74. Memorandum for the President’s File by the President’s Special Assistant (Keogh)1


  • Cabinet Meeting, October 7, 1970

[Omitted here are a preview and discussion by President Nixon of a new proposal for a settlement in Southeast Asia he intended to deliver in a televised speech later that day, related discussion of problems within the South Vietnamese economy that complicated prospects for a settlement, and limited discussion of the President’s European trip. For the text of the President’s speech, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1970, pages 825-828.]

Turning to a more general theme, the President remarked to the Cabinet that “We have been through some difficult times since we came here.” But he added that he was not pessimistic about the international situation. He said he found on his European trip that “other countries want the U.S. to play a role in the world.” While there is often shouting against the U.S., he said, the attitude becomes quite different when a suggestion is made seriously that the U.S. should “go home.” Then, he said, the attitude becomes “Oh, no, don’t go.” He remarked that President Marcos of the Philippines had told him earlier that while it was politically popular to say that the United States must go, it was also quite necessary to say privately, “I hope that you don’t.”

“We are the most powerful nation in the world,” the President said. “But no nation in the world fears the United States. This is the greatest asset we have in diplomacy.” The U.S., the President went on, is “the only nation in history that hasn’t used its power to acquire more power. This country can be proud of its role in the world and we should stand up and say so.”

As the President reached this point in his remarks, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, George Romney, said he felt that everyone in the room “thanks God that you, Mr. President, are at the head of this country’s government at this time and are handling our role in the world with such great skill.”

The President said he believed that “it may take 40 years for it to be written but it is the truth that America never worked for a better cause [Page 265] than it has in Vietnam. If we can bring the war to a close, if we can give South Vietnam a chance, this will be an achievement of which we can be extremely proud. I am sorry that a Republican Mayor said that our best young men went to Canada to avoid serving in the Armed Forces. I say our best young men went to Vietnam.”

As the President left the room, the Cabinet gave him a standing ovation.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Box 82, President’s Office Files, Memoranda for the President, August 16-October 25, 1970. No classification marking.