tv After Words CSPAN November 29, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm EST
now seen twice before. we know from know from research that simply seen someone's picture on facebook can make it more likely we will pick them out of an eyewitness identification lineup. what this means to me, is we need to handle eyewitness identification how we handle other trace evidence. think of how careful we are with the blood sample. how careful we are to preserve it, how we carefully track the chain of custody, with memory what we do? we let people go out in the world talked other people, go, go back to the crime scene, go over the events many times in their own head, what does that too? it corrupts the memory. we need to think about ways that we can treat all evidence with scientific care. >> you can watch this and other programs online at book tv.org.
>> next on book tvs afterwards, historian neil ferguson discusses his book kissinger, the idealists. it looks at the early life of henry kissinger. he is interviewed by carla anne robbins of the council on foreign relations and national security prep best threat root college. >> welcome professor and thank you for doing this. this is the first of two book authorized under the prep as you say that not only has this book been written with her kissinger's cooperation it was written with his suggestion. how did that happen? >> authors ought to be nervous of it because it advised that he had some control over it. when he suggested this to me which is number than ten years ago i said, yes i will be willing to do this but one
condition, i have a completely free hand and you have to accept that if you ask me to do this and give me access to your private papers, i will write what i think is the truth. which is incidentally the basis for which i have written the previous book. so he agreed to that. i think i would be willing to take it on on any other basis. >> so how does it happen? did you know him before hand? >> i had met him of course, he read my stuff, we met at a party in london. i preface this in a story in the beginning. we we're talking about one of the books i had written i were having a conversation about that. so we met on that basis and i forget exactly when but sometime after that the subject came up,
i think he was attracted to the idea of a scholarly biography being written. i was not the first person who had been considered for this job. but when he put the questions in me i initially said no and then he then wrote me a very henry kissinger letter. >> wasn't a letter or? >> it was a letter. he did not do e-mail. the letter said, what a great shame, just when i had decided you are the ideal man to do this and just as i had found 150 boxes of my private papers had been lost. once i started looking at the stuff i just decided i should do this. i was a bit daunted daunted before. it is an extremely difficult life to write for a whole range
of reasons, it's it's controversy, as well documented, it's a difficult thing to do. when i started to write the early correspondence and diary extracts, within a few hours i thought i really had to take this on. >> so this is not a man who had been undocumented, he has written his own memoirs extensively, even longer than your book. >> yes. >> so why do you think he wanted -- he also shared some information, he spoke with walter isaacson for his biography, why do you think you wanted this book written? >> one of the points i make in the book as he is a by training a historian, a historian knows that the memoirs from the biographies, his three volumes actually cover the time and government was really next to nothing about the. before 1969. so there is half of his life in effect that he had not written
about. with isaacson's book book which is very good, suspended essentially a journalists book, i think the idea was something should write a scholarly biography based on the documents, they archival's, because those exists. although there are bunch a bunch of books you can find them libraries that ought to be biographies of kissinger, most are are not really based on much more than what he hearsay. i think the argument of that is a compelling one. it turns out the material was very good, very rich. i was lucky because that hole. really from his earlier stage growing up in germany right down to the moment richard nixon offered him a job of national security advisor, had largely
been neglected. >> host: you are often described as a conservative historian. do you think you chose you apart for that reason? was the other unnamed person also a conservative historian? >> guest: yes, he was. i think it is more important that i am british though because i think there's some advantage to being a british writer in writing the work of an american historian. one characteristic feature of henry kissinger's life has been the extraordinary political progress of that date to the early 1970s and has raged on more incessantly. in some ways those are of the generation of 1968. of the generation that came of age during the vietnam war. and your generation. i'm someone who can, this is
history, i don't have memorabilia from woodstock in my attic. i think that's important. on the question of conservativism i think it's worth adding a footnote because conservative mean something different. if you have grown up in the u.k., it's not republicanism, the u.s. version and i am not by any means a republican in my politics now that i live in the united states. i am a conservatives in the way that henry kissinger was in conservative. i'm a european conservative. he often feel like a liberal if you're a european conservative in the united states. things that american american conservative say are shocking too. in the same kind of way that kissinger's conservativism is really european variance, so is mine. that may be one reason he
thought it would work. >> host: when you say european conservative and things you find shocking, are than the national security realm or is it social issues? >> guest: is a social issues, those things that i regard as not being the main policies that are in the us. our national security issues seems to me it is often the case that people get confused into thinking there is some kind of straight pungent duty, argument going on about national security. i have been critical in recent years of president obama, i, i have also been critical of his predecessor in the book colossal. i was extremely critical of the invasion of iraq and the way it was handled. i had been drawn into the debate about u.s. foreign policy from the moment really that i set foot into the u.s.
