HIS377H1 Lecture Notes - Nathaniel Davis, Ant-Zen, Yom Kippur War
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HIS377 Lecture – The Nixon Era
March 20 th
I. Nixon, Kissinger and the “Grand Design”
- Nixon was a foreign policy president, had always gone on foreign trips as VP
- Post-1962 loss: Career is over. Made worse by gubernatorial loss
- Did the rubber chicken circuit and built up a favour bank
- Writes “Asia after Vietnam” and theorizes that the US is largely a Pacific power
b/c the Pacific has centred on all its wars
oJapan was the reason they joined WWII.
- In “Asia after Vietnam” he brought up the idea of integrating China further into
- Nixon and Kissinger believed the world was going to hell, declinism. They also
believed that becoming more internationalist was a good response.
- Therefore, Nixon became something of a Wilsonian.
- Was not a high-minded internationalist
- Feared disorder above all else. Distrusted communism, but felt disorder was a
Grand Design or Grand Strategy
- Peace with Honour and Vietnamization
- Nixon and Kissinger did not like or trust each other.
- Agreed that détente was the best policy
- They liked sneaky, covert operations
- Believed they needed to centralize foreign policy decision-making: Eventually,
Kissinger will run the State Dept. as a fiefdom.
- Both Nixon and Kissinger thought they were smarter than everybody else
- Both of them considered themselves to be realists, rational actors
- Nixon and Kissinger only cared about Japan, China, Europe and America
oKissinger said nothing had ever happened in the south
- US allies outside of those places had one job, don’t rock the boat. Don’t get in
between the US and the USSR.
- Keep all treaty commitments;
- Provide a shield for nuclear threats;
- Disengage from everything that isn’t going to cause a fundamental tension
between USSR and US
II. Defining Détente
- Important foreign relations events can’t happen in the Third World
- Interpreted everything in the US-USSR relations
- Détente is not a friendship, merely a relaxation of tensions
- Nixon called for an area of negotiation not confrontation
- No one ever agreed on what détente met. Each group interpreted it according to
their own needs
- Way to manage int’l system and mitigate decline
- American power and credibility is necessary for global stability
- Americans need to be confident in themselves and their role in the int’l system
- Brezhnev took power in 1964
- Considered a team player, not a unilateral leader
- Fostered a cult of personality that became problematic
- Brezhnev felt the USSR was becoming weak
oPrague Spring in 1968
oFear of arms race with US
oFear of the Chinese
- Soviet rationale boils down to a way of managing the int’l system and mitigating
Soviet decline as well as prestige and confidence-building
- USSR felt that they were finally being taken seriously as a superpower
- Euro détente, relaxation of East-West tension in Europe itself. Primarily between
DDR and West Germany
- Led by the W. German leader and State Secretary
- Cold War started in many ways over the fate of Germany
- De Gaulle is removing French forces from the NATO central command
- Concern that European affairs were being dictated almost entirely by the US and
wanted another measure of control
- Basic Treaty (1973)
oEast and West Germany officially recognize their other half
- African détente at this time as well, South Africa tries to make friends in the rest
of Africa from 1970-80.
- Main way détente gets carried out
- Convince the Soviets that it is in their best interest to help the US maintain global
- Americans believed that the Soviets were responsible for global revolutions.
- Does not matter what you do within your own country. Soviets will get
technology, trading rights and grain and the US will get a tacit agreement that the
USSR will stop fomenting revolution and negotiate Vietnam
Basic Principles of Relations, May 1972
- Closest thing to an agreement on détente
- Neither side should try to take unilateral action
- USSR took it seriously as a binding document, the US did not value it
oMain thing for Nixon was it gave him something to sign in Moscow
- On the surface, Nixon & Kissinger taking everything seriously
Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
- Remember: Two different conceptions of nuclear arsenal. Soviet Union has to
defend contiguous territories, US also has to do Europe and Japan which is not
- Therefore, Soviets have more land-based nuclear missiles, also submarine-based.
- US has more submarine-based so they could travel around. US also working on
- SALT signed in 1969
- Arms control agreements signed in 1972. Gave Nixon the opportunity to be the
first president to go to Moscow. Makes him look awesome.
- Nixon was such an unimpeachable conservative that he could go to Russia
without looking like he was sucking up to them
- Once again, we know that Nixon/Kissinger did not take SALT as seriously as the
- On the surface, it was a show of good faith. Working in the best interest of
- Arsenals still big enough to destroy the world 13 times over.
- ABM Treaty (Anti-Ballistic Missile)
oTwo ABM sites, one to protect Moscow/DC and one to protect the
intercontinental ballistic missile launch sites
oAgreed they were not going to test any newer, better ABMs
oAlso agree not to shoot them into space
- SO far, so good for détente. Kissinger says peace at hand in Vietnam and Nixon
re-elected with the greatest Republican landslide ever.
III. 1973: A Complicated Year
- US has been intervening in Chile since the Kennedy administration, JFK cared
about Latin America
- Kennedy has used Alliance for Progress as a cover to thwart Allende’s first
attempt in 1964
oSpent $3 m to discredit him
- 1970: Allende returns
- US fears him because he seems to be a quasi-Marxist, also had a good
relationship with Cuba
- Kissinger called Chile “a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica”
- Allende becomes the first democratically elected Marxist in the West
- US Ambassador to Chile says that Chileans freely and knowingly elected a
- Kissinger considered this a mistake on the part of the Chileans, called it reckless.
- US approved a covert destabilization mission: Make the economy scream (direct
oCut of Chilean aid. Both from the US and internationally
oOperation FUBELT: Supposed to find someone in the Chilean military to
help stage a coup
oSpent $8 m from 1970-73 undermining Allende. Inc. kidnapping
Schneider (and accidentally killing him).
- 1973: Army attacked Allende’s offices. US Ambassador claimed that he
committed suicide during the attack.