GLEN COVE, NY — By 1968, Richard Nixon came to
believe that no Republican could be elected President without the support
of both Liberal and Conservative Republicans. He was nominated for
President because the party’s
Conservatives were afraid of Rockefeller and the party’s Liberals
were afraid of Reagan. The problem with the Nixon theory is that putting
it into practice is more likely to anger both factions than to appease
Nixon’s foreign policy legacy is devastating. He helped to
make the communist victory on the mainland of China legitimate and
laid the groundwork for defeat in Vietnam. In short, he established
communist hegemony in East Asia.
Nixon reversed 20 years of American policy by recognizing the communist
regime on the mainland of China and allowing this regime into membership
in the United Nations. Although the regime is one of the most vicious
in history, Nixon acted as he did because he approached foreign policy
as a complete pragmatist without regard to morality.
In Vietnam, Nixon adopted the policy of Vietnamization, transferring
responsibilities from the American Army and Marines to the Army of
Vietnam. This policy limited outcomes to two equally unattractive ones:
defeat or a Korean War-like stalemate.
One would have thought that after these events, the champions of victory
in the Cold War would have been Nixon’s biggest critics and the
defeatists would be his defenders. Exactly the opposite was the case.
To understand this paradox, one must understand Nixon’s personal
Nixon was first elected to Congress as a strong anti-communist, defeating
an incumbent who was not. Nixon rose to prominence in the Alger Hiss
case. Alger Hiss was the most conspicuous Soviet spy in a State Department
riddled with Soviet spies and collaborators. The left-wing establishment
refused to believe that Hiss was a spy or communist. Many prominent
leftists put their reputations on the line for Hiss. When Nixon proved
Hiss’ guilt, the defenders of Hiss did not turn on their man
for letting them down. Instead, they turned on Nixon for exposing their
naiveté and never forgave him.
They had another reason to hate Nixon. He did much to take back the
streets from the pro-communist mobs.
Some people in the Nixon re-election campaign broke into the Democratic
National headquarters. Some believe that John Dean organized the break-in
for personal reasons. Whether this is true, Dean fed Nixon bad information
and Nixon unwisely decided to protect as many people as possible. The
national press, by now largely in the Cold War defeatist camp, turned
this into a scandal that forced Nixon from office.
Gerald Ford completed the balance of Nixon’s term. Ford presided
over complete surrender in Vietnam. This may not have been his fault
since Congress obstructed everything he tried to do.
The Nixon and Ford years left us with the Vietnam syndrome, a defeatist
attitude about military action. It also empowered the defeatist press.
The result was the election of President Jimmy Carter, who perfectly
reflected the defeatist mood of the national media.
Ronald Reagan, despite his loss, waged a good campaign for the Republican
nomination, rallying the emerging forces for victory.
The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2010
by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the
New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in
many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles
about the law.
See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.
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