high stakes in Asia. A pull-out of the American forces precipitously would be disastrous for Asia, including countries like Japan and India. Europe would be affected. But, the most serious effect would be in the United States. When a great power fails, it deeply affects the will of the people. While the public would welcome peace initially, they would soon be asking why we pulled out and this would in turn lead an attack on the leadership and establishment and the U.S. role in the war. Isolation could easily be the consequence.

"The President assured Lee that we are going to hold the line in Vietnam. We would make reasonable proposals for peace but never agree to a disguised defeat." (Memorandum of conversation; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President's Office Files, B Series documents withheld in Box 7 from documents originally filed in folder 11 of Box 57)


24. Editorial Note

On May 15, 1969, the National Security Council's Senior Review Group, chaired by Henry Kissinger, met to consider U.S. China policy. The discussion addressed the question of how to balance relations with China and the Soviet Union. Kissinger "wondered whether we really wanted China to be a world power like the Soviet Union, competing with us, rather than their present role which is limited to aiding certain insurgencies."

"Nutter mentioned Sino-Soviet difficulties and Kissinger suggested that this was a key issue. What is our view of the evolution of Sino-Soviet relations, how much can we influence them, should we favor one or the other, etc. Brown noted that China thinks that we favor the Soviet Union, while Unger suggested that present policy gives us the flexibility to take advantage of Sino-Soviet developments. Kissinger noted that the Soviets and Chinese each think we are playing with the other."

Kissinger added: "Some Kremlinologists believe that any attempt to better our relations with China will ruin those with the Soviet Union. History suggested to him that it is better to align yourself with the weaker, not the stronger of two antagonistic partners. It is not clear to him that you achieve better relations with the Soviets necessarily because of a hard policy toward China and vice versa. Everyone agrees that we wish to reduce the risk of war with 700 million people, but the question is whether alignment with the Soviets, more conciliatory posture toward China or some combination would best achieve this end." (Minutes of Senior Review Group Meeting; National Security Council, Secretariat Files, Senior Review Group Minutes, May 15, 1969 Meeting)

The meeting was held at 2:10 p.m. in the White House Situation Room. The other members of the group cited in the discussion are Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs G. Warren Nutter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Winthrop Brown, and Lieutenant General Frederick T. Unger, Director for Plans and Policy on the Joint Staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The full text of the minutes is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, China, 1969-1972.


25. Editorial Note

President Nixon briefed a joint meeting of the National Security Council and the Cabinet on May 15, 1969, on the televised speech on Vietnam he had delivered the previous evening. During the briefing, Nixon summarized his objectives and strategy in pursuing a settlement to the conflict:

"In a summary statement, the President began by pointing out that the end of World War II was delayed by the insistence on unconditional surrender. If the enemy knows there is no way out but military defeat, he has nothing to gain by offering a settlement. What we have provided is a way out. On the other side of the coin, some people feel that it is only necessary to put out a proposal to get peace. What must be realized is that we are talking to an enemy whose first objective is not peace. They want South Vietnam. So if we are going to get genuine negotiations, just putting out a proposal is not enough. We needed to threaten that if they don't talk they will suffer.

"The President listed four principal factors in the U.S. position. One, we are for peace--we are reasonable. Two, we aim to convince the enemy that if there is no settlement, we have an option which is military action not only at the present level but at an expanded level. Three, we want to make clear that they can't win by sitting us out. Four, we want to convince them that they aren't going to get what they want by erosion of the will of the U.S. So, said the President, we have offered them a way out. We have tried to indicate that we will not tolerate a continuation of their fight-talk strategy. We have tried to convince them that the time is coming when South Vietnam will be strong enough to handle a major part of the load. Beyond all this, said the President, it was necessary to give the impression to the enemy that the people of the U.S. are going to support a sound peace proposal and not accept peace at any price. Then and only then will the enemy realize that the war must be ended." (Memorandum of National Security Council/Cabinet Meeting, drafted by the President's Special Assistant James Keogh; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President's Office Files, Box 1, Memoranda for the President 1969-1970, Beginning May 11, 1969)

Members of the National Security Council, the Cabinet, and 24 sub-Cabinet and White House officials attended the meeting, which lasted from 10:08 to 11:44 a.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, Staff Memoranda and Office Files, Office of Presidential Papers and Archives, Daily Diary) The full text of the memorandum is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Southeast Asia, 1969-1972. In his speech to the nation on May 14, President Nixon outlined a proposal for mutual withdrawal in Vietnam over a period of 12 months. The text of the speech is printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pages 369-375.


26. Special Message From President Nixon to the Congress/1/

Washington, May 28, 1969.

/1/Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pp. 411-417.

Americans have for many years debated the issues of foreign aid largely in terms of our own national self-interest.

Certainly our efforts to help nations feed millions of their poor help avert violence and upheaval that would be dangerous to peace.

Certainly our military assistance to allies helps maintain a world in which we ourselves are more secure.

Certainly our economic aid to developing nations helps develop our own potential markets overseas.

And certainly our technical assistance puts down roots of respect and friendship for the United States in the court of world opinion.

These are all sound, practical reasons for our foreign aid programs.

But they do not do justice to our fundamental character and purpose. There is a moral quality in this Nation that will not permit us to close our eyes to the want in this world, or to remain indifferent when the freedom and security of others are in danger.

We should not be self-conscious about this. Our record of generosity and concern for our fellow men, expressed in concrete terms unparalleled in the world's history, has helped make the American experience unique. We have shown the world that a great nation must also be a good nation. We are doing what is right to do.

A Fresh Approach

This Administration has intensively examined our programs of foreign aid. We have measured them against the goals of our policy and the goad of our conscience. Our review is continuing, but we have come to this central conclusion:

U.S. assistance is essential to express and achieve our national goals in the international community--a world order of peace and justice.

But no single government, no matter how wealthy or well-intentioned, can by itself hope to cope with the challenge of raising the standard of living of two-thirds of the world's people. This reality must not cause us to retreat into helpless, sullen isolation. On the contrary, this reality must cause us to redirect our efforts in four main ways:

We must enlist the energies of private enterprise, here and abroad, in the cause of economic development. We must do so by stimulating additional investment through businesslike channels, rather than offering ringing exhortations.

We must emphasize innovative technical assistance, to ensure that our dollars for all forms of aid go further, and to plant the seeds that will enable other nations to grow their own capabilities for the future.

