tv Nixon Administration Foreign Policy CSPAN August 9, 2021 5:23pm-6:44pm EDT
next, winston lore talks about the nixon administration's foreign policy. he's the author of the book "kissinger on kissinger, reflections on diplomacy, grand strategy and leadership." he describes president nixon's relationship with his secretary of state henry kissinger, and how it was instrumental in developing foreign policy strategies. the richard nixon foundation hosted this event in 2019. >> good evening. welcome to the richard nixon presidential library. before we introduce our distinguished speaker, i wanted to mention a couple of special guests. we have our speaker's daughter lease, lisa lore and her husband, jack wild. [ applause ]
and we have betsy hewitt, the wife of our president and ceo, newly elected hue hewitt. [ applause ] our distinguished speaker was to dr. kissinger as dr. kissinger was to president nixon. he joined the staff in 1969 as special assistant working and traveling the world on on every major diplomatic initiative of the administration in the midst of the vietnam war and greater cold war. he was with dr. kissinger with negotiators in paris culminating in the paris peace accords of 1973. he was with president nixon in moscow during his first president altrip there in may 1971. and he was there for kissinger shuttles between the arabs and israelis after the 1973 yom kippur war. he was a key actor in president nixon's historic trip to china
in 1972 known popularly as the week that changed the world. from 2015 to 2016, he conducted several hours of oral history with dr. kissinger on behalf of the nixon foundation. and the collection of interviews kov ear variety of subject matter, china, russia, the middle east, vietnam, leadership strategy and statesmanship and can now be found in this highly readable book with commentary. it's called kissinger on kissinger. reflections on diplomacy, grand strategy and leadership. it's available for purchase in our museum store and ambassador will sign copies for you. he will be interviewed by dr. frank gannon. dr. gannon obtained his masters degree, and doctorate at oxford. after working in advertising, he
worked with churchill to write the biography. in 1971, ganon worked under donald rumsfeld and served on the council and under white house press secretary ron zigler. in 1974, he left washington to california aboard air force one following the resignation and the chief editorial assistant on president nixon's best selling memoir. he has the distinction of having interviewed president nixon for 38 hours, which are all available in digital format at the nixon presidential library. this presentation tonight. i should mention that yesterday our president hew hewitt visited henry kissinger in new york city. dr. kissinger asked hew to pass on his best wishes tonight and asked for us to know that
fresh from henry kissinger. i found one of several references to you in the various kissinger memoirs. i won't read the one about you being a terrible punster. but this one he says, he, you, became one of my best collaborators. a resident conscience and close friend. he was familiar with my views. he had a global, not original perspective. so praise from ceasar is praise indeed. after the association with dr. kissinger and the nixon white house, you went on to a very distinguished career, which could be the subject of another talk. i'm in the curious position that you have an excellent book, which is the -- i am in the curious position of asking you to comment on henry kissinger.
the advantage of the book is, it's very short. it's very accessible and really interesting. i would recommend the best thing to do is to buy it and read it. you can't go wrong. it's also appropriate that you are here at the library, because i think the nixon foundation played a part in the genesis of these interviews. >> first, a few personal grace notes. i've been going around the country promoting this book. there's no other scene than this one that it compares with this one in terms of the appropriateness and the relevance. for reasons you and jonathan touched upon. first, of course, it is the nixon library and museum. this is about the nixon/kissinger foreign policy. second, frank conducted 38 hours of interviews with president
nixon. so in a book based on interviews, that's also very relevant. not to mention the fact that he was in the white house when i was. thirdly, the foundation is actually been absolutely crucial and i'm delighted to see hugh is the new president. he'll be terrific. he interviewed me on this book. so the interviews we did, we can get in more detail, but we did several interviews, first of panels on some of the key events. and then we prevailed upon kissinger to do one interview to reflect back on these events. it's extraordinary. he was 93 when he did the interviews reflecting on events that were 50 years old. it's just amazing, we bare cli touched the transcript. what you read here will be extraordinary for a 30-year-old talking about last week's news. but for a 92-year-old talking
about 50 years ago, it's quite extraordinary. the point i'm making that the foundation, together with the national archives, supported these interviews. no one is more indispensable than the person who introduced this. jonathan, who ran the videos, who was essential in the composition and editing of the video, giving other advice. he worked closely with jeff shep hard, who was also involved. if not for jonathan and jeff, and the foundation, which i mention in my acknowledgements, we wouldn't have this book. one last comment, i mentioned hue's interview of the book and my moving around. we're looking for ways to make this a best seller. but we have another idea we're toying with.
we put out a press release on the book before it was issued and a good friend of mine, tom, i hate to drop names, but tom brokaw saw the press release on his iphone. saw a very small space and the iphone cut off the last two letters of the book. so tom got -- you see what's coming, right? tom got very excited. went out and bought 100 copies thinking he was getting a book kissinger on kissing. [ laughter ] so we may change the title. >> i have a very short video that was made, about two minutes, that was made for dr. kissinger's 95th birthday which was in new york in may. and this, it's a couple of clips from the interviews, so you conducted, was it, six, two-hour interviews over a period of several months. >> that's right.
