"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.
During our most recent special, GPS invited readers to share examples of their own tough decisions, as well as to offer their take on some of the trickiest choices faced by policymakers in recent years.
Many readers weighed in on a topic raised during the show by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who talked about the push towards normalization of U.S.-China relations under Richard Nixon.
“Nixon was amazing in his foresight on China,” wrote “Barbara M” on the move. “There was nothing for him to gain politically but he believed it was important to the U.S. in terms of global leadership. Nixon realized that a country with enormous economic influence should be normalized.”
But not all readers agreed that this difficult decision was ultimately the right one. “Opening to China appeared to be a smart policy in 1972, but in retrospect it began the process of establishing a relationship with China that is harming the U.S. to this date,” wrote “Beth,” who added that consecutive American presidents engaged in a “dance of normalization” with a country that has profound grievances against America. “We walked into their world at a time of despair and offered them a life line. A life line that is costing the American economy.”
“Syd Goldsmith” had a more personal take on the U.S.-China talks. “My tough decision was to turn down the offer of an extra year of one-on-one Chinese language training to serve as the State Department translator for the Warsaw talks with the Chinese...but there hadn't been any Warsaw talks since 1967, and the job was in Washington (where Mandarin speakers were rare). Little did I know just months before the first Kissinger secret visit that I was being offered what would be the opportunity to accompany Nixon and Kissinger to China…But the story has a happy ending. I was given Taiwanese language training, and am still out here watching the twists and turns of our relationships with big and little China 40 years later.”
“BAS,” noting Tough Decisions special guest Anne-Marie Slaughter’s decision to leave her post as a senior official at the U.S. State Department, says she “turned down offers as a physician [and] took a part time job with minimal income” because she needed to give her two-year-old daughter and a newly adopted teenager with a chronic illness “the full attention of a mother.”
“It raised eyebrows among my colleagues especially as my part-time job was in one specialty giving up my other specialty. They wanted me to go for what they all were going for,” she added.