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A Superpower TransformedThe Remaking of American Foreign Relations in the 1970s$
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Daniel J. Sargent

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780195395471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195395471.001.0001

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In Pursuit of Primacy

In Pursuit of Primacy

(p.41) 2 In Pursuit of Primacy
A Superpower Transformed

Daniel J. Sargent

Oxford University Press

Facing internal and external constraints, including fiscal crises and resurgent isolationism, the Nixon administration worked in its first term to stabilize America’s leading position in the international system. This chapter shows how Nixon orchestrated a purposeful recalibration of US international commitments-a tactical retrenchment that became known as the Nixon Doctrine. To achieve leverage vis-à-vis the Soviet Union, Nixon opened diplomatic relations with China, initiating a strategy of détente in which diplomatic maneuvering would substitute for America’s waning material capabilities. Overall, Nixon’s purpose was not to transcend the Cold War dynamics but to buttress American primacy within a stable conception of Cold War international politics, to sustain and bolster a Pax Americana that by the late 1960s was tangibly faltering.

Keywords:   Richard Nixon, Nixon Doctrine, détente, Cold War, Henry Kissinger, NSSM 3, Mansfield Amendment, Vietnam War

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