i have probably approached it rather naïvely thinking i could criticize both republicans and democrats. it is hard to be in that position, you're never to be in expected to be on one side or the other. >> host: i'm not sure, there's no question there's been a convergence of the end of the cold war. if you look at iraq itself there are people on the left whose saw the humanitarian challenges, people in the right who are isolationist, that is really true. i'm not sure what an independent is other than someone who chooses case-by-case? spee2 right, or someone recognizes that there can be a simple party line on this national security issues and someone who doesn't want to be bound by party line on social and cultural issues. interestingly, i found kissinger as a young man was in rather the same position.
he thought of himself as a small conservative, he did not identify as a liberal in 1950s 50s or 1960s. but when he encounters real american conservativism, and and harry goldwater supporters of 1964, he was appalled. he always had a very uneasy relationship with the reich of the republican party. indeed with conservatives as well. that's one of the interesting things about kissinger's predicament and then we explain why he is a controversial figure. he always had enemies on the right, particularly in the debates on the 1970s about whether the soviet union was a stellar. >> host: so the book is called the idealist, which is a is a rather contrarian taken kissinger even in those calmly descriptions is described as the ultimate realist, if not a
direct descendent. so you choice of the word idealists as you describe in the book is not -- it's more of a notion of idealism, can you explain for the audience at home what you mean by idealist when it comes to kissinger and one our notion of courses traditionally smithsonian-ism, but that's but that's really not the description you're using. >> guest: it is true most people think of henry kissinger as the ark realist in the name they throw around, maybe it is not surprising people fall into that trap. i like to show the book that if it is a trap. he really wasn't a realist. one of the realists who argued the united states should simply follow its narrow national interest, he was not one of them. so those who were realist and
were critical of him it started to read his writings thoroughly, which i began to think that many people had done, i was really struck by some things. they were in fact critical of realism, brooke of out the congress, things are quite revolutionary and highly critical of the 19th century politics. so i started to think there is something funny there. then i delved deeper into his development, three things are striking. one, his own experience growing up typically germany in 1938 made him not surprisingly highly critical of the foreign policy. what he appears as a realist and very interesting essay because
they thought they are pursuing a narrow self-interested approach to form policy and disregarded the human rights abuses of dictatorship. so number one his own experience in the 1930s makes them suspicious of what he thought of the realists. number two, he comes to harvard and to try to get rid of this rather pushy undergraduate, they said go in and read the manual come back when you're finished expecting never to see him again and underestimating him. he put it into his senior thesis, he was deeply influenced particularly in the problem that on the one hand if there is such a thing as freedom, free will, free choice, that the, that the experience of freedom is real, on the other hand he argues that there is some kind of plan for
the world, for humanity needing ultimately perpetual peace. the essential discussion in kissinger's thesis of and he concludes that there is and ultimately the experience of choice is a real one. freedom, as kissinger finds it is in the experience. the third point which is perhaps the crucial one given the cold war complex of his early academic career, was that kissinger rejects materialism. and he's an idealist in the sense that he would reject materialist views of history like marxism. the theory of the soviet bloc, he also rejected capitalist materialistic theories that said rfr growth rate is higher than the their growth rate then we'll win the cold war. i think i'm those three counts kissinger emerges as an
idealist. where was he in the harvard of the 19 fifties? i i think it is what made his contribution fundamentally distinctive and made him stand out from the pack of people that thought you could solve the cold war was systems and analysis. >> host: although you have many quotes in the book that make him sound as though he is an idealist, and certainly someone who is horrified by the appeasers, someone believes the u.s. is more likely to win on ideals that are materialist issues. at the same time, his writing writing and other biographies are filled with pretty brutal policy quotes from him as well. i i noticed in walter isaacson's biography" kissinger pushing back in the 1970s asking why is it our business how they government themselves? he defends cutting off aid to
