tv After Words CSPAN November 22, 2015 9:00pm-10:01pm EST
bank accounts. you have to put this money in a new surrounding and your neighborhood. yemen cannot be the oldest country in the world and at the same time adjacent to the richest countries in the world. you cannot have that. you cannot have prosperity while the people are carving in yemen. they're starving in jordan, jordan, and in egypt. this is wrong. so, i believe the combination of both the western power and the regional power to work together in the region. once you create for example what is happened in the northern island when i had some sort of coexistence to actually create jobs for the people there, so we need this in the middle east. we need the era money with some
intelligence, to work together over the whole region. once they find a job, more, more education, good government, they will coexist. they will try to keep this. but if there frustrated, humiliated, marginalized, i think this will create instability. we have a lot to money there it should be spent by wise guide of the west in the region to make it bigger and in this case we will have a definitely middle east. >> ..
even put in said in a recent address is that there are mercenaries and he even knows the price at which you can buy them back. you're presenting us with a different view than what is happening there. this is an organized government. they have health care system. can you give us better information then what were receiving? in addition to your book, for example our children going to school? what is happening? we hear about recruiting but how will that change in the coming year quest marks to thank you so much. so we see the pictures of the executions in the brutality and the chaos that might be present in the islamic state.
can you say just a bit more about the day-to-day administration, the way health and education in public services are being done? >> a year ago i was giving a talk at a book fair. while i was talking and then after that there was a signing ceremony. a man came to me with his two daughters. he said to me, i arrived three days ago. i said you look very westernized. he said sir, it is the most secure part of iraq.
[inaudible] he said people in the middle east, they are looking for security. they're looking for lawn order. before the islamic state there were several militias there. war lords that were terrorizing the people. now you have one dominant organization. the safety is there, the police is there, so he said the needs are the people are met. if you don't provoke them, them, if you accept their laws, at least temporarily, it's safe.
islamic state. water is running, elect the city is running. the problem that the majority of the people, they try to live under this rule. it is brittle and i wouldn't live one day under the islamic state. >> i saw a remarkable picture a couple of days ago of a city worker in rocca fixing the water main under a street. he had the uniform on and he was part of the public service of the water department in rocca. we have kept you very late this evening. it is almost time for you to wake up in london so we very
much appreciate you giving up and spending such time with us [applause]. i invite you to thank him [applause]. >> i'm really thankful and i wish i could have be there with you. i was looking forward to coming to you but unfortunately that these a question surprised me from actually being among you and knowing you face-to-face which is a great loss honestly for me. we look forward to hosting you when your next book comes out which is probably three months from now. [laughter] thank you very much. good evening. [applause].
your watching book to be, television for serious readers. next on books book tv "after words", he discusses his book kissinger which looks at the early life of henry kissinger. he is interviewed by carla and roberts. >> welcome prof. ferguson. thank you so much for doing this. >> it's nice to be here. >> this is the first of a two book authorized biography. the book has been written by
suggestion and approval of henry kissinger. how does that happen question. >> when he suggested this to be which was more than ten years ago, i said yes i will be willing to do this, but one condition that i i have a free hand, you have to kind of accept that if you asked me to do this you give me access to your private papers, i will write write what i think is the truth. that is incidentally the basis of what i wrote the previous book on. he agreed to that. i think i wouldn't have taken it on on any other basis. >> how did it happen? did you know him beforehand? did he know you beforehand?
