Nixon's Ten Commandments of Leadership and Negotiation: His Guiding Priciples of Statecraftby James C. Humes
A shrewd bargainer with a visionary global outlook, Richard Nixon was a master of Cold War politics, from his infamous "Kitchen Debate" with Khrushchev in Moscow to his crucial decision to open relations with China. In a fascinating introduction that blends anecdotes about Nixon and original insight into his personality and politics, Humes notes that "vision, to Nixon… See more details below
A shrewd bargainer with a visionary global outlook, Richard Nixon was a master of Cold War politics, from his infamous "Kitchen Debate" with Khrushchev in Moscow to his crucial decision to open relations with China. In a fascinating introduction that blends anecdotes about Nixon and original insight into his personality and politics, Humes notes that "vision, to Nixon, was knowledge of the past directed toward the future." Nixon was a politician, a statesman, and a historian; as a result, Humes is able to illustrate each maxim with a key example from Nixon's own career in diplomacy as well as an illuminating story from world history. The triumphs and failures of great leaders such as Pericles, Benjamin Franklin, and Winston Churchill are seen here through the prism of Nixon's timeless advice. An engaging and spirited storyteller, Humes captures the genius of a man who understood political power at its most sophisticated - and never hesitated to reach for it. From "Always Be Prepared to Negotiate, but Never Negotiate Without Being Prepared" to "Never Seek Publicity That Would Destroy the Ability to Get Results" to "Always Leave Your Adversary a Face-Saving Line of Retreat," the Ten Commandments are a distillation of Nixon's vast experience in foreign policy. Their wisdom is critical not just for leaders of state but for anyone interested in the art of negotiation. These timeless laws are guidelines for getting what you want at bargaining tables of any kind.
Readers should be forewarned that Humes (Churchill: Speaker of the Century, 1980, etc.) was a Nixon speechwriter and friend, and that in these pages Nixon never makes a mistake. Despite unfriendly political pressure and unwise counsel from foreign-policy advisers, Nixon always sees the big picture, makes brilliant decisions, and succeeds in achieving his goals. At times this adulation borders on the ludicrous, most strikingly in discussing peace negotiations with the North Vietnamese. Humes describes how Nixon's stepped-up bombing campaign forced his adversaries to the conference table. He does so, however, without mentioning that it was the North Vietnamese who obtained what they wanted in Vietnam, not the US, and that Saigon fell to the Communists before Nixon's second term would have endedif he had remained in office. That said, this little volume is intriguing. The "commandments" are fairly standard maxims in international diplomacye.g., negotiate agreements in private, never give up a bargaining chip without receiving something in return, leave adversaries a way to save facebut they are also widely ignored by those conducting foreign policy. Humes's approach is to first depict Nixon putting a commandment into effect, then illustrating further by relating the success or failure of historical figures ranging from Pericles to Churchill to MacArthur. By weaving together incidents from Nixon's career and the wider past, Humes suggests a general theory of diplomacy and presents an entertaining collection of stories. Nixon admirers will find evidence of their hero's diplomatic virtuosity; the less enthralled will see the rigid East-West geopolitical mindset that was Nixon's foreign-policy weakness. Most interesting as an example of the movement to rehabilitate Nixon's reputation, but also worth reading as a treatise on diplomacy.
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