iraq saying covert action should not be confused with missionary work. that doesn't sound to me like an idealist, someone he doesn't feel the u.s. has to be defending human rights or oppressing allies because of the repressive nature. >> guest: one is that were really talking about volume to which i had not written yet. me me telling what the subtitle will be, could be the idealist. i'm a little cautious about talking about becomes i am still doing research. i tend not to make up my mind until i plow through a lot of documents. in the early days to be talking about the 1970s to me. the most i could risk risk saying secondly in response is that we can't really understand wars by kissinger, next thing, ford and and the presidents he served were trying to achieve if we
just look at isolated cases and throw up our hands and say how shocking and callous. these isolated countries, these particular instances you mention have to be a serious part of a grand strategy. most are highly critical of kissinger tend to focus on a particular issue and disregard the strategic framework. the strategic framework as kissinger said in his early rising is something that imposes a hierarchy. if your primary goal is to avoid world war iii and seek some kind of accommodation with the soviet union than there may be other things upon the chessboard that you can sacrifice to that end. if your second goal is to use an opening to china to put pressure on the soviets them for the sake of that, you may have to make compromises with say, the pakistani government.
if you had no other concerns you might not make. i think any judgment you make about form policy has to be done, not on a on a case-by-case basis but in a strategic framework. in his early writing on this and we talked about what kissinger says it is the nature of statesmanship that you have to make choices and you're free to make these choices. they are really very equally choices between evils and the challenges to decide what the lesser of two evils is. kissinger says this is their right from the very earliest rising, that's the problem. that's the challenge that there are sometimes when good options there's just evil to choose from b1 all that is persuasive but i just put that in her real policy camp in the sense of seeking stability for the sake of peace or having to look the other way
on that oppression and pakistan are his decision on the joint decision of his bombing in cambodia. or and you do engage some of this in the book, his role role in chile. himself has suggested that before, that he engineers that he thoroughly supported the idea that he wanted to hang in there. these are transcendent things that sound like very politics to me and reasons why he is so very controversial. >> guest: one of the things i do at the end of volume on and in effect in january 1969 is to imply that there is questions for volume 2. the question is, does he remain an idealist? does idealist? does he adhere to the principles that he set out or did the experience of government change him into a realist? that
question i have have yet to answer. it is clearly central to volume two of this biography. this biography, the first following line covers the first half of his life. in that period, although he was involved with government for example with the kennedy, he was mostly a writer of books and articles. i think it's fascinating to study him as an intellectual. imagine if he was hit by a bus in january 1969, this book would have been impossible, the second -- i'm not sure about that because the intellectual contributions are extensional. at a time when international rage has become more far from history. kissinger argued that you have to have a historical framework, history is the nations what characters to individual. if you don't know the history
you won't understand the counterpart. i think that's an important insight which is still important today. think about the central problem he defines as a problem of conjecture. he gets to the heart of some of the questions he is raising. kissinger said not only do you have to choose between two evils, when you make the choice you don't really know how things will turn out. he may take it difficult preempt that an advert disaster. but if you are successful and you over world war ii, is anybody grateful? now because it didn't happen. international relations and foreign policies are not a symmetry. it may get you no payoff because in preempting disaster you basically prevent it from happening and therefore you prevent people from suffering it. if you place time, you may get lucky and then people may think you want. if you're not lucky and things turn out badly you can i say well, i did my best.
the temptation as we say, you kick kick the can down the road. when you come to assess any of the decisions that were tanking after 1968 were aware and a position to advise the decision-making of the president, you have to ask yourself not only how does this fit into the grand strategy, but also the question at the time the decision was making, was this the right decision? at the time could you say with certainty or with confidence, not with certainty this is the lesser evil of any two course of action. that's a challenge i set myself and trying to to assess his work in the second volume. >> host: said you said, the book begins with his childhood in germany. in out several times that kissinger placed on the impact on his worldview of the child view. he lost many friends and many members of his family to the holocaust.
