“Richard Milhous Nixon inherited near-civil war conditions”. That quote has always stuck with me and this time reminded me of the book pictured above, published a few years ago, that I have wanted to read. I am requesting it from the county library and will read it this week and possibly share some of it with you. From what I remember of the review its a pretty dramatic, microcosmic look at a just a few stories that may help to underscore, or better understand the full extent of Kissinger’s quote.
“Vietnam and beyond” is the title I gave to this unit years ago and it sticks rather well. Here we get in to Kissinger’s assessment of how Nixon was different, “complex”, and how he pulled the country away, or tried to, from its Wilsonian moorings. Once again I find Kissinger’s assessment of Wilson complicated. He seems to say here, that though Nixon did need, he believes, to start focusing on national interests, and allow the old “invisible-hand” to render stability, he appears to have a respect for what Wilson did in his time and how that ushered us through two world wide wars. I do think though that he feels it was Wislonianism possibly that took us in to the quagmire of Vietnam, yet Nixon, “shared the great American yearning for a foreign policy devoid of self-interest”.
For all the pundits out there on the conservative right attacking Obama’s offer to “extend a hand if they (Iran, North Korea etc.) wil unclench their fist”, might want to remember that Nixon said much the same in 1969 about the need to talk with China and the Soviet Union, and how those talks helped lead to the final extrication from Vietnam. Nixon, Kissinger asserted, saw the USSR not as a zero-sum game, but rather as something more complicated. There is another game he brings into the discussion towards the end. How does that work?