>> and so this gives a very brief flavor of what the book is based on. >> nixon sort of followed politics, the grand strategy, that foreign policy was the improvement of the relationship of countries to each other, the balancing of their self interests, would promote peace and the security of the united states. and i haven't studied any other american president who thought of it in such conceptual and such long terms. while nixon was focusing on objectives, he would talk in terms of the practical experiences that he had had in meeting with leaders. my approach was very similar to his in terms of focusing on
objectives, but the material things were historical and philosophical, i thought in terms of analogous to the current system and the lessons that i had studied and draw from it. the strategic objective was to prevent the soviet union from becoming the dominant country. the soviet army had just occupied czechoslovakia. and 42 divisions were sitting on the chinese border. so the use of soviet military pressure was a feature of the cold war, where nixon began by opening arms control negotiations on strategic nuclear weapons. the plan was to have the summit with the soviet union, to create
additional incentives in china, but then the soviet union tried to in effect blackmail us, with the prospect of a summit, and acted on it, so we reversed the process and said okay, we'll go to china first. if you look at what nixon said about china, he addressed the problem of china from the point of view of world order. his view was that by getting china involved in the international system, a whole pattern of international politics would be transformed, because all other countries would then have to consider the impact of china in terms of the new dispensation. and he calculated that we then
might produce a situation in which america would be closer to most of the contestants than they were to each other, and therefore have a strong bargaining position. the second or third day in office, i looked at the war plans, and the expected consequences of a nuclear war were horrendous. so to say we would not negotiate and let these weapons pile up without ever devising a strategy in which you could use them in a way that didn't destroy civilization, those were the invalid moments. the summit between fixon and brezhnev in '72 occurred at a high point in the vietnam war demonstrated one of the main themes of the nixon administration, we started out, it resulted in the possibility of negotiating agreements
forward, and to indicate specific steps towards it, and to combine these two actions in one relatively brief period of time, over months, symbolizes the special nature of the foreign policy that nixon conducted. we always had the view that the breakthrough in negotiations would come when one of the arab countries concluded that soviet military support was not the way to achieve their objective. and during the war, we managed to establish ourselves as mediators between the arab and the israeli side. the war had to be ended, and we had to do this in conjunction with the soviet union, because
the soviet union still had the major influence in the arab world. somebody had said that we're, in a limited period of time, we are going to have a big array of negotiations with the soviet union, after we have opened china, people would have said this is an absolute fantasy. any leader who has the task of taking a society from where it is, to where it has never been, and you need the courage to walk alone while you do it. [ applause ] >> nixon liked first and he liked to spring surprises, and his announcement of his first
two principal advisers ticked all of those boxes, chief domestic adviser was a harvard professor who was a kennedy supporter, and a member of the kennedy administration. and his principal foreign adviser was a harvard professor had worked for his political rival. in your, in the interviews, dr. kissinger tells you, says to you, if you consider that i spent 15 years of my life trying to keep him from becoming president, it remains astonishing that he chose me for his security adviser. the politics breeds strange bed fellows but nixon and kissinger were truly an odd couple. >> right. >> what do you think nixon saw in kissinger and why do you think kissinger said yes? >> first of all, let me thank you for the excerpt that sets up the era and the book itself nicely. it was a strange alliance. and nixon showed great courage in doing this. i mean he was a conservative
from the west coast. distrustful of the ivy league and harvard professors and here you have a jewish immigrant teaching at harvard and working for nelson rockefeller. it's not foreordained. they had once met but not at a social meeting. nixon had read kissinger's books. nixon wanted to dominate foreign policy and he was so well versed and he was so interested in this, and he knew to be able to do that, he needed an able and thoughtful national security adviser. and so he put politics aside, and thought about the national interests, and also what would serve his interests, in forging a new world order, and so just the shear brilliance of nixon, already exhibited this. now to get one other aspect,
namely the view of the world. but let me get to henry's acceptance. he himself said shame-facedly, when he was asked by the president, to his surprise, to be national security adviser, instead of saying yes immediately, he hesitated. partly out of misplaced in this case loyalty to rockefeller, partly not entirely sure of what nixon was going to be doing, and he went to rockefeller, who chewed him out and said you got to serve your country, what the heck are you doing, he's taking the chance, not you, by picking you. and henry of course immediately saw that, and henry would have said yes anyway, because his main motive would be serving the national interest. here is someone who had analyzed foreign policy in history all his life, and i'm sure he leapt at the chance to do something about it, in terms of policy, he
had been adviser to jfk, and consulted with johnson and other presidents. so these are the main motives, and then what really brought them together, and it's in the forward to the book that henry writes which is the common approach to foreign policy which we have seen examples of, namely the strategic conceptual approach that looks at the world and long-term trends that takes into account the impact of what you do in one area with one country, and others, and does not just react in knee-jerk fashion to discrete events but ties them together in a mosaic. so it was clear they each shared this strategic world view which i think is probably a major reason that nixon chose him as well as the others i mentioned and clearly why kissinger was happy to join him. and they brought different strengths. nixon as a congressman, more
importantly, as vice president, and then as private citizen, that traveled the world extensively, and knew many world leaders, and studied foreign policy, and was the best that a president ever, for foreign policy, kissinger's strength was historical, philosophical, conceptual, strategic, they had the same instincts in strategy, but one brought the residence of history and the over brought the immediacy of knowledge and world affairs. so it was a wonderful mix, but it was not foreordained. >> you mentioned the president, and the president-elect, wanted to bring the foreign policy apparatus into the white house. you have a very interesting thing that i haven't seen before, where nixon and kissinger go out to see the ailing and in fact, dying general eisenhower, at walter reed. and he gives them some very specific advice and henry kissinger has also kind of a brush with the former general.
