The Cold War and U.S. Diplomacy Essay Sample

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President Nixon became president in 1968 and in his inaugural address on 20th January, 1969 he pledged to bring the nation together again. Like Johnson, the information from his advisers helped form his decisions; his most important adviser being Henry Kissinger (Meiertöns, 2010, p. 143). Kissinger was very knowledgeable when it came to foreign relations. Together, they tried many ways to settle the conflict in Vietnam. It took several years to end American involvement there. “The American efforts were both diplomatic and military. The Nixon administration started new, secret peace talks in Paris leading to the administration withdrawing some troops from Vietnam” (Kimball, 2006, p. 6). The Nixon administration had been chiefly interested with the Vietnam War and the advancement of détente with the Soviet Union and China during its initial years in office.

1. “Summarize a situation that required U.S. diplomatic efforts for the U.S. and other countries” (Strayer University, 2012, Course Guide). “In the gradually more dangerous environment of the Cold War, Nixon wanted to bring the Soviet Union to the bargaining table. And he worried that China — the most populous nation on earth — was living in “angry isolation”” (Meiertöns, 2010, p. 145). In Nixon’s inaugural address, he said, “The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker. This honor now beckons America” (Kimball, 2006, p. 4). On Monday, February 21, 1972, President Nixon touched down in Beijing, China, in the presidential jet. Nixon was notified that his first meeting with Premier Zhou En Lai would be in three hours. “It was customary at the time to quickly get important figures to their meetings so that nothing could interfere with diplomatic proceedings. President Nixon met with his hosts at the Great Hall of the People, where the talks would range from 40 minutes to four hours” (Small, 2003, p. 27). Throughout the meetings, they sought to create objectives for what the two nations wanted to achieve mutually. “They set up clear agreements on where each stood with regard to the territorial acquisitions of mainland China, and their mutual wariness of the Soviet threat.

Although the transcripts of the talks were highly classified at the time, they were released to the public in 1999” (Meiertöns, 2010, p. 148). The meetings were seen then, and today, as a historic bridge between the U.S. and China. The story of Nixon’s revolutionary trip to China was laden with discretion and clever strategy by the two leaders. “Under the shroud of Cold War politics, President Richard M. Nixon, ardent Cold War warrior, secretly initiated the beginning of the end of the Cold War, but he couldn’t have done it without playing the Chinese off against the Soviets and without the cooperation of communist Chinese leaders Mao Zedong and Zhou En Lai” (Kimball, 2006, p. 10). 2. “Explicate the diplomatic doctrine the president followed, with reference to specific actions or events that occurred” (Strayer University, 2012, Course Guide). President Nixon’s doctrine was to supply weapons but not troops to countries fighting off communism. “First, the United States will keep all of its treaty commitments.

Second, we shall provide a shield if a nuclear power threatens the freedom of a nation allied with us or of a nation whose survival we consider vital to our security. Third, in cases involving other types of aggression, we shall furnish military and economic assistance when requested in accordance with our treaty commitments. But we shall look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defense” (Darnish, 2003, Para. 2). This was from President Nixon’s speech “Vietnamization” in 1969. Vietnamization was a U.S. policy during the Vietnam War which gave the South Vietnamese government ultimate responsibility for the war to allow for the withdrawal of American troops (Small, 2003, p. 26). SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) negotiations were being held in 1970 with the Soviets while secret talks were going on with the Chinese in order to distract attention from the withdrawal from Vietnam. 3. “Describe the effects of these diplomatic efforts for the U.S. and other countries” (Strayer University, 2012, Course Guide).

Nixon was able to create congenial communications with both China and the Soviet Union. “Nixon’s summit meetings with Leonid Brezhnev resulted in the ABM treaty (Anti-Ballistic Missile) and the two SALT agreements that saw both powers agreeing to freeze the number of ballistic and nuclear weapons and dismantle existing stockpiles” (Meiertöns, 2010, p. 146). Nixon’s establishment of good-natured dealings with Beijing and Moscow in turn condensed their support of North Vietnam. This allowed Nixon the ability to practically call for the de-escalation in Vietnam and realize his intent to “withdrawal with honor” (Meiertöns, 2010, p. 148). Nixon’s visit to China was the first ever by any American president which was a big step in the right direction as far as showing some unity in the fight against Communism. China and the U.S. showed the world that they could put their differences aside for the good of the world. His visit to China also eliminated the chance that China and the Soviet Union would join forces and become a huge communist superpower.

When Nixon visited the Soviet Union, he was able to play his “China card” in order to talk to the Soviets about nuclear reduction and trade. (Darnish, 2003, Para. 4) 4. “Assess, in conclusion, the advantages and disadvantages of the particular doctrine that was followed” (Strayer University, 2012, Course Guide). The advantages of Nixon’s doctrine were no American casualties since the U.S. would not send over their military. “It directly faced the basic political reality of the war: that Americans could not impose a government on a people who would not accept it” (Kimball, 2006, p. 12).

It opened the door for an ultimate withdrawal by the U.S., lessening the casualties of U.S. forces in any communist clashes that may follow. Nixon’s doctrine also allowed the United States to be able to fight its own wars, while in some way destabilizing its rivals by lending a hand to its allies in their disputes. The disadvantages would be the financial burden. The U.S. would be supplying weapons to fight a war that we had no military. Another disadvantage would be that the U.S. would have to rely solely on a military that may not be as strong as the United States to get the job done. Even though, the U.S. would not be sending any military, other countries would still see this as the United States backing their enemy, in turn putting a target on the United States.


Roskin, Michael, & Berry, Nicholas (2010). IR: The New World of International Relations (8th ed.). (Edition for Strayer University) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall Small, Melvin (2003). The Presidency of Richard Nixon. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas

Meiertöns, Heiko (2010). The Doctrines of US Security Policy – An Evaluation under International Law, Cambridge University Press, UK.

Kimball, Jeffrey (2006). The Nixon Doctrine: A Saga of Misunderstanding. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield

Darnish, Scott (2003, June 7). The Legacy of Nixon. The American Presidency Project. Retrieved April 27, 2012 from

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