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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume V, United Nations, 1969–1972

Evan M. Duncan
General Editor:
Edward C. Keefer

United States Government Printing Office

Department of State
Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs


The editor of the volume sought to present documentation illuminating responsibility for major foreign policy decisions of the U.S. Government, with emphasis on the President and his principal foreign policy advisers. The documents include memoranda and records of discussions, telegrams, policy papers, and other documents that set forth policy issues and options and show decisions or actions taken. The emphasis is on the development of U.S. policy and on major aspects and repercussions of its execution rather than on the details of policy execution.

While United Nations affairs were not a high priority during the Nixon administration, they were a major concern for the Department of State. While two key issues, the question of Chinese representation and the selection of a new Secretary-General to succeed U Thant, rose to the level of high interest, most UN issues fell below the purview of the upper echelons of the Nixon administration’s foreign policy leadership. Furthermore, President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger both believed that they were realists more concerned with national self-interest and major power relationships than with political, social, and economic issues of the United Nations. Both Nixon and Kissinger were skeptical of the effectiveness and value of the United Nations. They therefore devoted scant attention to a organization dominated by smaller and developing nations and replete with specialized international organizations. Nixon and Kissinger did recognize that the United Nations was the most important and visible world organization and therefore could not be totally ignored. It could even be used to provided a useful and high-profile venue to support U.S. foreign policies. For these reasons the two issues that the Nixon administration believed were vitally important, Chinese representation in the United Nations and the selection of a new Secretary-General, are given the most coverage in the volume.

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