The Mansfield Amendment of 1971

  • Phil Williams


In May 1971 the debate over the United States military presence in Europe changed dramatically as Senator Mansfield introduced an amendment to the Selective Service Bill (HR 6531) which required that the American troop deployment be reduced by 50 per cent (i.e. 150 000 men) by the end of 1971. Unlike the earlier resolutions, which were merely nonbinding recommendations that could legitimately be ignored by the President, an amendment — potentially at least — would have the force of law. If the Mansfield Amendment managed to obtain the approval of the Senate and survived the House-Senate Conference Committee, the President would be faced with the dilemma of either accepting it or vetoing the draft extension bill as a whole. Thus the challenge was much more serious than in previous years and the Majority Leader’s actions raised the stakes very considerably. By not bringing his earlier resolutions to the vote, Mansfield had succeeded in keeping the issue alive and maintaining pressure on the Executive, while avoiding a frontal assault on the President’s policy; with the introduction of a troop withdrawal amendment, a direct confrontation became unavoidable. This was hardly surprising, as the proposal threatened not only the existing US policy towards Europe, but also the Executive’s monopoly of control over that policy.


Foreign Policy European Security Military Presence American Troop Majority Leader 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    H. B. Shill III, ‘Senate Activism and Security Commitments: the Troops to Europe and National Commitments Resolutions’, PhD diss (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1973) p. 330.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See, for example, R. L. Strout, ‘Showdown-Senate Vs Nixon’, Christian Science Monitor, 15 May 1971.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    J. E. Schwarz, ‘Senator Michael J. Mansfield and United States Military Disengagement: A Case Study in American Foreign Policy: The Majority Leader, his Amendment and his Influence upon the Senate’ (University of North Carolina: PhD diss, 1977) p. 113.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    H. A. Kissinger, The White House Years (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1979) p. 938.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    F. Emery, ‘Senate Move to Recall Troops from Europe’, The Times, 12 May 1971.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    W. Millinship, ‘Dollar Crisis Spawns “Bring the Troops Home” Move’, Observer Foreign News Service, no. 28853, 14 May 1971.Google Scholar
  7. 21.
    F. Farris, ‘Senate Battle on Troops in Europe’, International Herald Tribune, 13 May 1971.Google Scholar
  8. 25.
    J. W. Finney, ‘Nixon Firm in Fight to Bar US Troop Cut in Europe’, New York Times, 14 May 1971.Google Scholar
  9. 42.
    A. Raphael, ‘Rogers says US Troop Cuts would Kill NATO’, Guardian, 15 May 1971.Google Scholar
  10. 51.
    S. Rich, ‘Mansfield’s Allies Preparing Compromise on NATO Cuts’, Washington Post, 15 May 1971. Quoted in ibid, p.121.Google Scholar
  11. 80.
    J. Record, Force Reductions in Europe: Starting Over (Cambridge, Mass.: Institute of Foreign Policy, 1980).Google Scholar
  12. 87.
    F. Emery, ‘Offer by Russians May Yet Rescue President Nixon from Senate Challenge on Military Cuts’, The Times, 19 May 1971.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Phil Williams 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phil Williams

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