The Nixon Doctrine (1972) | ARCHIVES

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Announcer: From the nation’s capital, Washington
debates for the ’70s, a series of programs designed to bring together for an open exchange
of views and opinions outstanding authorities on vital issues facing the world of the ’70s.
This is the first in the Town Hall series of discussions on national security. The topic,
the Nixon Doctrine. Now, here is Peter Hackes. Peter Hackes: Over the years this country’s foreign
policy has changed with the times, reflecting the changing attitudes of our people and of
our leaders. The Monroe Doctrine, for example, is one of the earliest I’m sure we all learned
about as school children. In more recent times it was the Truman Doctrine that guided U.S.
foreign policy. Then there was the doctrine of massive retaliation
during the Eisenhower administration. The Nixon years will be remembered for their own
unique contribution to American foreign policy, a set of guidelines called the Nixon Doctrine.
The imprint of Richard Nixon on U.S. foreign policy has been one of the key features of
this administration. In essence, it marks the end of the post World War II period and
end to the Cold War as a major factor in U.S. foreign policy and the emergence of a new
period of international negotiation to achieve this country’s aims. Welcome to another program presented by the
American Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, research, and education organization.
Instead of our usual, rational debate, this program will deviate a bit from that format
to bring you the opinions of not two but four experts in the field to discuss the pros and
cons as they see them of the Nixon Doctrine and what it means to this country and to our
worldwide neighbors. To present their views on the topic, “The
Nixon Doctrine: From Despair to Opportunity,” four prominent guests: Melvin Laird, Secretary
of Defense for all of the Nixon years; Republican Senator Robert Griffin of Michigan, a close
associate of Mr. Nixon; and the Assistant Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate; Democratic
Senator, Gale McGee of Wyoming, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and
Thomas Schelling, an international economist and professor at Harvard University. Also with us for our discussion, a panel of
experts in the field, men and women engaged in making public policy in teaching and writing
about the subject of the Nixon Doctrine. Now, to present our discussion, Robert Goralski,
a Washington Correspondent for NBC News. Mr. Goralski. Mr. Goralski: Throughout the long history
of this country Americans have prided themselves on an essential element in the democratic
process, the need to debate policy and programs. It has by consensus strengthened the country,
no aspect of American life is above debate. Today there’s perhaps nothing more important
than our national security, how much to spend, in what way, and for what objectives. The
issues are complex but no one suggests they should not be debated. To accept military
policy without debate would be as tragic as an administration trying to establish security
programs without the support of the nation. That idea is held by the Secretary of Defense. Melvin Laird said in submitting his last budget
request to Congress, without an understanding of our national objectives and without support
for the means we adapt to reach them, no strategy pursued by the representative leaders of a
free and open society can possibly succeed for long when contested by a powerful closed
society. Free nations, he said, must measure the ultimate strength of their defense policies
in proportion to the willing support their citizens give to these policies. A closed
society is not dependent on such popular support. Defense Secretary Laird came to Washington
nearly 20 years ago. For all but the latter years, he was a member of the House of Representatives,
serving on committees where his the interest on national security, education, and health
could be utilized to their fullest. He was appointed Secretary of Defense by President
Nixon and has been the administration’s perhaps most articulate and ardent supporter in the
halls of Congress. It’s a pleasure to introduce the Secretary of Defense, Melvin R. Laird. Sec. Laird: Thank you very much, Mr. Goralski.
It is delightful to have this opportunity to relax in the boardroom of the American
Enterprise Institute with such ardent supporters as representatives of Yale, Harvard, the University
of Chicago, the Brookings Institute, the press, and some members of the House and of the Senate.
