Skip to main content

tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  October 15, 2015 9:00pm-10:01pm EDT

9:00 pm
♪ >> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." al: good evening, i am al hunt of bloomberg view. charlie rose is on assignment. we begin tonight with the first presidential democratic debate. five candidates took the stage at the wynn hotel in las vegas last night, but all eyes were on the two front runners. hillary clinton and bernie sanders traded jabs on wall street reform. sec. clinton: my plan would have the potential of sending the executives to jail. nobody went to jail after $100 billion in fines were paid. and would give regulators the authority to go after them.
9:01 pm
sen. sanders: in my view, secretary clinton congress does , not regulate wall street, wall street regulates congress, and we have got to break off the cycle. al: clinton went on the offensive on gun control. moderator: is bernie sanders tough enough on guns? sec. clinton: no, not at all. we have to look at the fact that we lose 90 people a day to gunfire runs. -- to gun violence. it has gone on too long. it is time the entire country stood up to the nra. the majority of our country supports background checks and , even the majority of gun owners do. senator sanders did vote five times against the brady bill. since it has passed, more than 2 million prohibited purchases have been prevented. he did also vote for the immunity provision. i voted against it. i was in the senate at the same time.
9:02 pm
it wasn't the complicated to me. it was pretty straightforward to me. -- it wasn't that complicated to me. al: sanders tried to bail her out on the e-mail controversy. sen. sanders: let me say something that may not be great politics but i think the , secretary is right. and that is that the american people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails. sec. clinton: me too. thank you. [applause] al: the three other candidates challenged clinton but largely struggled to share the spotlight. joining me now is maggie haberman. she has covered hillary clinton extensively and she works for the new york times and is a political analyst for cnn. and roger altman is the founder and executive chairman of evercore. he was deputy treasury secretary under bill clinton and is now a supporter of hillary clinton. welcome to you both. maggie, let me start with you. over at the brooklyn
9:03 pm
headquarters of hillary clinton are they popping champagne corks? maggie: from there to nevada. they were very happy with her performance. she had a very strong night by all accounts. i think the expectations were low, which helped her but the , reality is that she is a good debater. she did twenty-five of these in 2008 against candidates who were seen as more viable presidential nominees. , but shet a surprise was the best i have seen her in the debate. she was loose. she looked like she was having fun. al: that is not something you usually associate with hillary clinton. maggie: that is correct. you had jeb bush saying that thing about running a joyful campaign. you have not seen her do that much during this campaign. this has been a joyless campaign for all involved. i think she was enjoying herself. she was comfortable going on the offense against bernie sanders. she was doing it carefully. she was watching her tone.
9:04 pm
she was not sounding nasty. she was not sounding like she was belittling him. al: she avoided her smugness. maggie: she can sometimes look like she is talking down to a person when she disagrees with them and that was a risk but she knew what punches that she wanted to get in and she had early openings on guns. she was able to defend herself well on the iraq war which bernie sanders did not address with her. he had signaled ahead of time that he would. she used president obama as a shield at that point and she had a good night. al: she hit bernie from the left on guns and from the right on capitalism. she was on the offensive. roger: the setup allowed her to do that. first, who she was debating against. also we can debate this and , people will have different views but i thought she was the , only one that looked presidential.
9:05 pm
sanders looked fine at a certain level. that she sensed that early on in the debate and allowed her to be confident and relaxed. she was in control. al: roger, as one of the titans is hillaryeet, clinton able to declare herself as a born-again populist on wall street? roger: i would have to unpack some of the positions she has taken which have been different than what she has taken in the past. for example tpp is different , from wall street's performance politically or , otherwise. i think the proposals she has made on wall street reform are good. the higher capital gains great -- gains great?
