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tv   Henry Kissinger American Power A Political Biography  CSPAN  October 4, 2020 3:00pm-4:01pm EDT

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men were killed to the negligence of this administration and others. >> watch the full debate this sunday at 6:30 p.m. eastern, 330 pacific on american history tv. >> vanderbilt university professor thomas schwartz talks about his book "henry kissinger and american power: a political biography." he then takes questions from a panel of scholars. the national history center hosted this online event and provided the video. prof. schwartz: thank you so much. i want to thank the commentators and everyone for assembling this. i am deeply honored, especially to be given the william roger lewis lecture. we were on the state department
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committees suffering from bows and arrows. this book came about, and many of my friends have heard me give this origin story. this book came about because of the review i did that mention the series that was used biography to teach history. it would hit biographical topics or would use a representative biography to get at a broader subject of history. they had just published their first volume, it was on pocahontas because of the issues regarding native american history. they were looking for someone to
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do something on american foreign relations. he offered me the opportunity to put together a perspective. these were supposed to be short and concise books. that was the idea. the topic i debated and consulted with some people about which biographical figure might serve that purpose in the american context. i kept coming back to hendry -- to henry kissinger. a long career of american and foreign relations. he really does represent something about 20th-century american power. when i did get the chance to tell kissinger this was the goal of the series, a short, concise book and using him as a representative and a look at u.s. relations. he looked at me and said -- and i don't cover everything. it's not as short and concise as i had hoped. it got longer. it was even longer when i
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submitted the manuscript. there were a lot of things that had to be left out. another question that i have heard, and i have two other kissinger books, is why another book on henry kissinger? that's a legitimate question. i think there's a scholarly contribution. i am trying to write the book to reach a broader audience, but also to reach scholars. the argument is to look at kissinger in a new way. most accounts of kissinger look at him as a foreign policy intellectual. he said the realpolitik, the pursuit of a pragmatic or foreign policy that is disregarded more for ethical considerations, and that was geared towards the promotion of american security and interest, with interest defined narrowly. that is the usual approach to
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kissinger. i think it is incomplete. what my book seeks to do is to look at kissinger's desk kissinger as a political actor, even a politician. this is insight i got from the french foreign minister, a comment that he thought kissinger was far more of a politician in the way he acted. i think the basis of this is to understand, and this is illuminated the history of american foreign policy, the american foreign-policy shapes and determine the struggles and battles of domestic politics. it determines the politics. this is the goal i want to convey in you in looking at henry kissinger. kissinger always portrayed himself -- some of you may have seen the interview he gave to mike wallace when he was talking about his book, even then he portrayed himself as someone
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above politics, independent and not be partisan. there was a original source of studying kissinger at it recorded the 1972 republican national convention. at one point during the national convention, dan rather comes up to kissinger, asked him about the vietnam peace settlement in august of 1972, whether it will help president nixon's chances in an election. kissinger said, the president never talks to me about politics. we know this is nonsense. they understood political importance of foreign policy. the tapes combined the television material and other material, it gives insight into how nixon and kissinger approach
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foreign policy. the book is essentially -- although there is one chapter that tries to give the essentials of kissinger's career and to talk about his connection to political ideas and thoughts before he becomes national security advisor -- the book is essentially about his governmental career lasting from january of 1969 to january of 1977. in the second chapter, after a sloppy start, i entitle "you can't lose them all." things did not go well the early period of the nixon presidency. they organize what they call the trifecta or -- trifecta. they talked with the soviet union, the paris peace agreement in -- agreement and vietnam. ultimately it would help contribute to the landslide electoral victory of richard
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nixon in 1972. there is a wonderful tape of a conversation when nixon calls kissinger up after kissinger has given his piece of hand press conference in october of 1972. nixon calls kissinger up and says, henry has notice on all three networks. they were watching the television news as well. he remarked, on all three networks there is an interesting story. kissinger says, we have wiped mcgovern out. there is this political sensibility about their understanding of foreign policy that i think is something that i think is a large part of the first nixon term.
