In the early 1970s, with our military strength drained through a protracted Vietnam war, our Foreign Policy was brought into question and the whole issue of breakdowns in negotiations between nations, eventually leading to Military conflicts was under scrutiny. A complex and often highly charged emotional issue, it was crucial that we studied the nature of military strength and how it impacted our Foreign Policy decisions, how they were going to be determined for the United States in the future. How such conflicts, resorting to Military action could be prevented.
As is evidenced by our current set of circumstances between the U.S. and North Korea – breakdowns in negotiations and the abandonment of skillful diplomacy run a very high risk of creating a dangerous atmosphere of antagonism and posturing.
The discussion at hand, this series Senate Sub-committee Hearings from June of 1972, wasn’t primarily talking about the potential of a nuclear holocaust, the danger of which had receded considerably since the dark days of the Cold War. Rather it was a discussion on the use of military force by small countries, the so-called Wars by Proxy, which were predicted to increase in the future.
And because we were still, as of June 1972, heavily involved in the war in Vietnam, that conflict weighed heavily on how we were going to conduct our Foreign Policy from that point forward. But rather than use Vietnam as the model to build discussions, the Hearings were looking to be better served by sane and rational policies achieved if we were to look primarily to the future, and not to become involved in a war of our own where recriminations were involved over Vietnam. So while the Committee was studying how to conduct useful Foreign Policy in the future, it was inevitable that those studied included U.S. mistakes of the past. The panel consisted of some six members from various aspects of our Military, State Department and Foreign Policy architects.
The discussion is long – some 2 1/2 hours. It would be advisable to download this one, as opposed to spending the time listening. But it’s instructive for anyone looking at where we were in the early 1970s and how our Foreign Policy was being shaped – and to how it is now by comparison.
Incidentally, before C-Span arrived on the scene, hearings like these were regularly broadcast by NPR in their entirety. Speaking of serving the Public Interest mixed with “eat your vegetables”. This is what they are talking about – not in-depth news coverage.