you quote a 2007 interview with him when he says my first political experience was a member of the persecuted jewish minority, many members of my family, 70% of the people i would school with that in concentration camps. that is that is not something i can forget. i do not agree with the view that analysts everything for my alleged jewish origin, have not thought of myself in those terms. what is going on there? i'm a jewish american and a lot of my attitude toward my horrible goes on in the world, repressions, extreme isms, as well as my notion of american responsibility to try to fix things, comes fix things, comes out of that path. i certainly did not live through the holocaust. and i would say the alleged jewish origin is rather disturbing area what is happening with him? >> guest: i have tried in the book to tell the story as accurately as i can. really it is a remarkable one
but not unique. he grew grew up in a part of germany were nazi, next to newburgh, as he grew up he became a teenager in the nazi regime came to power. his rights were acquitted away, just as his parents work until the point they reach they had to flee. when they came back six years after leaving in a u.s. army uniform, he witnessed a liberation of a concentration camp outside of hanover. he then discovered after the war was over that nearly all the 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 maybe earlier writers to describe so was reported to those events that his subsequent development was a kind of a response to trauma. his very clear in the letters he writes home to his parents in the late 19 forties, the things he writes about the work experience, that he is not traumatized. it is something he explicitly says. i think we need to understand that the work experience was not quite as we might imagine it. those of us were too young too young to experience it. for example, i think it's very striking that he writes this short essay, the eternal jew, really i think for his own use. to record the experience after seeing the liberation of the concentration addressed to one of the polish inmates. it is a remarkable document
which i reproduce in full because i think it captures how searing the experience, the witnessing of the holocaust has been. at the same time, the war, the war changed him in a very important way. it had destroyed his religious faith. he and his younger brother had to confront the orthodox father with this change. kissinger writes very openly, i am different, this has changed me, this experience, this exposure not just in the hall closet with the war has made me fundamentally different. i no longer can really believe in what you brought me up to believe. so that moment is a profoundly important one. i think it explains some of the ambivalence which he discussed. his jewishness. henry kissinger defies entrée defines as a jew but is not a believer, not an observant jew.
that by any means is an unusual predicament. what i tried tried to do in the book is try to see how he arrives to that decision. these excellent ordinary experience is that he had. >> host: being a believer is different than being orthodox. for any religion. are you suggesting that he is no longer believes that got existed because of the experience of germany? >> guest: while that is not something that is entirely explicit. >> host: doesn't go to the core of idealism as well? spee2 he was not writing to say i'm a reform jew. unchanging synagogues. he did not subsequently -- so in that sense i think it was a complete loss of religious
faith. but not something that led him to deny his jewishness. it is not as if he was looking to convert to christianity. on the contrary, henry kissinger is a jew a jew but he is not a believer, not in that important consequence of that war experience. it is unusual that it is so well-documented. he wrote very frankly to his parents about what it meant for the rest of his life. >> host: so believer and idealism, don't those two things relate to each other in some way? >> guest: what's clear is that if you are what kissinger was that you do not necessarily describe to international deity although you may look at the supreme being an ultimate divine providential purpose. but kissinger is much more interested in the experience of
freedom of choice, individual experience of freedom than his and the possibility of an all known deity that plays little role. >> host: so to move that one notion of one or two another one things i had not realizes that he really made his name and became somewhat of a rock star at a recently young by writing about their weapons. been a strong advocate of limited war, the limited use of nuclear weapon. you go out of that your way to say that he was not the model, that was instead herman con, but there is something strange about the idea that you could have limited use of nuclear weapons without it spiraling out of control. what drove him to think that and
