On a whim a few years ago I picked up Richard Nixon’s 1983 book Real Peace. I was interested in what the then-former president had to say, especially considering 1983 was the year I was born, and the book only cost a buck.
Having finally read it, I am convinced that if it were republished today the book would require very few edits. The challenges faced by the world then remain the challenges faced by the world now.
For instance, in one section Nixon writes of the world’s response “when crises have erupted – in Iran, in Afghanistan, in Central America.” Those regions of the world remain volatile, with respect to Iran and Afghanistan especially, over 30 years later.
Some of Nixon’s solutions continue to resonate today, as well, such as the idea of peace through strength. America has a rightful place in the world, he believed, in keeping our planet peaceful and free of man-caused death and destruction. Yet, today, we seem more interested in detaching ourselves from issues beyond our border.
One of those looming issues was a main focus of his book: the Russian threat, one that was dismissed by the current president, Barack Obama, during a presidential debate just two years ago. But it is continued Russian aggression that makes the world an uncertain place.
As President Obama attends a NATO meeting to discuss Russia’s escalating efforts in Ukraine this week, he should read the third chapter of Nixon’s book on the specific role the organization should play in the world. Because while the book may have only cost me a dollar, absorbing Nixon’s insights into the world’s balance of power was – and is – invaluable. Even 30 years later.