Authors: Richard Nixon
Thank you for purchasing this Simon & Schuster eBook.
Join our mailing list and get updates on new releases, deals, bonus content and other great books from Simon & Schuster.
or visit us online to sign up at
To those who served
, my fifth book, in a private edition in 1983. It was my first and only experience as a publisher. It was also the only case in which I was able to approach writing an entire book in the way I had always wanted, which was to envision it as a long speech. I wanted it to have the impact of a book but with the clarity, simplicity, and immediacy of a spoken address.
was written five years after
The Real War.
During his first years in office President Reagan had vigorously addressed the crisis in superpower relations I had described in the earlier book. He had undertaken a massive defense buildup and was taking a more assertive line against Soviet aggression. Now I felt our goal as a nation should be a realistic strategy for preserving and extending peace around the world while reducing the chances of a suicidal nuclear war.
My advice to anyone undertaking a major writing project is to do what I have done throughout my political career, whether with speeches, articles, or books: Make an outline. You do not have to be bound strictly by it. But unless you begin by ordering your thoughts coherently, your writing will meander rather than march, sag rather than sing. Always remember, too, that
while you may think all your words are pearls of wisdom, shortening the string during the editing process will keep you from getting tangled in your own rhetoric. Publishers often want big, fat books they can label as “sweeping” or “definitive.” Sometimes a subject requires such length and detail, but all too often it does not. Shorter is frequently better, because shorter texts are usually more powerful and always more read.
I began making notes over the Independence Day weekend in 1983. I finished the seventeen-page outline, written out in longhand on a yellow legal-sized pad, at 12:30 in the afternoon on July 4th, just before leaving my home in Saddle River to go to Yankee Stadium to see New York play the Boston Red Sox. The young Yankee pitcher, Dave Righetti, threw a nohitter, his first, and mine as well. I decided this was a good sign for
Five weeks later, I had finished the manuscript. Any author will tell you that when he has completed a project he wants to see it in print as quickly as possible. But publishers require as much as six months' lead time to get a book into bookstores. I decided to cut out the middle man and asked Marin Strmecki, who had helped research the manuscript and prepare it for publication, to produce the book instead. He found a printer and designed the book and the jacket, and by September it was finished. Without a publisher's giant publicity apparatus to depend upon, I mailed copies of page proofs, and later, finished books, to key columnists and opinion leaders around the world. Their responses made
my most critically acclaimed book, and soon Little, Brown asked permission to publish a regular commercial edition.
Many praised the book because they thought I was being critical of President Reagan's hard line. But my most hard-hitting passages were about the myths of peace, the naive and fatally flawed nostrums being put forward by his harshest critics. I also returned to a theme I have repeatedly emphasized ever since Mrs. Nixon and I took a seventy-day trip around the world in 1953: the need to develop a more effective policy to promote freedom and prosperity in the Third World. “The
people in these countries have terrible problems,” I wrote. “The communists at least talk about the problems. Too often we just talk about the communists.” Today the Berlin Wall has come down and most of the nations of Eastern Europe have begun to break free of Soviet domination. But in the developing world, the grinding poverty and misery that provide such fertile soil for communism persists and will do so for generations. The Soviet Union still spends $15 billion a year to prop up anti-American regimes in Vietnam, Syria, Cuba, North Korea, and Afghanistan. The Cold War has ended in Europe, but it is still being waged in the Third World.
â¢Â â¢Â â¢
During the 1980 Presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan proclaimed the war in Vietnam a noble cause. His critics called it a gaffe. I call it the truth. Of all the books I have written,
No More Vietnams
is the one that I felt I had an obligation to writeâfor the sake of the three million Americans who served, for the sake of the 56,000 who died, for the sake of the millions of people of Indochina still suffering under communism because of our failure, and for the sake of history.
Vietnam is the most lied-about war in our nation's history. In the wake of the Vietnamese gulag and the holocaust in Cambodia in which two million people were killed by the communist Khmer Rouge we had tried to keep out of power, those who opposed our effortsâincluding columnists, authors, and movie directorsâhave spent the last fifteen years scrambling to justify their antiwar position. Many of them still argue that we were on the wrong side. In this book I demonstrated not only that we were on the right side but that after our fighting men had won the war, the United States Congress lost the peace by slashing aid to our South Vietnamese allies at the same time the Soviet Union was dramatically expanding its aid to the communists in the North.
