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The Nixon Doctrine (also known as the Guam Doctrine) was put forth during a "Silent Majority" speech in a press conference in Guam on July 25, 1969 by U.S. President Richard Nixon. According to Gregg Brazinsky,[1] Nixon stated that "the United States would assist in the defense and developments of allies and friends," but would not "undertake all the defense of the free nations of the world." This doctrine meant that each ally nation was in charge of its own security in general, but the United States would act as a nuclear umbrella when requested. The Doctrine argued for the pursuit of peace through a partnership with American allies. The Nixon Doctrine implied the intentions of Richard Nixon shifting the direction on international policies in Asia, especially aiming for "Vietnamization of the Vietnam War."


In Nixon's own words (Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam November 3, 1969):[2]

  1. First, the United States will keep all of its treaty commitments.
  2. Second, we shall provide a shield if a nuclear power threatens the freedom of a nation allied with us or of a nation whose survival we consider vital to our security.
  3. Third, in cases involving other types of aggression, we shall furnish military and economic assistance when requested in accordance with our treaty commitments. But we shall look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defense.

The Doctrine was also applied by the Nixon administration in the Persian Gulf region, with military aid to Iran and Saudi Arabia.[3] According to author Michael Klare,[4] application of the Nixon Doctrine "opened the floodgates" of U.S. military aid to allies in the Persian Gulf, and helped set the stage for the Carter Doctrine and for the subsequent direct U.S. military involvement of the Gulf War and the Iraq War. Not only for Middle East regions, but it applied to other Asian countries such as Philippines, Thailand, South Vietnam, South Korea, and others which might be threatened by Communist aggression.[2] For example, Nixon Doctrine was applied to Foreign Policy of the United States on South Korea, and 20,000 of 61,000 American soldiers were evacuated from Korea until June, 1971.


When Richard Nixon became the President of the United States in 1969, Vietnam War had been continuing for almost four years. It resulted in a sacrifice of more than 25,000 American troops and countless Vietnamese civilians and soldiers. Because Nixon campaigned for "peace with honor" with Vietnam in 1968, peace with Vietnam became an important plan for Nixon. Thus, during a stopover at Guam in middle of an international tour, Richard Nixon the President of the United States at that time, issued the Doctrine.[5]

Doctrine In Practice

Nixon was president when a resolution of the Vietnam War was essentially mandatory due to growing public opinion in favor of withdrawal;[6] A Gallup poll in May showed 56% of the public believed sending troops to Vietnam was a mistake. Of those over 50 years old, 61% expressed that belief, compared to 49% of those between 21 and 29 years old, even if tacit abandonment of the SEATO Treaty was ultimately required, resulting in a complete communist takeover of South Vietnam despite previous US guarantees.[7]

US retreat from unconditional defense guarantees to lesser allies in general was driven as much by financial concerns[8] as by policy re-examination of strategic and foreign policy objectives, reflected in Nixon's goals of detente and nuclear arms control with the Soviet Union, and establishment of formal diplomatic relations with Communist China. As a consequence of this shift, direct sales of weaponry[9] to nations no longer under the nuclear umbrella of previous US security guarantees dramatically increased as US guarantees were withdrawn.


  1. Gregg Brazinsky, author of "Nation Building in South Korea: Koreans, Americans, and the Making of a Democracy"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Richard M. Nixon (November 3, 1969). "President Nixon's Speech on "Vietnamization"" (reprint). 
  3. Beinart, Peter (2007-01-04). "Return of the Nixon Doctrine". Time magazine.,9171,1574151,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-bottom. 
  4. author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Petroleum Dependency (New York: Henry Holt, 2004)
  5. History Channel (July 25, 1969). "July 25, 1969: The Nixon Doctrine is announced" (reprint). 
  7. Todd, Olivier. Cruel April: The Fall of Saigon. W.W. Norton & Company, 1990. (originally published in 1987 in French)
  8. The Gold Battles Within the Cold War: American Monetary Policy and the Defense of Europe, 1960-1963. Francis J. Gavin, University of Texas at Austin
  9. Resource: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

Further reading

  • J. Kimball (2006). "The Nixon Doctrine: A Saga of Misunderstanding". pp. 59–74. Digital object identifier:10.1111/j.1741-5705.2006.00287.x. 
  • H. Meiertöns (2010): The Doctrines of US Security Policy — An Evaluation under International Law, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-76648-7.

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