July 9, 2014 By Jonathan Movroydis
Henry Kissinger meeting Chou Enlai for the first time, July 9 1971.
After two years of backchannel exchanges and subtle signals of interest, Premier Chou Enlai of the People’s Republic of China on June 2 1971 delivered, in the words of National Security Council head Henry Kissinger, the “most important communication that has come to an American President since the end of World War II:”
Premier Chou Enlai welcomes Dr. Kissinger to China as the U.S. representative who will come in advance for a preliminary secret meeting with high level Chinese officials to prepare and make necessary arrangements for President Nixon’s visit to Peking.
One month later, on July 1 1971, Kissinger embarked on an undisclosed diplomatic mission to the Far East code-named POLO I. On this trip, Kissinger was to make precursory visits to Saigon, Bangkok, and New Delhi before journeying to Islamabad in Pakistan, from there springboarding to his real destination: Beijing, China. Under the cover of a published schedule that would have Kissinger in Pakistan for 48 hours from July 8 to July 10, he would feign a stomachache upon his arrival in Islamabad.
“The Embassy dispensary would be asked for medication. My discomfort would get progressively worse until [President] Yahya [Khan] would invite me over dinner to use the Presidential rest house in Nathiagali in the mountains to recover,” Kissinger recalled of the strategy of illness in his White House memoirs, White House Years.
Under this pretext, Kissinger would be able to plead an additional day to stay in Pakistan, allowing for the opportune time to disappear to Beijing for two days. On the morning of July 9, Kissinger and his party, composed of three NSC staff members and a detail of two Secret Service agents, secretly flew out of Chaklala Airport and departed for Beijing, knowing that they would become the first U.S. officials to visit the People’s Republic of China.
The three men who knew of Kissinger’s real destination upon his arrival in Pakistan and assisted in his secret dispatch: From L-R Ambassador Joseph Farland, Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan, and Agha Hilaly, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S.
Upon their arrival, Kissinger’s party was escorted to a guest house for state visitors. Chou Enlai arrived at 4:30 in the afternoon, and the first round of an historic first step in discussions commenced. Below, read the memorandum of conversation for their first day of discussions. During their opening meeting, they covered topics relating to scheduling President Nixon’s future trip to China, the general philosophy between the Chinese and Americans and the sensitive subject of Taiwan:
Kissinger recognized that diplomatic overtures with China carried much more impact with China than it did the United States. The domestic political implications of opening relations with the United States “had to be a personal, intellectual, and emotional crisis. They had started as a splinter group, with no hope for victory, endured the Long March, fought Japan and a civil war, opposed us in Korea and then took on the Soviets, and imposed the Cultural Revolution on themselves.” Such a turn in international relations faced several prospects of failure.
Back in Washington, President Nixon also recognized the tenderness with which they must treat their preliminary discussion with the Chinese:
Although I was confident that the Chinese were as ready for my trip as we were, I did not underestimate the tremendous problems that Taiwan and Vietnam posed for both sides, and I tried to discipline myself not to expect anything lest I begin to expect too much. RN, The Memoirs of Richard Nixon
But Kissinger ultimately won his short time spent in Beijing. After engaging in two additional days of talks, he and Chou Enlai crafted a joint statement confirming a scheduled visit to China for President Nixon sometime before May of 1972.
Kissinger and his party are given a tour of the Forbidden City.
Even when Kissinger arrived back in Pakistan on July 11, it was still important to maintain secrecy. Before Kissinger left for Polo I, he and President Nixon agreed on the single codeword “Eureka” as an indicator for a successful trip and a scheduled presidential visit.
When Kissinger arrived back in Pakistan on July 11, he cabled a single response to Washington. Al Haig, military assistant to Kissinger, received the message and immediately phoned the President.
“What’s the message?” President Nixon asked.
“Eureka,” he replied.
Kissnger arrives in San Clemente on July 13 1971 bearing good news for the President.
July 7, 2014 By Jonathan Movroydis
President Nixon addresses Midwestern media executives in Kansas City on July 6 1971.
43 years ago, President Nixon acknowledged the harsh reality of America’s standing in the world: that it could no longer claim global hegemony in an increasingly multi-polar and competitive world.
In an address to Midwestern media executives in Kansas City on July 6 1971, largely prepared by himself on yellowpad notes, the 37th President said: “But now when we see the world in which we are about to move, the United States no longer is in the position of complete preeminence or predominance. That is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it can be a constructive thing.”