>> he read my stuff and we met at a party in london. i say this story in the front of the book for full disclosure. we met at the party and sometime after that the subject came up and i think he was attracted to the idea of a scholarly biography being written. when he put the question to me, i initially said no and he then wrote me a very henry kissinger letter. >> wasn't a letter and or an e-mail? >> it was a letter. the letter said to the effect, what a great shame. just when i had decided you were the ideal man to do this and just as i had found 150 boxes of
my private papers that i thought were lost, and just a week or two later i was looking at those papers. i've been a bit daunted before because it is a difficult life to write, it's controversial and documented in all those difficult things to do. within a few hours i thought i really have to take this on. >> so this is not a man who is undocumented. he has written his own men moores extensively. why do you think he wanted this book written? one of the points i make in the
book is he is by training a historian. a historian knows that the memoirs are different from the histories from the biographies. his three volumes, after all, cover mostly his time in government and had nothing before 1969. it was half of his life that he hadn't written about. walt isaacson's book is essentially a journalist book with interviews and very few documents there. i think the idea was somebody should write a scholarly biography, based on the document in the archival sources because that simply didn't exist although there were a whole bunch of books you could find in libraries about kissinger, and most of them are not based on much more than hearsay. i think the argument for
scholarly biography is a compelling one and as it turns out it was good. i was lucky because that hole. from his earlier stage growing up in germany right down to the moment richard nixon offered him a job as national security adviser in 1968 have largely been neglected by previous writers. >> you're often described as a conservative historian. do you think he chose to impart for that reason? was the other unnamed person he offered it to a conservative journalist? >> yes he was i think it's more important that i am british because i think it's some advantage of being an outsider in writing a work of american history, oddly enough. one characteristic feature feature of his life has been the extraordinary that has raised on
ever since. the generation that came of age during the vietnam war. i'm somebody who can come at this as history. i don't have memorabilia from woodstock in my attic. that's important. on the question of conservatism i think it's worth to add a loop because it's different if you've grown up in the u.k. it's not republicanism, the u.s. version. i am not by any means a republican in my politics now that i live in the united states. i'm a conservative in the way that henry kissinger was a
conservative. i'm sort of a year p.m. conservative. he often feel like a liberal if you're a european conservative in the united states because things that american conservatives say are completely shocking to you. in the same kind of way that kissinger is concerned with the year p in variant, so is mine and that might be one reason he thought it would work. >> when you say european conservative, are you talking about the social issues? >> yes the social issue. those things i feel are not the main of politics. our national security issues for instance. are it's often that people get confused that there is an argument going on about national security. i was very critical of president
obama but i was also critical of his predecessor. i am extremely radical of the invasion of iraq and the way it was handled. so i had been drawn into a debate about u.s. foreign policy from the moment really that i set foot in the u.s. i probably approached it rather naïvely thinking i could criticize both republicans and democrats. it's hard to be in that position. you are never expected to be on one side of the other but i think on national security issues i'm more of an independent. >> i'm not sure, there's no question that there's been a convergence since the end of the cold war and you know there are people on the left to saw the humanitarian challenges and people on the right who were isolationist. i'm not sure what an independent
is rather than somebody who looks at it case-by-case? >> right or at least some of you recognizes there can't be a simple party line on these national security issues. interestingly, i found that kissinger, as a young man was in the same position. he thought of himself as a conservative. he didn't identify as a liberal in 1950s or 1960 harbored. he was appalled at the convention in the 1960s. [inaudible] that's one of the interesting things and then they explain, he has enemies on the left and he
also has many enemies on the right. >> the book is called the idealist which is a rather interesting take on kissinger who is described as the ultimate realists. can you explain to the audience at home what you mean by an idealist when it comes to kissinger when we think it might be communism? >> it's true that many think of him as a a realist and the names they throw around our maca
valley and maca pitch. maybe it's not surprising that people have fallen into that trap he really wasn't a realist. there are realists. [inaudible] when i started to read his writings which i begin to think not many people have done, i was really struck by something that they were in fact critical of realism. and then i dug deeper into his
intellectual development. three things are striking. he was highly critical of foreign policy and dictators. they thought they were pursuing a narrow approach to foreign policy. number one, they had been suspicious of what he saw as the realists. number two, he comes to harvard and he is a rather pushy undergraduate and they say go away and read a manual and come back when you're finished not expecting to see him again and underestimating kissinger.
he also viewed materials views of history. if our growth rate is higher than their growth weight then we will win the cold war. so i think on those three counts he emerges as a realist. >> although you have many quotes in the book that make him sound as if he is an idealist and certainly someone who is horrified by the appeaser and believes the u.s. is more likely to win on ideals then
materialistic issues, at the same time his writing and other biographies are filled with pretty brutal quotes as well. i think he quotes kissinger as pushing back asking why is it our business how the government felt? he defends saying covert action should not be described as missionary work. that doesn't sound to me like an idealist like someone who doesn't feel the u.s. has to be defended by human rights because of their oppressive nature. >> there are two answers to that. one is you're really talking about volume to which i haven't written about. there's no telling what the subtitle will be. i'm a little cautious since i am still doing the research.