This evening we’re going to discuss the Nixon Doctrine, the Nixon Doctrine and its meaning
to America. I believe that it takes us from potential despair to new opportunities. The focus of my remarks will be this new doctrine
which has been enunciated by our president starting in 1969 in Guam. It is an important
statement of America’s proper place in the world by a president who is concerned as much
with shaping the future as he is with present needs. Designed to achieve the new era of
long-lasting peace and international relations through partnership, strength, and the willingness
to negotiate, the Nixon Doctrine combines high principle and practical realism. In this
complicated times, the high hopes of the far-seeing statesman and the accomplished skills of the
practical politician are both necessary for a successful policy that will lead to peace. With this basic idea in mind I shall discuss
briefly the Nixon Doctrine’s principles, its practical results to date and its promise
for the future in terms of our new strategy of realistic deterrence. I believe it is most
important that we have such public dialogues as this American Enterprise Institute affords
us tonight to discuss the sweeping changes which are being made in foreign and in national
security policy. We must avoid becoming mired in personal and parochial debates about the
questions of how many aircraft carriers or how many aircraft wings or how many combat
divisions the various services should have. Those are questions which are indeed important
but they are subsidiary to the broader national security issues that will decide America’s
future role and will impact on the world in which we live during the 1970s and beyond
into the 1980s. The Nixon Doctrine, as it applies to foreign
policy, was formulated in recognition of the fact that this world in which we live has
changed. It has become too dangerous a place for great nuclear powers to constantly be
in confrontation with each other. A most essential ingredient to a generation of peace is a stable
relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. There are, and will continue
to be profound differences between the Soviet Unions and the United States, differences
that cannot be simply ascribed to historical accident or to misunderstanding. We cannot
eliminate these differences overnight but we can make a start for it becoming peaceful
adversaries instead of belligerent antagonists. We have broken with the principles of the
past which said that America, because of some all-pervading wisdom, could, in fact, write
all plans and dictate all programs. The Nixon Doctrine and its supporting national
security strategy of realistic deterrence strike a balance between what America should
do and what our friends can do. This doctrine permits us to do enough, without doing or
attempting to do too much. It pledges that we will keep our treaty commitments, that
we will provide a nuclear shield, that we will assist our friends in safeguarding world
stability. But it does not call upon us to do everything ourselves. The Nixon Doctrine
and its supporting strategy relate to our relationship with the Soviet Union, but they
do much more than just relate to this relationship with the Soviet Union. They provide the U.S.
with a strategy that encompasses our relationships with all nations. As we move from confrontation to negotiation,
from the symbols of force to the practices of persuasion, we must do so without submerging
the national interests of any state save the interest of waging aggressive war on others.
We cannot neglect that national strength so necessary to the process of negotiation and
partnership is a very important ingredient of this doctrine. Without it, negotiations
soon become concessions and partnership becomes exploitation. The emergence and the development of the new
realities of world politics will inevitably complicate the lives of every American. Some
will despair, turning towards isolationism or outrage at America’s apparent loss of world
mastery, a mastery that is at least once a pretension of our country. Others, hopefully,
the vast majority of Americans, will patiently absorb the new experience and learn to enjoy
a larger measure of freedom in a fluid state of world affairs which can be provided to
free men. The defense policy evolving from the Nixon
Doctrine is evolving in freedom. It evolves from freedom from the rigidities of the Cold
War and cannot be permitted to lead our nation or our people into a state of euphoria. We
must continue to maintain our military strength and to cultivate that of our friends and of
our allies. Indeed there is a single characteristic that most distinguishes the Nixon Doctrine
from other national security principles espoused since 1945, it is the emphasis we now place
worldwide on the role of our partners and the role which they must play in the common
defense under our new concept which we refer to as the total force concept. The guidelines for our defense policy under
the Nixon Doctrine and its strategy of realistic deterrence, a strategy aimed at deterring
war at all levels of conflict are as follows: In deterring strategic nuclear warfare, primary
reliance will continue to be placed on the American strategic deterrent force. In deterring
theater nuclear warfare, the United States also has primary responsibility, but certain
of our allies are able to share this responsibility by virtue of their own nuclear capability. In deterring theater conventional warfare
involving the USSR or the People’s Republic of China, the United States and its allies
share this responsibility. In deterring sub-theater or a localized warfare where the United States
is not involved directly with the Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China, the country
or ally threatened bears the primary burden, particularly for its manpower requirements.
I believe that many critics who argue the path we have chosen is nothing more than the
previous road with less capabilities miss the main point. Over time, we should no longer need the past
level of capabilities provided that we can move forward with programs such as security
assistance and burden sharing that put teeth into effective partnership with our allies.
But patience on the part of the American public is required in order to make these plans materialize.
Patience during delicate negotiations, patience with our partners, and patience to maintain
adequate strength as we exercise our statecraft prudently and practically to achieve the goal
of lasting peace. The practical results of the Nixon Doctrine,
I think we have but to turn to Vietnam. A real tragedy of Vietnam is that Vietnamization
did not start before 1969. In January of 1969, the United States was bogged down in a Vietnam
war to such an extent that our government appeared to be able to handle little else.
