Letter to Senate Leaders About the Foreign Assistance Authorization Bill.
IN MY special report to the joint session of the Congress on June 1, the evening of my return from the summit discussions in Moscow, I said that the door to the agreements that we reached there had been opened because the United States had maintained the strength it needed to protect its interests. A vital and indispensable element of that strength has been our continuing security assistance program.
The Foreign Assistance Authorization bill for fiscal year 1973, a significant portion of which is devoted to security assistance, is of direct and fundamental importance to the continued maintenance of our strength and the protection of our interests. As you know, the Senate will soon begin consideration of this bill, S. 3390.
At Guam in 1969, I made clear that the United States would look increasingly to its friends and allies to play a greater role in providing for their own defense. Since that time we have moved forward steadily toward that objective with full recognition that our own security depends importantly upon the independence, the progress and the stability of our friends. But if we are to reach that goal, we must help others to develop the ability to defend themselves. My Foreign Assistance program requests for fiscal year 1973 are based on these imperatives.
The severe cuts in my fiscal year 1972 requests, and the restrictive amendments which were imposed, significantly limited our ability to move toward the basic objectives of the program--the maintenance of the strength necessary to secure a lasting peace.
When I forwarded my fiscal year 1973 requests on March 10 , 1972, I reported that the foreign assistance appropriations for fiscal year 1972 were below the minimum level required to attain our foreign policy and national security goals. Such reductions and restrictions, if imposed by the Congress again in 1973, will call into serious question the firmness of our commitments abroad. Such Congressional action could have a destabilizing effect at a time when confidence in our support and perseverance will be critically needed.
In recent months we have taken bold and decisive steps in our continuing search for peace. I believe that through these efforts we have done much to enhance America's security and that of the entire world, primarily by diminishing the likelihood of direct confrontation with the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. Though we are making every effort to expand on these initial and significant steps, the process of building the structure of lasting peace will be long and arduous.
I share with you the desire to withdraw our remaining forces from Indochina in a timely and honorable manner. But Congressional amendments which can be misconstrued by our adversaries to be hostile to my peace proposals of May 8 do not serve this objective. As I have reported to you and to the people of the United States, we are continuing to pursue every possible avenue toward peace in Southeast Asia. I have made clear to the North Vietnamese that we are fully prepared to participate in meaningful negotiations to achieve a settlement and I am hopeful that they will be convinced that such negotiations are in the best interests of all parties.
I am firmly convinced that the achievement of our purposes--in Vietnam and elsewhere--will be far more likely if this bill is passed in substantially the form in which I submitted it. As brought to the floor, however, the bill is incompatible with these objectives.
I have always appreciated the assistance you have given me in formulating programs to ensure this nation's welfare and security. We seek the same ends--the maintenance of our strength and will, a lessening of tensions and an amelioration of the plight of the less privileged. I am confident that I can count on your firm support in the further pursuit of the goals.
Note: Identical letters, dated June 9, 1972, were addressed to the Honorable Mike Mansfield, Majority Leader, United States Senate, and the Honorable Hugh Scott, Minority Leader, United States Senate. The text of the letters was released by the White House on June 10.
Richard Nixon, Letter to Senate Leaders About the Foreign Assistance Authorization Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/254921