46. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State (Richardson) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

As I have talked and thought about the emerging shape of the Nixon foreign policy, I have become increasingly struck by the extent to which its major elements form an integrated structure. Since I am scheduled to address the Boston World Affairs Council on January 12, I am contemplating trying this analysis out in that speech, but it has occurred to me that I should first bring it to your attention as a possible framework for a Presidential statement—in the State of the Union Message, in his year-end review of foreign policy, or in a major speech.

The Nixon foreign policy, as I understand it, is built first of all on a realistic awareness of changes in the world that have taken place over the past decade. For purposes of the role of the United States, the most important of these are: (a) the increasing capacity and determination of individual nations to maintain their own independence and integrity; (b) the subordination of ideologies to these over-riding national objectives; and (c) the recognition that United States economic and military resources, in light of competing domestic demands, are not as unlimited as they may once have seemed.

At the same time, however, the President affirms the indispensability of a major U.S. role in preserving a relatively stable world order and promoting a more secure peace.

[Page 152]

Out of this assessment of changed circumstances and reaffirmation of U.S. responsibility, the following six propositions emerge:

While scrupulously maintaining our existing commitments and being wary of assuming new ones, we should at the same time cut away any surplus fat that has accumulated around them. This, as I understand it, is the essence of the Nixon Doctrine enunciated in Guam.
We should encourage national and regional efforts to achieve economic development and promote mutual security. The United States should be a helpful partner in supporting such efforts but not seek to dominate or control them. This, I take it, is implicit in the Nixon Doctrine and explicit in our Latin American policy. The same approach could well serve also for other regions, e.g., the western Mediterranean, including the Maghreb.
Other advanced nations should be encouraged to contribute to the support of such regional efforts. Existing multilateral agencies should be called upon to assist and, in some instances, existing structures (e.g., CIAP) should be adapted to the purpose or new ones created.
Meanwhile, as in the Middle East and Berlin, we should vigorously pursue efforts to reduce the causes of tension and conflict. Understanding that unilateral concessions do not purchase stability but stimulate the opposite, we recognize that only those settlements that are the product of hardheaded give-and-take are likely to last. Herein lies one important aspect of the significance—and the opportunity—of the “era of negotiation.”
We should simultaneously seek to diminish the dangers inherent in the by-products of tension, i.e., armaments and force levels since these inflict not only heavy economic burdens but tend in themselves to generate an atmosphere of tension. Here lies the other important aspect of the “era of negotiation,” as evidenced by SALT and balanced force reductions.
There remains the bitter residue left by past tensions, and this we are systematically seeking to dissipate through deliberate and carefully measured steps toward normalizing relations with countries with which our past relationships have, in varying degrees, been strained. Thus, Bucharest and our signals toward the Chicoms.

Not only do these propositions derive from the changed circumstances and the reaffirmed U.S. responsibility noted above, but they are mutually reinforcing. The sharper definition of our existing obligations, for example, and our wariness toward the assumption of new ones rest upon our awareness of the limitations of our resources. To the extent, however, that we succeed in encouraging national and regional self-sufficiency, the need for reliance on us correspondingly diminishes—and so on.

[Page 153]

Articulated in this way, it seems to me these principles can be seen to be a coherent whole.

Elliot L. Richardson 2
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Richardson Papers, Box CL 2, Chronological File. Confidential.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.