>> it's an interesting anecdote. and what's interesting about this book, that henry not only recalls strategies and specific milestones, but he punctuates his recounting with anecdotes. some revealing. some amusing. in this case, it was early in the administration. kissinger had the conventional mistaken view that eisenhower was a decent guy but wasn't brilliant, you know. he soon learned differently. and by the way, i think eisenhower is one of our great presidents, in my opinion. so they went out to, as a courtesy, in one sense, but also given eisenhower's interest in national issues, and they just had an nsc meeting on the middle east i think it was, and they went out and briefed him at walter reed hospital. the very next day, not because of their meeting, but because of
somebody in the nsc, there was a leak in the press about what had happened, the meeting, the very things he told eisenhower about, and eisenhower chewed kissinger out, saying how dare you let this stuff get out in the public you just told me about, and kissinger said, well, i'm not sure i can control this, and he said, young man, if you can't control these kind of things, do a better job, you don't deserve it. and he gained henry's great respect as a result of that. >> that was from the very first weeks of the administration, plagued by leaks and that was, i think they had briefed eisenhower on the most secret plan for the middle east and the next day it's on the front page of "the new york times." >> right. >> before we get into talking about the book, i want to talk a little bit about you. when you were a high school student, in the early '50s, what did you think you wanted to be when you grew up? >> secretary of state. [ laughter ] >> no, actually, i did have an interest in international
relations, foreign policy, fairly early on, for two reasons. one, my mother was very much in the public service, national co-chairman for eisenhower by the way, but she took eleanor roosevelt's place as ambassador to the u.n. for human rights and she was involved in a lot of international, as well as domestic issues, so we sat around the dinner table, these issues would come up. and then secondly, i did an awful lot of traveling, when i was young. one of my vacations, from yale, was, it was uzbekistan and kazakhstan, you know, just to take a casual example. so these two forces suggested i wanted to go into these field but i wasn't quite sure how, and so i made sure i took a broad education, english major, at yale, so i think writing is important no matter what, took a lot of political science and history courses, and then went to the graduate school, where i met my wife at the fletcher school.
she took extremely good notes in economics class, and that was my weak subject, so i decided to become her friend, so that's how we got going on that. >> so you were an english major who became a diplomat. she was an economics major who became a best selling novelist. >> she was originally a chemistry major and blew up the lab and said she better go into some other discipline. it's really true, by the way. >> and you also, you had, to put it mildly, a very distinguished academic career. what was the path that led you to kissinger? >> it was really by chance. i had gone from the foreign service to the defensive department policy planning staff, and i worked for a brilliant young people, really ironic, named mort hallpern, who ended up suing kissinger later for, i won't get into the details, but kissinger knew him from yale and he asked him to join his staff and asked him to put together, hallpern wanted me
to go with him and so i went a month after it started, february 1969. but we shouldn't spend too much time on me, we ought to spend it on nixon and kissinger. but there was obviously a great opportunity. we started out, this gets to kissinger, i have to have an interview with him, he basically took me on halpern's say so. but it was a 15-minute interview and you could see already the chaos of the front office he was about to see. the secretary of the treasury, on the phone, looking at memos, and he zeroed in on me, on a key issue, he said look, i want debate, i want disagreement, i want good intellectual exchange from my staff, but if you lose the battle, on a policy, i want you to carry it out loyally, which i think is the correct
approach. and i guess i passed that test. and the point here is that the first year, i was not in his front office, i was sitting across the eisenhower office, and among other things besides the nsc system, we would send kissinger memos like a mini policy planning staff, looking ahead, being devil's advocate, challenging, and i wrote several memos that were critical, or at least raising questions about some of the things that nixon and kissinger were doing, he hired me as his special assistant, not despite that, but because of that. he did not like the yes man or the yes women. he wanted debate. he would be brutal if you gave mushy or sentimental advocacy to an issue. but as long as you argued it intelligently, he respected that. so this is a good example of someone who encouraged debate. >> he is, was, and i suspect is, because he goes to the office every day, a legendaily
difficult boss and some of the stories i assume, where there is smoke, there has to be some fire, the larry eagleberger story, true, not true, aprocyphal. >> not true. the story quickly is that eagle berger was one of the top assistants and there was some kind of crisis and eagleberger fainted in kissinger's office and kissinger essentially, and i wasn't there and i'm not entirely sure this was true, but this is the story, he stepped good story. he stepped over the guy's body to get to the phone and start working on the next issue. i'll give you another example. look, unbelievable respect and affection for henry. even if you don't send him the transcript of this meeting i'm going to be nice about it behind his back, but he wasn't perfect unlike some of us here this evening. [ laughter ] he was extremely demanding. as i say in my portrait, and if you need nothing else i would like you to read my forward and my personal portrait of henry because nobody that close to him