We must induce other advanced nations to join in bearing their fair share--by contributing jointly to multilateral banks and the United Nations, by consultation and by the force of our example, and by effective coordination of national and multilateral programs in individual countries.

We must build on recent successes in furthering food production and family planning.

To accomplish these goals, this Administration's foreign aid proposals will be submitted to the Congress today. [Omitted here are elaboration of the four points listed above, an outline of the administration's budget requests for foreign assistance, and notice of the President's intention to appoint a non-governmental task force to review and make recommendations on foreign assistance programs.]

Toward a World of Order

Foreign aid cannot be viewed in isolation. That is a statement with a double meaning, each side of which is true.

If we turn inward, if we adopt an attitude of letting the underdeveloped nations shift for themselves, we would soon see them shift away from the values so necessary to international stability. Moreover, we would lose the traditional concern for humanity which is so vital a part of the American spirit.

In another sense, foreign aid must be viewed as an integral part of our overall effort to achieve a world order of peace and justice. That order combines our sense of responsibility for helping those determined to defend their freedom; our sensible understanding of the mutual benefits that flow from cooperation between nations; and our sensitivity to the desires of our fellow men to improve their lot in the world.

In this time of stringent budgetary restraint, we must stimulate private investment and the cooperation of other governments to share with us in meeting the most urgent needs of those just beginning to climb the economic ladder. And we must continue to minimize the immediate impact on our balance of payments.

This request for foreign economic and military assistance is the lowest proposed since the program began. But it is about 900 million dollars more than was appropriated last year. I consider it necessary to meet essential requirements now, and to maintain a base for future action.

The support by the Congress of these programs will help enable us to press forward in new ways toward the building of respect for the United States, security for our people and dignity for human beings in every corner of the globe.

Richard Nixon


27. Address by President Nixon/1/

Colorado Springs, Colorado, June 4, 1969.

/1/Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, 432-437. The President was speaking at the Air Force Academy Commencement Exercises.

[Omitted here are the President's introductory remarks in which he warned the graduating class that they were beginning their military careers at a difficult time. He told them that they would have to be prepared to risk their lives in a limited war while facing those at home who questioned the need for a strong national defense and saw a danger in the power of the military.]

This paradox of military power is a symptom of something far deeper that is stirring in our body politic. It goes beyond the dissent about the war in Vietnam. It goes beyond the fear of the "military-industrial complex."

The underlying questions are really these: What is America's role in the world? What are the responsibilities of a great nation toward protecting freedom beyond its shores? Can we ever be left in peace if we do not actively assume the burden of keeping the peace?

When great questions are posed, fundamental differences of opinion come into focus. It serves no purpose to gloss over these differences, or to try to pretend that they are mere matters of degree. Because there is one school of thought that holds that the road to understanding with the Soviet Union and Communist China lies through a downgrading of our own alliances and what amounts to a unilateral reduction of our arms in order to demonstrate our "good faith."

They believe that we can be conciliatory and accommodating only if we do not have the strength to be otherwise. They believe that America will be able to deal with the possibility of peace only when we are unable to cope with the threat of war.

Those who think that way have grown weary of the weight of free world leadership that fell upon us in the wake of World War II. They argue that we--that the United States is as much responsible for the tensions in the world as the adversaries we face.

They assert that the United States is blocking the road to peace by maintaining its military strength at home and its defenses abroad. If we would only reduce our forces, they contend, tensions would disappear and the chances for peace would brighten.

America's powerful military presence on the world scene, they believe, makes peace abroad improbable and peace at home impossible.

Now we should never underestimate the appeal of the isolationist school of thought. Their slogans are simplistic and powerful: "Charity begins at home. Let's first solve our problems at home and then we can deal with the problems of the world."

This simple formula touches a responsive chord with many an overburdened taxpayer. It would be easy, easy for a President of the United States to buy some popularity by going along with the new isolationists. But I submit to you that it would be disastrous for our Nation and the world.

I hold a totally different view of the world, and I come to a different conclusion about the direction America must take.

Imagine for a moment, if you will, what would happen to this world if America were to become a dropout in assuming the responsibility for defending peace and freedom in the world. As every world leader knows, and as even the most outspoken critics of America would admit, the rest of the world would live in terror.

Because if America were to turn its back on the world, there would be peace that would settle over this planet, but it would be the kind of peace that suffocated freedom in Czechoslovakia.

The danger to us has changed, but it has not vanished. We must revitalize our alliances, not abandon them.

We must rule out unilateral disarmament, because in the real world it wouldn't work. If we pursue arms control as an end in itself, we will not achieve our end. The adversaries in the world are not in conflict because they are armed. They are armed because they are in conflict, and have not yet learned peaceful ways to resolve their conflicting national interests.

The aggressors of this world are not going to give the United States a period of grace in which to put our domestic house in order--just as the crises within our society cannot be put on a back burner until we resolve the problem of Vietnam.

The most successful solutions that we can possibly imagine for our domestic programs will be meaningless if we are not around to enjoy them. Nor can we conduct a successful peace policy abroad if our society is at war with itself at home.

There is no advancement for Americans at home in a retreat from the problems of the world. I say that America has a vital national interest in world stability, and no other nation can uphold that interest for us.

We stand at a crossroad in our history. We shall reaffirm our destiny for greatness or we shall choose instead to withdraw into ourselves. The choice will affect far more than our foreign policy; it will determine the quality of our lives.

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.

That is why my disagreement with the skeptics and the isolationists is fundamental. They have lost the vision indispensable to great leadership. They observe the problems that confront us; they measure our resources and then they despair. When the first vessels set out from Europe for the New World these men would have weighed the risks and they would have stayed behind. When the colonists on the eastern seaboard started across the Appalachians to the unknown reaches of the Ohio Valley, these men would have counted the costs and they would have stayed behind.

Our current exploration of space makes the point vividly; here is testimony to man's vision and to man's courage. The journey of the astronauts is more than a technical achievement; it is a reaching-out of the human spirit. It lifts our sights; it demonstrates that magnificent conceptions can be made real.

They inspire us and at the same time they teach us true humility. What could bring home to us more the limitations of the human scale than the hauntingly beautiful picture of our earth seen from the moon?

When the first man stands on the moon next month every American will stand taller because of what he has done, and we should be proud of this magnificent achievement.

We will know then that every man achieves his own greatness by reaching out beyond himself, and so it is with nations. When a nation believes in itself--as Athenians did in their Golden Age, as Italians did in the Renaissance--that nation can perform miracles. Only when a nation means something to itself can it mean something to others.

