The Nixon Doctrine: A Saga of Misunderstanding


Jeffrey Kimball is a professor at Miami University. His books include To Reason Why: The Debate About the Causes of American Involvement in the Vietnam War (1990), Nixon's Vietnam War (1998), and The Vietnam War Files: Uncovering the Secret History of Nixon-Era Strategy (2004).


When President Richard Nixon met with reporters in Guam on July 25, 1969 to discuss the U.S. role in Asia, he did not intend his comments to be understood as constituting a new policy doctrine. After some reporters began referring to key elements of his remarks as the “Nixon Doctrine,” Nixon came to appreciate the political value of the phrase and publicly began using it himself, even though his policies toward some of the nations of Asia were inconsistent with the “new” policy, and as he was also about to embark on a course of action in Vietnam that contradicted the “doctrine.”