has ever done this. of course, i round out some of the edges but i do refer to many so of the less attractive aspects, but he stretched my nerves and patience but he also stretched my horizons and perspectives and i learned a great deal, of course, about how to approach foreign policy and i've always been, as i say in the book, appreciative to him for the climb as well is a the view, but the climb can be very ardow. i'll give you one example, speech writing. i can write fairly well, nowhere near like my wife, but she does fiction and i do nonfiction. so i did speeches for henry and sometimes indirectly for the president. it would go something like this. first of all, the timing would generally be just before the redskins kicked off against the cowboys in a football game and i was a rabid fan and he would call me up and want me to work on the speech so that was pretty
annoying. one reason why i quit about once a week, but here's how it would go in speech writing. this is about 90% true. gives you the flavor. may not be, you know, accurate in every word. he would give me a topic to write a speech, and i would come in two days later with a draft, and he would call me in his office the next day and he would say is this the best you can do? and i would say henry, i think so but let me take another whack tat so i go away do a second draft, come in, calls me in the office the day later and is this the best can you do? really i thought so henry, let me try again. anyway, this goes on for six drafts and i'm getting a little annoyed. i finally say on the sixth draft when he asks me this question. henry, i looked at every sentence, i've re-tweaked every colon and semi-colon i can't improve this speech anymore and that's the best can i do and henry would turn to me and smile and in that case he says now
i'll read it. [ laughter ] so he would stretch it. by the way he would push me on speech writing and writing memos to the president for him because he knew i could write. another staff member might be good on research or negotiations he wouldn't push that person so he had a sense of where to push and where not to push. >> you recommend reading your forward. i should have said this book not only has -- it's not only the edited transcript of interviews that are arranged in a -- in a very interesting and useful way, but it has an introduction by dr. kissinger. it has your setup and then you -- you have introductions to each of the chanters. >> i wrote the introductions, yeah. >> and then the occasional interpositions of information and then the questions that you asked, so it's -- it's not -- it's not uninterrupted. it's not at all uninterrupted
reading of edited transcripts. >> would you come do my book tour with me. in the book he has an interesting assessment of nixon's strategic vision, and he talks about him as one of his main contributions that he was interested in the concept, the conceptual aspects of foreign policy and he writes or he says to you nixon was, except for the founding fathers, and i would say teddy roosevelt, the american president who thought of foreign policy as grand strategy to. him foreign policy was the structural improvement of the relationship of countries to each other in a way that the balancing of their self-interests would promote global peace and the security of the united states, and he thought about that in relatively long range terms. is that the way you thought of or think of nixon? >> absolutely. now let me say this. i'm the last remaining centrist in america. i'm a flaming centrist.
i mention that because i've worked for republican and democratic presidents. i've voted for both. i was a political appointee of reagan and of clinton, so when i say that of the seven presidents i've served the nixon was by far the most formidable on foreign policy. this is coming from a relatively objective although i worked for him obviously, but i worked for other presidents, so he was in a class by himself. look, the man had flaws. we all know that, who doesn't, but can you not take away the strategic approach, and it's described well both in this film and also as you just said, and it's one reason why he and kissinger got along as i said earlier because they approached things the same way. and he not only -- he did a couple of things that were important. he knew exactly how to work with kissinger. first of all, the world views coincided, but he starts a beautiful balance.
some presidents micromanage, an, for example, jimmy carter used to determine who could play on the tennis court. actually that's a pretty important subject. not a bad idea, but -- and where some others would delegate completely. nixon, of course, had the white house dominate the process. he had to make the crimous decisions in the vietnam war and open to china and you don't know what the reactions are going to be and going into the middle east and so on, and he had to back up kissinger, and he had a strategic approach that kissinger could reflect but then he left it to henry to do the actual negotiations and the tactics and never second guessed him and henry had the confidence, that they had enough shared world view that he would be backed up by the president. for example, when we were in china negotiating the shanghai communique before the public advicist won't go into detail
now because we can go to it. the chinese approached a different approach of how to approach communique. totally different what have nixon approved before we left washington and in those days there was no way to communicate back home. we were on our own, but kissinger was sufficiently confident of the president's view and his loyalty that he agreed to the chinese approach which proved to be very successful in the shanghai communique so it just shows you how they worked together. extremely important as well. >> in addition to nixon's long-term stranlt strategic vision there's and objection yom i think dr. kissinger quotes three, maybe for you times in the book. >> he believed you're going say a price with a controversial policy whether you go halfway or all out. of course, the china visit was set up. we can get into that publicly and privately over two year,
burks still, it was a very bold move to send his national security adviser to china not knowing -- the chinese had a self-interest because of the threats from the cove yet that they would gech in. he didn't know how the reaction who is going to be back home on that or many negotiating in the immediate versus the moscow summit, came because we got their alleges, training la did i moment i ha-na launched an offensive just about as we supposed to go to moscow.
