48. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1


  • Suggestions on a Basic Approach for your Review of American Foreign Policy

I would like to let you have my thoughts on the basic approach your Review of American Foreign Policy2 might follow. Basically I believe the Review should serve to underscore the new direction you have given to United States involvement in world affairs in the past year.

In essence I would capsulize this new direction as follows:

At a time when we should no longer be looking back to the residue of the Second World War and of a passing colonial era but ahead to a future of international cooperation in which others will have an increasing desire and capacity to contribute fully, you have directed American foreign policy toward:

  • —Achieving a broader sharing of responsibility and a new equality of partnership with our friends and allies throughout the world as the foundation for a durable collaboration to achieve a world of peace with security and a higher quality of life; and toward
  • —Approaching all international issues and conflicts in an atmosphere not of contention but of negotiation and with a desire to improve our relations with all countries of the world, whatever our differences may be.

I suggest that you build first upon these two broad themes and then elaborate by relating other policy developments to the relevant portions of your Inaugural Address.3

Broader Sharing of Responsibility

The stress should be on the importance of a broader sharing of responsibility as a basis for a sound long-term international collaboration. Five main specific elements could be developed—(1) Vietnamization, (2) Latin American policy, (3) Asian policy (including Okinawa), (4) European policy, and (5) South East Asia other than Viet-Nam.

One aspect of this basic policy thrust was at the core of your address to the Inter-American Press Association on October 31, 1969,4 when you expressed the belief that the “future pattern of American assistance must be US support for Latin American initiatives” and when you offered them a larger role in decisions on economic aid. The efforts we have made to consult more widely with our European allies on matters of concern to them is another. The same policy was set forth in a security context in Guam on July 25,5 when you said that the United States was going to encourage and had a right to expect that problems of internal security and national defense will be increasingly handled by the Asian nations themselves.

The Vietnamization policy is another expression of the same view, and the present success of the Government of the Republic of Viet-Nam in improving the capabilities of its armed forces and assuming a larger share of the fighting on the ground is proof that the policy is based on a realistic appraisal of the potential of South Viet-Nam.

In setting forth this policy the presentation should make it clear that we intend to continue to do our share. Our policy reflects no desire to retreat to a fortress America.6 Indeed it is an affirmation of our intention to establish a durable basis for continued world-wide cooperation. We have reaffirmed our treaty commitments to NATO, to our Asian [Page 160] allies, and to the attainment of a just peace in Viet-Nam. We have made clear that we will be, as you said in your Inaugural Address, “as strong as we need be for as long as we need be”. We have made clear that we will judge each situation in itself and that we are prepared to assist those who are assisting themselves.

Era of Negotiation

The basis of the policy of negotiations and improved relationship was contained in the Inaugural Address in the words: “after a period of confrontation, we are entering an era of negotiation”. The section should bring out that during 1969 the United States sought to bring many major problems that confront the world community to the bargaining table. It should emphasize (1) efforts to negotiate in Viet-Nam, (2) negotiations with the Soviet Union, especially on disarmament, (3) efforts to open talks with the Chinese Communists, (4) efforts to bring about negotiations on the Middle East, and (5) a negotiable stance on matters affecting us, such as in Peru and in Korea.

Your Inaugural Address keynoted other important themes which have been carried forward in the policy decisions of this Administration over the past year.


—You said then “let us cooperate to reduce the burden of arms”. This section obviously would deal with the beginning of Strategic Arms Limitations Talks with the Soviet Union. It would also cover the seabeds, NPT, chemical warfare, balanced force reductions and arms limitations in the Middle East. It should bring out that the start of negotiations does not signal their success and that we must govern our defense policies accordingly.


—You said then that “during this Administration our lines of communication will be open” and that this “government will listen”. This willingness to listen and to appreciate the position of others made a major contribution to the style and quality of our relationships with other nations. Our willingness to truly consult, to listen as well as to speak, has improved relations within the NATO Alliance. It led to a marked improvement of our relations with France. It is a major aspect of the Latin American policy. It was reflected in your trips to Europe and to Asia and in my Asian trip and UN consultations as well as in your many meetings with foreign officials in Washington. We welcome in the same vein renewal of relations with Cambodia and Mauritania.

[Page 161]

Quality of Life

—You called then for peaceful competition “in enriching the life of man”. Here there are many elements to bring out, such as the visits of Doctor DuBridge and AEC Chairman Seaborg to Romania, which could mark a new success in East-West cooperation in the scientific and technological fields; your establishment of a high priority on population matters; our leadership on the human environment; our support of the UN Decade of Developments; the Decade of Ocean Exploration and the region of the seabed; and efforts to control the narcotics trade.7

Open World

—You called in your Inaugural Address for a more open world, open to the free flow of people. This section might include statements of your visit to Romania as the first State visit by an American President to any country in Eastern Europe;8 the extent of private American travel abroad; the proposed new visa regulations to encourage more people to visit the United States; our cultural exchange programs around the world; and our desire for continued and expanded exchange programs with Eastern Europe.

Trade and AID

—You also called for a world open to the free flow of goods. We have continued to encourage the growth of freer international trade. This section would develop the request for further authority to reduce trade barriers, the proposal for generalized tariff preferences for manufactured goods from developing countries; the creation of $9.5 billion of international monetary reserves—or Special Drawing Rights; our desire to negotiate reduction or removal of non-tariff barriers; the steps to liberalize economic relations with the Americas; easing of trade restrictions with Communist China; rationale and support for continued AID, and the appointment of the Peterson Commission.9

Lowered Voices

In addition to the Administration’s many specific accomplishments, the manner in which we have conducted our foreign policy is worthy of note. We have tried, in the words of your Inaugural Address, [Page 162] to “lower our voices”. We have curtailed American presence overseas, reducing by 8,000 the number of people employed by the United States abroad because we knew that our presence can be overbearing, and that it is not the size of the American presence that determines our influence but the soundness of our efforts. You have called for a new partnership in Latin America “in which the United States lectures less and listens more”. We have taken a businesslike approach in the various negotiations we have entered. We have reduced the rhetoric and hyperbole in our speeches.


I have not sought to set out treatments for other specific policy issues that should be covered—such as Biafra, Greece, the UN, Korea, India and Libya—as this can best be done as the outline of the entire presentation is established by the drafters.


Looking to the future, the conclusion might develop the theme that it is not likely that the United States will again find itself in the position it held after World War II of being the single country in the Free World with the national will and resources to make a major impact on world events. National capacity and strength will continue to grow among the nations of the world. We have not sought to impede or deflect this trend. Instead we have made clear by word and deed that we will continue to cooperate with and to encourage the increasingly self-reliant members of the world community in the cause of progress, peace and security.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 325, Subject Files, President’s Annual Review of U.S. Foreign Policy. Confidential.
  2. Reference is to the report on foreign policy submitted to Congress by President Nixon on February 18, 1970; see Document 60.
  3. See Document 9.
  4. For text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pp. 893-901.
  5. See Document 29.
  6. Nixon underlined the second half of the first sentence and all of the second sentence. He wrote in the margin: “Hit this very hard.”
  7. Nixon highlighted this paragraph and added the marginal comment: “good theme.”
  8. Nixon highlighted this paragraph to this point and added a marginal note which reads: “good to hit again.”
  9. See footnote 2, Document 35.