9:06 pm
the risk fee? roger: the risk fee was a good idea. fundamentally, that is about making it more costly for the largest institutions to maintain themselves in this gigantic form and the inherent risks that those forms represent. this is a way of saying it will be costly if you do not shrink. that is the right thing and that is what the regulators tend to seek. on taxes, everyone has a point of view about this. mine isn't the most popular in the financial community, but i think the highest earners need to pay more in taxes. al: let's talk about glass-steagall. i am sure there were people all over america wondering who this guy steagall was. it may seem arcane but that is a defining difference between bernie sanders and hillary clinton, isn't it? is hard to but it
9:07 pm
see that resonating on main street. -- issue al: let's describe it. roger: it was a piece of legislation which require that commercial banks -- prohibited commercial banks from engaging in investment banking. al: it was repealed in 1999. maggie: under bill clinton. roger: what you see today, and especially saw in 2008, was what glass-steagall 80 years ago , 90 years ago prohibited. , much of the thrust of regulations in 2008, including dodd-frank and other aspects of the much tighter push towards
9:08 pm
closer supervision and control, much of the thrust of that has been towards requiring the banks to wind down, maybe that is too strong, but to progressively limit a lot of the activities that were at the heart of 2008. for example, proprietary trading. lker rule rule -- vo shuts that down. al: you are going to charlie rose on me. i thought one exception was on the tpp. it really seemed disingenuous. she called this the gold standard when she was secretary of state and everyone knew what , the basic contours of it. labor is against it and bernie sanders challenged her from the left. she was not very convincing last night on that.
9:09 pm
she had some trouble. i want to add one point on glass-steagall. it was an issue where she had to debate this in 2000 in the senate race. her opponent made a huge issue of the repealed. she has dealt with this before. there have been efforts by bernie sanders, by martin o'malley in particular, to address calling for reinstating it. she has refused because she genuinely does not believe it should be reinstated. i think this is an issue where she would be accused of political expediency if she switched. she doesn't think it, and she is being criticized by some on the left for not doing it. i think that is tricky. i think her policy positions on that issue were not problematic last night as much as her language. on tpp, that is a much trickier needle to thread. this deal began while she was secretary of state. she once referred to it as the gold standard for trade deals. she does have a history of not
9:10 pm
supporting trade deals in her career. that is true. her advisers will point to that. however this began under her and , she carried it throughout and she took a long time to say that she was against it. she basically gave the criteria for why she would be against it back in april that involved the absence of currency manipulation and a focus on it. it was clear from the get-go that was not in there. she could have said a while ago that she was not in favor of it. al: i might ask roger, currency stuff are never in trade deals. so that is a funny reason. roger: although there was a push as maggie said some time ago led by chuck schumer to get that in. she was not the only one. al: she has talked a great deal about the pivot to asia, but it is hard to pivot to asia if you are against the tpp. roger: last night, i thought she
9:11 pm
said the only thing she could say, which was that when the facts changed, i changed my view which is a pretty good line but , what else can you say. it was not going to be a winning moment no matter how she handled it. i think she said all she could. al: she did not have an opponent to seize on that. maggie: the opponent to seize on it should've been bernie sanders. i was frankly surprised that bernie sanders did not seize on it. i thought he would seize on it more as an example of her switching positions. i thought he was going to hit her harder. it was mostly the moderator, anderson cooper who raised it as , an issue. i do think this is an area where she has left herself vulnerable to the extent that she waited so long. bernie sanders swallowed up all the progressive energy on the left. he swallowed up a lot of the union energy. in is really saying concern the unions, which is driving
9:12 pm
this in part in terms of her move to come against it. she waited until it was officially a deal and then two days later, she said she was not in favor of it. i think that it was not convincing to a lot of people that she would be so familiar with it and then said no. she gets the criticism for flip-flopping and not the benefit. al: there is a consensus that she did great. even republicans told me today that she did great. i don't know that it is true that bernie did poorly. i think he kept his base. he raised $1.3 million in four hours. he may not have grown his base. roger said earlier that he may not have looked presidential, and that may be, but like roger said, but i do not think he hurt himself in iowa and new hampshire. maggie: i agree. what he did not look was wild eyed or scary in the way that you have heard a lot of people who support hillary clinton suggests he might be. i think people forget that the democratic party base, especially in presidential
