President Nixon in his New York offices in October 1987 (Ben Martin/Time Life Magazine).
In an October 1987 article for Time Life magazine, former President Nixon reflected on the history of the 20th Century, and American leadership at the century’s turn.
He said that it was unrivaled in terms of material progress. The world population had increased five-fold despite the loss of 130 million lives in war. As well, there was an exponential improvement in economic growth, public health, food production, and housing.
He however lamented the lack of political progress. Though the World Wars had ended monarchy and colonialism, it had created a vacuum filled by dictatorial communism which was was responsible for the violent deaths of 80 million of its own people, and by the late 1980s had 35 percent of the world under its scepter.
Nixon warned against the minority of Americans clamoring for their county’s retreat from global leadership, and the attraction of just letting “someone else do it.”
He however told his readers that America’s pols needed to be realistic. America couldn’t altogether abolish nuclear weapons, or rely on foreign aid distribution to eradicate world poverty.
The 37th president concluded by alluding to Sir Winston Churchill’s words on America’s indispensability.
“For with primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future,” Churchill said.
Nixon concurred: “These words are as true today as when he spoke them 41 years ago.”
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