i haven't made up my mind until i plow through a lot of documents and sort through a lot of answers. i think most are saying that we can't really understand what kissinger and nixon and ford served or what they were trying to achieve if we just look at isolated cases and throw up our hands because these isolated countries have to be seen as part of a grand strategy. most are critical of kissinger tend to focus on a particular issue and disregard the strategic framework. the strategic framework as he said in his early time is that
there may be other things that you have to sacrifice to that and. if your second goal is to use an opening to china to put pressure on the soviets, then you may have to make compromises with the pakistani government. if you have no other concerns you might not make that. i think any judgment you make about foreign policy has to be done not on a case-by-case basis but in a strategic framework. it is the nature of statesmanship that you have to make choices in your free to make these choices. but there really that's the problem and the challenge of the
statesman that there are sometimes no good options. there are just evils that you have to choose between. >> all that is persuasive but i wouldn't put that in the real policy camp. are you seeking stability for the sake of peace. were having to look the other way in pakistan or his joint decision for the bombing of cambodia. you do some of this in the book, his role in chile these sound like realpolitik to me and they are the reason he is so controversial himself.
in january 1969, the question is does he remain an idealist? does he adhere to the principles that he set out as an intellectual? or did the experience of government change him into a realist? that question i have yet to answer and it is clearly central to volume two of this biography this biography, it covers the first half of his life. in that period, although he was involved in government, for example, it was actually mostly a collection of books and articles. i think it is fascinating, he was hit by a bus in january january 1969.
it seems to me that his contributions, at a time when. [inaudible] he argued, you have to have historical framework. history is part of a person's character. i think that was very important. think about central problem he defines the problem of conjecture. that's when he gets to the heart of some of the questions you're raising. he said not only do you have to choose between evils, but you also don't really know, you may take a difficult preemptive action and prevent disaster, but if you're successful, the early
decision may get you no payoff because in preempting disaster you basically prevent it from happening and you pay rent people from suffering it. if you get lucky people might think you are tremendously wise. the temptation is, to kick the can down the road. you have to ask yourself how does this fit into the ground strategy but also at the time the decision was taken was this the right decision at the time could you say with confidence that this is the lesser evil of any two courses of actions? that's the i've set for myself.
>> as you said the book began with his childhood in germany and you note several times that he places an impact on that child childhood and the fact that he lost many friends and many members of his family to the holocaust. you quotes about his experience discussing about his memories of the friends and family he lost in the holocaust. what's going on? i'm a jewish american and a lot of my attitudes about my horror what's go on in the world along
with my responsibility to fix things comes out of that past and i certainly didn't look to the holocaust. what's going on there and i would say in this alleged origin. what you think is happening with him? >> i've tried in the book to tell the story as accurate as i can. it is a remarkable one. he grew up in a part of germany and as he grew up he became a teenager and the nazi regime. they had to flee six years after leaving in a u.s. army form. he witnessed the liberation of a concentration camp and then
discovered after the war was over that nearly all those family members who had not left germany had died including his grandmother so clearly these were searing experiences. i think the reason he subsequently thought to downplay them was the tendency of earlier rights to describe so much importance to those investments that his subsequence development was a kind of response to trauma. he is very clear in the letters that he writes home to his parents in the late 1940s and the things that he writes about the war experience that he is not traumatized and it's something that he explicitly says. i think we need to understand that the war experience was not quite as we might imagine it. those who were too young to experience it, for example i
think it's very striking that he writes a short essay, the eternal jew really for his own use to record the experience after seeing the liberation of the concentration camp. it's a remarkable document which i reproduce in full because it discusses witnessing the holocaust and at the same time the war had changed him in a very important way. it had destroyed his religious faith and he and his younger brother had to confront their parents with this change. he writes very openly, i am different. this has changed me. it has made me fundamentally different.
