1969: Doing away with draft undercut antiwar movement
American leaders talked about the importance of overcoming the "Vietnam syndrome"--meaning a fear of casualties and opposition to further US military intervention overseas. Vietnam taught the lesson that even a supposedly small and limited war could
eventually consume the US and divert it from all other objectives. The main lesson was that if American resorts to force at all, it had better do so carefully.
Vietnam had social and political ramifications that were not foreseen at the time. The war
led to the abolition of the draft, and that in turn had sweeping consequences for many other aspects of American life.
In the fall of 1969, demonstrations against Vietnam spread from college campuses to the American heartland. Pres. Nixon tried in
various ways to undercut the growing strength of the antiwar movement. The one that succeeded was to do away with the draft. In April 1970, Nixon announced that he was reducing draft calls to zero and was meanwhile increasing the pay for military service
Warren Commission was greatest hoax ever perpetrated
In a conversation [caught on the White House tapes released during Watergate] about the shooting that paralyzed Alabama governor George Wallace, Nixon suddenly flashed back to the Kennedy assassination and called the
Warren Commission "the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetuated." Somebody might have been able to ask what the president meant by that, except the tape transcript wasn't released by the National Archives until 2002!
When the presidential tape was released [in 2002, we also heard]: "Well, we protected Helms from one hell of a lot of things," Nixon said on the tape, referring to the CIA Director. "Of course, this Hunt, that will uncover a lot of things.
You open up that scab, there's a hell of a lot of things and we just feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further. This involves these Cubans, Hunt, and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with ourselves."
OpEd: Accusation against Alger Hiss as Soviet spy were true
John Dean said that he once overheard Nixon saying, "The typewriters are always the key. We built one in the Hiss case." This mind-boggling allegation would be proved a bald-faced lie about 20 years later.
The "Hiss case" referred to Alger Hiss, the
accused Soviet spy. As a young congressman Nixon had exposed Hiss by pursuing Hiss's fellow spy, Whittaker Chambers. The crucial evidence against Hiss consisted of some highly sensitive government documents which were proved to have been typed on the
Hiss family typewriter. Forced to explain the unexplainable, Hiss expressed amazement on the witness stand, saying he would always "wonder how Whittaker Chambers got into my house to use my typewriter." The jury convicted him of perjury. But
Dean's book purported to confirm Hiss's nutty conspiracy theory.
Decrypted Soviet cables were declassified in 1995, proving that Hiss had been a Soviet spy. 20 years later, the Dean version of history turned out to be another left-wing hoax.
OpEd: Used national security as alibi to protect cronies
My remarks about Watergate (published on 8/26/1974) have an eerie ring at this writing. In 2005, accounts of the Bush administration's encroachments on our civil liberties, democratic values, and perhaps the Constitution itself seem to confront the
Congress almost daily. Nixon's bad acts "threatened the system of law and justice" much as the successful Republican plot to seal its hold on power by stealing six Texas congressional seats, currently the subject of a criminal trial there, threatens our
system of democracy under law.
Nixon "substituted power for law, to impose a standard of amorality." Today that power runs "dark" prisons in paid-off countries, where loosely defined "terrorists" can be tortured out of our moral and media sight.
Nixon did was "demean the importance of national security by using it as a handy alibi to protect common burglars." What Bush did was to exploit real fears for our national security after 9/11 to protect and advance the [neoconservative] agenda.
1972: Unilaterally renounced use of biological warfare
What looks like and could well be a university research facility or a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant can be converted easily to and from BW use in ways that would foil even the best BW expert. Unlike, for example, a uranium-enrichment facility, which
cannot be disguised, BW facilities are dual-use by definition. Accordingly, the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and earlier efforts at prohibiting BW were aspirational, depending on the good faith of the treaty parties for compliance.
Significantly, the underlying BWC of 1972 stemmed from Nixon's UNILATERAL decision to renounce the use of biological warfare, one of those inconvenient facts about unilateralism that the High Minded like to forget.
Needless to say, many governments cheated, leading arms controllers to conclude that some kind of verification was necessary, even though real BW experts told them it was impossible.