In 1971, the United States was still the richest and most powerful nation in the world. But other power centers capable of challenging the U.S. on every front existed, and it was a reality, Nixon believed, that the country needed to face.
He specified the five “great power centers:” the United States, Western Europe, Japan, the U.S.S.R., and finally China.
His inclusion of China came perhaps as a surprise, but sparked no intense recreation at the time. Though China’s economy was sluggish–producing less than Japan, a country one-eighth its size–he noted prophetically that the Chinese “are one of the most capable people in the world.”
He continued: “That is the reason why I felt that it was essential that this Administration take the first steps toward ending the isolation of Mainland China from the world community…Mainland China, outside the world community, completely isolated, with its leaders not in communication with world leaders, would be a danger to the whole world that would be unacceptable.”
What nobody knew was that President Nixon made these allusions to the United States’ changing attitude toward China just as head NSC Adviser Henry Kissinger was embarking on a ten-day secret mission to the Far East code-named Polo I–setting the stage for President Nixon’s visit to China the following year. His remarks in Kansas City carried far greater significance than an observer at the media conference would have suspected.
President Nixon’s reflection on his Kansas City remarks in his memoirs shows his strategy at the time:
On July 6 I flew to Kansas City to address a large group of Midwestern news media executives…Kissinger was in the middle of a ten-day mission to the Far East and just days away from his secret trip to Peking. Before he got there I wanted to place on the record an outline of the reasons for approaching China. I told the gathering that the potential for China, though obscured to most American observers by its isolation, was such that no foreign policy could ignore or exclude it…Despite the recent flurry of activity (the ping-pong matches, termination of travel restrictions, and a May 31 invitation from Mao Tse-Tung) I said that I did not hold out any great hopes of rapid advances in our relations…My speech received relatively little attention in Kansas City. As we were to learn later, however, it received a great deal of attention in Peking.
American reporters were oblivious to the significance of the speech. Chinese Premier Chou Enlai, on the other hand, was not. President Nixon recalls in his memoirs:
At one point Chou asked about my Kansas City speech, and Kissinger had to admit that he had read only the press reports. The next morning at breakfast Kissinger found a copy of my speech, with Chou’s underlinings and marginal notations in Chinese, lying on the table with a note requesting that he return it because it was Chou’s only copy.
July 3, 2014 By Jonathan Movroydis
Pat Buchanan, New York Times bestselling author and former staff assistant to Nixon, writes for Townhall about the stigma associated with President Nixon and his so-called “Southern strategy,” having allegedly used racial politics to steal the South from the Democrats who claimed to be the heroes of Civil Rights.
On the contrary, Buchanan writes:
In Nixon’s presidency, the civil rights enforcement budget rose 800 percent. Record numbers of blacks were appointed to federal office. An Office of Minority Business Enterprise was created. SBA loans to minorities soared 1,000 percent. Aid to black colleges doubled.
Nixon won the South not because he agreed with them on civil rights — he never did — but because he shared the patriotic values of the South and its antipathy to liberal hypocrisy.
When Johnson left office, 10 percent of Southern schools were desegregated. When Nixon left, the figure was 70 percent.
Richard Nixon desegregated the Southern schools, something you won’t learn in today’s public schools.
Click here for the full story.
Buchanan will be discussing his new book, THE GREATEST COMEBACK: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority, at the Nixon Library on July 21, 2014 at 7:00 PM. Click here for tickets and a signed copy of his new book.
July 2, 2014 By Jonathan Movroydis
Muscovites watch President Nixon’s address to the Russian people on a set in a state television store.
40 years ago today, President Nixon made his second television and radio address to the people of the Soviet Union. It was the second such time RN was given the opportunity to address the Soviet people directly, and a continuation of a short tradition that he and Leonid Brezhnev of the U.S.S.R. began two years ago in 1972.
“In these past 2 years, there has been a dramatic change in the nature of the relationship between our two countries,” President Nixon opened in his address. “After a long period of confrontation, we moved to an era of negotiation, and now we are learning cooperation. We are learning to cooperate, not only in lessening the danger of war but in advancing the work of peace.”