i no longer can really believe in what you brought me up to believe. it's that moment and i think it explains his jewishness. he's a man who identifies as a jew but he's not a believer. he's not an observant jew. i think what i tried to do in the book is show how he arrives at that decision after that orthodox upbringing that he had. >> being a believer is different than being orthodox. >> for any religion. >> absolutely. >> are you suggesting that he is no longer believing that god existed because of his experience in germany? >> that's not explicit in
anything that he said. >> he is not writing to say i am a reformed jew. that was definitely not the message. he did not subsequently. [inaudible] in that sense i think it was a loss of his state. but he didn't deny his jewishness. it's not as if he was looking to convert to christianity. on the contrary. he is a jew but he is not a believer and that's an important consequence of the war experience. it's unusual, but it's well documented that he spoke with his parents about what this meant for the rest of his life. >> idealism, doesn't that relate
to each other? >> he doesn't subscribe to a traditional deity. he may acknowledge a supreme being in purpose but he is much more interested in the freedom of choice. that all-knowing deity plays very little role. >> so to move it from that notion to another, one of the things i hadn't realized is that he really made his name it and became something of iraq star at a young age by writing about nuclear weapons. being a strong advocate of the concept of limited war and limited use of nuclear weapons. you go out of your way to say he was not the model but there is
something about the idea that you could have the limited use of nuclear weapons without its spiraling out of control. what drove him to think that? why do you think it made him so popular at that point? it seems now people would think he was pretty crazed. >> first of all, you couldn't imagine an encounter in harvard yard. his friend in liberal introduces him to a debate that was going on about the eisenhower administration. his concept was that you had to threaten massive retaliation. you either blow up the world or you accept their move is tolerable. the debate was whether they could be any middle position or
whether u.s. position had shrunk to this all or nothing strategy which implied risking armageddon every time you want to risk a soviet move around the world. kissinger jots down some thoughts on this question and he is gradually drawn away from the 1970 diplomacy which is what he wrote about at harvard. he begins to think about the unthinkable question, could you use nuclear weapons in a limited way and avoid full-scale armageddon?? when you put it like that it does sound like dr. strangelove
was just summarizing the use of the most destructive weapon that had ever been devised. >> a little teeny nuclear wet war. >> right and that's how he tries to make the case that you can't have nuclear exchanges that won't escalate to a full-blown armageddon. two interesting things, 11 he later reverses that position and came to the conclusion that you couldn't be sure that it wouldn't escalate so he did a kind of intellectual flip-flop or u-turn on that question. that's actually what made him famous. the book arrived at a critical time in history. along comes this book by an economic thinker that argues there's a way of getting at this problem that won't blow the world to smothering's. the key point that is often
overlooked is that although he pulled back from the idea of nuclear war, the u.s. military did not. nor did the soviet military. and nor for that matter did any of the nato countries because from that point on, the strategy in the cold war assumed the possibility of a limited nuclear war. he became the basis for nato's plan to defend western europe from a soviet invasion. that's what all those tactical nuclear weapons were for that's why the superpowers didn't just have ballistic missiles. they had tactical weapons too. i think a key point that i tried to make in the book is that although kissinger himself was and ambivalent about the breakthrough of a nuclear war, in practice practice it became doctrine for the military's own own -- doesn't mean that never
happened doesn't mean it was science-fiction. to this day they said it was a real possibility. it has resurfaced in debates. it's an idea that has not gone away at all. nor have the records. >> are you suggesting there are people in europe who would advocate for the use of tactical nukes and if the russians would decide to roll in -- >> nobody's writing off beds about this but the weapons exist and if they exist then there must be a rationale for it. if you remembered remember the beginnings of bush 43 in the negotiations of the soviets were very focused on pulling out tactical nukes. >> they haven't disappeared. >> we don't know what the russians have.