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not to say that there aren't other considerations, but it comes up in the discussion. it certainly is there. the next part of the book gets into, you might say, the happy period of nixon, but a successful time for henry kissinger. nixon wanted to keep kissinger doing the same thing for the second term, the watergate would destroy his political credibility and power, and effectively reverse the roles, kissinger became the indispensable man. in 1973-1974, he was the most admired american, particularly for his role in the middle east, where he would play a role for settling the yom kippur war, but also in developing and negotiating the first agreements between israel and egypt and israel and syria. it was pursuing his own goals. richard nixon had difficult views, but kissinger could manipulate and avoid what nixon was talking about as he
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negotiated this engagement. kissinger would become, after the syrian agreement went into news greet -- newsweek, and they put him in a superman outfit. of course what goes up must come down. kissinger had a much more difficult final few years and the administration dealing with a much more hostile congress an investigation. certain events and not go very well. frustrations in the middle east, the soviet involvement. questions about the frustrations with the peace treaty. much of this also let kissinger into thinking and arguing that foreign policy needed the domestic -- the domestic foreign policy needed to be different. a quote from him in 1975. when he argued, in history we
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can either escape from the world we are dominated. we must conduct with flexibility, imagination in pursuit of our interest. we must be thoughtful and be prepared for the contingency. we must pursue limited objectives simultaneously. kissinger, in some ways, in 1970 was attacked from the right and the left. from the right it was for insufficient anti-communism. from the left, insufficient attention to human rights issues. kissinger by the end of the time in office is talking about the limit of what the united states can do and the necessity to recognize that. at the same time it was in kissinger's on makeup. in his role as secretary of state he is pursuing initiatives for certain powers of the united
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states and the world. henry, for all of the sensible limits, having to assert that power. i have a last chapter, which talks about kissinger's retirement. at all think anyone thought that 53-year-old henry kissinger would not be back in power in some form. there was the fear of presidents, that he would outshine them or preempt their own authority, as he seemed to have done with gerald ford. the interesting thing about that chapter is i cannot really use the types of sources a historian would like to. i had a moment when my copy editor said, a there is another book -- you know there is another book in the slapped --
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in this last chapter. kissinger did become in those 1970's, 1980's, 1990's elite commentator -- a lead commentator. he became a symbol and exercise of american power. i think i will close here and leave it open for comments. >> thank you very much. we now have a -- we are very fortunate to have a very distinguished panel of experts, colleagues, friends to provide some initial comments and questions for comments. we want to set this up really interactively. i have asked our commentators to be short entrees. really focus on a couple of key questions that will draw on the main arguments of the book. we will start with professor
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barbara, who shares in u.s. and international history at a university in the u.k. she received her degree from harvard university. she is the editor of three books. it was published by harvard in 2013. in dozens of articles and book chapters, including one entitled "henry kissinger: the emotional statesman." and the second book was published in diplomatic history. after finishing a book manuscript, she is writing a book currently on the relationship between henry kissinger -- she is the most recent president of society of historians.
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we are delighted to have her with us. you have the floor. >> thank you for having me. we congratulate tom, that was clearly a major achievement. it occurred to me last night that for the field of u.s. foreign history, writing a book about henry kissinger is a bit like climbing mount everest. there is a small but sizable number of people who undertake the challenge because it is such a challenge. one of the things that makes it such a challenge is that they are in a large party -- a large waddy of scholarship and kissinger. a number of things contribute with kissinger. i want to touch on a few things and post two questions. the two things that stand out about the book is, first, it's quite brief. he manages to cover the nixon years and about 200 pages.
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there is so much going on in some a different parts of the world, and to do it without over simplifying and losing nuance is a perfect achievement. the second thing i think is useful about tom's book is the last chapter that he mentions kissinger after 1977. tom covers that quite extensively, more so than any other works. i can only think of one other recent work that does that at all. i think it is an important part of kissinger's career. one of the things that troubled me is why it is that no enterprising journalist has -- journalist has yet undertaken to write a book about kissinger after 1977.
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there is so much to say. even though the sources are hard to find i think they are there. it's not that he is just a media talking head, but he is a businessman. i think the fact that we know so little about kissinger's role as a businessman in the last 40 plus years as the head of kissinger associates, it's part of our understanding of foreign relations, particularly in regards to china. i have two questions for time. they are very big questions. i will let tom responds. the first is a very obvious question. it's about the relationship between nixon and kissinger. a big question for anybody who writes about kissinger is that when we accept his role we have to acknowledge it was nixon who was the president and who made the ultimate decisions.
