Kissinger 28 – geopolitics

“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?

2 Responses to “Kissinger 28 – geopolitics”

  1. Mattie Conway says:

    I think that this chapter would be interesting to study in a psychology class or something of the sort because Kissinger seems to be a bit lost in his justifications for Nixon’s behavior. Put kindly, his description of Nixon seems frustrated. Put less mildly, his description comes across as hypocritical. This I believe is the outcome of both Kissinger’s attempt at defending Nixon, and Nixon’s personality.
    Nixon’s way of governing reminded me of a book I fingered through last year, “The Virtue of Selfishness” by Ayn Rand. Rand declares that the main objective of humans is to survive, and that humans operate out of natural self interest. It is interesting and confusing that Nixon tried to merge such philosophies with Wilsonian idealism, as they seem to counter one another.

  2. Charlotte Delon says:

    From what I understood of the chapter, the United States no longer feared each other. However, the UNited States had trouble recontrsucting relations with China because “Beijing’s diplomacy wsas so subtle and indirect that it largely went over our heads in Washington” (Kissinger 725). This idea of a political triangle between the Americans, Soviets and Chinese was strange. It seemed that all countries wanted a new structure of peace some sort of safety regarding Nuclear arms.

    I agree with Mattie when she says that Nixon’s policies were a bit confusing…Kissinger states tht Amerca “return[ed] to the wold of Realpolitik” (Kissinger 724) but it was also mentioned that Kissinger wanted to bring in Wilsonian policies. I wasn’t sure how to mesh the two together.

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