1970: Developing ABM system led to ABM treaty with USSR
The Senate vote [in favor of the Anti-Ballistic Missile system] gave the president a bargaining chip to use in negotiations with the Soviet Union.
The US could now offer to limit the development of its ABM system in exchange for similar concessions from Moscow. Nixon eventually signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, restricting antiballistic missile systems for the next several decades.
The treaty endured until December 2001, when the George W. Bush administration announced it would withdraw from the pact.
The ABM debate was also the forerunner of the subsequent political struggles over the Strategic Defense Initiative; in all these cases, the key issues were whether an antimissile system was too expensive and whether it would work.
OpEd: Invasion of Cambodia led to 1970 Kent State killings
The US invasion of Cambodia made the spring of the 1969-70 academic year intensely violent. About 1,000 demonstrations erupted on more than 200 campuses. But it was at Kent State that the inevitable tragedy immanent in the many violent confrontations
between radicals and the forces of society was played out. On May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen fired at student rioters, killing four and wounding ten.
Kent State was hardly a placid campus before the Cambodian operation. The university had 21,000
students, and a sizeable SDS chapter devoted to making trouble. The events of May 4 were viewed by a grand jury, which exonerated the Guardsmen as having fired in legitimate fear of their lives. What is undeniable is that on May 2-4, these young men
faced far greater numbers of students who were screaming threats and engaging in violence. When confrontations of that sort occur again and again, as they did across the country, it is inevitable that sooner or later a tragedy like Kent State will occur.
Supported missile defense as means to achieve SALT
Nixon realized that to secure the SALT pact [Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty], the US had to deal from a position of strength. He had to make the Soviets eager to come to the bargaining table. Nixon the strategist wanted to have two cards to strengthen
his hand: the first, an ABM (anti-ballistic missile), to repel missile strikes; and second, rapprochement with mainland China. Almost all the leading experts recommended against these defense and foreign policy actions as “destabilizing.”
Nixon argued that more important than the fact that the ABM would deflect such a missile strike was that it possibly could. An avid poker player during his navy days, Nixon told his friends that it was like an ace showing on the table. The
irony inherent in the left’s attack of the ABM was that the Democrats opposed ABM because they believed it would not work, while the Russians opposed it because they believed it would.. The Kremlin feared the prowess of American technology.
The myth of the irrelevance of military power: After the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan and the "velvet revolutions" in Eastern Europe, it became fashionable to argue that military power no longer serves as the key instrument of statecraft or
represents the bedrock of foreign policy. Some say that interdependence among the great powers has rendered the use of force irrelevant.
Others hold that the costs of waging war, in terms of both resources and world opinion, have become prohibitive. Still others contend that, as he cold war waned, the importance of economic power
and "geo-economic" has surpassed military power and traditional geopolitics. America, they conclude, must beat its swords not into plowshares, but into microchips.
START treaty fatally flawed; we can't eliminate nukes
The START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) treaty--which calls for a 30% reduction in US and Soviet forces--is fatally flawed. Despite the additional informal arms control agreements in 1991, planned reductions will not enhance strategic stability or be
As long as the knowledge of how to build nuclear weapons exists, we cannot indulge fantasies about eliminating them from the face of the earth. A nuclear-free world would be a world safe for conventional aggression.
And it would create irresistible incentives for aggressors to develop a nuclear capability covertly and thereby gain a decisive military advantage.
Unless a START agreement contains airtight verification provision, the treaty will not serve our
interests. In the past, if verification procedures fell short of this standard, we could be sure about two things: the United States would observe the treaty to the letter, and the Soviet Union would violate it to the limit.
The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty not only failed to restrain Iraq's acquisition of nuclear technologies but its internationally mandated inspections even helped provide cover for its covert nuclear weapons program.
The US must commit itself to
deploying by the end of the decade a limited space- and ground-based defense against ballistic missiles through the SDI. With nuclear weapons and their delivery systems proliferating, we cannot count on the chimera of arms control alone. We need defenses
Source: Seize the Moment, by Richard Nixon, p.279
, Jan 15, 1992
Two world wars proves US can't ignore events in Europe
Two world wars have proved that the US ignores events in Europe at its own peril.