That is why I believe a resurgence of American idealism can bring about a modern miracle, and that modern miracle is a world order of peace and justice.

[Omitted here are Nixon's concluding remarks, in which he argued for sufficient defense expenditures to maintain a strong military establishment.]


28. Letter From President Nixon to the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Smith)/1/

Washington, July 21, 1969.

/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 197, Agency Flies, ACDA, 1/20/69-12/31/69. Secret; Nodis. Drafted in the NSC Staff by Helmut Sonnenfeldt, and revised by Kissinger and Nixon.

Dear Gerry:

Following our discussion today, I wish to convey to you my thoughts on the forthcoming talks with the Soviet Union on strategic arms. You and your associates will be dealing with a subject of crucial significance to the safety of this country. My purpose in these talks is to determine whether it is feasible to make arrangements with the Soviet Government that will contribute to the preservation and, if possible, the improvement of this country's security. Any arrangement with the Soviet Union, especially if it is to be in the form of explicit and formal commitments, must meet this test to my own full satisfaction.

When I speak of this country's security, I fully realize that we cannot expect to return to an era when our country was literally immune to physical threat. Neither our military programs nor any negotiation with our potential adversaries can achieve that. But I am speaking of a situation in which I, as President and Commander-in-Chief, have at my disposal military forces that will provide me with the best assurance attainable in present and foreseeable circumstances that no opponent can rationally expect to derive benefit from attacking, or threatening to attack us or our allies. I am determined, moreover, to pass on to my successor that same sense of assurance.

If the Soviet leaders operate on similar premises (which we do not know and which their current military programs give some reason to doubt), there could be, I believe, a prospect of reaching an understanding with them whereby, in the first instance, limits would be placed on the quantitative and qualitative growth of strategic forces. It will be your task to obtain evidence that will assist me in making a determination whether such a prospect is real and what the elements of such an understanding could be.

Any understanding, whatever the form, that places limitations on Soviet forces will obviously involve limitations on ours. I will judge the resulting relationship of US-Soviet strategic forces in terms of the criteria for strategic sufficiency that I have established.

Moreover, I will accept limitations on our forces only after I have assured myself of our ability to detect Soviet failure to implement limitations on their own forces in sufficient time to protect our security interests. In this latter connection, you should know that I am determined to avoid, within the Government and in the country at large, divisive disputes regarding Soviet compliance or non-compliance with an understanding or agreement. Nor will I bequeath to a future President the seeds of such disputes. In our open society and political system it is my duty to provide persuasive public evidence not only of any Soviet non-compliance with an agreement but also of Soviet compliance with it. Any agreed limitations must therefore meet the test of verifiability. I recognize that this may not be obtainable with 100 percent assurance; but the margin of uncertainty must be reasonable. I will make this judgement.

I have carefully examined the possible alternative arrangements that might be entered into with the Soviet Union, as developed through our National Security Council process. In the absence of any indications from the Soviet Union of the direction they propose to take, I do not find it possible to make a clear selection among them. I do not, therefore, desire to propose to the Soviet Government a specific set of measures corresponding to the five alternatives analyzed in NSSM 62./2/ You should outline to the Soviet representatives the various approaches we have studied, as reflected in Alternatives I, II and III of NSSM 62 and indicate our readiness to examine jointly with them these and any others they might advance. You may state that we are prepared to consider limitations on all strategic offensive and defensive weapons systems, that our suggestions are not exhaustive but that we wish to hear their views before advancing any additional ones ourselves. Upon completion of the work of the MIRV verification panel, I may authorize presenting aspects of Alternative IV.

/2/NSSM 62 was addressed on July 2 to the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and the President's Science Adviser. In this memorandum, Kissinger, on behalf of the President, directed the preparation of negotiating positions for the strategic arms control talks. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 365, Subject Files, National Security Study Memoranda (NSSMs), Nos. 43-103)

In short, your task in the initial phases of the talks is to explore Soviet intentions without yourself placing on the table the full range of alternative arrangements that we might consider. In the light of the progress of the explorations, and other relevant factors, I will determine the timing and contents of any specific limitation proposal that we might make to the Soviet Union.

Let me, in conclusion, outline my general approach to our relations with the USSR so that you and your associates will be guided thereby in your talks. I have conveyed to the Soviet leaders my view that our relations should be based on a recognition by each side of the legitimate security interests of the other; I have conveyed to them also my readiness to engage in bona fide negotiations on concrete issues. I have told them that I have no interest either in polemical exchanges or in the mere atmospherics of détente. Having propounded these principles and acted on them in practice since entering office, I believe the seriousness of this Administration in pursuing the path of equitable accommodation with the Soviet Union is being demonstrated. I consider that the approach to the arms limitation talks outlined above will serve to provide further such demonstration. The other side has the opportunity to respond to the same spirit. If it does so, arrangements to restrain the pace of competition in the field of strategic armaments should be within our reach.


Richard Nixon/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that indicates Nixon signed the original.


29. Editorial Note

On July 25, 1969, during a tour of Asia, President Nixon met with reporters in Guam. His remarks were on a background basis, for attribution but not direct quotation. Nixon was in Guam after witnessing the splashdown in the Pacific Ocean of the Apollo astronauts following their return from the first landing on the moon. Speaking at 6:30 p.m. in the Top O' the Mar Officers Club, Nixon outlined what was first called the Guam Doctrine and later the Nixon Doctrine. Looking to the future, Nixon said that Asia "poses, in my view, over the long haul, looking down to the end of the century, the greatest threat to the peace of the world, and, for that reason, the United States should continue to play a significant role." But he qualified the scope of that role:

"Asians will say in every country that we visit that they do not want be dictated to from outside, Asia for Asians. And that is what we want, and that is the role we should play. We should assist but we should not dictate.

"At this time the political and economic plans that they are developing are very hopeful. We will give assistance to those plans. We, of course, will keep the treaty commitments that we have.

"But as far as our role is concerned, we must avoid the kind of policy that will make countries in Asia so dependent upon us that we are dragged into conflicts such as the one we have in Vietnam."

In response to a question, the President reiterated that the United States would honor its treaty commitments, but added "that as far as the problems of military defense, except for the threat of a major power involving nuclear weapons, that the United States is going to encourage and has a right to expect that this problem will be handled by, and responsibility for it taken by, the Asian nations themselves."

The full text of the President's remarks was subsequently released and is printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pages 544-556.

