The Real Kissinger

My Memories of Henry: A different Interpretation of the Man

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Former National Security Advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski (L) and Henry Kissinger (R) speak at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum on December 11, 2016 in Oslo. [File Photo Credit: Terje Bendiksby / AFP - Getty Images ]

Henry Kissinger at 100 years of age left the world he temporarily altered for the better after watching the neoconservatives in the Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden regimes wipe out his accomplishments.

Kissinger and President Nixon were men of peace.  They inherited a disastrous war–Vietnam–that they had no hand in making.  President John F. Kennedy intended to stop the war before it could get started, which was one of the reasons he was assassinated by the CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secret Service.  The Soviet Threat had to be resisted even at the cost of President Kennedy’s life and the trauma inflicted on what was still in those days a free nation.

President Nixon and Kissinger also had to restart the efforts of President Kennedy to defuse the dangerous tensions of the Cold War that both the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam war brought to the surface.  The pursuit of detente by the Nixon administration produced the Strategic  Arms Limitations Agreement and created a working relationship between Washington and Moscow.  Nixon’s opening to China might have prevented another war.  Nixon and Kissinger’s achievements in defusing the Cold War were unrivaled until President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev ended the Cold war.

The Clinton regime violated the word of the George H.W. Bush administration that in exchange for the Soviet Union permitting the reunification of Germany, the US would not move NATO one inch toward the East.  All subsequent US regimes exited from all of the arms agreements that had reduced tensions and created a bond of trust between the nuclear superpowers.  This bond is especially important, because of the numerous false warnings from warning systems.

The consequence of unraveling the work of Nixon, Kissinger, and Reagan is the total lack of trust today between the US and Russia.  The situation today is far worse than it was in the darkest days of the Cold War.

As an insider I well know that the problem of conservative presidents, such as Nixon and Reagan, in easing tensions with Russia is that their conservative base is suspicious of the effort.  I well remember that Reagan’s efforts at detente with the Soviet Union were suspected by Reagan’s conservative base. Conservatives worried that a former movie star was not a match for cunning communists, and that America would come out the loser.

Nixon faced a worse problem. He was trapped by President Johnson’s regime in a gratuitous war that could not be won.  But if he left without winning he would endanger his base of support.  The problem of the conservative base is the reason both Reagan and Nixon spoke aggressively, thus causing the leftwing to see them as warmongers. 

The dilemma Nixon and Kissinger faced is the reason for the Cambodian bombings.  They were desperate to get a situation from which they could exit the war without it being interpreted as a defeat by their political base. They were trying to use force to achieve an honorable exit, but the enemy would not give it to them.

The leftwing, of course, unable to comprehend the conundrum, interpreted  Nixon and Kissinger as war criminals.  This erroneous interpretation has held to the present day.

Today I still encounter American conservatives who claim that Reagan won the Cold War.  This is nonsense.  Reagan told those of us involved that the purpose was to end, not win, the Cold War.

Conservatives justify Reagan as the winner of the Cold War, as the man who collapsed the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union collapsed three years after Reagan left office.  No one, including the CIA, expected the collapse of the Soviet Union.  It caught the US government off guard.  The Soviet collapse occurred because hardline members of the Politburo, who feared Gorbachev was liberalizing too rapidly, placed Soviet President Gorbachev under house arrest. It was Gorbachev’s arrest that led to Yeltsin and the   collapse of the Soviet Union.

Henry Kissinger was not a neoconservative who believed in US hegemony over the world.  He believed in stability.  American power was to be used to maintain stability.  In those days there were still Marxist movements or alleged Marxist elements which were often only national movements.  In pursuit of stability, Kissinger often overthrew regimes he regarded as destabilizing.  But his reason was to maintain stability in a dangerous world.

Paul Craig Roberts

Dr Paul Craig Roberts is a well-known economist who received his PhD from the University of Virginia. He was, in the early 1980s, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under Ronald Reagan. He has been the associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has been a columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns at www.paulcraigroberts.org have attracted a following worldwide.

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