why do you think it made him so popular at that point? it seems now that people thought he was pretty crazy. >> guest: first of all, he could not imagine encountering harvard yard with his friends, and liberal, essentially introduce kissinger to a debate that is going on by the eisenhower administration. his concept was that you had to threat massive retaliation to deter the soviets from expansion. it was -- you either blow up the world or you accept their move is tolerable. the debate was whether there could be any metal position on whether u.s. strategy has run to this all or nothing. strategy and applied risking armageddon on the basis of the conversation in the harvard yard kissinger jots down his thoughts from this question. these impress other people who see them. he gradually draws way from the
soviet 19th century diplomacy and into these contemporary debates about nuclear strategy. he actually begins to partly comment discussion with the council of foreign relations with far more experienced strategic thinkers he begins to think about the unthinkable question, could you use nuclear weapons in a limited way and avoid oral scale armageddon? now when now when he put it like that, doctor strangelove and the use of the most destructive weapon ever devised. right and that's how he tries to make the case of nuclear weapon inform policy that you can have limited, tactical nuclear exchanges that will not escalate to full blown armageddon. two interesting things, one, he later reversed that position and came to the conclusion that he cannot be sure that it would not
escalate. he did a kind of intellectual u-turn on that key question. that was after the book that made him famous. the book arrives at a critical moment in cold war history. sputnik has just been launched, it's 1957, americans are beginning to think the soviets have caught up to think the soviets have caught up with them and maybe overtaken them. this book by it didn't dynamic new thinker who has this idea that you could blow the world to smithereens. the way kissinger himself pulled back from the idea of cold war, the u.s. military did not and so did the soviet or trans- soviet. from that time on strategy from the cold war became the basis of
nato's plan to defend western europe from a soviet invasion. that's what all of those tactical, so-called battlefield nuclear weapons were for. that's why the superpowers did not just have ballistic missiles, they had intermediate and tactile weapons. i think a key part i try to make is the way kissinger himself is ambivalent about the intellectual breakthrough, the idea of the nuclear wear, he didn't practice it became doctrine for the military on both sides of the cold war. just because it did not happen, just because there will was not a nuclear war does not mean that it was science-fiction. in fact to this day, it is a perfectly real possibility and it has resurfaced in the most recent debates about how europe and nato had responded to western europe.
>> host: are you suggesting that her serious linkages in europe now who would advocate for the limited use of tactical nukes if the russians would decide to roll in and? >> guest: the weapons exist, if they exist you there must be a rationale for it. >> host: if you recall the beginnings of the bush 43 and negotiations with the soviets and all that was very focused on pulling out tactical nukes. >> host: the theory has not disappeared. >> host: the smaller of the usi we don't know what the russians have. >> guest: because there's prolific in kissinger's heyday there's a possibility with the smaller nuclear power is more likely now than it was then. when there was superpower monopolies. i think this is an important contribution to the debate.
it is not too surprising that it made its name because in a sense he beat out the strategic thinkers to the inside that these weapons could be, at least their use could be credibly threatened. that's the point. if their weapons exist and they exist for the rest of the cold war than the than the rationale for them cannot be wholly observed. >> host: so, berlin. he has very strong opinion about berlin and how it is handled. but he does not seem to be, unless i misread this on what is pretty much a frontline issue, far more important than cuba, and other things. >> guest: here's the thing when the berlin crisis comes to head and u.s. and soviet tanks are facing one another in central berlin, kissinger's is arguing for a tougher line than
ultimately can happen. they say awards better than a war and you saw that by the building of the wall. he doesn't say we should be ready to use nuclear weapons over this issue. it is quite interesting, he is deeply worried that the military may take it upon themselves to use them if they're not sufficiently clear lines of commands from the white house. that becomes a a big issue in the 1964 election. because goldwater, who really was quite reckless in the way he talks about nuclear weapons seemed ready to delegate the authority to use these kinds of weapons. kissinger's very opposed to that. i think that is another reason for the book argued that within a very short time he reviews the theory in a minute is a risk of escalation. it also devise its authors-max
