This clip comes from a recently-released 1 March 1973 meeting between Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, and Simcha Dinitz about Middle Eastern affairs. In this section, the President functions as an amateur diplomatic historian, offering his perspective on the tension between realism and idealism in US foreign policy, and how that pattern applied to Woodrow Wilson and the Versailles Treaty.
(A note: the overall quality of the recording sometimes isn’t that great.)
President Nixon: Well, we work toward the ideal, but we have to work for it pragmatically. That’s really what it comes down to.
President Nixon: Woodrow Wilson, you know . . . He was probably the most religious, idealistic man ever to ever sit in this office. But before it all, when it finally came down to it—he had great impact. He brought us into the war, the Fourteen Points—again, when he goes over to the Versailles Conference, the pragmatists of Europe gobbled him up in about two bites.
Prime Minister Golda Meir: Yes.
President Nixon: And the world was very unsafe as a result, correct?