1. Editorial Note

The intellectual assumptions on which the foreign policy of the Nixon administration was based were established, in large measure, by President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry Kissinger. Nixon assumed office in 1969 as an established practitioner of foreign policy and Kissinger was a recognized authority on the foreign policy process. Both men came to their new responsibilities with well-developed views on foreign policy. A selection of speeches and writings by Nixon and Kissinger during the 2-year period prior to the assumption of office in 1969 is presented at the beginning of the volume to provide a background for the views developed during the initial 4 years of the administration.

In July 1967 Nixon outlined his views on the role the United States should play in the world in a speech given to the members of the exclusive Bohemian men’s club in San Francisco. In his memoirs, Nixon described the speech as the one that gave him the most pleasure and satisfaction of his political career. (See Document 2) Nixon narrowed his focus in the Foreign Affairs article he published in October 1967 to “Asia After Vietnam.” The article, which stresses a continuing role for the United States as an Asian power, presages the diplomatic opening to China and contains the germ of what would become the Nixon Doctrine. (See Document 3) Nixon’s determination to limit the role of the United States in combating Communist aggression in light of the experience in Vietnam is more explicit in an excerpt from a campaign speech he gave in May 1968. (See Document 5) A logical concomitant of the Nixon Doctrine was the perception that the burden of the fighting in South Vietnam would have to shift from United States to South Vietnamese forces. Nixon pointed to the need to “Vietnamize” the war in a campaign speech in October 1968. (See Document 7) Kissinger published an essay in 1968 entitled “Central Issues of American Foreign Policy” which provides an overview of his perspective on foreign policy at that point. (See Document 4)