even though he thought it might jeopardize the summit which we are locked on for so long which had major arms control and economic agreements teaed up, would have been a tremendous loss, but he wasn't about to go to moscow or america and the south vietnamese are getting slaughtered by moscow's allies. now, by the way, kissinger and i and others thought that this bombing and so on, own they it was correct in terms of policy and vietnam, was probably going to sink the summit. and we were bemoaning all these great things. nixon said, no, the soviets will have ahead with the sum sit. an interesting thing played out
when we in in moscow and i had to prepare the president's briefing box and we were sitting in an office near the kremlin or in the kremlin, and there was a space agreement being signed by brezhnev and nixon, and then they were going to take a break for half an hour. we were all going to go out in the motorcade to brezhnev's to talk aboutine when they agreed, they had to be tough with us to send the trapts script so they can show their loyalty. first got nixon to go out immediately in the motorcade without stopping leaving me behind in the briefing books and knowing henry's temper i said oh, my god. he's going to be really happy. i don't have the president's meeting books there for the meeting even though it was my fault. imagine talking the kbb in --
the point is leading up to this very important evening, we sat for three hours while the four top soviet leaders attacked nixon on vietnam so they could send the transcript to a know, and nixon just basically sat there. didn't try to engage. he knew they were going through a charade we there was an assault 2:00 a.m. in the morning after four hours of vodka, so my whole point in this very long meandering story is that nixon did have the qualities both of vision. as henry said how do you get from here to there and sometimes
it's lonely and the courage to make those decisions? and it's particularly tough for a leader to make his decisions because early in a crisis you don't have full information. therefore, you have to take a courageous decision based on inadequate knowledge of the landscape of what's going to happen. so you're quite lonely on taking this and you wait until you have so much knowledge by then you're hemmed in and can't do what you wanted to do. >> tactical decisions can be made it and ore ice the fremsy would take care of it. that's that you need. >> dr. kissinger says it's 51-49 and the decisions that can be made at the lower lovely are. >> that's right. >> and it's the president that
get the tough ones where it's -- >> i'll give you one other example of nixon on foreign policy in terms of his interest and care. i was in charge of assembling his briefing books. now most of his contributions, but i had to put them together and also help write some of it. we put together six briefing books about this thick, and i -- i swear that nicks won read every page. even as we wereifying on air force one. he would send memos back and saying i want to know about this and what does quell think of this and what are the chinese going to say on north korea? that kind of thing. it was amazing. i've been to lots of summits and i have never seen a president work that hard for a meeting. >> ambassador lord, i'm sure many of you know is in the
introductory video, and you said that's the point you made. you served eight presidents. >> seven. >> seven, but who is counting, and -- and none were as prepared. >> right. >> as -- as -- yeah. another aspect of this book is that it's sort of a master class in implied diplomacy. >> now we know it worked out well because the the knowing of going to chip was craze, was unaniable. evenly one of ourm major ambassadors refused to believe it he actually had announced it in the first. >> this, of course, i can't do justice and i want to make sure that we have time for other
questions and for the audience. by the way, getting at the china decision and courage again, nixon and kissinger consulted many outside experts as well as collecting information even when it was still secret and people didn't know what it was for but we got a lot of help from the experts. he also called in outsiders, and nixon talked to the four top experts in the state department or retired experts. george kenon, tommy thomson and one other. i forgot who it was. they all told him do not move to king. >> you can see through public pes tours and said if you go towards china you'll rec relations with moscow. it took courage to go against all the soviets. the soviets had been
interestinging their feet on the summit and we and they mentioned and we are crunchies. it on our way to our public trip which covered our secret trip in '71. i got a call from al hague, the deputy, who said in sign language that didn't fool anybody listening on the phone but he basically said the russians once again have turned down a summit. so that meant we would give the chinese the summit first. we then -- as soon as we got from the secret trip nixon announced in sante clemente, the fact that he was going to go to the next we are. >> we're with -- it just proved
the people right. great respect. more -- i showed you how even the smartest people can get things wrong. >> in the second an vietnam dr. kissinger lays low two of the controversies and trouble civil rouse. brown is the notion that the agreement achieved in 1773 could have been awheefd earlier. can you? >> nowhere and say it was a splendid outcome. it was a terrible out bam the outcome. i understand the controversially and god knows well all the. i don't respect those who
glorify for the -- and those who said. on the agreement itself. mr. >> there were two things that i disagree with completely, and i mention this in the book. one is we could have had the eventual deal soon, and the other is the deal we got was a cynical fake, one knowing that south vietnam would collapse after a quote, decent interval after we covered our rear end. another way of saying is we never should have made the deal that we should have made sooner. i mean, it's -- you can't have both arguments now. very quickly. on this big subject. we ought to get to other things. we ensifted that any eventual deal be a military settlement and leave the future and political fate of vietnam to -- to north and south vietnam. we weren't going to overthrow the saigon government when we
left which is what they demanded and they saw nixon is going to re-elected. four more rears of a mad man. they came in and gave me a interest. sim. of a solition government was the first step. we head out against this and -- however, that was never possible. before that we outline this, the nixon speech in 1970, very casually there, and we gave a very specific seven-point proposal which laid out the eventual set president. they said no, no, no. you've got to get rid of this side government and let me take care of it. can't just leave. wouldn't even give us our
prisoners back. >> second argument people can -- people with kay. or that the congress would not back up enforcement, but we knelt -- first place, it was not a decent interview. nixon refused to have nil so they can the west -- and we were not but we felt with this milt. we thought the deal would survive. we were not looking for a decent interval. we were looking for a decent opportunity for south vietnam to determine its future and that america couldn't be there forever. we expanded our lives and our treasure. we had trained them to build up
their forces and at some point the american people deserved to have us turn over the war, although under honorable conditions. we felt it was a minor cease-fire violation the south vietnamese were strong enough to handle it with our economic and military aid. we felt incorrectly and naively perhaps that if there was a major invasion, as there was, that the u.s. congress and people would back bombing to prevent. not sending in troops. the north vietnamese trajry, we honestly thought that that would be the case. thirsty will we offered economic incentives so the politburo can
demind an and let's go along with this deal. we got rid of the american pops. fourthly, we thought china and russia, not wanting this issue to flare up between us, and these assumptions with no without. they have to come up with the challenge what should we have downand all that we had done for south vietnam. go out and use new mexico and bombs and i don't respect these two arguments which i think are phony. >> earlier -- earlier tonight didn't you say that dr. kissinger says that that moment i think in october '72 when the north vietnamese changed their position and made a settlement possible was that
the most emotional? >> henry has been asked in other forms, not just when i was present and not just as he does in this book. what was the single greatest highlight of his career? at least an emotional terms. he said when hanoi come around to our three exhausting years of -- and the fighting over the treasure and we went out into the government after -- and it was meaningly because getting the pos back and ending this edge wish on what we thought was. i opposed the sam bowsian. i was very close to quitting. my wife talked me out of it, and