Had we been engaged in Europe, rather than sulking in isolation after WWI, we could have tipped the balance of power against the aggressors, possibly deterring rather than fighting WWII.
Despite the waning of the cold war, the US has major political and economic interests in Europe. Our commitment to Europe is based not on philanthropy but on interests.
The US role in NATO is not only needed on its merits but also gives us significant indirect leverage in addressing such issues as the Persian Gulf crisis and trade disputes. Without a military presence in Europe, we will have no voice in Europe.
Dictators and one-party states control several of the countries in the Muslim world. Some, such as Libya's Qaddafi, resemble Mussolini's dictatorship. Others, such as Syrian's Assad and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, command brutal totalitarian regimes that
would have made Stalin proud. Just as hostile to the West as the fundamentalists, the radicals trade on their opposition to "imperialism" to mobilize support among the people and have often made common cause with Soviet Union to undermine the
US and its allies. Their power rests not on the charisma of their leaders, but on the ruthless efficiency of their police and security apparatus. In the town of Hama in 1982, for example, Assad brutally slaughtered
20,000 men, women, and children who dared to oppose his rule.
We should support the modernists in the Muslim world, in their interest and in ours. They need to give their people a positive alternative to the ideologies of extreme fundamentalism.
Nixon Doctrine: assist countries combating internal threats
As President, I authored what was called the Nixon Doctrine. It stipulated that we would help train and supply the forces of friendly developing countries combating internal threats instigated by foreign foes but that we would
intervene with our own forces only when our friends were threatened by an external enemy that overwhelmed their capacity to respond.
While some interpreted this doctrine as an indication that the US was getting out of the underdeveloped world, it actually outlined the only sound basis for a sustained
US engagement in the 3rd world as a whole and in the Persian Gulf in particular.
Gorbachev believed SDI arms race would bankrupt the USSR
Our most spirited discussion with Gorbachev involved the Strategic Defense Initiative. He said it was a myth that the Soviet Union opposed SDI because it feared the huge cost to the economy or because it could not keep up technologically.
He was emphatic in declaring that the Soviet Union would be able to evade and overcome any SDI system that the US might eventually deploy.
His major objection to SDI, he insisted, stemmed not from economic or military concerns but his belief that if
SDI went forward, there would be a massive spiral in the arms race that would inevitably lead to increased tensions between the Soviet Union and the US and destroy any chance for a new, less confrontational relationship. He made these points vigorously
and persuasively, but there is no doubt whatever in my mind that his major concern was and remains that the huge cost of competing with the US in developing SDI would bankrupt the already strapped Soviet economy.
Kennedy wiretapped more people than my administration
I was particularly outraged by the double standard my adversaries used in accusing me of conducting a massive wiretapping campaign. In fact, it was during the tenure of
Attorney General Robert Kennedy that the greatest number of wiretaps without warrants were ordered. In addition, those taps were not restricted to cases involving leaks of national security information. In one case, the
Kennedy administration placed a wiretap on the telephone of a newspaper reporter who was writing a book on Marilyn Monroe. In another case, it wiretapped the telephones and bugged the rooms of the
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet, during the Watergate period, my administrator's justifiable legal national security wiretaps were treated as unprecedented transgressions of the law.
Congress' War Powers Act is clearly unconstitutional
The President's power was wisely limited by the Founders of the Constitution. Congress decides what money can be spent, and the courts decide what is legal. The President's power has been further limited by
Congress in ways the Founders would not have approved. One of the more unfortunate fallouts from the Vietnam War was the War Powers Act, which was passed over my veto in 1973. Along with most Presidents who have succeeded me,
I believe it is clearly unconstitutional and contrary to the intent of the Founders, but until the Supreme Court decided that it is, it will severely limit a
President's power to act in a timely fashion in a crisis, assuming the Congress ever musters the courage to insist on strict compliance with its terms.