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in your conclusions you write, kissinger was a dutiful agent of nixon. you suggest that kissinger's role is really important, both in providing an intellectual framework, and in selling nixon's policies. i think you did a really terrific job at outlining how well, how kissinger cultivated the press to sell those policies. that is -- that suggest your position in 1994 when nixon reconsidered when it was written that kissinger was a geopolitical follower rather than a leader. it's a contrast to jeremy's assessment in jeremy's book, that kissinger was "a genius as a strategist." tom, you portrayed kissinger as a tactician. want to pressure you -- press you on the points of what you covered. i think there are a number of interesting points you make. you suggest that kissinger triggered nixon's reaction in
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ways that kissinger would then later regret. kissinger played on nixon's anxieties, often to enhance his own power. kissinger played a key role. the secretary of state, who i don't think anyone has ever written a single book on, but rogers opposed it in present ways. it's one example of the many times that kissinger pushed nixon in many directors. typically, in many cases towards the use of force. let me ask this question. is an o policy are never just dutiful agents, but rather advisors of the perspective, analyses, support and opposition to various policies? it sometimes also gives them causal responsibility.
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at particular moments, are there not times when kissinger does have a high degree of personal responsibility, and was the decisive factor? i feel like you walked up to this conclusion a couple of times and always had a caveat. like there was also a national security reason for what kissinger was pushing. my second question is a very big picture. i'm sure you field as many questions on these lines over the years. i think a lot about this quote that jeremy pulled out of kissinger during one of the interviews. jeremy asked kissinger, what are your core moral principles? kissinger answered, i am not prepared to share that yet. which is pretty remarkable,
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considering he is happy to share opinions about pretty much anything. her conclusion, you do fault kissinger for working against democracy in chile, which undermined u.s. interest in 1970 to 1973. and you describe it as ignorant about argentina's dirty war. you also defend the bombing of cambodia and even were default kissinger in the case of argentina, your language is tepid. you say it's hard to justify. the defense that you offer seems to be in part that everyone did what nixon and kissinger did, kennedy, eisenhower, wishing that america stayed in the cold war.
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i'm not suggesting that what you needed to do to satisfy me here is not to offer a more vigorous condemnation of kissinger or a more robust defense, the cousin can understand that you are trying not to deed -- not to do either. to the extent that you wade into the debate, i was left uncertain about your position. let me frame this in terms of this question. do you think that kissinger had a moral compass? and if he did not, or if it was not well articulated, shouldn't we expect statesmen to health -- to have well articulated moral principles? prof. schwartz: thank you to your excellent questions, that also draw the setting of tom's books -- but very the floor is yours. prof. schwartz: excuse me.
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i'm sorry. still have a landline. these are hard questions, needless to say, and i guess i expect that. the nixon/kissinger relationship, i do use the term dutiful follower. in that sense i do think the foreign policy in the first nixon years was nixon's foreign policy. i think kissinger, to borrow the argument, i think he tuned himself into nixon and it advocates more forceful measures that he did on the korean shoot down of an american spy plane in 1969. i do think that is something about, particularly in the first years, in which kissinger did
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and often times to read nixon as a part of enhancing his own prestige and importance. unlike the secretary of state it was a constituent of one president and i think kissinger was very aware of that. to a certain extent he did advocate policies that played into some of nixon's own inclinations towards the use of force. specifically on laos, i do think that was one where kissinger was persuaded that some type of use of force could strengthen the negotiating situation that was still -- and his memoirs was for that. how much responsibility? i think it's there. i think that kissinger's role on a number of these issues does give him a certain level of
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responsibility. kissinger learned not to doubt himself. kissinger love to use the analogy of his life. kissinger learned to follow that and also came to enjoy it greater prestige and a better relationship with nixon because of that i think kissinger had a moral compass. the older i get, the more reluctant and get. i am probably more reluctant to make that case.
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i think he did in some measure. i think it was one that he could ignore at times, but it think is larger -- one of the things that i think that did drive him was this notion of keeping be united states from nuclear destruction, and that one way that would be achieved would be a foreign policy. preventing disasters that could lead to a situation where the united states might engage in such aggressive behavior. i think this meant that he was willing to make calculations about decisions such as chile and argentina that were wrong, and that ended up causing greater harm i think -- harm. i think it was one of the things that would lead to destruction. that was one of the things that he did advocate.