President Nixon's remarks stirred great interest among the press and the public in both Asia and the United States. The doctrine was refined and restated repeatedly and became one of the principal foreign policy themes of the Nixon administration. As to its origins, Henry Kissinger recalls that in preparing for the Asian trip he and Nixon had discussed redefining the parameters of U.S. commitments in the region in light of U.S. experience in Vietnam, but he was surprised by Nixon's informal remarks in Guam. According to Kissinger, the original intention was to make a speech along similar lines later in the summer. (Kissinger, White House Years, pages 222-225)

In his memoirs, Nixon notes that the doctrine he announced on Guam was misinterpreted by some as signaling a U.S. withdrawal from Asia, as well as other parts of the world. In his view, "the Nixon Doctrine was not a formula for getting America out of Asia, but one that provided the only sound basis for America's staying in and continuing to play a responsible role in helping non-communist nations and neutrals as well as our Asian allies to defend their independence." (Nixon, RN, The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, page 395)


30. Editorial Note

In a background briefing for reporters in Bangkok, Thailand, on July 29, 1969, Henry Kissinger amplified on the doctrine articulated by President Nixon in Guam 4 days earlier (see Document 29). In response to a question as to how the Asian nations consulted on the President's tour had responded to the President's remarks in Guam, Kissinger said:

"I would prefer to answer how the Asian nations have taken to the President's general position, because the text of the Guam conference isn't available and we haven't presented the Guam conference as such, although of course, we stand fully behind it.

"We have had full and detailed conversations with the Asian nations about the general philosophy that the President expressed at Guam and repeated at Manila.

"The Asian nations that we have talked to have agreed with us that the future of Asia must be, in the first instance, shaped by Asians and cannot be developed on the basis of prescriptions devised in Washington. They have also agreed with our general philosophy that the United States will, of course, fully live up to all of its commitments in this area, and that it will, of course, remain a Pacific power.

"However, it is clear that in the new period, in the period ahead, it becomes important to understand the various dangers that the Asian nations may face. As against military aggression from the outside, the President has repeated at every stop our intention to live up to those commitments that we have made, as well as to those commitments that are implied in the general United Nations Charter and the inherent importance of various countries.

"As regards internal subversion, we have stated that the primary responsibility for combating internal subversion has to be borne by the countries concerned with respect to manpower, with American material and technical help where that is indicated and thought appropriate.

"I am happy to report to you that this view has been shared by the heads of Government of every country in which we have spoken, and I have been particularly authorized by the heads of Government of Thailand to express to you their complete agreement with our philosophy, that the manpower to fight internal subversion has to be supplied by the countries concerned, with American material and technical help where indicated.

"Q. Does that mean that the United States now has decided not to supply any combat troops where a country is faced with internal subversion?

"Dr. Kissinger: The general policy is that internal subversion has to be the primary responsibility of the threatened country. In an overwhelming majority of the cases, to which it is hard to think of an exception, the numbers involved are not tremendous. We are talking now of internal subversion.

"Q. The numbers of what?

"Dr. Kissinger: The numbers of guerrillas involved are not tremendous. Therefore, local manpower should have the predominant responsibility for meeting this.

"The United States stands ready to supply material assistance, advice and technical assistance where that is requested and where our interests so dictate. But the general policy is as I have indicated.

"You understand, of course, that it is never possible to be absolutely categorical about every last case, but this is the general policy as it now stands." (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 425, Subject File, Background Briefings, June-Dec 1969)


31. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Bangkok, July 29, 1969, 4 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1023, Presidential/HAK Memcons, President's Asian and European Trip, July-Aug 1969. No classification marking. The meeting, held in the Embassy in Bangkok, was a gathering of regional Chiefs of Mission held during Nixon's trip to several Asian countries and Romania, which he took in July and August 1969. Additional documentation on the trip is ibid., President's Trip Files, Boxes 452-454. For the full text of the memorandum of conversation, see Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Southeast Asia, 1969-1972.

The President
Ellsworth Bunker, Ambassador to South Vietnam
Robert S. Lindquist, Chargé in Malaysia
William H. Burns, Chargé in Singapore
G. McMurtrie Godley, Ambassador to Laos
Arthur W. Hummel, Ambassador to Burma
Carol Laise, Ambassador to Nepal
Andrew V. Corry, Ambassador to Ceylon
Leonard Unger, Ambassador to Thailand

Norman Hannah, DCM in Thailand
Robert G. Neumann, Ambassador to Afghanistan

Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President
Ronald Ziegler, Assistant to the President
Harold H. Saunders, NSC Staff

President: Thanks for coming. Time precludes visiting some countries. On the other hand, being in area provides opportunity to hear your countries' reactions to our policies generally--everything from foreign assistance over. What I have tried to get across on trip so far:

I have general belief that Asia is where the action is and ought to be--in spite of Vietnam. Other areas naturally important too. US/Soviet relations will be taken care of at highest level. Latin America will not change much. Africa will not govern itself for 200 years. But in terms of conflict involving us, likeliest place is Asia. Mid-East possibly, but there less likely because that would be between US and USSR. But in Asia, countries on edge of China ripe for export of revolution.

As I see it, the way we end Vietnam war will determine whether we can have viable policy in Asia--a settlement that will not be seen as US defeat and will not lead to Communist takeover in a few years. Don't have to put this in domino terms.

One could conclude that getting out of Vietnam any way would be best thing we could do. But--though everyone wants peace--the most detrimental effect of a Vietnam settlement would be a settlement that produced Communist victory in a few years. US people would throw up hands on further active Asian involvement. We are going through critical phase for US world leadership--American people never wanted to be world leaders in first place and maybe that's why we have never had a world policy.

[Omitted here are reports by Chiefs of Mission Godley, Hummel, Lindquist, Burns, Neumann, Corry, Laise, and Bunker on developments in their respective areas of responsibility.]

President: Let me sum up.

On Mid-East, no progress of significance. I anticipate none. May only come only at a very high level only when Soviets realize they may be drawn in. Arabs they support in shaky positions. Very pessimistic situation at this time.

On Vietnam, no significant progress in Paris on public talks--don't talk about private contacts. Soviets have played minimal role; expect none unless they can get something because they can't get caught at it. Escalation that would involve US and USSR remote. Ties us down. One factor in other direction is that they have their troubles. As long as Vietnam going on, difficult to make progress in other fields with us. If USSR needs or wants better relations with US, moving on Vietnam would open door. If I were where they sit, I would keep "giving it to the US" in Vietnam.