Our efforts over the past several years have led us away from this obsession and toward
a broader view of the world and our responsibilities in that world. While the change may not have been as dramatic
as some would like, Vietnam has been to a considerable extent de-emphasized as American
ground forces have been withdrawn. And today the last American ground force with a combat
role was withdrawn from Vietnam. 11 divisions were present in Vietnam in 1968. Today not
a single American division is present. Vietnamization, which is the policy of enabling
the South Vietnamese to defend themselves against North Vietnam as well as against internal
security threats is producing substantial dividends considering that we started this
program only in early 1969, after years of benevolent paternalism in Indochina. Patience
will be necessary; however, if we are to see this program through to its successful completion
in the ground, air, logistics, and in other areas as the complete and total responsibility
is turned over to South Vietnam. After a careful reassessment of American policy
in major areas of foreign affairs outside of Indochina, new efforts were launched during
1969 and in 1970 to bring peace in the Middle East, to move the Berlin question towards
a satisfactory settlement, to formulate American positions for SALT and to expedite our unfinished
negotiations towards completion. In the areas of Berlin, SALT, bilateral relations with
China and Russia, as well as various other negotiations, 1972 has proven a vintage year
for American world leadership toward peace. On the major American initiatives inaugurated
early in the Nixon administration, the Middle East remains an outstanding issue. But one
should not neglect to note that the warfare was escalating in the Middle East when an
American-sponsored cease-fire was accepted by the combatants in 1970, and this cease-fire
has been maintained ever since. The ABM treaty and the interim agreement to
limit offensive weapons that have been produced in SALT I and are now before the Congress
should be viewed as politically and militarily important for both limiting the strength and
for maintaining strength. Perhaps there is no area of national security interest that
has more carefully combined the negotiations and strength aspects of the Nixon Doctrine
than SALT, just as no area of our policy better typifies the partnership facet of the same
doctrine as it applies to Vietnamization. The SALT I agreements can pay a handsome security
dividend to the United States by reducing the danger inherent in an uncontrol race for
nuclear arms. At the same time, it should be observed in all candor that the results
of SALT I do not justify the kind of euphoria we are already encountering from some of those
who contemplate substantial cuts in the defense budget for strategic arms. These agreements
are a first step, they are but a beginning, not a culmination. At this point in time,
therefore, we should proceed prudently and unprovocatively to develop whatever military
programs are necessary to preserve our deterrent. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe the great
promise of the Nixon Doctrine lies in the future. It provides us with a practical framework
for the pursuit of high principles. It does not provide us all the answers, answers which
must be sought patiently and realistically in our interaction with other members of the
complex international world that exists today. We must use the opportunities we have to seek
these answers, not by turning away from the problems because they are difficult problems,
but by understanding the principles and adapting the realities to move forward on the path
toward peace. For me, the Nixon Doctrine truly represents
a turning away from past discouragement and towards future hope. We have taken the first
steps towards setting a new path, both domestically as well as in our international relations.
That path is a long one, one that cannot be completed by anyone now in office. But the
way has been set. Only the will of the American people and the wisdom and fortitude of their
leaders in the years to come can realize the promise of our new course. Thank you. Mr. Goralski: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for
that opening statement on the Nixon Doctrine. You’ve covered a broad area and you’ve raised
many points and perhaps raised many questions. We’ll have additional comments on the Nixon
Doctrine from tonight’s discussants, Senators Gale McGee, and Robert Griffin and Professor
Thomas Schelling. Senator Gale McGee is a politician, scholar, and teacher. He came
to the U.S. Senate from the University of Wyoming whose state he has represented in
the upper chambers since 1958. He served on key committees including the foreign relations
panel. He has written extensively on the international scene and brings the view of educator and
legislator to our discussion today. For his comments on the Nixon Doctrine, may I present
Senator Gale McGee. Sen. McGee: Thank you, Robert. I’d like to
cast the Nixon Doctrine in the perspective of our being today first with a simple reminder
that we got where we are today largely by the force of the events of World War II, that
placed us for the first time in our history on the front line of the world without a shield,
that placed us on one side among two without our freedom of choice. And it’s in that new rather foreign role to
us that we’ve been seeking since to live up to what we loosely call the responsibilities
of world power and I submit that the history of our time will show that we’ve done surprisingly
well in spite of mistakes, in spite of hesitancy and uncertainties and major doubts. But what
brings us here on this occasion is the disintegration here at home of any sense of confidence in
our policy leadership or attempts and it’s into that setting that the Nixon Doctrine
has been projected because it addresses itself to the disappearance for example of that remarkable
consensus that sustained American leadership policies for so many years after World War
II, a consensus that was led largely by the old elite concept in foreign policies of most
sovereign nations of the good old days. It was led by the executive in most instances,
an executive that now is viewed with great distrust. I mean not a particular executive
but the office of the President of the United States. And it’s looked upon with frowns by
an increasingly distrusting public that does not know or does not believe or does not agree
with the directions of the United States in foreign policy. And so the Nixon Doctrine
arrived on the scene as an attempt to try to win us a little more time. I think if we
strain the doctrine so much as to believe it’s the wave of the future that we do ourselves
a disservice but it’s won us an important segment of time. it’s turned around some considerable