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trying to balance judgment on henry kissinger is tough. the carelessness sometimes he could express. sometimes in his macabre wit is what he said about chile, it's so irresponsible to vote for a marxist. i think it brings out the greater hostility among writers and analysts. i think trying to build on kissinger is essential. i think people who built this over time and it is one thing very much around 2020 and i'm
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sure in 50 years it might strike a different balance. nevertheless i do think he had a moral compass and had a place that he tried to adhere to. thank you. >> we will now turn to dr. diane, who is the executive director of the center first option policy for children and adoption and family issues at duke university. dr. diane has worked with centers for disease control. he was the architect for the humanitarian parole project, which brought over thousands of children to the adoptive parents after the 2010 earthquake. she also helped the haiti act of
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2010, which granted u.s. citizenship to these adopted children. after practicing law and in her career she went on to study the economic history of yale university. she went on to teach their and since 2010 has been in various capacities at duke university's. while at yale she worked extensively on 20th-century history and wrote price winning books. we are delighted to have her now to provide some comments and questions to tom. you have the floor. >> thank you, so much.
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it's wonderful to be here. especially in terms of both congratulating tom, but the connection with william archer lewis. roger invited me to my first seminar at the wilson center in 1988. it was so important in helping me with my historical work on the middle east. i am indebted, as i think we all are. tom, it's a wonderful book. i was told not to say how much about how good the book is. what i was particularly struck by was the humanity with which you wrote. this is an extraordinary hard achievement, given the where kissinger, the name kissinger, and the name nixon. i say this because i was struck by one article that was written 10 years ago. the first line was, "richard nixon is our freddy krueger.
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you have written a book with historical context of research, but also understanding that kissinger knew what he knew of what we don't know now. that is a second great wonderful thing about your book. these views you have gone hindsight -- i was struck by this. you are talking about the fact that they were so obsessed with the 1972 election. you are saying, but why are you upset, you won every state. you don't have that sense. it's almost a suspense book to read. what's going to happen? what i am going to do is ask a number of some bigger, but some smaller questions and let you respond. the first one was, i did a poll of young students, law students,
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young professionals and i said, tell me the first three things you think about when you think about kissinger's foreign policy? what i got was cambodia, chile, argentina and indochina. no one mentioned china, no one mentioned russia, no one mentioned the middle east. this is strange. one question for you is that your book goes very hard to limiting this and says that these things you know about in the younger generation are within a much larger context, but i wonder how you would explain the lack of this larger picture and what you would say to students if you are talking to them about this, even the framework that the end of the cold war being 30 years ago as obviously robbed from the way that all of us saw history. in the second point that we all
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alluded to is the question about small countries. that's a people remember, chile, -- that is what people remember. chile, the human rights violations. is it just that he sees them as, they get in the way of my china relations, i better not let it distract me, or does he have a broader picture? as you say -- kissinger wrote 4000 pages and your book is a tiny thing compared to that. you can't talk about the secondary issues, but you could address that. i guess i will start with two more. one is morality. jeremy brought it up in his book and i was struck by something else, because i am writing diplomatic and economic history and international adoption. i have been immersed among other things, in the 1970's.
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kissinger plays a very important role in these events. also the evacuation of south vietnamese people who worked with united states government. and this is continuously with congress, the secretary of defense, he uses the word moral all the time and he says, it is our moral obligation to help the people who helped us. i wonder how much we can look back and say there is a connection between his moral sense of our context and what he experienced growing up in his own life.