she's always steered me in the right direction. henry said, as did my wife. look, you can go around waving a placard or you can stay here and work for piece and so given that background i almost left over vietnam for us to be working together and have a breakthrough was obviously emotional for me but i've been touched with the fact that he cites that at the top of his list. >> one last question who i'll expect before the audience. >> on -- on the night that the president made his resignation speech and he asked if he could walk nixon home from the oval office to the reasons, and i think trying to -- to cheer up nicks yon said,y in and i guess
that helps on who writes the history t. 25 years since he died. how is history throating richard nixon? >> that's a god question because it's hard to generalize. it depends on what platform you're talking about. i think it's oversimplified for even us critics to point to the china open as if that's the only thing he did. you look at this exhibit. i must say in domestic policy whether it's the environment or women's rights, we're going off the gold standard as well as his foreign policy but others, the middle east and detente, it's just wrong for the critics to say that that's the only good thing he did. and sort of a simplified will obit what a great job on china. for china it was inevitable. easier for him than hubert
humphrey. nixon's white flag was protected and humphrey would have gotten pummeled by the republicans and even on air force one coming back home from beijing nixon and kissinger were worried about the reception that just happened. they didn't realize the impact of television and the chinese military army playing american songs and their hosting and the first summit that television had a major impact so it was seen as a great triumph. by the way, it helped the morale of the american people who had been fatigued, not only by the vietnam war but -- but racial riots, assassinations, demonstrations and people were just depressed, and to see that you could open up the one-quarter of humanity and sort of put the ambivalent exit from vietnam in perspective in terms of what was important and it showed we could still act on the world stage and nixon and
kissinger deserve credit for the ethereal points as well as the specific objectives. i think the longer we go on the kinder history will be. now, let's face it. some of the criticism of him, and i say that in the nixon library, someone who obviously i respected. he did some bad things and he paid for it. >> i'm not saying they were deservedly paid for and he did things that were unfortunate and because of paranoia about his enemies, some of which was justified, went into a dark area and was just a same because he was boysed -- he had just been elected by an incredible land. he was moving to khalid tied.
he was moving into the of, a very liberal columnist for the "new york times" wrote a book he he said i disagree. nixon was lousy on foreign policy and wonderful on domestic affairs. he had patrick moynihan. and it's just a shame and we all know it was the cover-up, wasn't the crime, that this so destroyed his presidency. he'll still go down as a good president but he could have been a great president except for his unnecessary self-inflicted wounded. it's really, really tragic. i might add that kissinger is doing an extensive portrait of nixon. he's already done that along with a forthcoming book along with portraits of other leader and it's very interesting to hear what he has to say.
>> before we go to questions, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in thanking the ambassador. [ applause ] >> i wanted to remind everybody that kissinger on kissinger is available in the store and i would like to start out with the first question. as the former ambassador to the people's republic of china, could you comment a little bit on the situation in hong kong right now. >> relations with china? excuse me. >> on the current situation in hong kong. >> oh, hong kong, excuse me, yes. >> i think the hopping congress demonstrations on the one hand are extremely hopeful and a bright spot in the horizon, but also makes one extremely apprehensive. after the berlin wall fell, democracies were on the march and countries were turning to more democratic regimes and it
looked like the end of history to use a quote. we got too confident about it. the last ten years -- particularly the last few years we've gone in reverse, china getting more repressive and hungary and turkey and saudi arabia and other tendencies. obviously populism and nationalism is on the rise and democracies somewhat in retreat. i don't think that's permanent but somewhat guessing. we've seen a fewfully, and the world that may be somewhat of a comeback for people who want freedom have not given up. you see it in turkey. you see it in hungary. you see even in the soviet union, a limited scale obviously, but hong kong is the most dramatic example. it's about other issues as well. housing and inequality, corruption, but it's ascensionly hong wants tonight to be and now
the agreement that the british made with the china on the one hand absolutely guarantee civil liberties, but it was a little vaguer on elections. by the way, democracy is more than elections. it's the freedom of press, independent judiciary and so on, so these -- these civil liberties have been eroded -- started out relatively well with china when they decide that that's been eroding. they have been getting the fray around the edges and of the chinese have been kidnapping, pub accomplishes of and there's a lot going on and there was a bill that the hong kong government, puchts of beijing,
introduced which in effect said that you should extradite to china. anybody we don't hike? i'm simplifying and that's what the and i'm surprised they have gone on for is a bucks. that's the good news. the bad news is we -- we should encourage it. we should speak out on their behalf. there's a bill in the congress which would try to deter the chinese from cracking down by saying in effect in you crack down we'll no longer reflect the status of hong kong. it will be a different type of city and you'll get the same financial and economic treatment there as you get elsewhere in china which would really hurt them. i mean, the gdp used to be 20% in hong kong. it's only 3%, but they depend on hong kong as a through station for finance and investment, so this would be a great deterrent against the chinese cracking
down. i think we should pass the bipartisan bill. it's nice toss have something in washington that's bipartisan that's there. it would also hold accountable through visas and seizing of assets and any leaders involved in the crackdown whether it's hong kong or chinese, so that's what we ought to do, but there's no way that china, this leader in particular, is going to let hong kong get out of control, and so they are not going to give in on the major demands, and part of the problem is, and this -- this demonstration, the good us? there are no leader and the bad us? there are no leaders. up like -- unlike previous demonstrations so there's no way to have the resistance. there are five demands. there's no way it will be met. if they had some leaders they could at least negotiate with the hong kong government, tough as it is on getting some of their demands met but now it's
in cohete. the chinese don't want to go in. if that's the only option they will they will go in with the thin camouflage like the soviets went into ukraine wearing green uniforms. they much prefer their current strategy. you ask me to predict that's sadly where we'll end up, that they are going to exhaust the protesters. i mean, it's been going on now for 15 weeks, but how many times can you leave your school or your business, put on a tear gas mask and go out there and risk your future career? you know, weekend after weekend? unfortunately some of it has been violent which shouldn't happen which gives the chinese good propaganda, so the chinese strategy is these people are going to wear themselves out at some point, although they have already been surprised how long it's gone on. they censor all the news and get their own citizens stoked up on nationalism by portraying the protesters as thugs beating up
the police, and chinese nationalism is on the rise. that's how they stay in power along with economic gains. they get the tycoons in hong kong nervous about their economic future and disruption which is happening. they jail past leaders, not future ones, some of whom are in this country right now temporarily unveiled and they just figure through censorship and propaganda and pressure, tycoon, self-interest, they will finally get this thing to subside. i think that's probably what will happen. we do have a deadline of october 1 where the chinese have an anniversary of the crowning of the party and it's embarrassing for this to be going on while that's happening, but i think they have to put up with that rather than resorting to a crack doup. i'm sorry to take so much time on one question and promise to be shorter from now on.
