- COLLEGE PARK, Maryland, April 27 (AFP) - Thousands of
classified documents from President Richard Nixon's 1969 to 1974 tenure
released Thursday offer a peek into the workings and deep divisions of
his Cold War foreign policy.
- The roughly 130,000 pages of primarily National Security
Council files include broad segments on the Middle East, dealings with
the former Soviet Union, Libya, Vietnam, and on Nixon's groundbreaking
trip to China.
- The files also contain hundreds of pages of sometimes
shrill correspondence between Nixon, National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger,
and General Alexander Haig, Kissinger's top military advisor.
- In a more thoughtful mood, Nixon on March 2, 1970 outlines
his policy objectives in a memo to Kissinger:
- "What really matters in campaigns, wars or in government
is to concentrate on the big battles and win them," he writes.
- But his tone would get increasingly shrill, particularly
as the unpopular war in Vietnam ground on:
- "I am thoroughly disgusted with the consistent failure
to carry out orders that I have given over the past three and a half years,
and particularly in the past eight critical weeks, with regard to Vietnam,"
he wrote Kissinger and Haig on May 19, 1972.
- "I want it clearly understood, that from now on
the moment that I find another instance where there is such subordination
the man who will be held responsible, and whose resignation will be requested,
will not be the one down the line in the woodwork but the man at the top,
whoever he is," he thundered.
- The documents lay open the behind-the-scenes workings
on sensitive subjects, such as the US-British-French talks with the Soviet
Union on the fate of Berlin.
- West Germany "might be willing to maker certain
compromises concerning its activities in West Berlin if this would promote
a constructive Soviet and East German response," Helmut Sonnenfeldt,
an Eastern European specialist on the National Security Council, advised
Kissinger on July 22, 1969.
- In 1971, as US-China relations improved, Nixon's legal
counsel John Dean (later jailed for his role in the Watergate scandal)
warned that increased Chinese espionage would follow with closer ties.
- "With the arrival of the delegation of the Peoples
Republic of China to the United Nations, we can expect that the Chinese
will expand their intelligence activities in this country," Dean wrote
on November 18.
- But Sino-US ties got tighter, leading to Nixon's groundbreaking
visit to China. To prepare for that trip, the CIA produced a confidential
report on January 31, 1972 called "Some reflections on Mao (Zedong)."
- "The record shows Mao as a master of attack, retreat,
and counterattack ... (also) known to compromise in both domestic and foreign
policy when he finds it in his interest to do so."
- "In short, Mao -- for all his deification -- is
a political animal working amid shifting political sands to enhance his
own power and make his will felt," the document concludes.
- Another glimpse into the history of the time involves
the September 1, 1969 military coup in Libya, an area of considerable concern
to the Washington. At the time there were 25 US oil companies, 9,000 Americans,
and a US Air Force base in Libya.
- Although the stakes were high, a US State Department
communique at the time quoted the new military leaders as saying "the
army will respect all agreements and treaties and will observe the rights
of petroleum companies."
- Barely a year later, US embassy telegrams from Tripoli
marked "secret" were warning: "Matters are quickly coming
to a head" on negotiations regarding the base, and relations with
the new leaders became increasingly complex.
- Another embassy telegram notes the Libyans reacted with
"disappointment that we could not meet their ammunition request in
full and that Sidewinders and napalm were out of the question."
- Two decades later US-Libya relations hit rock bottom,
and Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi became the epitome of a fanatical anti-US
leader in Washington's eyes.
- The declassified material still contains a significant
number of items removed or permanently blacked out.
- Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974, just before
the US House of Representatives could vote to impeach him on charges surrounding
to the Watergate scandal.
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