Kennedy achieved meager results during his presidency, but the idea of counterrevolutionary combinations gained greater traction as the 1960s advanced. Pivotal was the further radicalization of anti-Western regimes and the interrelated trend toward rightwing coups, most notably in Latin America but also in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. U.S. leaders found mounting enthusiasm for counterrevolutionary activism among those authoritarian regimes, a trend that gave the idea of anticommunist networks a decidedly more rightwing flavor than Kennedy and his fellow development-minded liberals had imagined in 1961.
This paper will examine U.S. efforts in the late 1960s and early 1970s to work with two rightwing governments – those of Brazil and Indonesia – to develop regional anticommunist networks, a process that culminated in 1969 with the promulgation of the Nixon Doctrine. Under that approach to the Third World, President Richard Nixon proposed U.S. support for sympathetic regimes that could manage U.S. interests without direct U.S. military commitments. The essential idea, I will argue, had suffused U.S. policy over the previous decade but took distinctive shape under the pressures of the Vietnam War and growing pessimism about U.S. geopolitical influence as the 60s gave way to the 70s.