Portrait of Richard M. Nixon, c. 1967.
In August, 1967, Vice President Nixon created an outline of the policies that he intended to carry into office in 1969. In the report he spoke only briefly of domestic issues, mentioning the importance of upholding the law, maintaining the moral and ideological foundations of America, and how the parties would meet in the race to the election; however, Nixon’s primary focus in the report was foreign policy.
A major concern of RN’s was the global image of America, which he feared had been tarnished under the administration of President Johnson. Having traveled the world extensively in the years leading up to his candidacy RN had met with dozens of leaders, which gave him unique insights into how America was viewed by other nations. In his opinion the situation was dire.
“Never in the history of the United States have we been disliked in more countries than right now.”
RN believed that aside from maintaining America’s military superiority, communication and trade would be the most effective tools to ensure peace between the East and West. He asserted that having discussions with Soviet leaders would reduce the risk of unnecessary escalation, and would help relieve tensions between the nations. Though he made no direct mention of opening trade with China, he pointed out that they had an adversarial relationship with the Soviet Union, and expressed concern that they could develop nuclear weapons as early as 1970.
Regarding Vietnam, RN felt that America had taken the wrong approach to the war. In his opinion the Johnson administration had joined the conflict too late and not used sufficient military force at the outset, which resigned America to, “…a long war and a grinding war.” He rejected the plan to remove America from Vietnam without a definite resolution to the conflict, and claimed that if no resolution to the conflict was found by 1970 there would be a tangible risk of another world war. In his opinion the best strategy consisted of discrete, precise uses of non-nuclear force instead of gradually escalating the situation across the board. The intention of this technique was to use less American military force overall but to maintain pressure on the North Vietnamese while an agreement for peace was found.
Finally, RN proposed a complete re-evaluation of how America should approach foreign policy and foreign aid. According to RN institutions like the UN, NATO, and USIA were outdated and needed to be overhauled if they were expected to remain relevant and helpful in the modern world. Foreign aid would be most effectively used by building stronger allegiances with third world countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
RN developed a foreign policy similar to Theodore Roosevelt’s principals of deliberate, responsible, and effective use of great power. He felt that the maintenance of America’s military superiority was imperative in ensuring world peace, spoke against gradualism in Vietnam, and advocated the use of the pulpit to combat moral erosion in America.