9:13 pm
contest, is very liberal. a lot of his positions are going to be appealing in places like iowa. i don't think this will hurt him. there is no question she did well. i agree with you, he did not do badly. he remained true to himself which is very important. occasionally on language for guestworker visas and things like that, and on guns, where he was clearly struggling. he talked about being from a rural state and that is not a great answer but at the end of , the day, his supporters are still going to be with him. i think what would be dangerous for hillary clinton supporters would be to expect that the overall horserace numbers that they have been worried about are going to change. they are probably not. i think her favorable ratings which have been low lately are , going to go up. al: the odds are overwhelming that she will be the democratic nominee. we will talk about joe biden in a moment. i would think her greatest fear right now is that bernie wins iowa and new hampshire which is
9:14 pm
not beyond the realm of possibility. roger: i am not smart enough to know, because that is still quite a ways off if that , scenario could manifest itself or not. if i were on the political side of her campaign, and i am not, i would think that she is still reasonably well positioned in iowa. but nevertheless, it would take an earthquake for sanders to be the nominee. al: oh, yes. best as i can tell he , does not have any serious organization or big following in nevada and south carolina which are the two next states. she is a more national candidate than he is. maybe that scenario happens but i still think she will be the nominee. everyone woke up this morning realizing that. al: and then the walk-on trio. o'malley, jim webb, and lincoln chafee. there were no real moments for them, were there? maggie: i think o'malley performed fine. he did not have any breakout moments. he seemed uncertain on how
9:15 pm
aggressive he wanted to pursue hillary clinton. he went harder at bernie sanders on guns than he did hillary clinton on the iraq war. he showed some hesitance. there is no question. lincoln chafee was most memorable for saying -- cut me some slack because of how i voted in 1999. my father had passed away. and jim webb, other than complaining about not having enough time, was most memorable for a moment when he was asked about the enemies he is the proudest of and he was talking about a moment when he was a soldier which was a serious , moment if you read about it in his career that involved saving other soldiers, but when he said was that the enemy soldier who threw a grenade at me is not around to speak anymore and he flashed a grin and it was , uncomfortable. al: was there anything on national security, which we were light on that last night, that
9:16 pm
you thought was a defining moment? roger: no. that is her strong suit. by a lot of democratic standards, secretary clinton is relatively hawkish. a lot of people who follow these things know that. she is also hugely experienced. that is her strong suit. i think generally speaking, there are a couple of exceptions, potentially libya , which did not come up, but that is her strong suit. al: i did think to myself, that i always miss tim russert and he would not let her get away with the libya misadventure, not benghazi, but the misadventure was her signature issue and it has gone south. it has really been terrible. or the reset with russia. simply saying that vladimir putin was in charge but she was not challenged by her opponents last night. maggie: not at all. she really was light on the entire thing. she gave a quick answer.
9:17 pm
o'malley had a tissue thin response on foreign policy and bernie sanders was his most at sea on these issues. nobody wanted to challenge her because they did not want the spotlight turned on her. al: next week, the benghazi hearings and another opportunity? problems? what did the people in clinton land expect? maggie: they are very excited about this. they were excited before kevin mccarthy tethered her declining poll numbers to this activity. when he dropped out of the speaker's race, that was another gift. and then you have the revelations about the work of the committee. a man that worked on it said it was a political mission aimed at destroying her. that confirms how her folks view it, and a lot of her supporters view it. they see her previous congressional testimony when she was about to leave the state department as a really strong defining moment for her. they believe this will be a chance for her to address her critics face-to-face.
9:18 pm
most of them expect that house republicans will cross the line or go overboard or be too aggressive with her. i am not certain that will happen but i think that if they , do not, she will probably win either way. al: assuming the fbi does not come up with anything, if that is the case, do you think that basically ends benghazi and the e-mail server controversy that has so dominated the last six months? roger: i don't know how to judge that. if i had to bet, i would say no because of politics being what it is and the press being what it is. entirely, it is the big opportunity. it is almost entirely on the up side for her. either the republicans will overreach and she will look like the only adult or they will be timid and she will look like the strong person. so she cannot lose. she is very good at this type of thing.