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and finally, because i cannot resist, i've got this picture here. i don't know that we can see that, here is henry kissinger in 1960 something, and this is truly a cultural question of interest. the fact of the matter is, and those of us who remember this and read about it, he was the man about town. i just cannot think of alexander hayes, george shultz, mike pompeo in any of those terms. i wonder if you have any thoughts about his prominence in american culture at that time. congratulations again. >> thank you. prof. schwartz: briefly, i would
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say small countries, i do think that the end of the cold war, like many things in history, with a larger context the issue ends successfully. the end of the cold war, which i think it was a great victory for freedom, but the result is that it leads to a second guessing about steps we were taking during that time. even world war ii, subsequently people looked at measures that were taken during. i think some of the emphasis on many of the issues, you mention cambodia, chile and argentina, does have to do with the ends
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justify the means as elements in the cold war. there is no doubt about that. i think they are also very dramatic. they are quite emotional. i found the documentation on cambodia, argentina to be very powerful. they are part of the things i remember and emphasize. i do think for kissinger there was a tendency to disparage the smaller countries, kissinger did have something on that. i told this joke when i went down to australia to lecture at a university, that kissinger asked -- was asked why did he go -- why didn't you go to australia? he was being disdainful about an ally and it was just not important. i think some of the decisions he made, some of the calculations about smaller countries do reflect some of that larger thinking he had about united states role in the world, and
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going back to the nuclear challenges in the communist world. it's very interesting you bring up this topic of morality. he did talk about the morality of south japanese. kissinger expected south vietnam fall, but his expectation is that it would not happen quickly or in a military undertaking, it would happen more slowly and even elections would lead to the communist taking power. that he was just hard and feathered in the press and most figures were ringing up that subject on vietnam, given the policy the administration had pursued. i should say, of course he was at times willing to throw people
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under the bus. i think it did he showed -- i think at times he did show concerned and wanted to help them. i am aware of that. i think i do have an argument that it's beyond popular culture that kissinger did exploit his immediate fascination with the ideal he had this appeal. he was a charming man and he charmed a number of them. he was very smart and could carry on a conversation and also showed an ability to listen that was very appealing. he is known for the powers of the ultimate aphrodisiac. it would probably get him into more trouble now, but these relationships were, for the most part, people spoke very fondly of henry.
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i think it was another part of history, his ability to do it journalists, to deal with media figures and to take it vantage -- and to take advantage of the things that appealed to them in what was a relatively powerless administration. i cannot tell you the number of that it has commented on this nebbish looking guy was a sex symbol. i argue it was part of his power. >> before we get to our third commentator, once we get to the q&a with our broader audience out there, please use the hand raising function in the function of zoom.
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so if you have a question, please use that henry's function and we will try to call on you if we have time. now some tough questions have been asked. another commentator might have a hard time. we are very grateful for you to have joined us. the leadership in global affairs at the university of texas at austin. educated at stanford, high -- ohio university and a phd from yale. and the lyndon johnson school of public affairs.
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he's the author and editor of 10 books on contemporary politics and foreign policy. his most recent book is the rise and fall of america's highest office. his writings appear in media and he is a frequent public lecture. he hosts a weekly podcast. this is democracy through his professional webpage. it's a great pleasure to have you here. you have the floor. >> let me begin by congratulating tom. tom and diana i have known since i begin my graduate student career. they have been so important to my development and a scholar -- as a scholar in my continued
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growth and learning. it is to be -- it is a pleasure to be part of an event. this is the second part i have been a part of a lecture at the wilson center and it's a real honor. let me jump right in. i want to echo all the things about tom's book. i want to add more and more to what others have said. i really enjoyed this book and i read it twice. i read it in the final version. i really enjoyed it. it's a book about kissinger that really makes you think about american power and the development of the united states. it's really using kissinger. that's what all of us have done in our writing about these issues. the book rests on a series of paradoxes.
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that there is everything there and it goes in all directions at one time. he can be charming and incredibly obnoxious. he can be incredibly insightful and very superficial at times. he can be narcissistic but also understand and empathize with others, which most narcissist are not able to do. i really enjoyed, and tom is the only author who has run with the idea of kissinger as a political animal. i think it fits as tom says from his first chapter, with the anxiety of influence for kissinger has, the desire of power, the desire for self interest, and the trauma of having seen what happens when you don't have power. i think that something all of us have agreed on in looking at
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kissinger. the three paradoxes that stand out to me, i want to flag them and then ask a couple of questions and try to do this quickly. first, tom makes the case, as he has, and makes it persuasively that kissinger is a political animal. but he also makes the case that he is a political animal that hates american politics. congress gets very little mention in the book because congress is a nuisance for henry kissinger throughout. even when he's in office. he likes celebrity activity. he does not like elections are congress. as a few don't like elections are congress you are not a political animal. how do we make sense of that? that is not a question, i'm putting that out there. i found that fascinating. he sees the weakness of democracy. tom has some really thoughtful passages of where kissinger sees
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the weaknesses of democratic procedures. that's as well as many foreign-policy thinkers in the united states. tom's entire book is about how kissinger exploits those procedures. exploits the spaghetti like nature of american institutions. turns the security council to be a planning and administrative body into this kind of little white house. and into a little shop in which he can make policy on his own. he is exploiting the weaknesses. one way to read tom's book is that kissinger cannot have been a political successful animal in any other society because the things he does is generous to the american system, to the nature of interlocking checks and balances and the power that the white house has and the opportunity to use that power in the cold war. there is a paradox about weakness of democracy, but also explaining those weaknesses within his own strength. then there is a third paradox, which i think all of us have written about.
