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tv   National Security Council During the Nixon Administration  CSPAN  August 20, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm EDT

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tour. you are watching "american history next on american history tv, the impact of president richard nixon and henry kissinger on the national security council. inboden. om william the lecture was part of oregon state university's rethinking grand strategy conference and it's about 30 minutes. william imboden: very brief on my background only in so far it's relevant for my comments today. i was honored today to be part of the nativity of the study program since i was in the first class when they first developed it there. it was a new concept for me at the time. it's a year, continuing a great tradition. i continue to look back on my time there with much fondness. after that, i went back to
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washington, d.c. and i spent about a decade in washington. i guess you could call me a recovering policymaker. now i'm a scholar still trying to atone for all of my years in the bells of bureaucracy. during my time working at the state department and on the n.s.c. staff of the white house, i saw how hard it is for a president to get his government to do what he wants it to do or a secretary of state to get his or her, i worked for powell and rice, to get the foreign service, the state department building to do what they want to do. a clear presidential directives and orders would be disregarded, policy guidance would be shirked and evaded. that was fascinating to watch and sometimes frustrating to be working on at a time. it informed my scholarship now. it gave me a full set of questions for interrogating the archives and approaching projects. i came to appreciate that a successful strategy if one can exist isn't just a matter of getting the analysis right. it's not just a matter of
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getting the big ideas right and the policy framework, but it really depends on implementation. it's not just aligning means and ends. it's aligning ways and means and ends. the ways part is the, what i want to focus on today. this paper here which in some ways is a microlook at this, of a larger book project, i'm working on it as a concept as well as an institution. in one sense, i'll be the first to say, this is obvious to everyone, this paper represents a pervasively take, a nation state, america, focuses on two elite white men, heterosexual. it's about the exercise of political and diplomatic and military power. in another sense, at least given the extant scholarship on grant strategy, i hope and trust that my paper fits into the theme of rethinking and it takes up what i think is a largely unexplored question of how grand strategy is
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implemented. this ways question. even with this large question, how is the strategy i am manied, my paper takes a very small scope. it focuses on two men in a period of two months really. it tries to raise much bigger questions and point towards a method of inquiry that i think has been heretofore neglected. what is the relationship between ideas and implementation hours, does a president get his or soon her government to do what he or she wants. i also hope that this paper can remind us of history's capacity to surprise, that hindsight can blind us as much as it can reveal, the ways that things may have looked at the time, the expectations people had at the time are much different than they look now to us through the lens of history. i note that nixon and kissinger seemed to have devoted almost the entirety of their transition mind, 29 1/2 months between november 1960 at election and the january 1968 election, the january 1969
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inauguration, focusing not on what's our big grand strategic ideas about the world, but rather how are we going to organize our government, what kind of people are we going to be appointing, what kind of authorities are we assigning to different positions. i think this was the wisest matter i think for two reasons. first, it was the way they organized their government was crucial for their success in implementing their ideas. if they had not done it this way, we wouldn't be talking about the nixon-kissinger grand strategy. we would have been talking them as another failed presidency. i deliberately stay away from normative judgments on the foreign policy here, a point of another discussion i'm actually quite critical in a lot of ways. my first senator to understand what were they trying to do. even their fearsest critics would be why do we criticize them, they got what they wanted done. we can later decide whether it's good or bad, but it's interesting why did they get
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what they wanted done. setting aside the policies themselves, they set the template for every national security council that has followed. bundy and andrew is the author tative one, the security vidsor to a policy visor position, co-equal of the cabinet secretary. kissinger puts them in control of the entire system where now the state department and the defense department can't think about doing anything without running it through the n.s.c. first. i just want to highlight four themes for my paper instead of rehashing what is in it. first at the time was nixon's very unusual choice for kissinger as national security visor. nixon kissinger rolls off the tongue. there is a book on the pairing of them. at the time that would not have made any sense. so it was a really unorthodox
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choice at the time. nixon violated almost every rule in the book. what do i mean? the president should have a strong personal relationship with his national security visor. nixon barely knew kissinger before and one had forgotten it. the national security council, the textbook should say should be loyal to the president and the party. rather kissinger had been angling to work for hubert humphrey if he is going to win and close to nelson rockefeller, nixon's main rival. third, given the job's almost impossible responsibilities of managing diplomacy, military power, intelligence and coordinate national security policy, the textbook would say the national security visor should have considerable previous government experience, not a job for novices. kissinger's life had been in academia. he had done some consulting before but those are the exceptions, not the rule. this is a weird, weird choice that nixon made.