9:19 pm
maggie was alluding earlier to how good she is. al: as long as she does not come across as arrogant. maggie: i don't think she well. roger: it is an opportunity. al: there was one person missing last night, the vice president of the united states. there has been a lot of conjecture in recent weeks. my guess, is that he is not affected by last night's debate. there are other factors. i think most of which they militate against him running. i know that's not shared by some people. maggie, do you agree? maggie: i think that if joe biden is looking rationally at what the path is for him, i think he comes up with the answer that there is not much of one for him. that was true before the debate but, last night, hillary clinton gave democrats who were feeling iffy about her something to grab onto. and that is where the debate does factor in. i think that joe biden has gone through a terrible personal tragedy and it is hard to predict where he will come down on this because it seems that he
9:20 pm
feels about it differently depending on the day and who he is speaking to. i would assume he does not run only because the hour is getting late. the money that is needed is a lot and his plan was always going to be if she implodes in some way. if something comes up with the fbi investigation -- al: he could still get in later. maggie: there is no reason for him to do this right now. al: no clamor from the donor base for a new entry. roger: not nearly enough. from the point of view of rationalizing the candidates he. candidacy. i really have a great deal of respect for the vice president. i didn't think he was going to run before last night and i don't think he will run now. it is a good thing in my view for the biden legacy that he not. al: we only have a few seconds left, but let me put out one questioning note. do debates matter that much? people said hillary clinton did
9:21 pm
great in but someone else got 2008, the nomination. roger: they matter to the elites, whatever that means. the elites have levels of influence and that seeps into the press. i think they do matter. maybe not directly, but importantly, indirectly. how people question, inclined towards mrs. clinton feel today. they feel strongly about hillary clinton today. confident and good and that was about last night's performance. maggie: in 2008 she did very well except for the one in philadelphia. she messed up on the subject of undocumented immigrants and drivers licenses. that was a moment and people were tuning in. you had a lot of democratic voters who were inclined to find a reason not to vote for her. i think those debates helped to give them a reason. you have democrats who are more inclined to want to be with her but they need her to give them a , reason and they got that last night.
9:22 pm
al: whatever we think about those other four candidates, there was no barack obama on that stage last night. thank you to both of you for enlightening us on all of this. we will be back in just a moment. ♪
9:23 pm
9:24 pm
charlie: niall ferguson is here. he is a professor of history at harvard. he holds appointments at stanford and oxford.
9:25 pm
his latest book is "kissinger: the idealist." it has been 10 years in the making. james baker calls it a masterpiece. i am glad to have him back at this table. welcome. a masterpiece, secretary baker said. niall: i will take that. charlie: i bet you will. how did this come about? niall: he was looking, and phoned me. i think i was the second or third on the list of people he approached. i told the story in the preface in the spirit of full disclosure. we met at a drinks party in london. we were talking about history. we were talking about world war i. we got on. he had read some of my stuff. after a kind of courtship, he suggested that i write his biography.
9:26 pm
charlie: he was courting you. niall: it was his idea. and i said no. i hesitated. but eventually, i could not resist the fight. what happened is after i had said no i cannot do this, he wrote one of those henry kissinger letters. i declined after much agonizing. he wrote and said -- what a great pity because i had just made up my mind that you were the ideal person to do this. moreover, i just found 150 boxes of my private papers that i had thought i had mislaid. and like a fish seeing a large fly, i bit and went and looked at the papers that were at his house in connecticut and within a matter of hours of reading through those early letters, his vietnam diary, fragments of documents, i knew i had to do it. charlie: it is two volumes. niall: yeah. charlie: have you finished the entire two volumes? niall: no. i am half way. i am literally through half of
9:27 pm
his life. so i have really covered 46 years. i have another 46 to go. it means that there is this tantalizing break at the end. the story in volume one ends just as he comes into his new office in the white house to be richard nixon's national security advisor. this is a book about a refugee, a soldier, a book about an academic. an amateur political adviser. it is not the book about the statesman that i still have to write. charlie: it is interesting because he asked me to do an , interview with him at a location here about his experience in the war. and about the holocaust and his father and his family. he had not talked about it. it was surprising to me. niall: yes that was surprising. , i was in the midst of writing it then. it is a story that has never been thoroughly told on the basis of documents which i was able to piece together from all over the world.
9:28 pm
it is an extraordinary story. not extraordinary in the sense that there were many jewish families that fled germany in the 1930's and came to the united states. it is extraordinary because of the way it influenced him and -- shaped him. and i do not think that you can , understand kissinger until you have read those parts of the book that have dealt with his early life, his exile and his trip to the united states. his conscription and returned to the united states after six years in a u.s. uniform. it is a remarkable sequence of events. he is present at the liberation of a concentration camp. after the war ends, he discovered that all of his relatives that remained in germany have been killed , including his grandmother, and yet he elects to stay on to his parents' amazement and is not return -- does not return to the united states until the summer of 1947.