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kissinger is a decline is, he is acutely aware of writing this thesis at harvard about how empires rise and fall. we are in the fall stage. but yet he believes he can extend american power. tom makes this point time and again that kissinger's urges to extend power, not to conserve power. that's also a paradox there that comes through very well in tom's books. here are my questions. these are questions inspired by the moment we are in. i am not going to talk about donald trump, but as with everything else, his orange hair is hanging over us. with all the walls around the white house he would not be very close to us. but here are questions, and these questions come from the strength of this book. i think they are questions i was led to think about deeply
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because of the incredible work tom has done. abuse of power by the executive. kissinger is right there in the belly of the beast. in the prior example we would point to before the one we are in right now. tom is clear that he does not believe -- he says this a few times, he does not believe that kissinger did not know about it. he finds are hard to believe, but also does not believe kissinger is responsible for watergate. what is his role in this? he extends executive power in ways that no other advisor did and then becomes, as tom says, the foreign-policy president who no one elected. raising the nuclear alert. tom covers is very well, without consulting the president in 1970 three. to what extent are the abuses of power we see thereafter? are they connected to kissinger? how much of his story is the story of the abuse of the executive power?
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i asked him that and he was very, very angry. i hope tom will not be angry in answering that as he was. second, for a political animal in a democratic political context, why does he love dictator so much? it does not negate the argument that he might be a political animal, but it is not what you would expect. it's not what you would expect. ronald reagan, who was willing to work with dictators, really had this belief that other societies were eventually going to reform and become more democratic. he had a connection he believed to what you believed would happen that societies change. kissinger had none of that. how do we reconcile it being a political animal, someone who saw the horrors of dictators. but yet finds himself very comfortable in that framework? you show that some well -- so well.
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most interesting to me is wiser -- why is it that someone who was such a political animal, and as you show in the last chapter, does such a good job to keep himself in the game, at the same time, how can he be so unwilling to take on self-criticism? politicians flip flop all the time, just like professors do, we have to. our students change, we have to say different things. the world changes. i teach reconstruction differently now than how i taught at five years ago. part of it being in texas and part being that less was accomplished than i thought five years ago. we change. even though he has managed to remain connected to figures like hillary clinton, he seems so unwilling to play the game that most other politicians do, which i think robert mcnamara did really only, which is to apologize, express regret and
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blame someone else. mcnamara's argument is terrible things happen in vietnam, i feel horrible about it and it was lyndon johnson's fault. why isn't kissinger doing that? why can he not let go? i think that is significant to us because i think that one of the real challenges we face as a country is how do we, loving our country, how do we accept and express our own self-criticism? how can we look out into the world? obama struggled with this, not effectively, but he struggled with this. how can we see and admit to our mistakes and turn that to our advantage rather than cover them up? it does strike me that perhaps after november, and i hope after november, we will be in that position as a country. how are we going to do that? how can we learn from what kissinger has not done? again, these topics come out of just the depths of the work you
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have done here, tom. it is a wonderful book i want to encourage everyone to read it and buy multiple copies. >> great questions. tom. prof. schwartz: wow. jeremy poses excellent points and i appreciate very much what he said about the book. that is probably the highest praise you can give an author, that you have got to them to think about something. i know that is one of the things i hope to do in the book. the abuse of power by the
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executive, yes, i think kissinger was one of these figures who was concerned about leaks. it was one of the driving things that led richard nixon to get the plumbers and that kissinger had a connection to some of the people who worked on his staff. one of them has written a fascinating doctoral dissertation and i encourage people to look that up. but i think this is where kissinger, both being political and nonpolitical, paid off. in a way, the image he shaved -- shaped, the president does not talk to me about domestic politics, was something that the media was happy to believe. very happy to buy into and give him a pass. there is a wonderful line that walter cronkite added and they were asked what they gave him. they gave him a pardon. walter cronkite is the network person saying that. it was this notion that he