it's a complicated situation and as i said at the outset it's both hopeful and dangerous. >> we have a question in the back row. >> sir, in light of the current trade war with china, what is the likelihood because of the severe stress on the chinese economy that the chinese government opts for a shooting war rather than losing face by caving to washington's. >> a shooting war? >> no. they won't do a shooting war. by the way, xi has dictator for life and he's got all the powers of control which means all the success he gets credit for but he's going to get the blame if things go wrong between hong kong and the slowing of their economy partly by trump being tough. he may be in some difficulty. not to mention the anti-corruption campaign which is on a scale -- which is good in principle though it wiped out
enemies as well as bad peep. you know, we're talking hundreds of thousands of people including high level. so he's in a dilemma on both these issues, and i've already mentioned hong kong and with respect to -- to the economy the problem is they can't figure trump out. he's very unpredictable. some say that's an asset. i think it can be to keep people off balance but i think in this case they are so confused the chinese they are just going to wait them out. whether we get a solution before the election depends on trump's calculation which is better for his re-election. should he be mr. tough guy and not have a bad deal and get attacked for doing it, or is that going to spook the stock market and the economy and he better make a deal? i think what will happen is we'll have an interim deal. the chinese will agree to buy more soybeans, et cetera, and america will lift tariffs and
both sides agree to kick the can down the road on the real issues which are technology, intellectual property, theft, cyber theft, making our companies turn over technology, subsidizing the chinese and so on. i think trump would have been much better off, number one he shouldn't have withdrawn from a major international trading pact in asia with 12 nations called the transpacific partnership which did a lot of things for our economy and new issues like the environment and workers right as well as opening up markets for us, but because it was done by obama, trump didn't like it and he pulled out. japan has reconstitute it had without us, but we should have had that as leverage on the chinese, both on economic issues because all these countries don't like what china is doing either, america at allistic and the presence in asia. a big mistake to pull out of there, so what i would do frankly is to go back to that pact and join it. i would settle if i could with
our allies the trade war so we can get them on our side to pressure china, and on tariffs, i would intend to be more selectively and i would go after state enterprises which run against chinese reforms so it's in their interest over time to go back to private ent prizes and which are the most dangerous to compete with? no, china will if to a shoot -- won't go to a shooting war. it will wait trump out and be willing to make a very thin deal and kick the can down the road. >> we have a question right here. >> i am a immigrant from china living in yorba linda, and in china both richard nixon and harry kissinger are very well known, has a very high reputation among chinese people, particularly for kissinger. the chinese official propaganda
in the state-owned newspaper like "china daily," every time when henry kissinger visited china they call him chinese people's old friend, okay uncertain noble title from chinese newspaper or people and among that only a handful of leaders, foreign leaders enjoyed that noble title, including cuba, castro, and south africa's mugabe and kissinger is chinese people's old friend. do you think this is a positive objective comment that kissinger well deserved and if chinese gave you that title would you gladly accept it or not? >> there's many parts of the
question. if i don't answer all of them i'll come back to it. first of all, i'm happy to say there will be a chinese edition of this book because of the interest and the approval of kissinger. certainly not because of my name though i had something to do with the china opening, but this will be published in chip. it will be published in russia, and -- and tomorrow it comes out in the german edition. that's the good news, but unless we change the title i don't think it's going to be a best-seller in america. no, no, no. it's -- it's an honorable acclamation. he's been working tirelessly as an intermediary between any american president democratic or republican because henry believes in serving whatever support in office, whatever he thinks that have person, and so they respect not only the revolution he brought about in our relationship with the
chinese leaders and nixon and also that he's work so hard ever since to have the relationship go well and like bad merchandise like calling it to cass flow, not henry's fault to be in that company. but they genuinely respect him and by the way stick to old friend. when nixon was downed by watergate and was an ex-president the chinese warmly welcomed them and had them come over so that's their tradition. they are very good at doing this, and they also play on that. they play on your friendship to try to get you to do favors for them. it's part of their very stillful diplomacy. >> we have a question right here. >> what subtle differences are you noticing in terms of the approach to foreign policy from the nixon administration to other republican administrations since then?