9:29 pm
serving first in counterintelligence and then in the military school. because, and he writes this in letters to his parents, because he says, "when i looked around the table and i saw the spaces where my fallen comrades had been, i felt we had to stay on and make sure that their sacrifice had not been in vain. ." and that is the henry kissinger that i don't think many of your viewers will have ever encountered. charlie: what did the experience do to him? how did that shape who he is today? niall: two things. like anyone in world war ii, he saw conflict on a scale that today we struggle to imagine. it is enormously difficult for anyone for my generation to imagine what it was like to be in one's early 20's in the battlefield that was europe. he saw war on a massive and shocking scale. the second thing that i think was crucial was that he lost his
9:30 pm
religious faith during the war. that led to a very painful series of exchanges with his parents. in which he tried to explain to them why he could never come back to the orthodox judaism that he had been brought up in. his brother had a similar experience. he served in the pacific theater. these events, the holocaust and even more the war itself, fundamentally shapes him. when he returned to the united states in 1947 to study at harvard under the g.i. bill, he made it clear to his parent in another one of these amazing letters that i am fundamentally changed. this has changed me and made me different. i see the world differently now. charlie: how? niall: there is one externally letter where he says that "to you everything is black and white but i see things , different shades of gray."
9:31 pm
he had gone to work after the end of the hostilities as a nazi hunter in counterintelligence interrogating or trying to find the most egregious nazis under the de-nazification program. this was an important part of his life. confronting all of the shades of gray of collaboration, of participation in a totalitarian regime. when he was back studying at harvard, this was a great preoccupation of his. this notion that there are impossibly difficult decisions that one sometimes has to make in life between evils. where there is no good choice. those are the kinds of decisions the germans had to make under the third reich. charlie: there were two things that i came away from the put an interview with, whatever else there is about him, it is one in his dna, a sense of a strong central government, because of what he went through, and also a fierce nationalism.
9:32 pm
kissinger seems to have, to me, the same sense of the nationstate as being an essential element of the structure of civilization. and the idea of the order between nationstates is worth a lifetime of participation and study. niall: order is a hugely important concept in all of kissinger's work, right down to his most recent work, world order. it is there at the outset and his doctrinal dissertation. it is interesting the way he defines it. he is concerned with the kind of relations between states that constitute an international order. how the states constituted internally -- he sees as a matter of history. history that makes the united states think in terms of freedom and in terms of democracy whereas history has made the , russian state a very different thing. so kissinger, because of his historical training, is someone
9:33 pm
who sees these different types of government as products of history. therefore he does not have an expectation that in some bright future there will be perpetual peace in a world of western-style democracy. i don't think that is ever something he has foreseen. he is excepting of vladimir putin's argument. that we, because of our history, are different. charlie: especially world war ii. at the same time, he has said about iran -- they have to decide whether they want to be a revolutionary force or a nationstate. niall: this is an important concept in his writing. an international order's biggest problem is a revolutionary state that delegitimizes this order. a revolutionary iran fundamentally changed the international order and in some ways it was as profound an event as at the opening to china in the early 1970's that we associate with his time in government. that revolutionary state still
9:34 pm
poses a problem, and one can see that in his critical writing at the time of the iran deal and was being negotiated. there is a fundamental skepticism that you can bring a regime like that into the international order in the way the president is trying to do. charlie: i expect people that pick up this book will say -- kissinger, niall ferguson, a historian, and then they see idealists. they say, "really? idealists?" niall: this might seem like a provocation and i imagine there will be some viewers who are reeling. calling kissinger an idealist. charlie: one biographer said to me, an idealist? niall: i am running up against the most -- at one extreme, some people think he is a criminal but even in the middle ground, the majority of the people will say he is the realist.
9:35 pm
he is the bismarck of our time or a machiavelli of our time. as i read through his private papers and his correspondence and diaries, to read thoroughly what he is written as an academic, i was struck at how critical he was of bismarck. he was not at all a realist. whoarck was somebody reoccupied him, the man who unified germany. when you read the unpublished book that he wrote about bismarck, he only published a part of it as an article, it was really a critique of bismarck's realism. here i mean realism in the sense that all i care about is the interest of my state, and i will do anything, whatever it takes to advance interest. the young kissinger, to the end of does not think that way and 1968, clashed with the arch realist. charlie: this was 1923 until 1968.