b1 i'm not sure i accept that notion. as part of military dr. now. >> guest: it is certainly part of russian dr. now. >> host: i'm just talking about american. >> guest: in military circles this is by no means ruled out. these weapons are still in existence for a reason. mr. putin made it very clear just the other night that the nuclear weapons are part of the reason not the strength of the russian economy. >> host: that is certainly true but will have to have a conversation over a beer at some point. i would six suggested perhaps the issue of berlin and was he had changed his mind or the other part of his argument was you have to signal to the soviet
that we are not looking for your complete surrender, we are not looking for your obliteration and if we were to use tactical nuclear weapons, they would have to be in a side show war not one on the drug frontline. is that the right reading potentially of the berlin? spee2 certainly in his writings in the 1950s and 60s he draws a distinction he draws a distinction between a battlefield in central europe and his nato land and less populous say the middle east. so that is part of it. it is definitely difficult to imagine how a war over berlin could not escalate, given how densely populated it was and how many weapons there were in the vicinity. i think the second issue here and that is the question of how do you solve the german problem? it is interesting and this is another part in the idealism, there tends to be attracted to the self-determination argument that we associate with woodrow wilson early on, kissinger
thought, guess what the central idea is natural determination is there. he sees germany as desirable, in terms of democracy it has to be so soviets can't rake it so it is not just become just great to east germany. i i think is clear about that. there did to bates about berlin i think there's an appetite for blowing germany up for the sake of winning a strategic's showdown. kissinger is close to the german leader through much of the cold war. he is sympathetic to him. he gets nervous when german politicians seem to want the americans to be engaged over the whole question of berlin. because western populations were not happy that germany would be
divided getting rid of east germany, in and east berlin. that was not kissinger's view. he wants a united and free germany. >> host: can you talk a little bit about his position with the kennedy administration? he seems to one point help that he is good to be brought into the inner circle and blames bundy for shoving him out. how much was that shared ideology and how much was that going to be brought in. >> it goes back to an early conversation about kissinger's conservatism. with national security, he felt that he could simultaneously advise rockefeller and go join the kennedy administration. he is with the rockefeller and humphrey, a sense in his mind that there is a technicality
expert that he has that he should have if he becomes president kennedy was running up harvard professors informing his administration. prior to the election he talks to kissinger and any other people and rush down to washington for when the administration was formed. now this is as the plot thickens. when you see kissinger being involved he was puzzled by this whole arrangement, why would you agree to be a part-time consult for the white house. is it so dear to you? the turns out it is bundy's suggestion, bundy is quickly saw that kissinger was a potential rival.
he knew a lot about the key issues of the moment. certainly berlin and nuclear strategy. i think what happened was a lesson in politics for a young kissinger. he discovered that no one could stop him from having contact with the president as long as he could shut him in a room and give him a bunch of files, and write a report. he never actually got to see kennedy more than a number of times. he had an intensive leave frustrating experience. , hardly ever in the presence of the president treated by bundy as an insider but in effect in outsider with only limited access to the key documents. this is the beginning of what i will call call the political education of henry kissinger. an introduction to the dark arts of washington politics. >> host: certainly you can see a foreshadowing for the way he ends up cutting everyone else
off. >> guest: an important subclause of the book is the education leads to a fairly sustains of how we think that national security apparatus should work. by the time 1968 and 69 comes around kissinger has written a whole series and co-authored a series of papers about how in fact the president should be advised. what the role of national security council should be. it is fascinating. in the book the book offers not just a biography but history of the cold war through that lens of biography. we have seen how this institutional evolution progressed from the point which was a bureaucratic style of eisen hauser's national security council, military and through the more freewheeling kennedy style to the ultimate lunch approach of lyndon johnson.