Chinese-Soviet and US attitude. I don't think we should rush quickly into embrace with USSR to contain China. Best US stance is to play each--not publicly. US-USSR-Europe lined up against rest of Asia not a pretty prospect. US-USSR security pact would invite Soviet adventurism in area; can let people talk about it but not do anything about.

What really rides on Vietnam, is whether US people are going to play big role in world or not. That question is [in] very serious doubt. Mass of people usually think right but intellectuals oppose all but passive US role. How can we conduct policies in Asia so that we can play role we should:

1. Viable Vietnamese government for at least five years.

2. Where problem is internal subversion, countries must deal with problem themselves. We will help--but not American ground forces. Even when there is foreign exported revolution. Not talking about invasion by conventional troops.

3. I feel that with all criticism of US, Asia leaders realize worst thing for them would be for US to bug out of Vietnam because that would leave vacuum. Collective security is a good theme--but not real for five years (even Japan).

4. We have to conduct policy so we can sell it in US.


32. Editorial Note

The final stop in Asia on the tour undertaken by President Nixon in July and August 1969 was in Pakistan. Henry Kissinger used the occasion of a background briefing for the press in Lahore on August 1 to expand the definition of the doctrine established by Nixon in Guam on July 25:

"We came to Asia to put before the countries we visited our general approach to Asian policy, which I perhaps can sum up briefly as follows:

"One, that we will honor all commitments which we have made; two, that we will not undertake any new formal commitments; three, that the best defense against the insurrection is to prevent it from happening, by removing the conditions that give rise to it. If insurrection reaches the form, or if subversion reaches the form of insurrection, the American role should be confined, essentially, to technical and military assistance and not to the supply of ground forces in those cases in which we feel our interest is sufficiently involved to engage ourselves at all.

"Five, that peace in Asia is a pre-condition to peace in the world, and that peace in Asia cannot result primarily from American conceptions, but has to involve Asian initiatives, and a structure developed by Asians.

"Therefore, we would look favorably upon regional and sub-regional arrangements that have an Asian origin, and we would be prepared to give our support, especially in the economic field, where it is asked for and where our view of the necessities coincides with that of the countries concerned.

"I believe that while when we started out there was a fear in many of the countries that we visited that the United States might withdraw from Asia altogether, or might withdraw too precipitously from Vietnam, that there is an understanding that we are moving into a new phase, that we are looking for more permanent relationships and not the essentially emergency measures that were inevitable in the immediate post-war period.

"I believe also that there is a general recognition that the way the war in Vietnam ends will affect the American posture towards international affairs and towards a role in Asia, and I think we have laid the basis for a relationship which, over a longer period of time, will be more viable than the existing one." (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 425, Subject File, Background Briefings, June-Dec 1969)


33. Editorial Note

During his visit to Lahore, Pakistan, on August 1, 1969, President Nixon discussed with President Yahya Khan the importance of ending the diplomatic isolation of China:

"President Nixon stated it as his personal view--not completely shared by the rest of his government or by many Americans--that Asia cannot move forward if a nation as large as China remains isolated. He further said that the US should not be party to any arrangements designed to isolate China. He asked President Yahya to convey his feeling to the Chinese at the highest level."

Nixon met privately with Yahya; no U.S. record of the meeting has been found. Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, Agha Hilaly, subsequently shared the Pakistani record of the meeting with Harold Saunders of the NSC Staff. That record, dated August 28, is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1032, Files for the President, China Materials, Cookies II, Chronology of Exchanges with the PRC.

This closely-held initiative, which led to Nixon's trip to China in 1972 and to the ultimate re-establishment of relations between the United States and China, contrasted with the view Nixon expressed in a conversation in San Francisco on August 21 with President Pak of the Republic of Korea. Nixon described China as aggressive and unsuitable for membership in the United Nations:

"We have relaxed our travel restrictions and purchases with regard to Communist China, but we regard Communist China as an aggressive nation. U.S. policy toward China has not changed, and we will not admit the country into the U.N." (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., White House Special Files, President's Office Files, Box 79, Memoranda for the President, Aug 3-Dec 28, 1969)


34. Editorial Note

When he returned from his trip to Asia and Romania, President Nixon briefed Congressional leaders on August 4, 1969, on the new policy he had outlined in Guam. In the process, he drew the broader implications of the policy:

"The centerpiece of the meeting was a monologue by the President on his just completed trip to Southeast Asia, South Asia and Romania. The President began the meeting with a discussion of American policy in Asia. He said that if you gentlemen are somewhat confused by the seeming contradiction between my statements in various Asian countries, this is quite deliberate. American policy in Asia is in a transition stage. We have to realize that these are different countries requiring different approaches; the U.S. must move away from a monolithic approach to a country-by-country approach in the area. However, that approach will work only if we have some general operative principles. The President then reverted to his own background; I came from the 'era of pacts,' he said. I supported this approach in the past, but now 25 years after World War II, we have to revise our policy to meet the new situation. It is important this be done subtly and gradually.

"The President said that his visits with Yahya Khan in Pakistan and Ceausescu in Romania were worth going half way around the world to see. He said their reports were extremely helpful regarding the Sino-Soviet problem, and that we have difficulty getting hard intelligence on this because we simply have no agents in some of those areas. The policy we should begin to follow now, he indicated, is this. The U.S. must keep the commitments it has made thus far, the treaties it has made, because a failure here would bring drastic repercussions both in terms of what would happen to the people and in terms of American credibility in the area. However, we should not expand any treaty; the time has come to examine our commitments on a country by country basis. In some areas, he said, it is not in our interest to have an agreement. I don't believe we should become involved in some of these areas if we can possibly avoid it. However, he reiterated that he felt that history would vindicate the decisions in Vietnam and that the war there is in the basic interest of peace in the Pacific. The President reaffirmed his conviction that were it not for the U.S. keeping the cork in the bottle in Vietnam, the 115 million people in Indonesia would now be under Communist rule. These then were the basics of the new policy:

"To maintain the credibility of America's existing commitments and to make no new commitments in the area. However, if a major power should move across a border openly, this would be a different ball game, but since that would involve a confrontation of some kind with the U.S., the President felt the likelihood of that kind of activity to be small. Our policy in the future, he said, will be to help them fight the war and not fight the war for them. This referred to other non-Communist Asian nations.

