Cold War Patriot and Statesman, Richard M. Nixon

By Leon Friedman; William F. Levantrosser | Go to book overview
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Part I

Foreign Policy Initiatives

The only apparent consensus about the Nixon Presidency is that his accomplishments in the foreign policy arena far outshadowed those in the domestic arena and that the advances for which he was responsible--in particular, the opening to China--brought the most significant improvement in foreign relations among the great powers in decades. As Henry Kissinger explained in his speech to the Hofstra Conference, the Nixon era corresponded to a period when American power had lost its preeminent position in world affairs, and it could achieve its objectives only through diplomacy, realism, planning, and the setting of priorities. Aided by a skillful group of advisers, Nixon was able to lay the foundation for a more realistic foreign policy that took into account the lack of U.S. resources to accomplish all its aims, the changes in the Communist world, the emergence of Third World resistance to great power hegemony, and the growing economic power of Western Europe and Japan.

The Nixon diplomacy worked while many of his domestic programs failed. This was true because there was more of a sense of realism and caution in his dealings with foreign governments and a willingness to compromise and accommodate their interests--a tolerance he lacked in the domestic area.

This volume outlines the main components of the Nixon foreign policy, beginning with the significant effort to bring China into the world community. We see here the manner in which the Vietnam War ended and the evolution of American policy in the Middle East. The efforts at détente are also detailed. In addition, the diplomatic and foreign policy process is also described.

It is impossible to discuss the Nixon record in world affairs without putting China at the head of the list of accomplishments and without acknowledging the importance of Henry Kissinger as the major architect and administrator of the policy. Dr. Kissinger attended the Hofstra Conference and gave a detailed overview of the Nixon foreign policy initiatives. His speech also serves as an important guide to the detailed discussions of the end of the Vietnam War, of détente and relations with the Soviet Union, and of the Middle East.

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