element of public distrust and doubt for the moment. This means that we still have a chance to
readdress ourselves to the requirements of world leadership in a world that’s not essentially
differed in most of its basic ways than the world of Adolf Hitler or the world of Bill
the Kaiser. Oh, I’m aware of all of the great refinements and the revolution of great expectations,
but not in the relations among nations. The world is still the prisoner in effect of the
balance of power, perhaps, until now at least, the only substitute for war that so-called
civilized man has yet come up with and it’s into that setting that we have to project
the doctrine itself. In winning his time it gives us a chance to sort through the unraveling
of many of our historic processes here at home to see if we can reknit it all into a
fabric that will sustain an American position of leadership in a sorely troubled world. The doctrine has a limitation as I see it
and that is a part of its initial popularity or acceptance drew heavily upon groups that
don’t really believe in the concept that the world is here to stay. And I speak of those
very conservative groups who would retreat to Fortress America without hesitation and
indeed are those now speaking out against President Nixon’s approach. And I would remind
each of us here that this moment in our history when we may be realizing a chance for a second
breath in this great testing time that our opportunity is suspended by the tiniest of
threads in one man diplomacy, it’s been brilliant diplomacy. And for the most part, it’s been very effective
but I submit that in our concept of free societies as they are taking their forms and their expressions
now, I for one have reason to doubt that under those terms that our country can really rise
to the responsibilities of world power in a world that still is made up of nation states
not under law among the nations. Which brings me back then to the opening thesis
that we’re still confronted with the necessities of balancing force, of an equilibrium of capabilities,
of what are the other nice phrases we’d like to introduce to avoid the no-no, the balance
of power. The balance of power is still here. We have almost put ourselves out of the ballpark
in our capabilities of coping with the requirements of such a balance system. But lest we’d be
precipitous in dismissing the balance of power as a part of the real world. I think we ought to remind ourselves that
until this moment at least the Soviets are not quite yet the victims of the same domestic
disintegration as are we. In their monolithic structure, they still have the advantage of
an elite, of decision making at the top and of the relative absence of a fragmentizing
of the opinion factor at home. Now, one may argue about each one of those
attributes, but the point remains that they aid and abet your odds, favorable odds in
pursuing a successful balance system. And so this leaves me with a conclusion that our
real problem is less Soviet intentions or the Soviet Union in the world around us as
much as it is our coming to grips with our own domestic innards. These indeed call into question whether we
can command a sense of responsibility in leadership in the future. I feel we must command that,
that somehow we have to rise to it. But it means we have to go much further than we have
dared to go until now. And that’s why I would urge and I’ve continually urged the appointment
by the president of a prestige commission to totally reexamine the mechanisms of our
system of constitutional freedoms against the requirements of the real world. And I would even go so far as to commission
these members to start with now, not with the Founding Fathers, not with the Constitution
but in the here and now, assuming that they’re drafting the first constitution for a republic
which for the first time in its history has the task of rising to the needs of a world
that’s far from peace. There are many embellishments to be added to that formula but it’s sufficient
to say that we kid only ourselves if we’re going to pretend to survive in the world in
which the balance of power, the equilibrium of capabilities is not realized first. Mr. Beecher: Secretary Laird… Mr. Goralski: Can you identify yourself, please. Mr. Beecher: Yeah, William Beecher New York
Times. Secretary Laird, I’d like to ask you a question about the implications of the Nixon
Doctrine as it relates to our Indochina policy into the years ahead. You have pronounced
Vietnamization if not a roaring success, at least a success. My impression is that the Vietnamization process
was not designed to contend with the kind of massive tank artillery-supported attack
from the North as we have witnessed over the last several months. My question, then, is
this, sir. If negotiations fail to end the war, would you assume that a massive American
air-sea armada must be kept for some years in Indochina, one, to deter a repetition of
the kind of invasion from the North as we have recently seen, and, two, if that deterrence
fails, to help throw it back? Sec. Laird. No, I do not. Mr. Beecher: Would you amplify that? Sec. Laird: Phase two of the Vietnamization
program as going forward, as outlined in the Defense Report which turns over to the South
Vietnamese the capability in the air, artillery and logistics field to maintain their own
in-country security against the threat of the North Vietnamese as they maraud throughout
South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. We are effectively planning a force structure which will give
them the capability of meeting this threat. Mr. Beecher: As of when, sir? Sec. Laird: The program as far as the ground
responsibility has moved much more rapidly than the air and the artillery and logistics.
But, even today, the South Vietnamese flew over 230 sorties, air sorties. They were flying
a very few sorties when the program started. As a matter of fact, there were only 200 aircraft
in the South Vietnamese Air Force. Today there are well over 1,100. That program is moving
along very well, and the program of Vietnamization does give the South Vietnamese the capability
of defending their own in-country security. And that’s what that program is all about,
to terminate completely and totally American involvement in Indochina. Now, that does not mean that the United States
will not have a presence in Asia as far as naval power and air power is concerned in
the foreseeable future because we will have such air power and sea power present in Asia
during the foreseeable future as we apply the Nixon Doctrine and make the best use of
the resources that are available with all of the countries with whom we have defense
alliances and defense arrangements. Mr. Goralski: Your question, yes sir? Mr. Kaplan: Morton Kaplan, University of Chicago.
