Compare Nixon’s policies of engagement with foreign policy strategies used by other presidents during the Cold War.  

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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One of the things that made Richard Nixon's presidency and foreign policy unique is that he was so effective at both engaging the Soviets with aggressive military action and policies, while reaching out with the other hand and negotiating. Prior to Nixon, other Cold War presidents had mainly pursued a policy of containment using deterrence, massive military spending, a fearsome and expanding, advancing nuclear arsenal, and military alliances with clear anti-Soviet postures. They also pursued these policies both towards the Soviets AND Communist China, whereas Nixon realized a different approach might be more effective. His policy of detente, including visiting China and meeting with Chairman Mao, driving a wedge between the USSR and them, then negotiating for a nuclear arms freeze, was both brilliant and effective. He was criticized at the time as though engagement was showing some kind of weakness, and certainly the Watergate scandal will always overshadow such moments of brilliance, but historically, they can't be denied. Henry Kissinger, his National Security Advisor, was an able right hand in those negotiations.

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