February 10, 2022

Nixon's Frankenstein 50 Years Later

Excerpts from, "The One China Policy: What Would Nixon Do?" By Joseph Bosco, The Diplomat, January 5, 2017:

Exactly when Nixon concluded that he and Kissinger may have made a bad deal with China is not clear, but he began expressing doubts as early as 1978 when he stated in his memoir (emphasis added):

We must cultivate China during the next few decades while it is still learning to develop its national strength and potential.  Otherwise we will one day be confronted with the most formidable enemy that has ever existed in the history of the world. 

. . .

Before his death in 1994, Nixon confessed to real fears about China’s direction. In an interview with his former speechwriter, William Safire, he was asked whether economic engagement and “our strengthening of [the Chinese] regime [had] brought political freedom.”

Nixon’s response was a chilling acknowledgement that his visit to China, which he had proclaimed in his Beijing toast as “the week that changed the world,” may have changed it for the worst. “That old realist,” Safire wrote in the New York Times, “who had played the China card to exploit the split in the Communist world, replied with some sadness that he was not as hopeful as he had once been: ‘We may have created a Frankenstein[‘s monster].’”

Excerpts from, "The Terrible Cost of Presidential Racism" By Gary J. Bass, The New York Times, September 3, 2020:
These emotional displays of prejudice help to explain a foreign policy debacle. Mr. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger’s policies toward South Asia in 1971 were not just a moral disaster but a strategic fiasco on their own Cold War terms.

While Mr. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger had some reasons to favor Pakistan, an American ally which was secretly helping to bring about their historic opening to China, their biases and emotions contributed to their excessive support for Pakistan’s murderous dictatorship throughout its atrocities.

As Mr. Kissinger’s own staff members had warned him, this one-sided approach handed India the opportunity to rip Pakistan in half, first by sponsoring the Bengali guerrillas and then with the war in December 1971 — resulting in a Cold War victory for the Soviet camp.

For decades, Mr. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger have portrayed themselves as brilliant practitioners of realpolitik, running a foreign policy that dispassionately served the interests of the United States. But these declassified White House tapes confirm a starkly different picture: racism and misogyny at the highest levels, covered up for decades under ludicrous claims of national security. A fair historical assessment of Mr. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger must include the full truth, unbleeped.
Video Title: Lessons Learned: Richard Nixon Goes to China. Source: Council on Foreign Relations. Date Published: February 14, 2012. Description:
On February 17, 1972, President Richard Nixon departed on a historic trip to China. The United States had no formal diplomatic relationship with China since Mao Zedong's communist government came to power in 1949. Nixon's trip put relations between the two countries on an entirely different track, and changed the face of international relations during the Cold War. Nixon would call it the "week that changed the world." 

James M. Lindsay, CFR's senior vice president and director of studies, says that Nixon's trip clearly demonstrates the idea that diplomacy matters in foreign policy. History, he says, is "usually told as the story of epic battles and courageous last stands." But diplomacy plays just as great a historical role, he argues, and remains vital today for dealing with countries as diverse as China, Iran, or Myanmar. 

Video Title: President Nixon's Cold War Strategy. Source: Richard Nixon Foundation. Date Published: November 13, 2019.