9:36 pm
the life of henry kissinger. up until he entered government, there was a lot to argue that he was an idealist in how he looked at -- niall: absolutely. he was steeped in kantian philosophy. he was convinced that world war ii had come about because of the realism of the appeasers. there is a great moment where the appeasers thought they were the great realist, so he doesn't regard it as a compliment when he's writing that. and then thirdly, he is an idealist because he rejects materialism. not just marxism and leninism but all of the doctrines of the , 20th century that say it is all about economics. henry kissinger rejects even capitalist materialism. it is not about that. and i think his view from the outset is it is not about economics but about values and it is ultimately only winnable
9:37 pm
if our values are seen to transcend theirs. charlie: then, does he practice our values in how he sees the world as well as how he acted as a power? niall: this is an educational story. a man who learns by experience as well as by study. a good example of this is the case of south vietnam. in the late 1950's and early 1960's, kissinger like many people in the united states thought of this in terms of self-determination. south vietnam did not want to be ruled by north vietnam and the united states should go in to bat for it as a free society to avoid further dominoes falling to communism in southeast asia. once he starts looking closely at the problem, especially when he goes there in 1965 and 1966, he changes his view and comes to realize that whatever the merits of that argument was, it is not possible to rescue south vietnam, certainly not by military methods.
9:38 pm
his view on vietnam changed and it changed early, much earlier than people realize. those who think he relished prolonging the war have to reckon with the fact that he had already given it up as a lost cause. charlie: the same peace treaty was much earlier. niall: that is a key question that i have to address in volume two. and to be completely frank, i have not made up my mind up about that. that is a work in progress. i am in the midst of archives trying to figure it out. charlie: let's talk about the central relationship, with family. you had gone through a divorce going through the writing of this, so it was anguish for you? niall: yes. charlie: he went through a divorce. niall: yes, and it was a deeply difficult time for him. and it was probably the thing that he found hardest to have me write about.
9:39 pm
but i could not leave it out because it was clearly absolutely crucial in his life. charlie: how so? niall: his first marriage he entered into reluctantly to please his parents. his first wife was part of the orthodox german-jewish community and washington heights. before he returned from europe, he insisted in letters to his parents that he did not want to marry her. he had been dating her before the war. but it happened. and i think it happened because he really wanted, in some measure, to be reconciled to his parents despite his loss of faith. he was going to go through with this marriage to the girl next door. it did not work out. he spoke to me on this subject with great feeling. after all she was the mother of his two children. the marriage ended painfully and almost on an impulse. after one fight too many. he found himself having walked away from everything he had expected on the basis of his parents' experience to have for
9:40 pm
the rest of his life a stable family, a home with his own special study, he walked away from it all and started his personal life again. that, i certainly could relate to. after all, part of the exercise of writing history is to empathize. to try to understand the subject. on my trigger point, i feel like i had a fairly good understanding. charlie: it is an interesting point about writing history. frequently people will say -- an actor will say this about playing a character. you have to find some empathy. some. niall: it is impossible i think to write a biography without achieving understanding. now, to understand everything -- in that sense one is not in that sense the counsel for the defense as sometimes people assume. the exercise of historical writing is an imaginative one. one is trying to re-create a
9:41 pm
path of thought and recapture what it is like to be henry kissinger at each stage in this story from 1923 all the way through to this halfway mark in 1968. that i think is a very difficult thing to do if you despise the person you are writing about. those historians who have tried to write books about people they don't like seldom pull them off. i have abandoned projects when i did not like the subject matter. one has to ultimately be able to identify and or empathize enough to re-create that past thought process. to me, the exciting thing about writing the book was discovering that the thought process was so different from what i had been led to expect. i was planning on calling this --k "american market valley machiavellia." ♪
9:42 pm
9:43 pm
9:44 pm
charlie: how would you describe his -- between in the 1960's, his ego? niall: i thought a lot about this because there is a reputation for arrogance. occasionally, his contemporaries referred to it. i was struck by how much self-deprecating humor there was from early on. not just late in life when he
9:45 pm
