Section 11. Situation in the Americas


1. North America


(1) Domestic politics

(A) 'Re-election of President Nixon

The United States held its presidential election in 1972. The primary elections were held in 23 states and one special district, with New Hampshire holding the first one on March 7. In the Democratic Party, Mr. George McGovern, who was not considered a promising candidate at first, made an unexpectedly good showing and finally won the nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate at the party convention in July. However, Senator McGovern was not able to win sufficient support from the American voters after the Democratic Party convention. The reasons were that he lost popularity over the handling of the Eagleton case in which Senator Thomas Eagleton withdrew from his nomination as the Democratic vice presidential candidate for personal reasons, that his platform which appealed for a change in government failed to win the support of the majority of Americans, and that President Nixon's platform, announced in his capacity as the Republican presidential candidate, tarnished McGovern's image as a dove over the Vietnam problem. As a result, President Nixon, who showed overwhelming strength in the primaries and at the Republican Party convention, won a landslide victory in the election (on November 7) and was elected for a second four-year term as President.

(B) New policies of the second Nixon Administration

President Nixon retained Secretary of State William P. Rogers and Presidential Assistant Henry Kissinger in the newly formed second Nixon Administration and appointed Mr. Elliot Richardson, Secretary of Health, Welfare and Education, to the post of Secretary of Defense in place of Mr. Melvin Laird. In the reshuffle of his Cabinet, President Nixon appointed Secretary of the Treasury George Shultz as a presidential assistant concurrently with the portfolio of Treasury Secretary (he was the first presidential assistant with a Cabinet portfolio) and chairman of the newly established Economic Policy Council. The three Cabinet officers-the secretaries of Agriculture, Health, Welfare and Education, and Housing and Urban Development-were also newly appointed to serve concurrently as White House advisors in charge of natural resources, human resources and regional social development, respectively. These measure were taken as part of the plans to reform the Federal Government machinery advocated by President Nixon as one of his major objectives in domestic administration.

In his inauguration speech on January 20, 1973, President Nixon indicated his determination to create an era of peace by bringing about an end to the Vietnam war which had caused a split in national public opinion for a long time. President Nixon also applied his philosophy, which forms the basis of the Nixon doctrine in his diplomacy, to domestic administration and urged all states and local autonomous bodies and the people to assume their due responsibilities.

(C) Economic situation

The U.S. economy in 1972 enjoyed prosperity marked by comparatively stable prices, a high real growth rate (6.4 per cent) and a fall in unemployment (5.1 per cent at the end of 1972). After achieving temporary success in curbing prices under Phase 2 in which wages and prices were legally controlled, the U.S. Government shifted from legal controls over wages and prices to voluntary controls (the so-called Phase 3) in January 1973. Prices, which had shown signs of a rising trend centering around wholesale prices since the end of 1-972, sharply increased their upward pressure on the occasion of the shift. Meanwhile, the economy continued to grow in the fourth quarter of 1972 through the first quarter of 1973, registering a real annual growth rate of 8 per cent in the first quarter of 1973. The growth rate greatly exceeded the initial Government estimate of 6.75 per cent made at the start of 1973, and the U.S. economy recently began to show signs of overheating accompanied by inflation.

(2) Diplomacy (Development of "Nixon diplomacy")

"Nixon diplomacy" reached its highest point from 1972 to 1973 through President Nixon's visits to the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union and through the Vietnam cease-fire which followed dramatic developments of the situation in the area. What formed the basis of "Nixon diplomacy" was a shift from "confrontation to dialogue" and from ideology to concrete national interests while maintaining a position of strength. The forthcoming Presidential election was undoubtedly another major factor considered by President Nixon in undertaking this shift in direction.

The most significant development was the progress made in U.S.-Soviet relations. President Nixon's visit to the Soviet Union in May 1972 was the first postwar visit ever made by an incumbent U.S. President. As a result of the U.S.-Soviet summit talks, both countries concluded agreements on various problems, including SALT, thereby contributing greatly to the easing of tensions in the world. (For President Nixon's visit to China, see the Diplomatic Bluebook for 1971.)

In Europe, concrete moves were made for the reduction of U.S. forces in Europe, a problem pending for some time, including the holding of the preparatory meeting (in November 1972) for the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the start of preliminary negotiations (in January 1973) for a mutual and balanced reduction of forces (MBFR).