When I wrote the book in 1985, I was suffering from what my doctor described as the worst case of shingles he had ever seen. In spite of this ordeal, or perhaps as a way of distracting my attention from it, I was able to do some of the best writing
I have ever done. But I erred on one important decision: the title. The one I chose was based on this passage: “Â âNo more Vietnams'
mean we will not
mean âWe will not
again.'Â ” As I look back, the title seems too clever by half, as if I were trying to outsmart people by co-opting the antiwar critics' favorite bumper sticker. Titles, like texts, should be simple and direct. If I were making the decision today, I would choose a different title:
A Noble Cause
March 14, 1990
Saddle River, New Jersey
There can be no real peace in the world unless a new relationship is established between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The two superpowers cannot afford to go to war against each other, at any time or under any circumstances. Each side's vast military power makes war obsolete as an instrument of national policy. The cost to both sides of a full-scale conventional or nuclear war would far exceed any conceivable benefits.
In the nineteenth century the German military strategist Clausewitz called war “the continuation of political activity by other means.” At that time national leaders used war or the threat of war as a last resort to extract concessions from their adversaries.
Now, for the superpowers, using that last resort would be suicide. In the age of nuclear warfare to continue our political differences by means of war would be to discontinue civilization as we know it.
War is an option whose time has passed. Peace is the only option for the future. At present we occupy a treacherous no-man's-land between peace and war, a time of growing fear that our military might has expanded beyond our capacity to control
it and our political differences widened beyond our ability to bridge them.
The situation is precarious, but the moment is precious. It is imperative that the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union seize the moment to achieve a major breakthrough for peaceânot a mythical perfect peace but a real peace, based on a joint recognition of the harsh reality that they have profound, irreconcilable differences but that their survival depends on their finding ways to manage their differences without war.
A world war, whether conventional or nuclear, must never again be allowed to take place. One of the most empty-headed and dangerous fallacies of the nuclear disarmament movement is that the world would necessarily be better off without nuclear weapons. Those who survived the trench warfare of World War I, the Allied firebombings in Germany and Japan during World War II, or the Soviets' recent use of chemical warfare in Laos can testify that conventional war brings its own unique horrors.
We must not allow our understandable fear of a nuclear war to blind us to the increasingly awesome destructiveness of conventional weapons. Conventional weapons killed 15 million in World War I and over 54 million in World War II. Casualties in a conventional World War III would be far greater. We must face up to the fact that in any conventional or nuclear world war there will be no winners, only losers. Charles de Gaulle recognized this when he observed during our meeting at Versailles in 1969, “In the Second World War, all the nations of Europe lost; two were defeated.”
The United States' superiority in nuclear weapons, which we no longer have, was the indispensable factor in deterring the Soviet Union from launching a conventional war against Western Europe after World War II. While war has become obsolete as an instrument of policy the tools of war must continue to play a role in keeping the peace. Military deterrence, including nuclear forces, is an essential component of any lasting peace. When each side holds an equally good hand, a
potential aggressor is likely to keep both his hands on the table.
Paradoxically, though war is obsolete, we live in a world that is perpetually at war. In this summer of 1983, fifteen wars and a score of minor conflicts are raging around the globe. Since World War II there have been 140 wars, resulting in the deaths of over ten million people. Many of these have been local conflicts in the Third World in which nations have fought over religion or territory, or in which people have risen up against unpopular leaders. But virtually all of them have been haunted by the specter of superpower confrontation.
In some cases the Soviet Union has initiated or exacerbated such conflicts; in other cases the U.S. has stepped in to protect its interests against communist aggression. As long as the superpowers view their interests and responsibilities on a global level, each small war is a world war in the making. Any guerrilla, no matter how obscure his cause or how remote his country, can fire a shot that will be heard around the world. A real peace between the superpowers must therefore take into account all conflict, everywhere in the world, and also those political, social, and economic tensions that lead to conflict.
Real peace will not come from some magic formula that will suddenly and once and for all be “discovered,” like the promised land or the holy grail. Real peace is a processâa continuing process for managing and containing conflict between competing nations, competing systems, and competing international ambitions. Peace is not an end to conflict but rather a means of living with conflict, and once established it requires constant attention or it will not survive.
Confusing real peace with perfect peace is a dangerous but common fallacy. Idealists long for a world without conflict, a world that never was and never will be, where all differences between nations have been overcome, all ambitions forsworn, all aggressive or selfish impulses transformed into acts of individual and national beneficence.