The Nation: Rationale and Rhetoric

The overwhelming reality for the U.S. is still Viet Nam, and it, too, could be affected by Peking's intimations of a latter-day open-door policy. It was unrealistic to expect that a somewhat friendlier China would help bring about a settlement of the war, but part of the original American rationale for the war was undermined. If China was turning into a Ping Pong partner, the containment of its threat could no longer be described in American political rhetoric with quite the same urgency.

President Nixon, who had carefully and intelligently paved the way for better relations with China, won widespread support for...

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