Late on the morning of February 21, 1972, I listened at my desk in the American Embassy Saigon to Armed Forces Radio Vietnam's relay of an announcer describing the arrival of President Nixon in Beijing. I had been a Foreign Service "China Watcher" through the horrendous years of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, when Chairman Mao sent thousands of young Red Guards out to burn books and put an end to China's traditional culture. After my diplomatic reporting on the Cultural Revolution I had been assigned to wartime Vietnam under a general instruction to look for indications that China might intervene, as it had when Mao ordered human-wave attacks which seized nearly all the Korean Peninsula from American forces in early 1951. For more than two decades, American strategists considered themselves engaged in a colossal struggle against revolutionary communism, an ideology bent on destroying and replacing the established international state system of world order. Now here were Richard Nixon and his chief adviser, Henry Kissinger, presenting themselves to the "Great Helmsman" of the People's Republic of China.
- From Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order by Charles Hill