In his yellowpad notes, RN points out a particularly intriguing aspect cooperation of both country’s new relationship: the space program. Just as cooperation in space requires the utmost skill and intricacy, so does the overarching cooperation for peace:
Finally, and perhaps more important, this joint mission–for which our astronauts are now here in the Soviet Union training alongside your cosmonauts–is being made possible by careful planning, by precise engineering, by a process of working and building together, step by step, to reach a goal that we share, in pursuit of a purpose we share. This is the way that together we can build a peace that will last–a peace in which our children can live together as brothers and sisters, joining hands across the ocean in fellowship, and…
President Nixon uses this note almost word for word in his address. Watch his address below to see where he mentions it:
Television crews prepare for President Nixon’s address to the Soviet people.
Mrs. Nixon watches her husband deliver the address.
July 1, 2014 By Jonathan Movroydis
From left to right: Howard K. Smith of ABC, Eric Sevareid of CBS, John Chancellor of NBC, and President Richard Nixon.
It was television day, as H.R. Haldeman, President Nixon’s chief of staff wrote in his diaries. A day when President Nixon would lock himself in a room to prepare for an appearance on national television. The goal for this day: get through to the ordinary guy on details of foreign policy.
On July 1, 1970 at 7:00 pm, President Nixon sat down with news network anchors Howard Smith of ABC, John Chancellor of NBC, and Eric Sevareid of CBS to discuss live the challenging topic of foreign policy. It was the first time a President participated in a live interview; Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson participated in similar television programs, but their videos were edited in advance of their airings. He offered his reasoning for such an endeavor, particularly as it coincided with the urgency of America’s foreign policy situation. It would give him ample time to explain to the American people, in the most candid way, why certain decisions were made and why certain decisions would, in the President’s opinion, be most conducive to a successful foreign policy.
By taking the subject of foreign policy, by picking the anchormen of the three networks, by having a chance for a little bit longer answer and a chance to follow up, I thought we could give our television audience a chance really to get to the depths of our foreign policy thinking which you can’t do when you are up there trying to, in 28 minutes, answer 24 times.
Watch the entire conversation below:
President Nixon performed admirably, handling the commentators well and delivering on point thorough and effective points. He answered questions related to the Senate’s recent rescinding of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, his administration’s policy towards achieving a just peace despite such a decision, how Vietnamization would be achieved, and the status of the Cambodian incursion.
RN reaffirmed the American public on the success of the Cambodian campaign, and assured his administration’s adamant position on measured withdrawal of U.S. troops while simultaneously strengthening the South Vietnamese position. It would only be through this strategy that the United States could establish negotiating grounds with the North Vietnamese.
If the enemy feels that we are going to stay there long enough for the South Vietnamese to be strong enough to handle their own defense, then I think they have a real incentive to negotiate, because if they have to negotiate with a strong, vigorous South Vietnamese Government, the deal they can make with them isn’t going to be as good as the deal they might make now.
The conversation, though dominated by discussion regarding Vietnam, turned finally to the Middle East. Asked about approaching peace negotiations in the Middle East, President Nixon had this to say:
The Mideast is important. We all know that 80 percent of Europe’s oil and 90 percent of Japan’s oil comes from the Mideast. We know that the Mideast, this area, this is the gateway to Africa; it’s the gateway to the Mediterranean; it’s the hinge of NATO; and it is also the gateway through the Suez Canal down into the Indian Ocean.
Such a critical territory in the world–volatile and on the verge of full-fledged war–would require the tactful cooperation of the United States and the Soviet Union. If the Soviet Union showed interest in the Mediterranean, the United States would have a responsibility to monitor the balance of power in the Middle East.
once the balance of power shifts where Israel is weaker than its neighbors, there will be a war. Therefore, it is in U.S. interests to maintain the balance of power, and we will maintain that balance of power. That is why as the Soviet Union moves in to support the U.A.R., it makes it necessary for the United States to evaluate what the Soviet Union does, and once that balance of power is upset, we will do what is necessary to maintain Israel’s strength vis-a-vis its neighbors, not because we want Israel to be in a position to wage war–that is not it but because that is what will deter its neighbors from attacking it.
On the mutual understanding that the fruits of peace bear infinitely more than the malaise of war, two adversaries with the greatest military might the world has seen would be tasked with the responsibility of stabilizing tension in the world. President Nixon believed this, and he hoped, through his candid, that the American people would also believe it.