"In the event that the difficulties in an Asian country arise from an internal threat, these countries will be called upon to handle it entirely on their own. In the event that the aggression within is subsidized from the outside, we will provide them with American assistance in the form of arms and material, but we will not provide the troops. This is the new approach: we will help them in a material way and not a manpower way, he said." (Notes drafted by Patrick J. Buchanan and submitted to the President in a memorandum dated August 5; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President's Office Files, Box 79, Memoranda for the President, Aug 3-Dec 28, 1969)

According to the President's Daily Diary, the meeting was held at 8:35 a.m. in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Eleven Senators and eleven Members of the House of Representatives attended the bipartisan leadership meeting. (Ibid., White House Central Files, Staff Members and Office Files, Office of Presidential Papers and Archives, Daily Diary)


35. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

San Clemente, California, September 2, 1969, 11:45 a.m.

/1/Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1026, Presidential/HAK Memcons, June-Dec 1969. No classification marking. The meeting was held in the President's office in the Western White House. No drafting information is provided but the memorandum was apparently drafted by C. Fred Bergsten of the NSC Staff.

President's Task Force on Foreign Aid/2/

/2/On September 2 the White House Press Secretary announced the appointment of Rudolph Peterson, President of the Bank of America, as chairman of the President's Task Force on International Development. President Nixon had announced his intention to appoint such a task force of private citizens to review the entire range of U.S. foreign assistance activities in his May 28 message to Congress on foreign assistance (see Document 26). On September 24 the White House Press Office announced the membership of the task force. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 193, Agency Files, AID, Task Forces on AID) In an October 6 memorandum to Peterson, Kissinger noted the high prioritinger noted the high priority the President attached to the task force and his instruction that the agencies cooperate fully with it. (Ibid.) For documentation on the Peterson Task Force, see Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, vol. IV, Documents 119 ff.

The President
Rudolph Peterson, Chairman of the President's Task Force on International Development
Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
C. Fred Bergsten, Senior Staff, NSC

The President began the meeting by speaking bluntly about the objectives of the Task Force. It would not be like the earlier Task Forces on aid chaired by General Clay and others. This group must come up with a truly new approach to foreign aid or the U.S. aid program will die.

AID's presentation to the National Security Council was the worst it had had this year. (This is not due to Dr. Hannah, who was new at the time and had not yet been able to effect any changes.) The State Department wants to give aid to every country in the world and the result is lots of "Mickey Mouse programs." The President does not believe in this approach.

Foreign aid is not an abject failure, the President continued. There are numerous success stories. In all of them, however, there were additional key factors beyond aid, such as U.S. military expenditures or impressive natural resources.

Mr. Peterson can expect to hear from the State Department that government-to-government aid is best because State likes to use aid to stroke its clients. They believe in aid to socialist countries and enterprises and are not worried by such events as India's nationalization of the banking system. The President asserted that we need to get away from government-to-government aid and from aiding countries who are headed toward adoption of totalitarian socialist systems. This is not because of ideology.

It is because aid simply will not be effective in such environments. The success stories to date have occurred mainly in environments where the private sector played a major role. He had told Mrs. Gandhi, for example, that public aid was not expandable--only private investment was.

Latin America is a disaster, the President continued. State and AID like to provide aid to consumer/social enterprises for purposes such as health and housing. This is wrong. We must help countries help themselves through supporting industries which have multiplier effects throughout the economy. We must help them increase their GNP's so they can build the needed infrastructure themselves. The way to help poor people is to help increase the size of the pie from which they can get a slice.

The President stated that there has been no really new thought in the foreign aid field in twenty years. There are always references to "trade and aid" and increasing private investment but we have added nothing really new. Everybody is caught in the Marshall Plan syndrome, which unfortunately could not work outside Europe and Japan.

The President did not pretend to have the answer himself. He did feel, however, that our program was far too fragmented. We do not need to aid every country. For example, some of the former metropoles should bear the responsibility for their ex-colonies. The U.S. should only aid countries where there is a major U.S. interest. We should not attempt to dictate the type of political system maintained in foreign countries, although many of the Task Force members will probably espouse socialist approaches and repeat many of the old tired ideas.

The President concluded that Congress will not provide money to do what is needed in the aid field unless we have a new name and a new approach to the program. He stressed the importance of getting an exceptionally able staff for the Task Force and that the group must not be on the defensive about the aid effort.

Dr. Kissinger, at the President's request, added that the whole U.S. approach to aid has been exceedingly defensive because of the lack of a new concept. The bias has been that foreign aid is good and the only job is to sell it. Another problem is that aid has fallen into the hands of economists, which was all right in Europe where the need was essentially technical and the requisite private energy and political structures existed, but which will not work where political structures do not exist as is the case in many LDCs.

There is no necessary progression from economic growth to political stability, Dr. Kissinger continued. In fact, there must be a political structure or else economic growth will not occur. We therefore need an explicit consideration of the link between political and economic frameworks in particular countries.

Dr. Kissinger added that Mr. Peterson will hear that leftist totalitarian approaches are completely acceptable but that the U.S. should oppose rightist approaches. This is particularly strange because we do not know what democracy means in a less developed country. This is another conceptual problem which must be tackled. He was afraid that his academic colleagues were not very fertile in answering it.

The President suggested that our effort should appear publicly as aid without strings but that in practice it, of course, could not be. On the issue of bilateral versus multilateral aid, he noted that many foreigners prefer bilateral assistance from the U.S. Indonesia, for example, was uneasy about multilateral aid because they felt it let the Japanese get additional leverage through the use of U.S. money--they feel it is not truly multilateral. The President also noted that Indonesia was very high on his list--the State Department disagreed, but the President thought Indonesia was one country which could make it. The President stressed that Japan and Western Europe must increase their aid efforts, however.

The President continued that the U.S. should use its aid for humanitarian purposes in particular circumstances. Furthermore, we should not simply help those who meet our ideas of proper political organization. The key is to help those who follow economic approaches, particularly reliance on the private sector, which we consider feasible in leading to real development. He would not be worried about the politics of the leaders of particular countries but rather about the climate for investment and other major economic approaches.

The President further stressed that population control is a must. He urged Mr. Peterson to read his message to the Congress on population/3/ and to work closely with the White House staff involved in this effort. Population control must go hand in hand with aid. The U.S. has finally bitten the bullet on this issue and made it a top priority national policy.

/3/For text of the President's July 18 message to Congress on problems of population growth, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pp. 521-530.