I would like to return to the question Professor Schelling raised and ask Secretary Laird a
question. But first, as an academic, I’d like to get the analogies straight. Professor Schelling
spoke about abandoning Vietnam as we abandoned Taiwan. Now, the case of abandoning Vietnam
means pulling out all military support or defense commitment. There has in fact been
a major change of policy in Vietnam, as there was with respect to Taiwan. Vietnamization
is a major change from the policies of the Kennedy-Johnson administrations. Now, Professor Schelling is recommending that
we do in Vietnam what we did not do with respect to Taiwan, namely, remove our defense commitment.
Immediately after the visit to China, there were some in Asia and elsewhere who felt that
the policy was, in fact, a policy of abandonment of the defense commitment, and Marshall Green
was sent to Asia to respond to that. Was there not a loss of credibility until the policy
was adequately explained? Sec. Laird: Well, I think that the trip of
Marshall Green, Assistant Secretary of State Marshall Green, was an important trip. It
is always well to have the opportunity to brief one’s allies and friends regarding the
discussions that take place, whether they be in Moscow, whether they be in NATO, whether
they be in the People’s Republic of China. But I do feel that there is a good comprehension
on the part of our Asian allies of the Nixon Doctrine. They see Vietnamization as the first
application of that doctrine. They see the program in Cambodia where we made a conscious
decision in this administration not to commit American ground forces to go forward with
a military assistance program in that country. There were some that said we couldn’t go to
the Congress and get that approved. I was one that felt the Congress would approve an
adequate military assistance program in keeping with the application of the Nixon Doctrine. We had a better than a two-thirds vote in
the United States Senate for the application of that military assistance program in Cambodia,
and we had a better than an 80% vote in the House of Representatives. No, I believe that
this doctrine is being understood by our friends in Asia, and I know it is understood by our
friends in Europe at the present time having just returned from the NATO Defense Ministers
Meeting. Mr. Goralski: Sir, you have a question? Rep. Zablocki: Congressman Zablocki, Wisconsin
4th District. Secretary Laird, I am somewhat concerned with your optimism of the success
of the Nixon Doctrine. After all, regardless of what the label, any doctrine will have
to stand the test of time. And the key as to whether the Nixon Doctrine will be a success
is, if I may quote you, “What the United States can do, friends will do.” Now, Secretary Laird,
you do know that in the past a bipartisan spirit in the Congress, in the Senate and
the House, made it possible for the foundation which made it possible for the Nixon Doctrine
to be built on. And I recall that some of the members of the opposite party of mine,
your own party, consistently… Sec. Laird: I’m nonpolitical now. Rep. Zablocki: I understand that. But at that
time, Mr. Secretary, you remember at the House, you were political. But the military and economic
assistance programs were opposed by the members of your party. And I’m not so sure whether
they were consistently opposed, but to a great degree, to the very programs that made it
possible for the Nixon Doctrine. My question is what can the United States
really do in the future to the extent it has in the past with the growing neo-isolationism
in this country, the concern of our own economic ability to continue the economic and military
assistance and, furthermore, the division and particularly the other body in the Senate,
in opposition to the military? And just recently you have very articulately convinced the House
members how important it is to have military assistance. Is it not true we will have to
have a bipartisan spirit and we must to have also a very viable economy in order to continue
the Nixon Doctrine toward future successes? Sec. Laird: There is no question about it.
And the Nixon Doctrine will require that all of our friends and allies that are part of
our partnership arrangement must make an increased contribution of their own assets and of their
own resources to the military strength of their countries. We have these defense arrangements
with Japan, with European nations through NATO. Some nations are not adequately contributing
of their resources to the security of their particular areas. These mutual defense agreements which we have
require mutuality on both sides, and those nations that are contributing less than 1%
of their gross national product to defense and security requirements in their areas of
the world and getting a free ride, we should discuss that openly and frankly with them,
with our people and with their people, because the Nixon Doctrine, in order to succeed, must
recognize this mutuality with our partners with whom we have these defense agreements
and arrangements. Some of them can help in the security assistance area, military assistance
area, some in the economic development area. Many of them are not sharing the burden adequately
or effectively at the present time. Rep. Zablocki: I think
you will have to…in order to have the Nixon Doctrine succeed get continued and broader
support on the part of the Republicans in Congress. Sec. Laird: There is no question about the
kind of support we need for our defense arrangements. It must be a bipartisan support and that’s
why we are working, both in the State Department and the Defense Department, to build up and
to develop bipartisan support for these programs. Sen. McGee: And what happened, Mr. Secretary? Sec. Laird: I do not believe the defense issue
should be the major issue in this campaign. I can assure you that President Nixon will
continue to speak for a strong country. There are some in this year 1972 that don’t believe
strength is important. And I, as Secretary of Defense, cannot go along with that kind
of a philosophy. And I do not criticize those people for running up the white flag now because
they’re Democrats or Republicans, I criticize them as Secretary of Defense, and because
I think that that’s bad for America. Sen. McGee: Just a question that follows in
the wake of Clem’s line of questioning: What happens if these partners don’t produce, don’t
come through? Where does this leave us with the doctrine? Sec. Laird: I believe they will come through… Sen. McGee: That’s not the question. Sec. Laird: …if we are willing to talk frankly
and openly with them. The problem has been in the past that we hesitate to talk in this
frank and open fashion about the responsibilities all of us have in these partnerships. We look
at these treaty commitments as one-way streets and forget to consider the mutuality of both
partners to these defense arrangements. And I have found since I have been talking with
the defense ministers in NATO, and with the NATO Council, that we have been able to move
them in a different direction by talking frankly and openly with them. For the first time, we have the Defense Improvement
Account, which has been set up and there are no U. S. contributions to this new program.
