As the Apollo XI crew prepared for its final descent back into Earth’s atmosphere, President Nixon embarked on a world tour to visit islands in the southern Pacific and countries on mainland Eurasia. The trip also allowed Nixon to greet the Apollo XI astronauts when they splashed down in the Pacific Ocean and provided cover for Kissinger to secretly travel to Paris to meet with the North Vietnamese. The first country on his list was the island of Guam. There, RN gave an informal press conference on July 25 and the contents of this oration regarding America’s policy with Asian countries and its allies later became known as the Nixon Doctrine.
The Nixon Doctrine, or Guam Doctrine, was intended to prevent any future Vietnams by placing the aggressed nation in charge of supplying the manpower for its own defense. RN’s proposition maintained all existing US treaty commitments and ensured that the US would not enter into any new commitments unless they effectively thwarted a threat to national defense or served its private interests. In the press conference, Nixon emphasized that, unless threatened by nuclear weapons, under which circumstances the US would respond with like force, the Asian nations would only receive military and economic supplies and would be responsible for providing its own troops.
However, the Nixon Doctrine was not a definitive statement clearly denoting the differences between intervention and assistance, or Asia and the Pacific Islands. This vague ambiguity allowed for various interpretations among reporters and other nations. Many were confused by an apparent contradiction. The US had claimed that they would no longer intervene militarily in Asia, but that they would still uphold their treaties and maintain their allies. And yet, was not the latter statement the primary reason for its initial intervention in Vietnam?
Nixon assured foreign leaders that the Nixon Doctrine was meant to provide a sounds basis for America’s remaining in Asia in order to “play a responsible role in helping the non-Communist nations and neutrals as well as our Asian allies to defend their independence.”
Just three months later, the President articulated his doctrine to the American people in a historical television address famously dubbed as the “Silent Majority Speech.”
Photo: President Nixon in Di An, South Vietnam on July 30, 1969, five days after he pronounced his new foreign policy doctrine in Guam.