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History As It Happens

Oct 3, 2023

When President Bill Clinton eulogized Richard Nixon in April 1994, he briefly referred to advice he had received from the former president just the month before. “Even in the final weeks of his life, he gave me his wise counsel, especially with regard to Russia,” said Clinton at the 37th president's funeral. The advice on Russia came in the form of a memo, only recently released to the public thanks to the work of researcher Anthony Constantini. In March 1994, following a trip to Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and the United Kingdom, Nixon wrote a 7-page memo detailing the grave problems in Russia’s experiment with liberal democracy and market economics. In this episode, Constantini, who is a regular contributor to The American Conservative, says the memo that he obtained from the Clinton presidential library shows that Richard Nixon understood what was at stake as Russia under Boris Yeltsin tried to transition to political and economic freedom. Nixon advised Clinton to fix the aid program to Moscow, and find alternatives to the frequently drunk and faltering Yeltsin. But, Constantini contends, most of Nixon's advice was ignored to the detriment of global history.