>> because there has been significant perforations, the possibility of a limited nuclear war involving a smaller nuclear power is probably more likely now than it was then when eventually there was superpower monopolies. i think this is an important contribution to the debate. it's not too surprising that it's made a name because in a sense he beat other strategic thinkers that these weapons could be threatened. that's the point. the weapons exist and they existed for the rest of the cold war than the rationale for them can't be absurd. >> so berlin he had very strong opinions about berlin when the wall goes up. but he doesn't seem to be advocating the use of tactical
nuclear weapons on what is pretty much a frontline issue, issue, far more important than cuba and other things that are going on. when the berlin crisis comes to head, in central berlin, he is arguing for a tougher line than ultimately can be took. he doesn't say we should be ready to use nuclear weapons over this issue. it's quite interesting. he is deeply worried that the military may take it upon themselves to use them if there are not sufficiently clear lines of command from the white house. that becomes a big issue in the 1964 election.
goldwater, who really was quite reckless in the way that he talked about nuclear weapons, seemed ready to delegate the authority to use these kind of weapons to commanders in the field. i think that's another reason, having written the book, within a very short time he refutes the view and admits that there's escalation. but the theory survived. >> i'm not sure ice believe i believe the theory. >> the point i'm trying to make is that in military circles this is by no means ruled out and these weapons are still in existence for a reason. he made it very clear and his interview the other night that his nuclear weapons, were a part of the reason.
we'll will have a tactical conversation over a beer sometime. i suggest perhaps and maybe i miss reading this that the issue with berlin was either he had changed his mind or the other part of his argument is that you have to signal to the soviets that were not looking for your complete surrender. were not looking for your obliteration and if we were to use tactical nuclear weapons they would have to be in a sideshow war. not one that was on the front line. is that the right reading for berlin? certainly he draws a distinction between a battlefield in central europe and what had been his native land somewhere less populous like say the middle east. so that's part of it. it was definitely difficult to imagine how a war over berlin could not escalate given just
how densely populated it was and how many weapons there were in the vicinity. i think the second issue here and that is how do you solve the german problem. it's interesting, kissinger tends to be attracted to the argument that we associate with woodrow wilson early on. kissinger thought guess what, the central idea will do it. he sees germany and it has to be on terms of democracy and free votes. the soviets can't rig it so it becomes just another greater east germany. i think he's pretty clear about that. so through the debates about berlin, there was no appetite for blowing germany up for the sake of winning a strategic showdown. kissinger's close to the german
and leader through much of the cold war. he is sympathetic to him but he gets a bit nervous when politicians are exposed. he wants the americans to be involved because they didn't want germany to be divided. that wasn't his view. he ultimately wanted to free germany. >> can you talk a little bit about his position in the nixon administration? he blames bundy for shoving him out. how much was that shared ideology and how much was it
that he had gotten to that point where he wanted to be brought in. >> it goes back to our early conversation about his conservatism. he felt he could simultaneously advise and go and join the kennedy administration if asked just as later on in the later 1960s he's talking to rockefeller and humphrey and nixon. it's the same thing in his mind that he has an expertise that should be available to anybody who happens to become president. kennedy, as you know was rounding up harvard professors in forming his administration. prior to his election, they all rushed out to washington when the administration was formed and the dean of the faculty became the national security
adviser. now this is when the plot thickens because it seems as if kissinger is going to be involved. but on a part-time basis. at first i was puzzled by this whole arrangement. why would you agree to be a part-time consultant for the white house. are your harvard classes so dear to you? but it turns out it was bundy's suggestion because bundy quickly saw that kissinger was a potential rival. he certainly knew a lot about berlin and nuclear strategy. i think what happened was a common lesson in politics for young kissinger. he discovered that as long as andy could stop him having contact with the president, he could shut him in a room and give him a bunch of files but he never actually -- and he had a frustrating experience. normally a consultant that was
hardly ever in the presence of the president. he was treated by an insider but also in outsider in terms of the key documents. an introduction to the dark arts of washington politics. >> we certainly can see some foreshadowing in the way he ends up cutting everybody else off from nixon. >> an important subclause of the book is this important education leads to a fairly sustained rethink of how the national security apparatus should work. by the time 1969 comes around, he around, he has written a whole series of papers about how in fact the president should be advised, with the goal of the national security council should be. it's fascinating. in this sense i think the book
is not just a biography but a history of the cold war through that blend of bureaucracy. [inaudible] the tuesday lunch sessions that produce so many disasters. by 68, he is not alone in thinking that something is pretty badly broken peer he spends a lot of time thinking about how you can better organize a system to combine the best elements of eisenhower's national security council with the things that have not worked with kennedy. you argue in the book that those reviews are a big reason why nixon offers him the job.
