49. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1
- East Asian Chiefs of Mission Conference, July 9–11, 1970
I believe you will be interested in the enclosed summary report of our Chiefs of Mission Conference at Tokyo July 9–11.
In 1969 our achievements were principally five-fold: the Nixon Doctrine, Vietnamization, a modified approach toward Mainland China (trade, travel, Warsaw dialogue), the Nixon–Sato Communiqué and all that was implied therein (in my book the most significant long-range development in our policy formulation), and our low profile approach of modesty, mutuality and multilateralism.
In essence, we devised both a philosophy and a new approach, which has the emphatic endorsement of all of our Ambassadors. It is now our problem to put this into effect in a period when we have continuing commitments and responsibilities, but with a shrinking budget and ever growing Congressional limitations with which to carry them out.
You will see in this summary report that a number of worries and concerns, repeatedly expressed, revolved around the problems of diminishing U.S. resources, and the need to be very careful that our reduced budget does not give our Asian friends the impression that our assistance to them, and our deterrent capabilities, are going to be eroded to the point where they cannot rely on us for essential help.
The Chiefs of Mission repeatedly emphasized in this connection that to ease the transition in Asia as much as possible it was essential that we formulate coherent strategic plans for the area. Such plans would make anticipated base and force reductions in the Pacific more understandable for all concerned, would provide a more rational basis for future budget preparations and redeployments, and would be useful in our efforts to obtain greater understanding and support for our plans in Congress. The group agreed that the recommended planning was a sufficiently important and difficult task to warrant your personal attention.[Page 142]
The Chiefs of Mission recognized that our aim should be to draw back somewhat. But we should not draw back too far or too fast lest we undermine Asian self-confidence which has made possible the remarkable progress all the way from Korea down to Indonesia. On the other hand, a drawing back and lessening of American official presence will help spark the initiative of Asians, will spur their do-it-yourself spirit, and will comport with their growing nationalism.2
We recognized at our conference that the U.S. cannot solve the problems of Asia, but we can and must support the good Asian problem solvers. As you have pointed out, it is not a question of getting out of Asia but of finding the right way and right degree of staying in Asia.3 We reject the concept of detachment, of isolationism. We accept the risks—and yet the ultimate safety—of involvement.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 282, Agency Files, Dept of State, Vol. VIII, 1 Jul 70–Aug 70. Secret. Kissinger sent Rogers’ report, as well as the conference report, to Nixon under cover of an August 10 information memorandum.↩
- Nixon underlined this entire sentence and wrote: “a vital point.”↩
- Nixon underlined the latter part of this sentence beginning with “it is not a question . . . .”↩
- This Summary Report was reviewed by Grant, who sent it to Kissinger under an information memorandum that summarized it for the President, and flagged a number of its conclusions and recommendations. Kissinger signed this information memorandum, and sent it to the President on August 10 with Rogers’ report and the attached summary report. The points Kissinger emphasized related to Japan were: “We must treat Japan as a major power. We can enlist its cooperation in mutually desirable economic aid for Asia, but its contribution will increase more gradually and in less helpful forms than we would like . . . . We must give primacy to relations with Japan, despite anticipated future frictions . . . . We should balance Japan’s economic activities [in Asia] by encouraging our own, West European, international and even Soviet economic participation in the area.” Nixon wrote a number of comments on this paper, although none related to Japan. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 282, Agency Files, Dept of State, Vol. VIII, 1 Jul 70–Aug 70)↩
- Nixon underlined this sentence and, in the right-hand margin wrote “vital.”↩
- In the right-hand margin next to this point, Nixon wrote, “Shakespeare follow up. (Since U.S.I.A. can’t do propaganda for the adm. perhaps another means should be found—Every ambassador e.g. should have the last Gallup & Harris polls— &the Columns—They should talk it up with opinion makers (regardless of their personal politics).”↩