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even more so, did anyone remember the name bill rogers? i didn't think so. you're scholars, you actually do. nobody knows who he was. at the time when nixon picked rogers as secretary of state, it would have seemed like an inspired choice, preordained for success, that rogers was degrees continued to take his place in the pantheon with the atchisons and dulleses and john hayes of the world. he had been a long-time close personal friend of nixons, very important for the president and secretary of state have a close relationship. they had a collaboration on a case in the mid 1940's. he helped him on the checkers speech with this very searing experience for nixon. rogers was with him on that. they worked in the eisenhower administration when rogers was attorney general and rogers had gained tremendous experience running a large cabinet agency
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as attorney general. then he had had a successful legal career as had atchison and dulles. it would have seemed at the time, this is the himon-rogers administration and the nixon-rogers team. this, of course, was not to be. the question is why. this is where i think nixon who really is the most complicated personalities ever to occupy the oval office, he was set beset by personal insecurities in many areas. when it came to foreign policy, he was quite confident in his strategic acumen. so in kissinger, he deliberately sought someone who, not a political supporter of nixon's, could function as an intellectual partner and aler ego. he found someone who shared his outlook, but also and this is what i focus on in my paper, nixon's convictions on how to reshape the national security machinery of the united states government. they found common cause in reasserting the power of the presidency and diminishing the
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influence of the permanent bureaucracy. so the second theme was i think just to remind ourselves of what kind of bureaucratic opposition they did face on taking office. the fact in hindsight, they succeeded in posing their grand strategic design on u.s. government shouldn't obscure this was a really hard task. it's not just that individual foreign service officers or individual c.i.a. analysts would have a different take on how the world should work. within the american government then as now, this is one way to understand some of the challenges that president obama has faced, there developed entire structures that are dedicated to a particular orientation and use of american power in the world. so, for example, the arms control and disarmament agency was, its entire existence at the time was predicated on ongoing negotiations with the soviets. and so when, so it wasn't just about this institutional preference that continued the s.a.l.t. talks, any definite
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ration from that or deviation from that would pose a threat to the agency's existence. the office of soviet affairs at the state department had a cultural and institutional commitment to privileging the bilateral ussr relationship above all else. there is massive institutional resistance to a concept like linkage which is going to bring in u.s.-china relationship, the u.s.-romania relationship, the vietnam conflict, bring those new factors into the bilateral relationship. and so facing these intense borrow accuratic interests opposed to the grand stat, nixon needed accept tralized coal to steer in directions in ways he was hard wired not to go. this is something to reflect on as part of one of the larger themes. nixon and kissinger had a particular use of history in the way they structured the n.s.c. this is not kissinger drawing
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on his doctorall work. this is a more pedestrian way but still a particular type of the use of history by policymakers. it's organizational history. it's calling on general good past you're who had done so much of this for eisenhower, having him help redesign the u.s.c. dying eisenhower gave them the strong admonition. screw the state department, you can't trust those guys and reading extensive reports on the kennedy and johnson n.s.c. structures and what had worked and what hadn't there. that was a very particular bureau accuratic but still historical sensibility they brought to this. finally, this is a way where i'm pivoting, david, on your comments, the ambivalent relationship with democracy, it's interesting to reflect on nixon and kissinger's approach to consolidating control in the executive branch was that anti-democratic or was that
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restoring some source of democratic accountability to american foreign policy? yes to both. that's where it's so paradoxical. as previously described, they both very much believed in the great man theory of history. they did not want the dirty masses getting in the grubby making of high statecraft. they wanted that to insulate from public opinion and what they thought were the sometimes uninformed predilections. on the other hand, the fact, they also saw the institutional of bureaucracy of very elite and out of touch with popular opinion. nixon saw himself as much more of a man of the people, much more in line of public opinion and the values of ordinary americans. he loved talking to ordinary americans. forget the hard hats for nixon, parade/riots in new york, right. he saw himself as speaking much more for those values than the elite bureaucrats at the state department or c.i.a. who were
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the frequent mark of his full my nations. nixon intended to give the people of the country the foreign policy that they want, returning the power to its rightful home in the white house where the occupant had been elected and then was elected again. so i think this democratic ambivalence would be in his presidency as he channeled public opinion and then disregarding it and distakening and the law as well. with that i'll stop and welcome any questions. thanks. [applause] >> fantastic, thanks. the floor is open. i'm going to abuse my power to ask the first question, then i was wondering, will what sort of driving nixon hixe kisserer's desire to
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concentrate power in the n.s.c. and it began with bundy, but they didn't take it to that extent. they began a process that they couldn't have taken that extent because they began that process. it happened gradually over time and perhaps they would have if they could get away with it and have concentrated power. they did concentrate it quite a bit. it's not ideology or party affiliation that's leading to this centralization or concentration really of executive authority. what's allowing, obviously we know why they want to do it. they want to do it because anyone who holds power wants to do it. what are the sort of structural factors or what's driving this overall process? william imboden: well, i think it was a few. partly and mary, we may want to hear from you on this they had an early understanding of executive authority, the commander in chief and diplomate in chief. this is where extant law, like the national security act of 1947, there are ambiguities.