We have been able to make some progress as far as Japan is concerned and some increases,
not enough, but they are moving in the direction of increasing their defense program…not
as much as they should. But this defense arrangement we have with Japan is a mutual defense arrangement
and it’s about time we talked about the mutuality of these defense agreements that we have. Sen. McGee: And if they don’t? Sec. Laird: I believe we can be successful… Sen. McGee: And if they don’t, Mr. Secretary? Sec. Laird: …by talking frankly and openly.
If they do not then I believe that the kind of bipartisan support which is needed and
necessary from our Congress will not be maintained in the decade of the 1980s and in the latter
part of the 1970s. Mr. Goralski: Question back here. Mr. Russett: Yes. Bruce Russett from Yale
University. I’d like to put a little different twist on this discussion. Professor Schelling
and other people have noted that the idea of burden-sharing, of persuading our allies
to do more, has been around for a long time. And we’ve been only modestly successful in
persuading our allies to do more, perhaps a little bit more successful recently than
in the past. One of the reasons, I think, that that success
has been so modest has been that it’s been very clear both to Americans, to the American
government, and to foreign governments that there was a great deal of deep, broad, bipartisan
support in the American populace for American military commitments abroad. Now we’ve heard
Senator McGee and others worrying about the growth of the new isolationism, the growth
of Fortress America foreign policy ideas. To put that a little bit less pejoratively,
at least a lessening of enthusiasm rather broadly in the populace for these military
commitments and that’s true too. The evidence both in the past commitment, the level of
these, and the really major change in American public opinion against these commitments is
very clear. Now, of course, this can be very dangerous,
this decline in support. On the other hand, I wonder if this doesn’t perhaps provide an
opportunity that the fact that some of this support is much less than it used to be may
make it possible for the Nixon administration to succeed in persuading our allies to do
burden-sharing, to succeed in a way that previous administrations could not because the popular
political opinion in the country was quite different. So I wonder if perhaps, even…within
the limits, of course, the present administration might not even welcome that change in public
opinion. Mr. Goralski: I think you wanted the Secretary
to respond or…? Mr. Russett: Anyone. Sec. Laird: I would not want to state that
that change is a welcome change. I can only state that as I meet with my colleagues, the
defense ministers of these other alliances, and with our defense ministers from NATO and
Korea and Japan, I think it’s important that we point out the realities of the 1970s. And
one of them is the political reality, the other is the fiscal reality which we face
during this particular period. And I do not hesitate to point those realities out. Mr. Goralski: You have a question here, sir. Mr. Kintner: Yes. It’s William Kintner, Foreign
Policy Research Institute. The SALT agreement codifies a type of parity in the strategic
field between ourselves and the Soviet Union. It also suggests a decoupling of our strategic
guarantee to our allies, particularly in the Western Europe. The statement has been made
by many analysts both in the United States and in Western Europe. Yet the necessity for
regional equilibrium becomes all the more important. The European allies have been dragging their
feet I know some defense ministers probably would like to do more. But is it not also
the problem that under the flexible-response doctrine, which relies almost initially on
conventional forces, they see no utility in building up their forces. Is there a possibility
that the administration will consider giving greater weight to the nuclear defenses of
Western Europe and perhaps assistance to the development of a European consortium based
on the British and French nuclear deterrent to compensate for the reduction of our commitment
which will take place over time as a result of the SALT talks? Sec. Laird: No, I would not think so. I think
that we will be going in the opposite direction and, as we make progress in the strategic
arms limitation field, and as we go forward with the follow-on negotiations as far as
forward-based systems are concerned, that the importance of the conventional deterrent
in Europe takes on an increased importance rather than a decreased importance. So I would
think that quite the opposite line of reasoning would be used as far as our European allies
are concerned. And I believe that we will be able to work out these arrangements and
reductions over the next few years. The situation is such that we are only moving
now in the strategic arms limitation area as far as strategic weapons. We will now move
into the forward-based systems and to mutual and balanced force reductions and force limitations.
