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The Nixon Doctrine and Our Asian Commitments

Nixon and Mao, China, 1972.

Eighteen months after its enunciation at Guam the Nixon Doctrine remains obscure and contradictory in its intent and application. It is not simply that the wider pattern of war in Indochina challenges the Doctrine's promise of a lower posture in Asia. More than that, close analysis and the unfolding of events expose some basic flaws in the logic of the Administration's evolving security policy for the new decade. The Nixon Doctrine properly includes more than the declaratory policy orientation. It comprises also the revised worldwide security strategy of "1½ wars" and the new defense decision-making processes such as "fiscal guidance budgeting." These elements have received little comment, especially in their integral relation to our commitments in Asia. But the effects of this Administration's moves in these areas will shape and constrain the choices of the United States for a long time to come.

The President's foreign policy declaration of February 1970 promised

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