The Cold War and United states diplomacy

The Cold War and U.S. Diplomacy




The cold war is arguably one of the most, if not the most, significant periods of the 20th century. It pitted the two countries or blocks that had come out of the World War II relatively strong both in terms of military power and economic might. These were the Soviet Union and the United States. As one of these countries, the United States became the country which other countries turned to in case of foreign conflicts. Unfortunately, the involvement of the United States in these conflicts attracted its sworn foe, the Soviet Union to the same conflicts. In most cases, the involvement of the U.S in these conflicts proved costly both in terms of financial resources, as well as lives that were lost. This is what happened in the case of the Vietnam War. America lost quite a lot in the war, which made it highly unpopular with most Americans. This was during the time of President Nixon, in which case his administration bore the brunt of the criticism leading him to acknowledge that a new foreign strategy was required. This is what led to the incorporation of the Nixon doctrine (Morgenthau, 1969).

The Nixon Doctrine was devised as a way of weaning off the United States’ allies from America’s military aid in the war against communism. This was as a result of the concerns that the Asian countries were over relying on the U.S for curbing the communist subversion. In the doctrine, President Nixon mentioned in 25th July 1969 during a press conference that the United States allies should have an increased responsibility for their own survival (Morgenthau, 1969). In this press conference, President Nixon made an announcement to the effect that the U.S would enhance the training of troops of the South Vietnam, as well as bring American soldiers back home (Crockatt, 2006).

The Nixon doctrine incorporated three key tenets. First, the United States was to honor all the treaty agreements that it had made with other countries. Secondly, the United States was to offer a shield in case a nuclear power threatened a country that the United States deemed to be crucial to its national security or even an ally. Thirdly, the United States was to provide economic and military aid to countries under the treaty agreements. However, the requested country was expected to bear the primary responsibility of providing manpower and personnel for its own defense. This doctrine was directly applied to Vietnam.

President Nixon, however, changed the context of the Nixon Doctrine to incorporate subsequent diplomatic effort with the communist countries such as China, as well as the Soviet Union or the communists. One of the most celebrated results of the Nixon Doctrine rested on its third tenet, where countries that requested for economic and military aid bore the responsibility for the human resources or manpower for their own defense (Crockatt, 2006). This, therefore, provided the United States forces with a way out of the Vietnam. The United States’ forces were, in this case, expected to provide training to the South Vietnam allies who would then carry out the larger part of the fighting on their own. The army of the Republic of Vietnam had, for some time, been training with the United States’ troops and was being managed and supplied with the spare United States’ uniforms and arms. However, efforts to enhance the South Vietnamese troops went beyond enhancing the capacity of the ARVN. In essence, the United States worked with varied indigenous security organizations (Crockatt, 2006).

The Nixon Doctrine had varied advantages and disadvantages. One of the key disadvantages is the fact that it allowed for the eventual elimination of the United States’ troops from Vietnam. In essence, this means that the United States lowered the number of lives lost in any the Vietnam and other subsequent wars. In addition, the doctrine allowed for the strengthening of the military might of the countries that had requested for the military aid (de Mesquita, 1998).

However, doctrine also came with a number of disadvantages. One of the key disadvantages was the fact that the doctrine allowed the U.S to interfere with the politics of other countries (de Mesquita, 1998). The varied tenets of this doctrine have been blamed for the efforts that the United States makes to train allies, who do the bulk of fighting in contemporary conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq (Dunne et al, 2007). In addition, the doctrine resulted in the era of “freedom fighters” who are, essentially, foreign forces propped up by the United States to fight against the enemies in their own countries whom the United States may want out of power. This has led to the declining of the appeal that the United States globally as other countries see her as a bloodthirsty country interested in imposing colonialization on other countries (Dunne et al, 2007). In fact, this has led to the notion that the United States does not encourage democracy as leaders in other countries may be imposed by the United States. In addition, the doctrine has been criticized as having led to the proliferation of nuclear-capable countries thanks to the removal of the United States from the center of varied foreign conflicts (Dunne et al, 2007).


Morgenthau, HJ (1969). ‘A New Foreign Policy for the United States’ part 5 ‘To Intervene, or not to intervene’ London: Frederick A. Praeger Publishers

Crockatt, R (2006). The End of the Cold War & The Globalisation of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press

de Mesquita, B. B (1998) ‘The End of the Cold War; Predicting an Emergent Property’. Journal of Conflict Resolution: Sage Publications

Dunne, T. Kurki, M & Smith, S (2007). ‘International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity. Oxford: Oxford University Press

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