In Asia, a Vietnam cease-fire was realized at long last. However it is true that there were many complications before the cease-fire was realized. Backed by strong public opinion in the United States, President Nixon ordered a naval blockade of North Vietnam in May on the one hand, and continued negotiations with North Vietnam and the PRG in Paris on the other hand. It seemed that the negotiations had reached agreement early in October 1972, but difficulties arose later and the U.S. forces resumed the bombing of North Vietnam in mid-December. However, the U.S. and North Vietnam initiated a Vietnam peace agreement on January 23, 1973, and the agreement was formally signed by the parties concerned in Paris on January 27. The U.S. successfully completed the difficult negotiations, standing between North Vietnam and the PRG on the one hand and the Republic of Vietnam on the other hand. The U.S. maintained a position of strength and achieved the Vietnam cease-fire while ensuring honorable withdrawal.

In Sino-American relations, a notable achievement was the agreement to establish liaison offices, which in fact will act as embassies, in each other's capital as a result of Presidential Assistant Kissinger's visit to China in mid-February 1973.


2. Central and South America


(1) Diversified and multilateral moves

The countries in Central and South America made very diversified and multilateral moves in 1972 against a background of rising nationalism aimed at removing the great political and economic influence of the United States. For example, (i) Cuba established diplomatic relations with the four Caribbean countries and strengthened its ties with the Soviet Union; (ii) in Chile, the socialist government of President Salvador Allende survived a domestic political crisis and won greater support of the people than had been expected in a general election, although its relations with the United States deteriorated; (iii) the Peronista Liberation Front won a general election in Argentina helped in part by former President Juan Peron's temporary return home; (iv) Peru carried out State socialistic policies under its military regime and (v) Brazil and Colombia tried to promote their own economic development by maintaining friendly relations with the United States. Thus, these countries made moves that were more noticeably independent than ever before.

The Soviet Union continued to try to increase its influence over Central and South America by using Cuba, Chile and Costa Rica as its bases. The People's Republic of China also showed signs of trying to strengthen its influence in the region by taking advantage of the North-South problem and the problem of territorial waters and fishery and by offering economic and technical cooperation. In this situation, the United States assumed a basic policy line of a rather passive nature which respected the independence and efforts of self-help of the Central and South American countries and contributed its own due share as a partner, in order to cope with the realities and diversity of Central and South America, and carried out those measures important to U.S. interests.

(2) Individual moves

The major events to be noted among the domestic and external moves of Central and South American countries in 1972 were as follows:

(A) Moves involving Cuba

After resuming its diplomatic relations with Peru (in July 1972), Cuba concluded negotiations in December 1972 for the establishment of diplomatic relations with the four Caribbean countries. A Cuban announcement to the effect that it was ready to hold negotiations with the United States over the hijacking problem was regarded as a probable sign of Cuba's intention to improve its relations with the United States. The ensuing negotiations were concluded in January 1973 and an agreement was signed between the two countries. Although it was an agreement covering only the specific subject of anti-hijacking, it can be considered as a move of great significance in the relations between the United States and Cuba.

Cuba has been trying to strengthen its economic relations with the Soviet Union in the past few years. In 1972, its economic relations with the Soviet Union became closer as a result of Premier Fidel Castro's two visits to the Soviet Union (in June and November) and Cuba's participation in COMECON as a full member (in July).

(B) Developments in Chile

In Chile, a general strike triggered by the problem of nationalizing the trucking industry late in October spread throughout the whole country, and the Allende Administration faced the greatest political crisis since its formation. However, the situation was saved by the formation of a new Cabinet (on November 2) with the participation of military leaders. In the general election held in March under the rule of a provisional Cabinet, the leftist coalition that supported the Allende Administration won by a narrow margin partly because of the opposition coalition's poor platform and election campaign. It seems that the future of the Allende Administration will be fraught with difficulties in view of the existence of the opposition parties which hold an absolute majority, the continuation of runaway inflation and the influence of the military which cannot be ignored although its leaders were excluded from the Cabinet.

(C) Developments in Argentina

The Lanusse Administration held a general election (in March 1973) to transfer government to civil administration and the Peronista Liberation Front won it as a result. Before the election, former President Peron returned home for a while (from November to December 1972) from Spain where he had been living in exile, reminding the voters of the achievements in the Peron era. This, together with an atmosphere critical of the measures, especially economic measures, of the military regime for seven years, can be mentioned as a reason for the Peronista front's performance being better than had been expected. The Government of President Hector Campora (inaugurated on May 25) was expected to adopt a nationalistic policy line with priority given to the workers. Attention should be paid to future moves of the military that had held real power for seven years in view of many examples in the past that a regime could not last long without the support of the military.


to table of contents