the tuesday lunch sessions that produce a many disastrous decisions. by 1968, kissinger is not alone in thinking something is pretty badly broken. so you spend a lot of 1968 thinking about how you can better organize the system to combine the best elements of eisen hauser's national security council of the strong national security advisor it not surprisingly becomes a part of it. >> host: you argue in the book that those reviews are a big reason why nixon offers him the job. you also devote a considerable amount of time to rebutting the widely held notion and it is not just hitchens but isaacson and others that during the 68 campaign, kissinger past critical information to next them on the peace talks and in turn he goes in tells the self it means you could get a better deal and you rebut that well i
will let you rebut it, you come up with a series of explanations for why that is not true. it seems a critical of the war on henry kissinger. >> guest: goes like this, the devious kissinger he gets the power on the johnson administration by revealing a closely regarded secret that johnson secret were about to do a deal with the north vietnamese. their pc this information allows next and to win the election. it falls apart on close inspection of the story for a bunch of reasons. one, as i mentioned mentioned early kissinger being involved in trying to find a way out of the war in vietnam working with the johnson administration to
find some point of contact with the north vietnamese, two as we mentioned already, he had been in the practice of offering his counsel and advice to more than one party, more than one candidate. so that it's nothing too surprising when the nixon people approach them as they did. he gives them the usual kind of well, i can tell you this kind of response that he had previously given kennedy when kennedy approached them. when when you look at it from that vantage point we had seen this movie before. the second critical point was there were not secrets to portray because negotiations were not going anywhere. the paris peace talks were these these public talks unlike the 1967 secret talks. >> guest: but they say johnson's serious fault was that they're
going to bring the vietnamese. >> guest: remember he had been halting bombing repeatedly the previously year two. kissinger had been involved in that process. tried to pause the bombing long enough to get the intermediates from france to go to hanoi. this was nothing new there was an entirely likely that it was going to bring an immediate piece a critical piece. he did not need to be henry kissinger with inside information to know this is going on. i was clearly going on. everyone knew what johnson's incentive was. not least the nixon campaign had any number of sources of what was going on. the idea of there is a fantastic cut secret that kissinger was able to bring does not -- kissinger was in paris, i can't find any evidence there is something kissinger knew that
nobody else knew. what is clear, kissinger communicated his analysis the administration was looking for a break ahead of the lection but next and are ready knew that. indeed it was more or less an open secret. i find the idea that this was a dirty trick, that then got kissinger the job of national security adviser which is the way the story ends is simply unsubstantiated by any documentation that has survived. a memorandum has been destroyed that could be true, i find it implausible sense so much that kissinger did the year before when he actively was involved in trying to find the way to the ward, document by him, they kept really careful paperwork of all these initiatives toward the north vietnamese. there's nothing to indicate this was going on.
except for a few subsequent interviews. most important which nixon national security advisor is just full of sour grapes. they were excluded by the ministration, i think think the story is icn is a great story. maybe wonder what the truth is but it's not something you can document. it is not same to stand up to serious scholarly scrutiny. >> host: nixon writes an rn during the last days of the campaign when kissinger was providing us with information about the bombing when kissinger -- i became more aware of his knowledge and influence. this would suggest that at least
a, there is information going there about the bombing halt and that it did raise his profile with richard nixon. >> guest: he was communicating with allen and and other people in the administration. nixon was seeking and that is clear nobody has ever denied that. the notion notion that the information was somehow classified information that kissinger was leaking cannot be substantiated. >> host: you do say nixon worries at one point that it is a trap, that kissinger had been set up to pass information from johnson's thinking and it would be a try. nixon apparently valued this even though you argue that everybody knew about it. >> guest: one of the confusions hears between analysis and intelligence. kissinger is offering his analysis and that is documented. >> guest: you said information though. >> guest: i don't think there was any. >> host: you're the expert on this, i just find the nixon quote quite interesting.
>> guest: i think nixon was offering his advice, his analysis, that is clear and documented. but what is not there is some kind of smoking gun, secret that kissinger was going to betray. >> host: can you translate this for me several years back when i was a full-time journalist is invited to a small dinner and i recall richard holbrook was the key driver behind this, may he rest in peace. as with a senior iraqi officially kissinger was there, so when it came time for the q&a and being the journalists i am, i asked a question about what was the plan, other iraqis going to make some sort of deal on oil revenues. before the minister could even answer this question kissinger touted in and said that's a very american question. i don't think he said that in a flattering way. what did he mean? >> guest: while you're there and i wasn't. so you have the advantage.