Trade is another key area, and he urged Mr. Peterson to speak with Ambassador Gilbert,/4/ Secretary Stans and others involved in U.S. trade policy. We will probably want to try some new initiatives in this area. Linkage among trade, aid and population control may be the necessary new approach.

/4/Carl J. Gilbert, Special Representative for Trade Negotiations.

On military aid, the President warned that many of the panelists will probably oppose it completely. He agrees that we should not supply exotic weapons to countries which do not need them. However, State/AID is wrong to not want to help Indonesia militarily; they must have sufficient military assistance to maintain internal security. More broadly, the military may be the most stable force in most countries. He would therefore hope that Mr. Peterson would have no preconceptions that the military or rightist leaders are villains. Mr. Peterson agreed that there is a new breed of military men around the world, especially in Latin America.

The President summarized that we should follow an aid approach that will work. Otherwise we should forget it. A banker's approach, especially that of the Bank of America with its record of innovative financing, is good for this problem.

In response to Mr. Peterson's question about the thrust of overall U.S. foreign policy, the President said that Congress will not buy any aid program not directly related to U.S. foreign policy objectives, except perhaps for a few clear humanitarian cases. He felt that our long term foreign policy interests will be well served by broad, generous foreign assistance programs. Because of the growing gulf between our wealth and that of most countries, and the shrinking of the world through modern communications, people in the LDCs will not stand for continuation of the status quo. It will develop like our own urban problems.

For the next five years, however, our efforts will be limited by budg-etary restrictions. We must thus bore in where it really counts with what we have. In the longer term, we must think of broader approaches.

The President stated his strong conviction that aid won't work unless and until recipient countries develop political stability. He agrees with Dr. Kissinger that aid does not necessarily lead to political stability. He would use our limited resources in areas where some stability already exists.

We need some success stories. In the Pakistan/India situation, for example, Pakistan comes out way ahead in terms of likely progress, partly because India is headed down the road toward becoming a socialist state. Latin America is an exceptionally difficult case and we will send Mr. Peterson a copy of the Rockefeller report when it is received./5/

/5/At the request of President Nixon, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller undertook a mission to survey the quality of life in the other nations of the Western Hemisphere. Rockefeller's report, including policy recommendations, was released by Nixon on November 10, and is printed in Department of State Bulletin, December 8, 1969, pp. 493-540.

Dr. Kissinger added that individual success stories in given regions could spread out through the region by galvanizing others into action. We need to move toward greater self-reliance on the part of other countries. This is the thrust of our overall foreign policy--to get others to shoulder a greater share of the burden.

Dr. Kissinger continued that we must get away from abstract notions. Our policy must relate to concrete objectives of mutual interest between the U.S. and other countries. Earlier U.S. aid efforts were relatively easy technical problems. We now have the problem of developing a world order in which the U.S. does not have to carry the entire burden. This means relating individual countries to others in their regions and then relating them to the U.S. We are in for some troubled years ahead, especially in Latin America.

The President reiterated that his foreign policy approach is based on pragmatism. The test of a particular policy is how well it will work. We must get away from ideological battles. In response to a question from Mr. Peterson, he affirmed that he was not terribly concerned with electoral systems in other countries. Dr. Kissinger added that we must look at their foreign policy as it affects us.

Concerning the plethora of small U.S. programs in Africa, the President said he was not impressed by the argument that the Communists will pour in aid if we don't. We need not react every time to such a threat. The question is whether U.S. interests in the particular countries are vital. We must not let other countries shake us down, even though some of our friends are among those who do so.

The President reiterated that we should not pour money down ratholes. We should test a specific program by asking whether it will work. The Task Force should look into all the international lending organizations and the trade area, where we must consider preferential arrangements. In general, the Task Force should take a broad view of its mandate.

Mr. Peterson asked who would be his main point of contact with the Administration. The President replied that Dr. Kissinger, or anyone he might designate, would be that point. The Task Force should of course get input from Dr. Hannah, who is very able and will be developing some new ideas as he gets new people.

The President also noted that we probably have too many Americans abroad, a point on which he probably differs with Dr. Hannah. Point IV was great in its time, but the U.S. generally has the wrong people overseas. We should not assume that the best possible world is one in which many Americans are helping out overseas. In fact, the Task Force must assume that our present aid program is not full of good administrators. Many of our people are dedicated but many are incompetent, partly because AID is short of money and is a resting place for persons nearing retirement.

American businessmen abroad are not so good either, because the best businessmen do not view foreign assignments as the road to success. However, the President suggested that Mr. Peterson seek the views of a thousand U.S. businessmen overseas on our aid program, perhaps through getting the top 25-30 companies to canvass their people and pass their ideas on to us.

The President concluded that Mr. Peterson faced an extremely difficult job. The effort had been tried before and failed. In addition, many people disagreed with the views that the President had been spelling out. What he did know, however, was that the effort of the past will not sell even if it is right. And Dr. Kissinger added that with the loss of purpose in aid the annual appropriation process had become an end in itself.

The President instructed Mr. Peterson to take both a short-term and a long-term look at the problem. What kind of a world do we want in the future? How much can and will others do?

He did not have an answer to these questions. He did know that it was ridiculous to simply compare the percentages of different countries' GNPs which are spent on aid, in view of the burden assumed by the U.S. in the military area. Dr. Kissinger added that it was also irrelevant to compare percentages when the magnitudes differed so sharply. The President also instructed Mr. Peterson to look at the personnel and organization of our aid effort.

Mr. Peterson concluded that his effort must be to decide upon a new approach and also recommend how to implement it. The President concurred and stressed that the whole program must be reorganized.


36. Editorial Note

Henry Kissinger sent a memorandum to President Nixon on September 10, 1969, in which he expressed his reservations about prospects for "Vietnamization" of the conflict in Vietnam:

"Three elements on the Vietnam front must be considered--(1) our efforts to 'win the war' through military operations and pacification, (2) 'Vietnamization,' and (3) the political position of the GVN.

"(1) I do not believe that with our current plans we can win the war within two years, although our success or failure in hurting the enemy remains very important.

"(2) 'Vietnamization' must be considered both with regard to its prospects for allowing us to turn the war over to the Vietnamese, and with regard to its effect on Hanoi and U.S. public opinion. I am not optimistic about the ability of the South Vietnamese armed forces to assume a larger part of the burden than current MACV plans allow. These plans, however, call for a thirty-month period in which to turn the burden of the war over to the GVN. I do not believe we have this much time.

"In addition, 'Vietnamization' will run into increasingly serious problems as we proceed down its path.

