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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume XXXIV, National Security Policy, 1969–1972

M. Todd Bennett
General Editor:
Edward C. Keefer

United States Government Printing Office

Department of State
Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs


This volume documents U.S. national security policy in the context of the Vietnam War and the changing Cold War strategic balance between the United States and the Soviet Union. When President Richard Nixon assumed office in January 1969, he was confronted with the fact that the United States no longer held commanding military superiority over its superpower rival. Since the end of his stint as Vice President in 1961, the Soviets had achieved a rough strategic parity that left the United States with “significant vulnerabilities” vis-à-vis the USSR. This volume documents the Nixon administration’s efforts to grapple with this new strategic situation and provides coverage of the following: The administration’s review of U.S. nuclear and general purpose forces and strategic doctrine; its attempts to ascertain the level of technological sophistication achieved by the Soviet missile program; and its decision to deploy Safeguard, a modified anti-ballistic missile system. The volume also examines chemical and biological weapons policy; U.S. nuclear policy in Asia; the evolution of the administration’s strategic priorities in light of an ever-shrinking defense budget; and the transition from military conscription to an all-volunteer armed force. Additionally, the volume provides previously unreleased material regarding the October 1969 Joint Chiefs of Staff Readiness Test, in which Nixon secretly placed on alert portions of the United States military, including its nuclear forces. Throughout this volume, a consistent theme is the relationship between military strength and diplomatic strength; in particular, the importance of military might—real or perceived—to the United States’ ability to maintain credibility in the eyes of allies and adversaries alike.