We must be ready with resources & will to use them
The West, today, has crossed the threshold of a period of acute crisis in which its survival into the 21st century is directly at stake. We have the material capacity, the economic and technological strength, to prevail--which means to maintain our
freedom and to avert a major war. But the capacity alone is not enough. We have the resources and the manpower. Have we the will to use them?
There are two aspects to national will. There is will as demonstrated by the nation itself, and there is will
as perceived by the nation's adversaries. In averting the ultimate challenge, perceived will can be as important as actual will.
National will involves far more than readiness to use military power whether nuclear or conventional.
It includes a readiness to allocate the resources necessary to maintain that power. It includes also a basic, crystalline faith that the US is on the right side in the struggle, and that what we represent in the world is worth defending.
Detente is understanding between opponents, not a lovefest
We must understand that detente is not a love-fest. It is an understanding between nations that have opposite purposes, but which share certain common interests, including the avoidance of nuclear war. Such an understanding can work--that is,
it can restrain aggression and deter war--only as long as the potential aggressor is made to recognize that neither aggression nor war will be profitable.
The capitalist system works on the basis of the profit motive economically.
The Soviet system works on the basis of the profit motive militarily and territorially. When the Kremlin calculates that is has more to gain than to lose by an act of aggression, subversion, or intimidation, it will engage in such action.
Each time the West appears weak or irresolute, the potential cost of aggression falls and the Kremlin's market "demand" increases. Each time the East shows itself ready to resist effectively, the cost rises and the market dries up.
We are the principal obstacle between the Soviet Union and its goal of world domination. The Soviets know they will never be able to outproduce us economically. They also know they can only hope to overwhelm us militarily if our guard remains down long
enough to let them get a decisive advantage. But in our will they sense a weakness that could offset the margin of safety our other strengths give us.
This is the Soviet strategy. They seek first to demoralize us so that they can then destroy us.
They want to end World War III [the Cold War] not with a bang, but with a whimper.
They try to deceive us in order to disguise their intentions and make us relax our will;
They try to make us feel guilty and defensive, even about our most dramatic successes, so that our will is paralyzed;
They try to break our will by bullying us with threats and bluffs.
Soviets disfavor ABM because of US technological superiority
In March 1969 the Sentinel ABM program, with its emphasis on light area defense, [was reoriented] to a new program, Safeguard, that emphasized defense of those threatened deterrent forces.
The Soviet objective was clearly to continue launcher
construction and to limit the US ABM to as low levels as possible. The Soviets were interested in curtailing the US ABM, for the general reason that this was an area in which we had technological superiority, and for the specific reason that the ABM
would interfere with their counterforce doctrine, since its primary purpose was defense of Minuteman.
But we did eventually succeed in getting an interim 5-year agreement limiting offensive arms coupled with the ABM treaty. The US added to the
treaty: "If an agreement providing for more complete strategic offensive arms limitations were not achieved within 5 years, US supreme interests could be jeopardized. Should that occur, it would constitute a basis for withdrawal from the ABM Treaty."
Local force as important against USSR as strategic defense
More nuclear bombs, unquestioned military superiority, and massively superior economic strength will not deter revolutionary war, terrorism or other forms of communist aggression that fall short of conventional war. The US, our allies, and friends
must develop power commensurate with the power being used against us. It makes no sense to try to use a sledgehammer to kill a fly. That kind of enemy calls for a less powerful but more effective weapon--a fly swatter.
In these situations it is not the
balance of power in the arsenal that counts, it is the balance of power on the battlefield. If we are relatively equal to the Soviet Union in nuclear arms but the Soviets have 5,000
Cubans, or even 500 agitators and terrorists, where we have no countervailing force, then the balance of power on the scene is massively on their side.
More nuclear bombs, unquestioned military superiority, and massively superior economic strength will not deter revolutionary war, terrorism, or other forms of communist aggression that fall short of conventional war.
The United States, our allies, and friends must develop power commensurate with the power being used against us. It makes no sense to try to use a sledgehammer to kill a fly.
That kind of enemy calls for a less powerful but more effective weapon--a fly swatter.
In these situations it is not the balance of power in the arsenal that counts, it is the balance of power on the battlefield.
