Ben Berkon History 398 Outline to Question F Intro/Thesis The use of “real politic” by President Richard Nixon and his secretary of State Henry Kissinger was an attempt to react to the immediate concerns and needs rather than attempting to achieve higher goals. Realizing current problems and threats were more important than the overall fight against communism was a great turn from preceding and succeeding presidents and administrations. While there were deep rooted problems with the fundamentals of “real politic,” overall it worked to ensure the economic long term goals of the United States – something that succeeding presidents struggled with. First Paragraph – Nixon/Kissinger With the mounting failures of the Vietnam War, the Nixon administration changed the outlook of their foreign policy from one with grand ambitions (squashing communism) to one which instead focused on short-terms gains. The new goal of the American military effort was now to buy time, gradually build up the strength of the South Vietnamese armed forces, and to re-equip them with modern weapons so that they could defend their nation on their own. This policy became the cornerstone of the so-called “Nixon Doctrine,” and it was labeled “Vietnamization.” The original goal had been to demolish communism, but since that had failed, the prevention of the spread of communism in the original borders of North Vietnam was used as remedy for the failures of the Vietnam War. So in some sense, containment was achieved. Another controversial topic was American’s trade relations with China. Trading with China had been a very controversial for the American government since China was a communist stronghold. Nixon saw more benefit from opening up communicating than he saw isolating them. Nixon’s staunch anti-communism allowed him to legitimize the benefits of opening trade with China and other communist countries. Nixon and Kissinger attempted to settle many relations that had been left open since the end of World War II to put the United States in a better, more secure place in world politics, but more importantly, to put pressure on communist Russia. The “thawing” of the Cold War started with the Nixon administration because of this “Détente” approach. The Nixon era proved to advance diplomacy with China, Russia, and many other countries – something that would only help the United States in the future. Second Paragraph – Carter Since the Nixon administration had left office with surmounting controversy, Carter wanted to return to a morality-driven American presidency, but it ended up making America vulnerable in foreign affairs. President Carter initially departed from the long-held policy of containment toward the Soviet Union. In its place, Carter promoted a foreign policy that put human rights at the front. This was a break from the policies of several predecessors, in which human rights abuses were often overlooked if they were committed by a nation that was allied with the United States. The main conflict between human rights and United States’ interests came in Carter’s dealings with the Shah of Iran. Despite having previously denied the Shah entry into the United States for medical treatment, on October 22, 1979, Carter finally granted him entry and temporary asylum for the duration of his cancer treatment. In response to the Shah's entry into the United States, Iranian militants seized the American embassy in Tehran, taking 53 Americans hostage, soldiers as well as diplomats. The Iranians demanded (1) the return of the Shah to Iran for trial, (2) the return of the Shah’s wealth to the Iranian people, (3) an admission of guilt by the United States for its past actions in Iran, plus an apology, and (4) a promise from the United States not to interfere in Iran’s affairs in the future. The hostage crisis continued and dominated the last year of Carter’s presidency, even though almost half of the hostages were released. The subsequent responses to the crisis were largely seen as contributing to Carter's defeat in the 1980 election. Third Paragraph – Reagan Even though Carter’s pacifistic approach to foreign policy was unsuccessful, Reagan’s aggressive approach too created many controversies. On January 20, 1981, the day Ronald Reagan became President, the hostages were freed following the Algiers Accords. Hostage taking in the Middle East did not end there, however. In 1983, members of the terrorist group Al-Dawa, were imprisoned for their part in a series of truck bombs in Kuwait. In response to the imprisonment, Hezbollagh, an ally of Al-Dawa, took 30 Western hostages, six of whom were American. Hezbollah demanded the release of the prisoners for these hostages. Members of the Reagan Administration claim they believed that by selling arms to Iran, Iran would influence the Hezbollah kidnappers in Lebanon to release their hostages. At the time, Iran was in the midst of the Iran-Iraq War and could find few western nations willing to supply it with weapons. The sale of arms would also, improve strained relations with Iran. For that reason, weapons were transferred to Iran. By the end of his second term, Reagan’s hard-line foreign policy had produced significant results. His summit meetings with reform-minded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev yielded the first treaties in history reducing the nuclear arsenals of both nations. Such breakthroughs did not come without uncertainty, however. Gorbachev was eager to save the Soviet economy by ending the arms race, but was fearful of U.S. development of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). SDI was Reagan's pet project. As he envisioned it, SDI would allow the construction of a “peace shield” that would protect the U.S. from incoming nuclear missiles. Though ridiculed by some in the U.S. as a mere fantasy, SDI was taken seriously by the Soviets. Reagan held tough in insisting that its development continue. Eventually, Gorbachev relented. By the time Reagan visited Moscow, the capital of what he once called “an evil empire” late in 1988, the Cold War was coming to an end. Conclusion Despite the fact that Nixon’s administration was plagued by scandalous allegations – those of which were true – he was more successful in dealing with international problems than Carter or Reagan. Reagan cleaned up Carter’s mess in the Hostage Crisis, but he was also involved with the Iran-Contra Affair, something that if he had been convicted of, he would have too been in the same exiled-level as Nixon.