Say “Richard Nixon” and most Americans think “Watergate” and “scandal”. The older and better read might also remember him as the man who opened up US diplomatic relations with China.
But a deeper analysis shows that the challenges faced by the Nixon administration — from changing views about America’s place in the world, through the pressures of globalisation, to the difficulties in balancing economic and foreign policy — are exactly those facing President Joe Biden today.
Indeed, you could argue that America is now at a pivot point that is quite similar to 1971, the year Nixon and his senior advisers took the decision to sever the link between the US dollar and gold, thus removing a key pillar of the Bretton Woods settlement. This is, in fact, just what Jeffrey Garten argues in his important new book, Three Days at Camp David: How a Secret Meeting in 1971 Transformed the Global Economy.