I finished Richard Nixon's 1962 book, Six Crises. I read the appendix, which has three speeches that Richard Nixon gave when he was Vice-President: One in Great Britain, one in the Soviet Union, and one as the Republican candidate for President before the 1960 Republican National Convention. I have three items.
1. Nixon in his
speeches talks a lot about the problem of international Communism. In
his speech in the Soviet Union, Nixon says that he's all for controlling
weaponry, but the Soviet government has stood in the way of arms
control as well as ways to verify that both sides are pursuing it. In
his speech in England, Nixon affirms that he is for a variety of
approaches to the problem of international Communism, such as military
strength and humanitarian aid. This stood out to me because I enjoyed
his discussion earlier in the book about the need for a multivalent
approach to Communism, particularly because it highlighted Nixon's
talent for identifying weaknesses in certain positions. Against those
who argue that we should just focus on building our military
strength----a "fortress America" view, if you will----Nixon points out
that "Communism made its greatest gains immediately after World War II
when the United States had a monopoly on the atomic bomb and massive
military superiority over the Soviet Union" (page 289). Against those
who say that our primary focus should be on economically assisting
underdeveloped countries, Nixon says that we "have only to look at the
Czechoslovakian experience to realize that the Communists can take over
countries with no serious economic problems" (page 289). For Nixon, the
weapons against Communist expansion must be multivalent, which means
that they must include military weapons, economic weapons, political
weapons, and propaganda weapons.
2. In his speech in England,
Nixon spoke rather favorably of British colonialism. He says that it
brought to a number of the colonized countries the military strength
which protected them, "the technical training which assured economic
progress", ideas that are the basis for progress, and such values as
freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion (page
I thought about the Dinesh D'Souza documentary 2016,
which I have not yet seen, but which I've heard is critical of Barack
Obama for being anti-colonialist. D'Souza's defenders say that
colonialism has brought good things to the Third World. I don't know
much about Obama's stance on colonialism, but I do remember him saying
in Dreams from My Father that, in Kenya, even after the country
had attained its independence, much of the economy was still in white
hands, while black Kenyans were on the margins (see here).
Colonialism may have brought wealth to the Third World, but how much of
that wealth trickled down to most of the inhabitants of the country? I
don't know. I will say, though, that, even though Nixon spoke
favorably of colonialism in this speech in England, he did seem to have a
sensitivity to the economic condition of the inhabitants of the Third
World. I base this in what I read in Stephen Ambrose's Nixon: The Education of a Politician, and also Six Crises.
3. I enjoyed Six Crises.
I can see why it was Nixon's favorite book that he wrote, why he
recommended it to his staff when he was President, and why some on his
staff read it multiple times. The book was clear, and it also had a
story-telling, conversational quality. This was especially the case
when Nixon talked about his two daughters, Tricia and Julie. I also
agree with what the San Francisco Chronicle said about the book, which is on the cover of the copy of Six Crises that I own: that Nixon in the book is "relentlessly self-analytical".
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