Editor's Brief

Nixon, Reagan, Africa and the Long Arm of the Past

July 31, 2019 11:14 a.m.

I wanted to draw your attention to this article Tim Naftali published yesterday in The Atlantic. It’s based on a newly released portion of Richard Nixon’s presidential tapes of a call between Nixon and then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan. The short version is this. Reagan is calling Nixon about televised footage of the United Nations General Assembly voting, in opposition to the United States, to seat a delegation from the People’s Republic of China to replace the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the official representative of China. After the vote members of the Tanzanian delegation celebrated by dancing. Reagan, who was a fierce supporter of Taiwan, was outraged and told Nixon: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Nixon chuckles in response and passively affirms him.

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