One of the greatest tragedies of Nixon's resignation was that the best hopes for establishing a Middle East in which Israel had the inviolate status of a 51st U.S. state were lost. Just a couple of months before he resigned, Nixon was paraded through the streets of Cairo in an open car to the cheers of millions of Egyptians in spite of his having single-handedly reversed the tide of the Yom Kippur war in Israel's favour only 7 months earlier when he over-ruled both Kissinger and Schlessinger by supplying Israel with the necessary military ordnance (and in Rabin's words, "Saving Israel from destruction in its hour of greatest need"). The Carter administration carried through on Nixon's breakthrough by getting a peace treaty between Israel & Egypt, but Nixon would have gone much further than that and avoided the sort of Arab sectarian divisions that now look irreversible.
If there is one thing Nixon was not, it was "fear-ridden". The man was prepared to undertake risky policies that succeeded in important goals. According to Richard Reeves' biography, Kissinger was derisive of the chances of ever achieving an opening to China. When Haldeman told him Nixon was serious about forging an opening to China, Dr, K. replied "Fat Chance", and told his own staff that Nixon had taken leave of reality. Likewise, in the case of the Yom Kippur War, Nixon knew full well he was risking his presidency if an Arab Oil Boycott materialized when he aided Israel by sending them "everything that flies" and putting the U.S. on a nuclear alert in the Yom Kippur War -- which Kissinger & Schlessinger were fearful of doing. Nixon thought it was a price worth paying for Israel's survival and for the maintenance of U.S. stature vis-avis the U.S.S.R. at a time of nuclear parity.
I recall as if it were just yesterday when I watched Nixon give his resignation speech. He hung tough. As one of our local columnists wrote, "President Richard Nixon had really never looked better." Much is made of the fact that Nixon was devastated shortly before and shortly after that speech, but he looked positively great when he gave it. As Churchill's physician, Lord Moran, said of his most celebrated patient, what had impressed him most about the great man was that he had bouts of shivering anxiety shortly before most of his best 'moments' -- something Moran regarded as the best index of true courage (as opposed to 'dumb insensitivity').
Thanks for the history lesson on Nixon and the Middle East. I've read a bit and knew of his dealings with China and the Soviets but didn't realize he had made such great gains in the Middle East.