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Friday, January 26, 2001

Victory Without War

The Fragmented Giant

{p. 195} In the years beyond 1999, the balance of power in the world will reflect less and less the dominance of the United States and the Soviet Union and more and more the rising importance of three other global geopolitical giants: Western Europe, Japan, and China...

{p. 204} ...One of the greatest blows to allied cooperation outside of Europe came when the United States decided to oppose the British and French effort to reclaim the Suez Canal militarily after Nasser nationalized it in 1956. President Eisen-
{p.205} hower had cause to oppose them: Britain and France had kept him in the dark, even lied to him, about their plan to seize the canal, and he did not want to appear to be supporting brazen imperialism. And they could not have picked a worse time for their action, coming as it did two weeks after we had condemned Khrushchev for sending Soviet troops into Hungary and one week before the American elections in which Eisenhower was running on a platform of peace and prosperity.

I supported the decision at the time, but in retrospect our opposing British and French efforts to defend their interests in Suez was the greatest foreign-policy blunder the United States had made since the end of World War II. I have reason to believe that Eisenhower shared that assessment after he left office. The bottom line was that we failed to empathize with our allies and to calculate the long-term damage this would cause to the solidarity of the West. For them, the Suez Canal represented a critical interest. The failed Suez intervention had a disastrous net effect: our allies ceased to play their roles of world powers and began a precipitate retreat from the positions they had held around the globe.

As they withdrew, we either had to take their place of had to risk seeing the Soviet Union do so. By the mid-1950-s, NATO had secured the central front in Europe—so the Kremlin then shifted its attack to the flanks. New expansionism would come in the developing world, as Moscow sought to move into the vacuum of power left by the retreating European empires. Over the ensuing decades, the Soviet Union became a formidable global power, with the capability to project its power around the world and to threaten Western interests and access to strategic sea-lanes, oil-reserves, and mineral deposits. it was a challenge NATO never before had to face—and one for which the alliance has yet to develop a sound strategy.

Moreover, as our European allies ceded their responsibility for shaping the course of events in the world, some political leaders became increasingly irresponsible in the positions they took on key East-West conflicts in the Third World. In the Vietnam War, some Europeans denounced as immoral the U.S. effort to prevent the brutal totalitarian warlords in Hanoi from taking over all of indo-
{p.206} china. They also came to pursue a reduction of tensions in Europe as a kind of absolute value, to be sought as an end itself, regardless of whether Soviet actions elsewhere threatened Western interests. Soviet proxy wars in Africa, in their view, merited no response. After the direct Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, they took no actions apart from verbal denunciations. Even Moscow's suppression of the Solidarity movement in Poland in 1981 drew only hot rhetoric and lukewarm reaction.

Today, there is unprecedented dissension within NATO about issues outside Europe. Our allies would not allow us to resupply Israel from their territory during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Margaret Thatcher was sharply criticized by those who opposed her decision to allow the United States to use British air bases as a jumping-off point for the air-strike on Libya in 1986, and France denied our bombers the right to pass over French territory en route, thus forcing them to fly thousands of extra miles. Today, NATO allies only reluctantly agreed to cooperate with the Untied States in protecting freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf, and U.S efforts to prevent a Soviet beachhead in Central America receive little support and meet with much uninformed carping criticism.

{p. 216} Terrorism should be another target of NATO's expanded mission. A terrorist attack on the citizens of one country is an attack on all civilized countries. Terrorism is an international challenge to international order and it requires an international response. The NATO allies should develop a program of cooperation and joint action to deal with terrorist attacks.

The Awakened Giant

{p. 246} When we talked about China in 1969 de Gaulle said, "It would be better for you to recognize China before you are obligated to do so by the growth of China." He was right. The potential of a billion of the ablest people in the world will inevitably make China into an economic giant and also a military giant...

{p. 261} ...for the moment there is a limit
{p.262} beyond which the relationship beyond which the United States and the People's Republic of China cannot grow. We are not allies. Just thirty-five years ago we were enemies. Thousands of Chinese and Americans fought each other in Korea. One of Mao’s sons was among the casualties. Today we are new friends who have been brought together after years of hostility, even hatred and war, by coldly calculated common interests. These interests could change, and the friendship would change with them. We have no shared experiences, struggles, or ideals to hold us together in the face of shifting international realities; absent a major political reform movement in China, our philosophies of government will remain diametrically opposed to each other. Therefore to a large extent this promising new relationship is hostage to events over which neither side has complete control.

We must avoid romanticizing or putting too much stock in superficial curiosities about each other. Neither student exchanges not tourism nor blue jeans nor American rock music not cloisonné jewelry will hold us together if either China or the United States behaves in a way that the other finds unacceptable. Relations between great nations are not a tea party or a love fest; they are complicated, intricately structured devices that have to be watched and tended constantly. Unless
we take care, anything that can go wrong probably will.

For the sake of our grandchildren in the next century, however, we must ensure that our relationship survives and grows. Today we are dealing with a nation that is just beginning to feel its way in the modern world; tomorrow they will be dealing with what could be the dominant power in the world...

Third World Battlegrounds

{p. 271} …Indonesia is one of the least known, most underrated nations in the world. It was the first Asian country I visited as Vice president in 1953. I saw it through the eyes of President Sukharno, one of the most charismatic leaders I have ever met. He had elaborate dreams for the future of his newly independent country. But his irresponsible policies and personal corruption turned into a nightmare for Indonesia. His successor, President Suharto, has slowly brought the nation back from the chaos of Sukharno’s last years. Indonesia could well become a giant in the twenty-first century. It is rich in natural resources. It has enormous strategic importance. It is the fifth most populous nation in the world. The Indonesians, blood brothers of the Filipinos, are capable people with great potential. All they need is continued strong leadership to provide political stability and new
{p. 272} economic policies that reward initiative and attract foreign investment.

excerpts from 1999: Victory Without War
by Richard Nixon
published in 1988