I have never read or heard this anywhere but it is the impression I have always had about this book. I think it was written for the sole purpose of this chapter. This chapter would not have worked as an Op-Ed piece or any other stand alone article. Kissinger needed to put his actions and decisions in context. The context he chose, of Richelieu, Bismark, Wilson and the rest (remember TOK) colors the way this chapter reads in a way that it would not have as a stand alone piece.
Kissinger is wise here to admit his views are necessarily affected by his role in the events. He paints a dark and depressing mural of events and leaves us with three “lessons” that seem to mimic the “Powell Doctrine”.
So the question is at hand. Did Kissinger and Nixon achieve the best possible outcome given the situation, or, as Hitchens argues in his “Trials of Henry Kissinger”, did they behave like war criminals? Putting on your TOK hats try to give some credibility to each side.
Also too look at substantial differences with Ambrose. Remember what Ambrose said about the war protesters? What does Kissinger say? Does Ambrose suggest they got in 68 what they could have gotten in 74? What would Kissinger say in his defense?