grew more sophisticated but even , when he was in the army. there were was a sort of groucho marx sense to his one-liners. it took me a while to realize this. it is a style of humor that is very much from the wartime generation. when you say at a meeting, the illegal we can do immediately, the unconstitutional takes longer. if you take the quote out of context -- he really said that -- it sounds terribly shocking. and the generation that came of age in 1968 has been getting indignant about that quote for decades. when you look at the original document it comes from, it was obviously a joke. and there are a great many jokes like that. i talk about kissinger's sense of humor at the introduction that it can be taken out of context if you do not quite get the style of humor that he is using. you are trying to disarm people. here you are, smart, jewish -- pretty competent, hard-working very smart. , he was one of the most
9:46 pm
intelligent people i have ever had to deal with. i can think of very few people who are that smart that i have encountered. larry summers is a bit like that. you know you are in the presence of a formidable intellect. and they can probably beat you at any mental chess game that you may play. it is rare. when you are that smart, you have to devise ways to disarm those people around you or they will resent you. charlie: how about insecurities? niall: it is fair to say that kissinger is not a hugely self -- self-confident individual even today. there is a thin skin there which i have come to know and understand. if one thinks through the biography, the experience of the early years, maybe it takes somebody who has actually been a refugee at age 15, which i certainly was not, to understand
9:47 pm
what it is to be entirely uprooted. what it is to then be thrown in to the u.s. army when you have only just learned english. those sorts of experiences i think shaped him and i do sense , that there is more insecurity in henry kissinger then there is arrogance. and i think if i had to choose between those two qualities, i would always prefer to be with an insecure subject than an arrogant one. charlie: was harvard a shaping influence? niall: yeah. quite a bit of the book is about harvard. where i have spent 10 years of my life. when he was in the army, his mentor said you have to go to one of the ivy's when you go back because you are worth more than a city college. he applied to all the ivy league's, and only harvard admitted him. from that moment on, harvard had an enormous impact on him. his academic mentor, a big,
9:48 pm
bluff southerner named william elliott was the one who steered him in the direction of the philosophy of kant. then there were his contemporaries, arthur's lessons are junior. arthur/injur stanley hoffman. charlie: a great friend of this program. niall: with whom he was great friends in the 1960's. and then they fell out over the war, over cambodia over stanley hoffman's very critical review of kissinger's memoirs. harvard is a big part of the story. the riff between himself and his former colleagues -- it is a part of this story. what impactk about nancy kissinger had on him. niall: a big one. one of the things you cannot find about from the documents is his love life. unless you are very lucky and your subject kept diaries. or wrote love letters, which he
9:49 pm
didn't. i thought i had figured out a lot of this, particularly about the events of 1967 when he appeared to be involved in an extraordinary effort to try to begin negotiations with the north vietnamese. spent a great deal of time in paris. failing to establish contact with hanoi through the north vietnamese representative in paris and i thought this was all , an elaborate diplomatic gambit that failed until nancy kissinger asked the question -- what do you think he was really doing in paris in 1967? it turned out that she had been the real reason. she had been studying there and i could never have known that if i had not been told it. charlie: did you ask him? niall: she told me in front of him. it was one of those moments very late in the day when i had more or less finished the book, and i had to go back to amend it. that was humbling because it reminded me that no matter how many documents you look through, and i look through tens of
9:50 pm
thousands, a historian cannot find out everything. i have given it my best shot. charlie: nelson rockefeller was another huge influence. niall: yes. and one reason -- charlie: gave him a connection to the new york and washington establishment? niall: it is very interesting. when kissinger first encountered rockefeller in the late 1950's he was charmed by what he saw as , the aristocratic charm of this man who had inherited power. charlie: a man of power and art who had huge ambitions. niall: grand houses. a million miles from a little apartment in washington heights. i think the glamour of rockefeller had its appeal. but kissinger was fascinated by this man who had such ambition to be president. he shot for the presidency, for the republican nomination three times. it occurred to me as i was
9:51 pm
following this story from one defeat to another that there was something puzzling about it. if henry kissinger had been the ruthless seeker of power that some people have portrayed him as, why did he stay with rockefeller through three failures. he was loyal. even though it was pretty evidence -- obvious. charlie: no evidence that he sought out nixon but that nixon sought out him? niall: absolutely. he disliked nixon. he said publicly he did not want him to be president. it was unexpected when nixon made the call and offered him the job. so much so, that when he first offered him the job, in late 1968, he did it so obliquely, he did not realize he was being offered the job of national security advisor. it had to be done twice. his thought was that nixon might offer rockefeller the department of defense and they spent a lot of time thinking about the role that kissinger might play as an assistant to defense secretary rockefeller.
