REAL PEACE by Richard Nixon

REAL PEACE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

            Nixon calls the geopolitical policy he advocates in this brief book “hard-headed détente”:  “a combination of détente with deterrence.”  It entails basing the new medium-range missiles in Europe, of course, and building up conventional NATO forces (to what level, and with what degree of US participation, Nixon doesn’t say).  It also entails a NATO response worldwide:  “The Western alliance must realize the Soviet advances in the Third World threaten the lifeline of every Western industrial nation.”  The Europeans shouldn’t think “that the US can do it all”; at Soviet/American summits, however, the US president “should carry with him the chits of the other major industrial powers.”  To Nixon, “hard-nosed détente” worked for his administration – meaning him (Kissinger, interestingly, is unmentioned) – from 1969 through 1974, until Congress cut funds for Vietnam and cut off funds for Angola.  Nixon still thinks we could have won in Vietnam.  The lesson of Vietnam for the future – and immediately for El Salvador – is not to “provide just enough military aid…to keep them fighting, but not enough to win.”  (The lesson of the Bay of Pigs is also insufficient force – but then Nixon thinks, too, that the Cubans would choose to return to Batista.)  Intertwined with the central argument are strictures against peacenik and anti-nuke forces, Churchill, de Gaulle, Brezhnev, et al.).  There are instances of great fatuousness.  (Re his concern for Mexico:  “I went to school with Mexican-Americans for 16 years.  Mrs. Nixon and I spent two weeks in Mexico in 1940 on our wedding trip.  Our daughters’ second language in college was Spanish.”)  There is also evidence of the shrewd pragmatism – in, for instance, his comments on Kadar’s Hungary – that made Nixon not ineffectual in foreign affairs.  And he has the Soviets retreating around the world – losing the battle for minds, losing economic ground – even as he has them advancing:  the text is so simple (less prolix than the Nixon norm) that many readers will be able to see through it.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1983
ISBN: 0316611492
Page count: 142pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1983




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