There is a fundamental affinity between M and I. I think this is why many Objectivists feel a certain kinship with presidents like Truman–apart from the well-documented fact that many admirers of Ayn Rand unbeknownst to themselves practice an M mode (rationalism). There is a certain grandeur to M2, which strives for monistic integration. The D mode, on the other hand, is so profoundly anti-Aristotelian in essence that anyone with an I mode and a keen modoscope must instantly feel revulsion, even a sense of hatred welling up inside, when encountering a D thinker. Hatred is the emotion reserved for enemies, and D is the enemy. D is the destroyer of the mind.
In studying foreign policy closely with a modoscope, it has been my experience that while I disagree with M practitioners all, I respect them to a certain extent, especially the M2s, who are more committed to a fundamental approach, even though it’s wrong. The D thinkers, such as Theodore Roosevelt, the Bushes, Barack Obama, and Nixon and Kissinger, on the other hand, make me sick to my stomach.
The D history by Robert Dallek “Nixon and Kissinger” and the D account of Chinese history and Chinese-American relations by Kissinger himself entitled “On China” are torture for the integrating mind. The tellers revel in analysis without integration. The principles of their narrative revel in the failure of grand ideals and the rejection of principles, and even outwardly enjoy evasion, secrecy, and criminality as instruments of state policy.
Let us thus dispense with Nixon and Kissinger — Nixinger, for short — as quickly as possible.
The foreign policy challenges of this era, stemming from the prior M tilt of the past four administrations, were considerable. Vietnam was an unmitigated disaster. Israel was locked in an existential conflict with its Arab neighbors. The Soviets had been emboldened by America inefficacy. And Latin America was turning to communism, influenced by Cuba’s revolution. Nixinger decided to address each of these situations with characteristic refusal to integrate, indeed with a deliberate intention to break apart the whole international system into regional puzzles to be handled by intensive secretive diplomacy, including, most notably the despicable empowerment of communist China by a supposedly staunchly anti-communist administration.
The most pressing problem for Nixinger was Vietnam. Americans were dying there on a hopeless M2 crusade. They needed to be withdrawn. An I president would have recognized that Vietnam would inevitably fall to Communism if America refused to wipe out the northern Communists, and simply, bravely withdrawn, allowing Vietnam to consume itself, as it deserved to do. Instead, in his November 3, 1969 address, the “silent majority” speech, containing the “Nixon Doctrine,” he explained that his conduct would be driven by the need to secure a certain perception of America’s greatness. He trumpeted the false hope of “Vietnamization” — the mis-integrating thesis of self-determination — which he knew to be futile, and had Kissinger waste his time in a dingy Paris apartment talking to North Vietnamese communists for hours about how they should make concessions to America while promising them everything they could possibly want, if they just were a little more patient.
Instead of withdrawing precipitously, Kissinger insisted on a retreat “with honor,” by dishonorably expanding the futile war effort into Cambodia, and then lying about it to the world. This apparently was what he meant by winning “an American peace.” “It’s not my fault,” he later complained, like the James Taggart that he was, when nothing he had done worked.
I imagine this was his thought also when CIA operatives killed one of the only moral leaders in all of South America, the constitutionalist defender of Chile, general Rene Schneider, in a botched kidnapping attempt that was supposed to incriminate communists in Chile to allow America to orchestrate a military coup against the democratically elected Salvador Allende. The Chile debacle, to me, is the ultimate symbol of the Nixinger disintegration. Kill the good guys while trying to blame it on the bad guys, in a place that doesn’t even matter. (Kissinger had bluntly told the Chilean ambassador previously, “what happens in the south is of no importance.” And yet he and Nixon were happy to throw out every moral tenet of American foreign policy–to assassinate the very character of America–to prevent Chile from what would have been a brief flirtation with Marxism. Disgusting.)
Do you really want more? Unfortunately there is more, and history requires that we look at it.
The good news is that Israel would not put up with Nixon’s muddled thinking. Golda Meir dealt with Nixon’s Middle East policy like a school marm chiding the class idiot. Letting Nixon posture, Meir and Israel’s military establishment gradually moved ahead with their nuclear power and armament program. At least now, the world can rest easy that if Muslims are crazy enough to try to destroy Israel, the outcome will be “mutually assured destruction.” Thank you, Israel, for refusing to be disintegrated.
Let us end with Communism. To deal with this threat, Nixon employed the standard tactic of the philosophically adrift: the balance of power — not as a tactic however, as a “strategy of tactics.” To be sure, calculations of military capabilities are a necessary and important aspect of foreign policy, but in the D mind they become foreign policy itself. According to such an outlook, since Russia was a problem, it was a valid move to court China as a temporary ally. China for its part was so consumed by paranoia that the Chinese actually believed that America was secretly a partner of the Soviet Union against China. I pity the fly on the wall listening to Mao and Nixon talking past each other about their own national leadership neuroses.
In the end China did not help the US with its Vietnam problem — a major hope of Nixon’s. The China-Taiwan situation went unmoved. All that happened was that China’s “middle kingdom” mindset received a major boost, allowing its vicious rulers to think themselves legitimate partners of the greatest nation in the world, and continue down the same path there were already on. If Nixon had never gone to China, there is a good chance in my mind that China would already be a democratic country. Instead, America’s dialog of appeasement and flattery with China’s evil leaders gave them a new legitimacy, and kept them in power. It provided the impetus for the economic opening of China, which, despite permitting a new level of wealth to a vast number of Chinese, has perpetuated single-party rule, rampant corruption, and retarted true political progress there.
What came next is fascinating from the perspective of modal progressions.
Ford is almost irrelevant. As far as I am concerned, he can be seen as a continuation of Nixon.
I suspect that American culture was predominantly a mix of M1 and M2 at this time, because Nixon’s premature D never really resonated with it. My sense is that the New York Times, with which Nixon clashed so much, was an M2 institution at the time — though it has since gone D, to be sure — and their modal incompatibility was part of the reason for their antagonism. Academia was M2 to be sure, until the fall of the Soviet Union, though with a growing D subcomponent. The M2-M1-M2-M1 progression in foreign policy from Truman to Eisenhower to JFK to LBJ is further evidence. So it’s no surprise to me that America returned to M2 one last time, with Jimmy Carter.
Basically what I see in the history of American foreign policy after WWII is a culture war between M and D well underway, with a baseline but momentarily transient American M losing a rear-guard action with a philosophically more powerful adversary. Carter is the last stand of M2, if I’m right, assuming Reagan was a transitional D1, whereas Nixinger represents the Cold War advent of god-awful D2, and D2 has dominated since.
Onward, to full disintegration and beyond!