The Nixon Doctrine provided that the United States would supply arms and assistance to nations threatened by aggression, if they were willing to assume primary responsibility for providing the manpower necessary for their defense.
Urged "national security" defense for Watergate defendants
The conversations show Nixon discussing at length raising blackmail money; discussing the merits of offering clemency or parole; suggesting how to handle possible perjury or obstruction of justice charges; urging the adoption of a "national security"
The tapes are candid beyond any papers ever made public by a President. They contain occasional profanities & harsh judgments on individuals. They also contain disclosures of a kind that are certain to inspire even stronger future controversy
about Nixon's role.
The conversations are laced with references to "laundering" money and cash payments, to "coded" phone conversations and burglaries and break-ins and even, in one instance, to a Mafia-type operation. In that conversation, Dean had
complained that the people at the White House were not "pros" at "this sort of thing. This is the sort of thing Mafia people can do."
The Soviets pressed to divide the definition of "strategic" weapons into separate categories: defensive, including mainly the new antiballistic missile (ABM) systems, and offensive, including an array of various warheads.
Nixon was in favor of the division. The US negotiating team didn't want to cede anything until all of the points had been addressed.
Source: The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 23
, Feb 26, 1971
USSR is cheating on nuclear tests; push for bilateral treaty
KENNEDY [to Nixon]: I think the next president should make one last effort to secure an agreement [with the USSR] on the cessation of nuclear tests, [or soon] there may be 10 or 20 countries with an atomic capacity. So one more effort should be made.
Even if that effort fails that it will be necessary to carry on tests in the atmosphere which pollute the atmosphere. They can be carried out underground.
NIXON: As a matter of fact, there's been a moratorium on testing as a result of the fact that we
have been negotiating. I've reached the conclusion that the Soviet Union is actually filibustering. I've reached the conclusion, too, that they may be cheating. There should be no tests in the atmosphere; that rules out any fall-out. But as far as
underground tests for developing peaceful uses of atomic energy, we should not allow this Soviet filibuster to continue. I think it's time for them to fish or cut bait.
1947: Served in HUAC, House Un-American Activities Committee
Dick Nixon, as a freshman congressman on the House Un-American Activities committee, stood out by managing actually to expose someone--namely
Alger Hiss, who was accused of passing classified documents to Russians.
The case was revelatory as well as puzzling because Hiss, then the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was a model of new deal achievement--a Harvard Law school graduate, the secretary general of
The United Nations Charter Conference, in 1945.
In the end it was Nixon who let Hiss trap himself with his increasingly convoluted testimony and lawyerly avoidances.
1954: criticized McCarthyism as unfair and destructive
Nixon [made a speech that] "procedures for dealing with the threat of Communism must be fair and they must be proper. Now, I can imagine that some of you will say, 'They're a bunch of rats. What we ought to do is go out and shoot 'em.' Well, I'll agree
they're a bunch of rats, but just remember this: when you go out to shoot rats, you have to shoot straight." If one is out to get rid of Communists, it is important to get rid of them in proper, legal fashion. "You might hit someone else who's trying to
shoot rats too," he said, as a warning. "And so we've got to be fair. For two very good reasons: One, because it's right, and two, because it's the most effective way of doing the job."
It was then that he began to criticize McCarthy and his methods,
although without actually mentioning the senators name: "Well, why do we fight communism in the first place? Because Communism threatens freedom and when we use unfair methods for fighting Communists, we help to destroy freedom ourselves."
1948: Require Communists to register with government
By March 1948, Nixon's hard work earned him his 1st national publicity. When HUAC took up a bill to outlaw the Communist party,
Nixon was ready with a substitute. Instead of banning Communists, the Nixon bill required party members to register with the government. It was the Nixon version that passed the House. The vote was 319-58.
The Nixon bill became the focus of a heated, misinformed, national radio debate between Minnesota's Harold Stassen and NY governor Thomas E. Dewey, the top candidates for the 1948 Republican presidential nomination.
At 35, Nixon was about to become America's most celebrated Communist-catcher.