Prelude to Vietnam
EISENHOWER HAD SENT Nixon and his wife on a goodwill tour to the Far East in 1953. It was an exhilarating seventy-three‐ day adventure, with stops in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Malaya, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Formosa, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Burma, India, Pakistan, and Iran. Until now, of the Far East Nixon had seen only the jungles of the Pacific atolls. Pat had never been farther from home than Canada and Mexico. They were entertained more extravagantly than he could ever have dreamed possible in his childhood fantasies of "faraway" places, and the trip gave him a taste for royalty he never thereafter relinquished.
He was well briefed, and he studied assiduously. His speeches were courteously received abroad, and decently publicized at home. Look had a display of pictures of the Nixons in the show‐ places of Asia. One showed Pat, serene and beautiful, kneeling shoeless in the great Burmese Shwedagon Pagoda with a wishing stone in her hands. The temples, she said, were like a fairyland. 1
Nixon met Ramón Magsaysay, Nehru, Chiang Kai-shek, Syngman Rhee, King Sihanouk, Prince Souvanna Phouma, and Ayub Khan, some of whom were to be of much consequence in his life as president. Pat's guide through the Burmese temples was U Thant, later secretary-general of the United Nations. Bao Dai, puppet monarch in Vietnam, whom the French had restored to power in Saigon in 1949, invited Nixon to his luxurious palace in Dalat. In Indonesia he was entertained by Sukarno.
In Iran the Nixons met the young shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, recently restored to the throne after a military coup which overthrew Mohammed Mossadegh with the secret help of the American CIA. John Foster Dulles, who believed Mossadegh to be pro-Soviet because he had nationalized the British-owned