In a restorative break from an intense Beijing conference last November, I climbed up to the Temple of Heaven and on the wall— not what I expected to find—was a photograph of Richard Nixon, the President of the United States who had surprised the world 40 years before by reconnecting two great nations.
?this>Rather it was Nixon’s personal history that pointed the way to his becoming the fulcrum of this historic event. For Nixon grew up next to the Pacific. Until that time presidents’ world views, despite Asian wars, were primarily formed by looking across the Atlantic. They responded to events that confronted them, of course. But there was also a Europe-oriented school system and sometimes searing experiences: Hoover’s relief efforts in Europe during and after World War I, Captain Truman in France, General Ike, Kennedy writing Why England Slept in 1940.
Nixon was a Californian. Stanford brought Hoover to California and the movies brought Reagan. Nixon was native-born. He begins his memoirs:
I was born in a house my father built….Yorba Linda was a farming community of 200 people about thirty miles from Los Angeles….In the spring the air was heavy with the rich scent of orange blossoms. And there was much to excite a child’s imagination: glimpses of the Pacific Ocean to the west….”
[U.S.] is not [sending] a unified message [on North Korea]: It is the leaders of two different departments pursuing two distinctive approaches, which contradict each other. Treasury believes that squeezing China [and penalizing Chinese banks and firms] will compel China to turn up the heat on North Korea. I am not at all convinced that this will generate the responses from China that the U.S. wishes to see. Contrarily, State [Department] sees heightened cooperation with China as essential to curbing North Korea's nuclear and missile activities. The U.S. should not be imparting mixed messages to Pyongyang, and the Trump administration has exhibited very little message discipline in its North Korea policy.