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might've known these things, but we don't care. he's not like that. this is one of the geniuses in some ways, keeping a certain distance from american politics that suggests that there is also a paradox, but it also played to his favor in this context and he was able not to be drawn down by his abuses of watergate and nixon also served that by elevating him, thinking that would save his presidency. i think kissinger was annoyed by congress, no question. kissinger did not believe congress deserved the role that it was trying to assert on foreign policy. in american history we go back and forth on this. congress did play a significant role, but congress is a tough institution to do foreign policy. i think we admire george h.w. bush who led foreign-policy, in
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some ways and h.w. came close to defying congress over the persian war. i think on this question of where the separation of powers why in foreign policy, i go back to this struggle is going on throughout american history and i'm not defending kissinger on everything here, but i think this question of the responsibility of the abuses has to be put into that context. you can make deals with dictators. or this was the perception. the best contrast, obviously the unsavory one in latin america is not a good example, but the best one was that they could basically bring egypt around and change the whole foreign policy and to kissinger this was a huge achievement. a change the whole dynamics of the middle east. at the same time it drove him
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crazy. israeli parliament and the political system, and the tendency to pound him down on every concession that was being made. it's ironic that in retrospect he is seen as someone defending. but at the time he was excoriated by many israelis. but i think that's probably answer in many respects that how we have presidents and dictators. right now we have one that has an enormous fondness -- on normal fondness for them. jimmy carter, one of the most moral men ever to be on the white house. it gives some idea. your last point about his unwillingness to undertake self-criticism. i take your point, in many ways
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on an individual level, self-criticism is a great thing. we need to teach all of those sorts of things. i am not so sure it works politically. maybe in the context of academia, but it is costly to acknowledge your mistakes. the bill clinton apologies and things like that. i think americans are torn on that issue. on the one hand i think there are is an inclination to like someone who says, to hell with you, i am sticking with my guns. first is the more empathetic who do not technologies things. i think that robert mcnamara's apology got hammered by the new york times of the time. i think kissinger had a surge in our but you cannot apologize. in a way will be hammered one way or the other, whatever you
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choose. it could be a reflection. maybe kissinger does not to give up these things are is prepared to. just to get back into the frame of mind, i watched a documentary that neil ferguson did of kissinger. in the last line, he says, basically i would have done the , same things. as much as it was painful. i think you are right that he does not seem to have that particular characteristic, but i'm not so sure that it is politically advantageous, but even politically as appealing as it might seem right now when we may face that issue in a few months. >> thank you. >> american history tv is on social media. follow us at c-span history. >> vice president mike pence and kamala harris will debate next week. this sunday, american history tv looks back to 1984 when incumbent vice president george
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w. bush and new york congresswoman geraldine ferraro answered questions from a panel of journalists. here's a preview. -- i think iised just heard misses for our essay mrs. fordo away -- ferraro would do away with all covert actions. let me help you with the difference between iran and the embassy in lebanon. iran, we were held by a foreign government. had a terrorist action where the government opposed it. we went to lebanon to give peace a chance, to stop the bombing of civilians in beirut, to remove 13,000 terrorist from lebanon. we saw the formation of a
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government of reconciliation and for somebody to suggest that these men died in shame, they better not tell the parents of those young marines. they gave peace a chance. our allies were with us. the british, the french, and the italians. >> let me just say first of all that i almost resent vice president bush, your patronizing attitude that you need to teach me about foreign policy paired i've been a member of congress for six years, i was there when the embassy was held hostage in iran, and i have seen what has happened in the past several months with your administration. please don't categorize my answers. leave the interpretation of my answers to the american people who are watching the debate. let me say further that no one has ever said those young men who were killed for the negligence of this administration ever died in shame. no one with the child would ever say that about the loss of
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anybody else's that about the loss of someone else's child. >> watch the full debate this sunday here on american history tv. the nationalto interagency fire center, between january and the end of september, 44,000 wildfires have earned over 7 million acres nationally. of next on railamerica, four archival films about wildfires. first, initial attack. a 1970 nine california forestry department showing why the state is vulnerable to wildfires and how they fight them. the fires0 minutes, of 1910. a series of wildfires in idaho and montana that earned 3 million acres in two days and killed 75 filed fires. little smoky, a short


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