Then we will be moving forward in the negotiation area on the whole broad question of military
assistance and the levels of military assistance as far as the Far East, the Middle East, and
other areas of the world. Mr. Goralski: Is there’s a question here? Mr. Frye: Alton Frye, Woodrow Wilson International
Center. Mr. Secretary, the President has asked the Congress to act upon the SALT agreements
before September 1st in order to facilitate a resumption in October of those follow-on
negotiations. Some of your comments suggest that you might prefer a delay in action on
those agreements unless the Congress has considered the specific defense programs in the annual
defense authorization. Someone commenting in the White House discussions
of these agreements said the real question is not whether we can trust the Russians but
whether we can trust ourselves to act prudently on these follow-on defense programs in ways
which both protect our national interest and spur the negotiations. Are you in fact of
the view that the action by the Congress on the agreements should be delayed until after
the defense programs have been approved or would you be happy to see prompt action on
SALT followed by prudent later decisions by the Congress on the individual defense programs? Sec. Laird: I believe that all three of the
programs to which you refer, the 1973 budget request to the President, the offensive agreement
to limiting offensive weapons as to numbers, ICBMs and submarines, and the treaty on the
ABM limitation, all must be approved. I support all three. I do believe that they are a triple-play
for peace, and in order to be safe you’ve got to touch all three bases. The Congress
in its wisdom is moving first on the authorization legislation and the House committee has reported
out the authorization bill which will be acted on by the House of Representatives next week.
So the authorization bill is moving first and I believe that your question is a rather
iffy question because the Congress in its wisdom has decided to move on the authorization
bill first. Mr. Goralski: Senator McGee. Sen. McGee: And I add just my point of view
from the Senate, Mr. Secretary, that I think that it may be contributing to a psychological
complication by stressing too strongly that if we don’t get the one you’re not sure that
we can go along with, let’s say, the SALT agreement. I think you’re going to get both.
That’s my judgment. I think you ought to have both, and I agree with you completely that
if we don’t follow up with the requirements of what is legal under the treaty for keeping
our force updated and modernized that we prejudice the chances for the second stage. But the point is that by tying the two together
so inseparably I think you’re almost automatically setting up a wall of opposition that we need
not have to climb over. I think it’s important that we ratify SALT and then that we meet
head-on the defense requirements to protect our posture. I think your track record, the
track record of this administration in leading from real capabilities, is so strong that
that’s a risk we have to take. I just don’t think we need to complicate our problems in
the Senate. I guess you should be making this speech, Bom, with the suggestion that they
have to go, that they’re inseparable. I agree that they are. I just don’t think you ought
to be saying so quite so articulately as you are. Sec. Laird: I do not control all of the questions
that are asked of me, but my support of the ABM treaty and the support which I have indicated
for the follow-on agreement as far as offensive weapons is based on the approval of the 1973
program in which we go forward during this period, these next 5 years, with these strategic
systems. And when I’m asked a question I will answer it. And if members of the Senate or
others do not want me to answer questions frankly and openly then they’d better find
somebody else to serve as Secretary of Defense, because that’s the way I will answer those
questions when asked by any member of the press or a member of the House or the United
States Senate. Sen. McGee: All you need to say, Mr. Secretary,
is, “Let’s cross one bridge at a time. Let’s get the SALT treaty ratified, then we must
address ourselves to what the SALT treaty requires of us, and let’s get to it.” That’s
all it is, just a matter of semantics. Sec. Laird: The authorization bill on the
’73 Defense budget is moving first and I’m happy that it is. Mr. Goralski: Question here. Mr. Anderson: William Anderson, Chicago Tribune:
I’d like to continue, Mr. Secretary, on Mr. Beecher’s point about the military situation
in South Vietnam. Could you give us an assessment of the potential military offensive capabilities
of North Vietnam today as compared with some recent other period of time in front of the
invasion of South Vietnam? Is their capability as strong today, is it much weaker, and how
does this tie with your own buildup of South Vietnamese forces? Sec. Laird: As far as my assessment of the
capabilities of the North Vietnamese, they haven’t changed since the assessment I made
in November. I believe the North Vietnamese had the capability, that they had developed
it in November to stage three or four major spectaculars in South Vietnam. Thus far, they
have staged one successful spectacular. They have taken over Quang Tri Province, one of
the 44 provinces of South Vietnam. They have the capability, I think, to stage another
spectacular. They were not successful in the spectacular
they attempted at An Loc or at Kontum, but I do believe they have the capabilities to
go forward with one more spectacular within the next 30 days. I believe then that they
will fall back and will not hit again until sometime in September or October. Their capabilities
in September and October will not be as strong as the capabilities which they possessed during
the last two months. Now, this is assuming that we do not have a negotiated settlement.
