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date: 27 March 2017

The Nixon Administration and American Foreign Policy

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History. Please check back later for the full article.

Our understanding of the foreign policy of President Richard Nixon continues to evolve as the volume of scholarship being produced remains in its most productive phase. Due to the long wait before national security records are declassified by the National Archives and made available to researchers and the public, only in recent years has the excavation of the Nixon administration’s engagement with the world started to become well documented. As more records are released by the National Archives, and 700 hours of Nixon’s secret White House tapes remain closed, our understanding is likely to continue to evolve for the foreseeable future. Thus far, Nixon’s foreign policy legacy has been to flex American muscle abroad on a more realistic scale, shift foreign policy to a Pacific-based strategy, reduce the chance that the Cold War could turn hot, and contribute to factors that made possible the rise of Ronald Reagan and the Republican right wing—many of whom had been part of Nixon’s “silent majority.”