The Foreign Policy Process
It has often been argued that a nation's military and security policies are dictated by foreign policy concerns over and above any domestic considerations. The Nixon Administration put that idea to a severe test. The change in defense strategy and the comparative decline in defense spending during the Nixon years were undoubtedly reactions to the heavy expenditures of the Vietnam War. The shift from the draft to an all-volunteer army also reflected the nation's desire to escape the pressures of the Vietnam era. The consequences of this shift are discussed in the papers and discussions that follow.
In addition, the Nixon years showed a more flexible, balance-of-power approach to world affairs,' a shift from the rigid bipolar confrontation of the superpowers that marked the Vietnam years. It is certainly an anomaly that Richard Nixon is viewed as a rigid Cold Warrior when, in fact, his administration was marked by a far more adaptable program toward dealing with the Communist world, as shown in the following section.
Finally, the most significant institutional change in dealing with foreign policy concerns in the Nixon era was the passage of the War Powers Resolution, in which Congress reasserted its constitutional prerogatives to be involved as a partner in the initiation of hostilities abroad. The manner in which Congress came to the conclusion that its constitutional war powers had been abrogated and had to be reasserted is also discussed in the section that follows.