MORTAL RIVALS: Superpower Relations from Nixon to Reagan by William G. Hyland

MORTAL RIVALS: Superpower Relations from Nixon to Reagan

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An analysis of US-Soviet relations through the Presidencies of Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Hyland writes from the unusual perspective of quasi-outsider (editor of the prestigious Foreign Affairs quarterly) and insider (National Security Council Deputy to Henry Kissinger, in which position he participated in four summit meetings). As such, his book is a combination of history, political analysis, and personal memoir. DÉtente is the prelude to this story--the backdrop against which Nixon and Kissinger skillfully tiptoed through the difficulties presented by the Vietnam War. ""Richard Nixon came to office faced with the most disastrous international situation any president had confronted since Pearl Harbor."" Yet, within five years, he had managed productive meetings with Brezhnev and the opening to China and in the end was precluded from a SALT treaty only by the cancer of Watergate that undermined his diplomacy. As in the recent Richard Nixon and the World by Sulzberger (p. 544), here Nixon comes across as a master of diplomacy. And through subsequent administrations, Hyland states, the danger of war with the Soviets has diminished. The US, he suggests, must recognize the source of strength of our international position--""our alliance with Europe and Japan."" Overall, the US has an admirable record in superpower diplomacy, according to Hyland, although we are more successful at crisis management than at crisis prevention. In the end, he can only muse at how ""time and time again, things turn out in the confounding way they do."" A top-notch analysis.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1987
Publisher: Random House