"--Withdrawal of U.S. troops will become like salted peanuts to the American public: The more U.S. troops come home, the more will be demanded. This could eventually result, in effect, in demands for unilateral withdrawal--perhaps within a year.

"--The more troops are withdrawn, the more Hanoi will be encouraged--they are the last people we will be able to fool about the ability of the South Vietnamese to take over from us. They have the option of attacking GVN forces to embarrass us throughout the process or of waiting until we have largely withdrawn before doing so (probably after a period of higher infiltration).

"--Each U.S. soldier that is withdrawn will be relatively more important to the effort in the south, as he will represent a higher percentage of U.S. forces than did his predecessor. (We need not, of course, continue to withdraw combat troops but can emphasize support troops in the next increments withdrawn. Sooner or later, however, we must be getting at the guts of our operations there.)

"--It will become harder and harder to maintain the morale of those who remain, not to speak of their mothers.

"--'Vietnamization' may not lead to reduction in U.S. casualties until its final stages, as our casualty rate may be unrelated to the total number of American troops in South Vietnam. To kill about 150 U.S. soldiers a week, the enemy needs to attack only a small portion of our forces.

"--'Vietnamization' depends on broadening the GVN, and Thieu's new government is not 'significantly broader than the old (see below). The best way to broaden the GVN would be to create the impression that the Saigon government is winning or at least permanent. The more uncertainty there is about the outcome of the war, the less the prospect for 'Vietnamization.'

"(3) We face a dilemma with the GVN: The present GVN cannot go much farther towards a political settlement without seriously endangering its own existence; but at the same time, it has not gone far enough to make such a settlement likely.

"Thieu's failure to 'broaden' his government is disturbing, but not because he failed to include a greater variety of Saigon's Tea House politicians. It is disturbing because the politicians clearly do not believe that Thieu and his government represent much hope for future power, and because the new government does not offer much of a bridge to neutralist figures who could play a role in future settlement. This is not to mention his general failure to build up political strength in non-Catholic villages. In addition, as U.S. troops are withdrawn, Thieu becomes more dependent on the political support of the South Vietnamese military." (National Security Council, Special NSC Meeting Folder, 9/12/69 Vietnam)

The full text of the memorandum is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Vietnam, 1969-1970. It is also printed in Kissinger, White House Years, pages 1480-1482.


37. Editorial Note

President Nixon addressed the United Nations General Assembly on September 18, 1969, and expressed the determination of the United States to remain fully engaged as a world power:

"I am well aware that many nations have questions about the world role of the United States in the years ahead--about the nature and extent of our future contribution to the structure of peace.

"Let me address those doubts and address them quite candidly before this organization.

"In recent years, there has been mounting criticism here in the United States of the scope and the results of our international commitments.

"This trend, however, has not been confined to the United States alone. In many countries we find a tendency to withdraw from responsibilities, to leave the world's often frustrating problems to the other fellow and just to hope for the best.

"As for the United States, I can state here today without qualification: We have not turned away from the world.

"We know that with power goes responsibility.

"We are neither boastful of our power, nor apologetic about it. We recognize that it exists, and that, as well as conferring certain advantages, it also imposes upon us certain obligations.

"As the world changes, the pattern of those obligations and responsibilities changes.

"At the end of World War II, the United States for the first time in history assumed the major responsibility for world peace.

"We were left in 1945 as the one nation with sufficient strength to contain the new threats of aggression, and with sufficient wealth to help the injured nations back to their feet.

"For much of the world, those first difficult postwar years were a time of dependency.

"The next step was toward independence, as new nations were born and old nations revived.

"Now we are maturing together into a new pattern of interdependence.

"It is against this background that we have been urging other nations to assume a greater share of responsibility for their own security, both individually and together with their neighbors. The great challenge now is to enlist the cooperation of many nations in preserving peace and in enriching life. This cannot be done by American edict, or by the edict of any other nation. It must reflect the concepts and the wishes of the people of those nations themselves.

"The history of the postwar period teaches that nationalism can be dangerously disruptive--or powerfully creative.

"Our aim is to encourage the creative forms of nationalism; to join as partners where our partnership is appropriate, and where it is wanted, but not to let a U.S. presence substitute for independent national effort or infringe on national dignity and national pride.

"It is not my belief that the way to peace is by giving up our friends or letting down our allies. On the contrary our aim is to place America's international commitments on a sustainable, long term basis, to encourage local and regional initiatives, to foster national independence and self-sufficiency, and by so doing to strengthen the total fabric of peace.

"It would be dishonest, particularly before this sophisticated audience, to pretend that the United States has no national interests of its own, or no special concern for its own interests.

"However, our most fundamental national interest is in maintaining that structure of international stability on which peace depends, and which makes orderly progress possible."

The full text of the speech is printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pages 724-725.


38. Editorial Note

On September 27, 1969, President Nixon met at Camp David, Maryland, with the political team he had selected to help prepare for the 1970 Congressional elections. When the discussion turned to Vietnam, the President melded his concern over what he saw as the dangers inherent in an effort to disengage from the war in Southeast Asia with his determination not to be the "first American President to lose a war."

"The President turned briefly to Vietnam. If for one month he said everybody would 'shut up' about the war, we would be a long way toward getting it over.

"The President noted again that he did not intend to be the 'first American President to lose a war' that he 'had three years and three months left in office' that we have 'turned it around' as far as world opinion is concerned on the Vietnam thing, that if we lost the war in Vietnam or pulled an elegant bug-out the United States would 'retreat from the world.' This 'first defeat in American history' he said would 'destroy the confidence of the American people in themselves.'

"By 1970 elections, the President said, one way or the other, it is going to be over with; we are going to be able by then to 'see the light at the end of the tunnel.'" (Notes drafted on September 29 as a memorandum for the President's file by Patrick J. Buchanan; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President's Office Files, Box 79, Memoranda for the President, Aug 3-Dec 28, 1969)

According to the President's Daily Diary, the meeting was held at 2:15 p.m. The group the President met with included Senators Hugh Scott, Robert Griffin, and John Tower; Congressmen Gerald Ford, Leslie Arends, Bob Wilson, and Rogers Morton; and H.R. Haldeman, Bryce Harlow, Donald Rumsfeld, Harry Dent, Lyn Nofziger, and Patrick Buchanan from the Office of the President. (Ibid., White House Central Files, Staff Members and Office Files, Office of Presidential Papers and Archives, Daily Diary)


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