9:52 pm
but nixon had no intention of having rockefeller anywhere near his administration. that is an interesting story. they were an odd couple. it certainly would not have been something you would have predicted even in the middle of 1968. charlie: i guess he went to rockefeller and said -- what should i do? niall: he did. he had done that before. it was in when kennedy had 1960, approached him. he had been an advisor to rockefeller in that whole campaign but when kennedy went to the white house having defeated him, and offered kissinger a job, the first thing that kissinger did was say to rockefeller, should i take it. rockefeller said to kissinger of , course you do. when the president of the united states asks you to do something, you do it. they have the same conversation in 1968. charlie: do i hear you saying that all of those people who formed an opinion of henry
9:53 pm
kissinger because of this public life as national security advisor, as secretary of state, as a man who has continued to have a public role. a relationship with residents, in many cases, not with this president, but certainly with george bush 43. do i hear you saying their unanimous judgment about him is wrong? that he is much more idealist than they ever knew? and that it was not just an idealism that went away when he had power, but it is still a part of his core? niall: i think that is right. charlie: you don't know? say that ireason i think that is right is that i still have the second part of his life to write. charlie: you have done the research. niall: i have done about 60% of
9:54 pm
the research and i am still accumulating material. the way i work is that i accumulate, that is why this book took 10 years. and then i work my way through it and try to decide. i still have to keep an open mind at this point in order to do the second volume in the same . the same way that i did the first boy in. -- the first volume. charlie: fair enough. will the second volume be henry kissinger, 1968 until 2015, the journey from idealism to world politics? niall: i will leave the reader to infer that is a possible subtitle but maybe realist would be a possible subtitle. i'm not sure yet. i would not be surprised if the documents surprised me again and gave me a completely different story from the one i am expecting. or have been expecting to tell. charlie: i am sure that you note that some who read this book point to the fact that it is over 870 pages. niall: not including the footnotes.
9:55 pm
charlie: the footnotes take you to 900. niall: it is longer than a tweet. charlie: yes, it is. niall: he is a figure of importance and he is the most , controversial secretary of state and national security adviser in the modern era. it merits a thorough, scholarly biography of the sort that one might expect of a president. there were times in postwar american history where henry kissinger had near presidential power. i can think of few people -- the period when nixon was dealing with watergate. that is an amazing story. so it seems to me that he is worth this kind of scholarly biography. few men have shaped american of ay -- foreign policy superpower as much as he has. not only during his time in government. even as an academic, he was
9:56 pm
shaping nuclear strategies. that is the argument for the long book and your viewers will have to forgive me if i impose a long, arduous reading session on them. i can only hope that is relieved by some of his witticisms or some reasonable writing on my part. charlie: and there is this. he has written well in book after book because he writes well about his own life. niall: every biographer who deals with someone who has .written a large memoir is has written a large memoir is engaged in a curious kind of counterpoint because the memoir covers the time in government. in volume two i will be inevitably having an argument with henry kissinger and his version of events and juxtaposing his account and mine will be part of the fun and the challenge of writing that second volume. charlie: great to see you. niall ferguson, volume one of kissinger from 1923 until 1968, the idealist. thank you for joining us. see you next time. ♪
9:57 pm
9:58 pm
9:59 pm
♪ and this friday, the 16th of october, this is "trending business." ♪ a look at some of our top markets asia-pacific heading for a third straight weekly gain. there is growing believe the federal reserve will be hanging on until next year. expect reduced targets between now and the end of the decade. casino boss ine
10:00 pm
beijing, our may not have been satisfying, it was an earning score that was certainly candid. you can fall the top stories by following me on twitter. jakarta about to enter the asia fray. let's look at what else is going on out there. david: we are in midmorning might right now -- right now. we are mostly at session highs. lower, we will see if that does turn around. it is a broad based rally. the are used for a third straight weekly gain. this is really down

29 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on