They will have that military capability during this period. Mr. Singer: Max Singer, Hudson Institute.
I have long been admiring student of Professor Schelling, but he seemed to be applying tonight
a lesson of history that I have not yet learned when he blamed President Nixon for not having
achieved a satisfactory peace in Vietnam. It’s my impression that we may face a war
in the Middle East that goes on for another generation or even another century, and the
reason is that we have some people in one territory, they want to throw out the government
of another territory and the people in that territory don’t want to have their government
thrown out. And as long as that pair of conditions last, war in the Middle East may last. It
seems to me that pair of conditions may last a while in Vietnam and that it is not in President
Nixon’s control to stop it and so it is not in his power to bring peace. Professor Schelling made an analogy between,
or suggested an analogy between our what he suggested was a betrayal of Taiwan and said
that we didn’t lose credibility. I would suggest that the reason we had not lost credibility
about what has happened in Taiwan is that Chiang Kai-shek is alive and healthy and his
people are prospering, partly because of 200 miles of water and partly because of effective
defense forces. I think that the analogy to Vietnam is partly correct. So long as you
do not have people hanging from Communist lamp poles for the crime of being American
allies we will not lose credibility. But if either Taiwan suffers a tremendous
loss in their position, not just their diplomatic unhappiness but something substantial, or
in Vietnam, then there will be a different problem. The costs of Vietnam have been immense.
The benefits have been substantial. But let me suggest that both the cost and the benefit,
the final score is not yet written and that there’s a lot of variation depending on what
happens in the next few years and, therefore, our policy has a great deal yet to play for. Mr. Goralski: Do you want to respond to that,
Professor Schelling? Prof. Schelling: Chiang Kai-shek has prospered
because of a lot of water, a lot of money, and no political opposition. I don’t know
what the analogy is with Vietnam. My question is simply, how long and for how long do we
go on pretending that we care about the South Vietnamese and not about the North Vietnamese,
on whom it is our official position, a regime was imposed by force and for whom, as people,
we have no particular antipathy? There must be some length of time, Mr. Singer,
over which this will not have been worthwhile, even for the South Vietnamese, especially
if we can take heart from the Nixon Doctrine that things can even get better on the Communist
side of the world, and we can learn not only to live in peace with them but to trade with
them and to expect less obnoxious forms of life than for 20 years
we insisted were inevitable. It’s hard to say at the moment whether the
South Vietnamese would be better off or worse off if we abandoned them. What bothers me
is that I thought when President Nixon came in, he promised something shorter, more progress
than we’ve seen. If the best we can hope for is that the South Vietnamese will be able
to fight their own war in perpetuity when we get out, then I’m not sure that the people
on either side of the DMZ will thank us 10 years hence. They may wish that they were in the position
of the Chinese who, after years of bitterness in the past, are coming back into decent relations
with the rest of the world. I just wonder how long we can claim that we are benefiting
the South Vietnamese by supporting them in a bitter, bloody war and whether what they’re
going to end up with is all that much better than in the areas that the secretary has referred
to as developing polycentric, less ideological, less rigid forms of government. I don’t know
I’m just questioning where the rest… Sec. Laird: That questions should be addressed
to the North Vietnamese however because it is the North Vietnamese that are marauding
outside of their borders. It is not the South Vietnamese, it is not the Cambodians, it is
not the Laotians. I think that that’s the important difference that we must recognize
tonight. Mr. Goralski: All right, we can go on discussing
the Nixon Doctrine for a much longer period of time but unfortunately we cannot. Thanks
to you, Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, Senators Gale McGee, Robert Griffin, and Professor
Thomas Schelling from Harvard University. Thanks for being with us tonight in this Town
Hall Meeting at the American Enterprise Institute. Thank you and goodbye. Peter Hackes: This discussion has brought you
the views of four experts who have differing ideas on major items of public policy. It
is the aim of the American Enterprise Institute to illuminate the issues by presenting many
opposing ideas in the hope that by so doing those in decision-making positions will benefit
from a free exchange of informed and enlightened opinion. This is Peter Hackes in Washington. Man: Washington debates for the ’70s is created
and supplied to this station as a public service by the American Enterprise Institute, Washington,
DC. Produced in the nation’s capital by Broadcast
News Washington

 

4 Responses

  1. Barbara Bach

    October 2, 2019 7:32 am

    Whoo, from my childhood, notice they're all men and all basically Caucasian or Wht Am men , nothing wrong with them but ,sure were ancient times ,wheras now we understand that all ethnic Americans should hve a place on the discourse table, still we'd take those ancient times,for a week,
    where these men were the kind that would of swiftly held the depraved fake potus accountable for his treason and many crimes.

    Reply

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