you also devote a significant amount of time that he passed critical information in that nixon intern goes and tells us that they're going to get a better deal and you rebut that and say, well i'll let you rebut it. you come up with the series of app explanations of why it's not true. it seems a critical part of the war. yes, it goes like this, the devious kissinger has the power and wraps on the johnson administration with a closely guarded secret. johnston's people were about to do a deal with the north vietnamese that would bring
peace and this information allows nixon to win the election. it falls apart on close inspection for a bunch of reasons. as i mentioned earlier, being involved of finding a a way in vietnam and working with the johnson administration to find some point of contact with the north vietnamese and as we had mentioned are ready he had been in practice offering his counsel and advice to more than one party and candidate. that's nothing to surprising when the nixon people approach him as they did. he gives them the usual kind of well i can tell you this response that he had previously given kennedy when kennedy had approached him.
so when one looks at it simply from that vantage point, we have seen this movie before. the second critical point is there were less secrets because the negotiations were clearly not going anywhere and the peace talks were these public talks remember he had been part of the bombing repeatedly and he had been involved in that process trying to get the intelligence and this was nothing new nor was it entirely likely that it was going to bring peace. the critical pieces that you didn't need to be henry kissinger with inside information to know this was going on. it was clearly going on. everybody understood what his intentions were politically.
the nixon campaign had any number of sources on what was going on. the idea that there was some catastrophe or hot secret that he was able to bring doesn't stand up to scrutiny. he was in paris. he knew how many other negotiators but i can't find any evidence that there was something that kissinger knew that nobody else knew. what is clear is that kissinger communicated his analysis that the administration was looking for a head of the election. indeed it was or less an open secret. it simply unsubstantiated by any documentation that has survived. memorandum has been destroyed
that revealed us all to be true. it was documented by him and by the state department. they kept really careful paperwork of all these initiatives to thwart the north vietnamese but nothing to indicate that this was going on in 1968 except for a few subsequence interviews. one was by nixon's national security advisors. i think the story as i see it is a great story. maybe it has something called truth the nest. he writes during the last days
of the campaigns when kissinger was providing us with information about the bombing halt, i became more aware of his knowledge and influence. this would suggest that at least a there was information going there about the bombing halt and that, nixon is seeking his counsel. that's clear. nobody ever denied that. the notion that the information was somehow classified information that he was leaking i don't think can be substantiated. in your book, you do say that nixon worries at one point that it's a trap. that kissinger has been set up to pass information about johnston's thinking. so apparently he valued, even though you argue that everybody knew it. >> i think the confusion is that he is only offering his
analysis. that document sets out. >> you just said information. >> i think it's information in the sense -- >> you're the expert on this. >> i think the issue is that kissinger was offering his advice and analysis and that's very clear that that is documented. what's not there is some sort of smoking gun or secret that included the trail.éoúñ >> several years back when i was still a full-time journalist i was invited to a small dinner. i think it is when richard holbrook was a driver behind this. kissinger was there. and it came time for the q&a, and being the journalist that i am, i asked a question about the plan for iraqis to finally make
a deal on oriole revenues. before the minister could even answer this question, kissinger cut in and said that's a very american question. i i don't think he said that in a flattering way. what did he mean? >> while you were there and i wasn't. >> but you knew him. >> perhaps it's best understood when we go back to the view of economics. when we've discussed earlier his ideas kissinger never believed that the cold war would be one but that it would ultimately be one by the belief that democracy
was a more attractive system. throughout his career he has tended to be skeptical about economics of any sort. he tends, one of the interesting things they address is the oil shop which most scholars think he underestimated but so he was suggesting that i was a material girl? is that what you are saying? it's odd for a man who was a secretary of state and national security advisor to use the word american in that way. it was that argument he