84. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • NSC Meeting on Annual Report

[Omitted here are general comments on the status of the report and anticipated agency views in advance of an NSC meeting scheduled for the following morning.]

Like last year, this year’s report emphasizes the purposes and objectives of our foreign policy rather than a mere recital of events. It is designed to stress not so much what we have done, but why we have done it. The major thrust of this report is that conditions which have changed since World War II call for a new type of American leadership, rather than an abdication of leadership. It pictures our basic task to be the enlisting of the resources and concepts of other nations to help build a stable peace.

Outline of Report

We have been following a tentative outline which looks as follows:


This briefly recalls the historical changes that have taken place which call for a new foreign policy: stronger friends and allies; a shift in military relationships from U.S. predominance to relative equality; the fragmentation of the Communist world; and new technological problems and challenges which call for world cooperation. The implications for our policy are sketched: a partnership that enlists greater contributions from others; a new doctrine for our strategic and general forces purposes; dealing in different ways with various Communist countries; and cooperating with friends and adversaries alike to meet global issues such as pollution, space and the seabeds.

Nixon Doctrine

This chapter spells out the core of the new foreign policy: the philosophy of the Nixon Doctrine and its theme of partnership: It discusses [Page 296] its application to security and development and its invocation of the ideas as well as the resources of other nations. A basic theme is that the greater the involvement of other nations in helping to build peace, the greater their stake in preserving the peace. There is emphasis on the need for careful application of our changed approach so as to instill confidence abroad and evoke domestic support for a continuing positive American role.

—Partnership With Other Nations

This principal section of the report explains the application of the new foreign policy to the various regions of the world. In these chapters we generally (1) state our basic approach, (2) illustrate how this approach has been applied with major events and achievements, and (3) list the basic agenda for the future. Among the major chapters in this section are Europe, the Middle East and Indochina.

—National Security

This section will focus on the two ways of enhancing national security, through a strong defense and through arms control. There are individual chapters on strategic forces (including a discussion on sufficiency and the growing Soviet strength); general purpose forces (the need to tailor our conventional forces to those of our allies); security assistance (the need to help our friends make the transition to greater self-sufficiency) and arms control (with emphasis on SALT).

—Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China

Our overall approach to the Soviet Union is treated in this section although, of course, our specific dealings are sprinkled throughout the report. The emphasis is on the need for mutual respect for legitimate interests, concrete negotiations, and focusing on broader interests rather than maneuvering for tactical advantages. It reflects many of the themes in your United Nations speech. A brief chapter on China states our readiness to deal constructively with Peking while firmly maintaining our commitment to Taiwan.

—Global Issues

This section treats a new dimension in foreign affairs in a technological age, discussing issues that are common to all countries regardless of ideology, such as pollution, the exploration of space and the oceans, narcotics and hijacking.

[Omitted here is a brief comment on the upcoming NSC meeting to discuss the report.]

  1. Source: National Security Council, NSC Meetings File, February 11, 1971, Annual Review. Confidential. Sent for information. The first page of the memorandum is stamped: “The President Has Seen …”. In the section of the memorandum not printed here, Kissinger noted: “We have stressed throughout your wish that the report be a substantial and thoughtful presentation of the main strands of this Administration’s foreign policy.” Reference is to the administration’s second annual report on foreign policy; see Document 85.