297. Editorial Note

Handwritten notes by President Nixon dated May 29, 1972, 3 a.m., indicate his intention to report to Congress because some of his actions required Congressional approval, but also because they were building “not for a summit of one summer—but of many years” and this was bigger than one man or one party. In his speech, he intended to say that he did not bring the “certainty of peace” but did bring the “greatest opportunity for peace.” “[The] two most powerful nations in the world—with great conflicting issues—had reached agreement on some issues.” More important was that they had agreed on “principles of conduct to turn away from war to peace.” Nixon also planned to say that “our talks were ‘no holds barred’ on content but civilized in tone.” The two sides had not papered over differences and had not decided everything, but they had begun on the most important issue. “After unleashing nuclear weapons, we agreed to begin to limit their production.”

Nixon noted that although the Soviet leaders had made it clear that they would abide by the agreement and were willing to discuss new agreements, they would continue to maintain the strength they needed to protect their interests. He wrote that America got agreement because it had negotiated from a basis of strength and of equality. To make new agreements, it must continue to maintain its strength. Unilateral disarmament would offer the greatest risk of war.

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The President wrote that the USSR and the US must seek good relations with all nations. Both recognized the danger that “disputes between third countries constitute [the] greatest danger of dragging us into conflict.” Following the summit, “we must redouble efforts to remove every possible trouble spot which might draw us into conflict.” Most important, we must not have any more Vietnams or Koreas. He noted that “all Americans want more than anything else a world of peace—progress for all.” Americans had demonstrated their willingness to achieve this through $150 billion in aid and sacrifice in two wars—Korea and Vietnam—without designs on any territory or conquest. As America entered a new age, there was a new challenge to its leadership. Nixon wrote: “Let us meet it—not to satisfy any jingoistic feelings of superiority—but because a great people owes it to itself and to [the] world to do its best… not for our benefit but for [the] benefit of all mankind.” He concluded: “No peaceful nation fears America—all nations respect us. Let us be worthy of this trust…. What impresses me every time I return is what a great and good country this is…. We beat our breasts about problems, but there is [sic] the wonderful refreshing winds of freedom that make America unique.” He would urge Americans to show their devotion by “faith, hard work, reform, making America better—so that it continues to be [the] hope of the world….” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Personal File, President’s Speech File, Box 76, Thursday, June 1, Report to the Congress)