The Nixon Doctrine

It is not my belief that the way to peace is by giving up our friends or letting down our allies. On the contrary, our aim is to place America's international commitments on a sustainable, long-term basis, to encourage local and regional initiatives, to foster national independence and self-sufficiency, and by so doing to strengthen the total fabric of peace.

Address to the United Nations
General Assembly,
September 18, 1969

This administration began with the conviction that a global structure of peace requires a strong but redefined American role. In other countries there was growing strength and autonomy. In our own there was nascent isolationism in reaction to overextension. In the light of these changed conditions, we could not continue on the old path.

We need to replace the impulses of the previous era: both our instinct that we knew what was best for others and their temptation to lean on our prescriptions. We need to head off possible overreactions in the new era: a feeling on our part that we need not help others, and a conclusion on their part that they cannot count on America at all. We need to strengthen relations with allies and friends, and to evoke their commitment to their own future and to the international system.

Perception of the growing imbalance between the scope of America's role and the potential of America's partners thus prompted the Nixon Doctrine. It is the key to understanding what we have done during the past two years, why we have done it and where we are going.

The doctrine seeks to reflect these realities: that a major American role remains indispensable; that other nations can and should assume greater responsibilities, for their sake as well as ours; that the change in the strategic relationship calls for new doctrines; that the emerging polycentrism of the Communist world presents different challenges and new opportunities.