>> how many hours have you got here? that's a huge question. i can't do justice to. i mean, look, what i say is self-serving because i served in this situation but i also served in many other areas, republican and democrats. i'm not saying we didn't make mistakes or did couldn't slersor version then, they weren't human, the strategic approach el has never been replications ever since. you certainly don't need -- when the inherit the -- we had a tense nuclear standoff with a another nuclear standoff and no
be in the most. you had to have a grand strategy to get of that in my opinion. we haven't seen that. we have had some good foreign policies. i think bush sr., the way they handed the end of the cold war after reagan made the breakthrough, the way that bush assembled. coalition of arabs as well as allies to go and and was so it done mean you can't be successful, but no one approached it with quite the strategic and. >> i have a question right here. >>-degree the yours. dr. kissinger recommended that we give them a little bit of help. why was that his recommendation
whereas president nixon stated israel is our ally. we're going to give them all we have. we'll get criticized when we give them a little or a whole bunch of help and we'll give them a whole bunch. >> as you pointed out don't do things halfway but i didn't get the first part. >> i think the idea was henry advised caution as opposed to -- >> i'm not sure that that's character. now -- hen way was as pre-is as in. so i don't know -- there was some he is at the same time on the department of defense and they finally said -- i think nixon deserves great cred editor
this. i'm just not sure about the kissinger. i don't separate strategy. this is a good example in foreign policy, it's not just the strategic approach but it's a sense of timing f.part of his struggle when they came in was in the middle east. both wanted it. it was quite expensive bought of the probably arms. they wanted to show that seers can help you bring your armaments but you won't get any territory become and you have an
honest brokered media like the united states. is the interests willing to talk to both sides so who the i am kup broke out. bay the way. shows his. we were putting the finishing touches on his speech to the u.n. and all hell breaks loose with the yom kippur war and he's on the phone with the president and foreign ministers and ambassadors and he sits at his desk and finishes off this speech but what henry saw and nixon as well in terms of timing was the following. beginning of that war the egyptians made major advances against the israelis. first time israel had suffered military defeats. israel with our help rebounded and began to move back and retake the territory. they were then at a point where
they surrounded the egyptian army and were about to wipe it out. kissinger, and i was with him, immediately went to moscow to freeze the situation in place with a cease-fire because they figured the following. for the first time israel had been sobered up a little bit by its military setback and could see that maybe some negotiated settlement would be in their security interest. before that they sort of suffered from hubris about their military superiority. meanwhile sadat had done enough and had not yet had his army wiped out which would have gone back toss previous situations so they had some dignity and self-respect and he could without. by freezing that situation the first time kissinger/nixon said
it after waiting three years, a chance to go into the area and began to broker between the two sides and supplant the interference. dr. disjerks comes up with a nice form haitian in the interviews that he repeats. tell arabs they may win the war through -- >> that sums up, yeah. >> we have time for one last question. >> it's a pleasure being here. >> my question is from my knowledge or experience we never really understood or i haven't understood what was kissinger's opinion of what happened in watergate and how nixon handled it because from my opinion he should have just said, yes, i did, and that would have been
the end of it. instead he kind of covered it up or tried to cover it up so your opinion. i don't recall kissinger making any comments on what his thoughts were on how he handled it. >> well, i don't want to speak for him, but i think he would subscribe to the conventional wisdom that many subscribe, to including me, that the initial sin of breaking in and looking for research on the opposition carried out originally without nixon's knowledge. if he had just said i didn't authorize this. this was a mistake. it won't happen again. second term, all the opportunities were talked and that's why it's so sad. he did get -- i have to be honest as a great admirer of his. he went to unacceptable lengths to cover it up including criminal acts, and he paid for
it, as i said earlier and he deserved to pay for it. it's a real shame so what kissinger would think. obviously he felt incredible lost opportunity for the country in terms of a second term and a personal tragedy for a man he greatly respected but i'm sure he would feel it was a terrible tactical mistake and it was borne out of many experts of nixon much more than i am so i don't want to go too far afield here but he did have suspicions of certain enemies, and even as somebody said even paranoid so he did have some enemies who were unfair but it carried him too far, and it's a real shame that it happened, so it will be interesting to see whether kissinger addresses this more directly in this next portrait. let me say since we're closing here i want to thank jonathan for what he did to help get this book done and for arranging this
evening and frank for obviously taking great care in putting this together as well as the clips, so it's been a real pleasure. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> dr. kissinger is available in the museum store for purchase. thanks for coming and please check back in the future at nixonfoundation.org. thank you. [ applause ] weekends on c-span2 our intellectual feast. every saturday aaamerican histoy tv and book tv. funding for c-span2 comes from
these television companies and more including wow. >> the world has changed. today the fast reliable internet connection is something that no one can live without, so wow is there for our customers. with speed, reliability, value and choice. now more than ever, it all starts with great internet. >> wow. >> wow. along with these television companies supports c-span2 as a public service. >> good evening, my fellow americans. ten days ago in my report to the nation on vietnam, i announced the decision to withdraw an additional 150,000 americans from vietnam over the next year. i said then that i was making that decision despite our concern over increased enemy activity in laos, in cambodia and in south vietnam, and at that time i warned that if i concluded that increased enemy activity in any of