perhaps it is best understood as him alluding back to the view of economics. he is not paramount. when we are discussing euro earlier kissinger's was more commonplace in america the fact that ultimately about economics and capitalism is going to be a problem. kissinger never believe that. he argued that the cold war would not be one by differential growth rate, it would ultimately be one by the belief that democracy was more attractive system. throughout his career kissinger has tended to be skeptical about economic determinism of any sort. arguments that you economics tends to be dismissive of, not always brightly. one of of the interesting things that address is the impact of the oil shock in 1973 which most previous
scholars think kissinger greatly underestimated. i think it is certainly a part of his career to be skeptical of the arguments of the dominant force. >> host: it was he suggesting as a material girl? >> guest: possibly. >> host: is opera man for secretaries date to use american as something of an epitaph. >> guest: how often he is critical of the way that americans think. it is that argument he makes that loyalist them play too much of a part in policymaking, it was a dreadful strategy because they are to everything on a case-by-case basis. or the argument that he frequently makes that americans do not think history is relevant. the system that system analysis or game theory, are some anti- new piece will solve the problem. i think there is a distance
between kissinger intellectually and what he would regard as the american inheritance skepticism. that is been there since the 1960s. >> host: how thin-skinned is he? i know the book you have communication and he sends about how he is being shoved up by bundy and how he wants to quit, is sounds whiny, is is he a very thin-skinned man? >> guest: kissinger and volume one is certainly somewhat insecure. even in academic politics he is given when he is not getting promoted as he hopes he will be. i think part of what i said is to show the sides of his
personality. not all aspects ever flattering. maybe it is that he did not seem at all comfortable about some of those i think it's given the subject to mesh his teeth about it. i was given into mines about he wrote a letter to a girl a teenager i cringe inducing letter but it seemed to me to help get the man a part of the problem with henry kissinger is there is this demonic figure created by writers by hirsch. who is a kind of evil genius, doctor evil figure who commits a war crime of glee relishing every day. this caricature monster figure
is something you can get past if you are trying to write a biography. the way to do that i thought was to reveal all the humanity including the teenage angst, including the neurotic professor, it is part of the story that the notice of skin is part of what drives the man. nixon worked harder than his contemporary. a story of a relentless drive and then a drive to try to be involved in the policymaking process. i try to make it clear that far from being an evil genius he gets to the top of the goal. he he frequently blunders and lots of screw ups, but the press for example he just makes a whole series of mistakes in early press conferences. i thought that was a way to
demolish at least partly this demonic doctor evil figure and show someone who is more credible. >> host: final question. you can access to documents, letters, including teenage letters and things of that sort, you also interviewed kissinger extensively, you don't quote from him in the book. >> guest: i do, they're quite of few quotes from the interviews which are in there. but relative to the documents, the interviews account for a small percentage of the total source material. it's probably not much more than one percent. they were important for background for me. i interviewed him not only for this volume but
for the second volume. i have a lot of that material still to use. in fact still to use. in fact i think the bulk of the interviews i recorded relate to the period after 1968. in that sense they are still in my locker. >> host: so was he was like what you have written? >> guest: i think anyone who sees their particular lead young life rendered with i hope maximum accuracy of the page, can be a little taken aback. one forgets things that then turn up in the hands of the historian. so it is not an easy process, from that i think he is quite normal. if i had to to read a book about my first 46 years i think i'd be lying on the floor cringing between every page. >> host: i have my next project. >> guest: it would be very dull. >> host: are much list - max is the title for the next book, the realist? >> guest: you might infer that but i have not made up my mind. that's a question i asked myself
every morning. and not am i going to be telling the story away from idealism or is that not what the real story is. part of the fun of writing history as you do not start with theory, you start with a question. you want to be proved wrong. i was a was originally going to be called this book, something else, and i realized in about a day that it was completely wrong. part of the pleasure of writing a life is that you're constantly surprised by what the documents tell you. and that since i have no clue what the subtitle of volume two will be. >> host: thank you. >> ..
but, not all of the story and it's more difficult to even get information about the so-called trend lines. i wanted to combine both in the hardest part for me about writing this book was that it was three times longer when i first finished it. i wanted to put every funny story, bizarre meal, i mean whatever i could remember and wanted to share and the publisher did say, you have to cut two thirds