In 1969, the Soviet Union was planning a nuclear attack on China. The USSR only backed down when President Nixon’s administration warned Moscow that such a move would start World War Three since the US would bomb Russia in retaliation.
The United States, under President Nixon (1969-1974), clearly indicated that China’s interests were closely related to America’s. Source: Free Republic
At the time, I’m sure President Nixon had no idea how close those relations would become.
Thirty-nine years ago this month, in February 1972, President Richard Nixon went to China and changed the course of history a second time. His motives may not have been meant to encourage China to become the economic powerhouse it is today.
However, if it weren’t for Nixon, the odds say the Soviet Union would have bombed China with nuclear weapons and China would have retaliated.
While flying to China, President Nixon made notes. Here are a few.
What they (China) want? Build up their world credentials, Taiwan, and get the U.S. out of Asia (In 1968, Nixon ran for President promising to get the U.S. out of Vietnam).
What we (the US and China) both want? Restraint on USSR
The BBC reporter in the embedded video says that Nixon’s trip to Beijing wasn’t to see if China would help get the US out of Vietnam. Instead, the trip was designed to put pressure on the USSR with a goal to make them agree to strategic arms limitations.
Soon after Nixon’s China trip, the Soviets were forced to negotiate and within three months signed two arms control agreements.
What I find interesting is how often US Presidents (and politicians) have been wrong about China.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy said if China had nuclear bombs, it would swallow Southeast Asia. That never happened and today China has more than three hundred nuclear bombs with the missiles to deliver them to targets thousands of miles distant.
In 1965, China successfully tested its first nuclear bomb. President Lyndon Johnson said it was “the blackest and most tragic day for the free world”.
How was that day the “blackest and most tragic day for the free world”?
After all, China has never used a nuclear weapon on another country as the US did on Japan to end World War II by bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing about a quarter million people.
In fact, about 25 American POWs were also killed in the first blast. Most of the Japanese dead were noncombatants—the elderly, women and children.
Di Text.com reports that the US firebombed (with napalm) 67 Japanese cities in World War II. More than half of Tokyo (one of the 67 cities) was destroyed. Estimates of the number killed in Tokyo range between 80,000 and 200,000.
Robert S. McNamara was reported to have said, “If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.”
Question — In modern times, has Communist China inflicted that many casualties on another nation’s civilian population? Don’t forget that Japan killed about 30 million Chinese during World War II.
Discover what it took to survive Mao’s Long March.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.
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