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just in the way that they consolidated power in the white house, i don't think they broke any laws. they broke lots of laws in other ways. so they took advantage -- they took existing constitutional and statutory authorities about as far as they could go. also they realized the vulnerabilities of the bureaucracy. they knew that information and knowledge was power and if they were able to control the information flows, even the paper flows back and forth between the white house and state and d.o.d. or elsewhere, that that would also give them .ontrol over policy they had deliberate strategy about appointees they would put at the state and d.o.d. as well. they had their moles there, if you will. because of the understanding of national power, only those could reside indeed the white house, so each bureaucracy was limited in how far state could
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say so much on the use of form. the pentagon could say so much on diplomatic initiatives. the c.i.a. could say only so much on policy itself. that was a number of their eys. >> i will ask you about this tendency toward paranoia that you could say maybe both men shared. i guess i'm especially interested in nixon as it looked at the broader pieces of your paper, whether his distrust of the foreign policy bureaucracy and his desire toward centralization owed much to a feeling on his part that . e ivy league
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even to some extent, the democratic congress was composed of people who were going to be out to get him. so i guess wonder if that paranoia is the best i can think of is fueling to this to a large extent for nixon himself and it helps to bring about this focus, this oncentration in the n.s.c. william imboden: i think fred, you're exactly right. i have a brief and parenthetical paragraph where i touch on that in the pipe. i want to develop it more. it's so hard to disentangle this. he did have that paranoia, that disdain for, put all of the labels on them but the career episodes of the state department, likewise at the c.i.a., part was paranoia and part was time as vice president, he felt disrespected by them and this was not just a bureaucratic thing. he loved to rail against the georgetown dinner party set. he was railing against them while kissinger was dining with them and making stories with
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them. i have a throwaway line, as with the georgetown dinner set, the career experts at the state department, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they really hate you. it wasn't just that they had contempt to nixon because he didn't go to the right schools, they had a fundamental outlook for how they wanted diplomacy to be conducted. this entanking the personal, the paranoia from the substantive differences, they're all a piece. i think they reinforced each other. i have not yet through my own research parsell out how much was one and how much was the other. >> thank you, i really enjoyed this talk. i hope you and maybe jeff can both come in on this. i'm curious for your evaluation of the ulet of executing policy which is where you derived this from. so i think a lot, you're talking about the two at the top, but one could easily lump
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in the third who becomes kissinger's deputy. as you were discussing last night, he was given high marks as national security visor because he is seen as an honest broker who can add outindicate all of the agency's positions but will give his own personal advice above and beyond. i think, too, that's why, jeff, i love your comment, in your edited volume on h.w.'s time in china, but he talks a lot about his world view and particularly his operationalizing of it when he becomes president with scowcroft is based in opposition to the model you just described because as ambassador, not ambassador yet, but out in beijing, he is cut out of everything. there are no useful train wrecks that happened in front of the president. is it simply deriving on the one hand, nixon is just so much
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more self-confident in his own understanding and view of the world in collaboration with kissinger, or is it -- which model do you find, how would you evaluate the utility of these two different models? william imboden: great question. i started to room nate that in the paper and need to develop more. ttle bit so first i think we got to say that it worked for a time. it worked for a time they were in office. they really did engineer a revolution in america's orientation in the geopolitical system, for good or for ill. that's why they continue to be talked about so much. ultimately over the long term, i think their approach failed for at least did not reach maximum success for a couple of reasons. paradoxically, first is by cutting out the institutional bureaucracy so much, they were cutting out the vehicles for institutionalizing their own policies. once they leave office, all those career bureaucrats at
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state and c.i.a. are relieved of that pressure to maintain that whole framework. then also conversely going back to my democracy reflections, eventually they lose the american people on the right and on the left. i think, if you will, we can understand the election of carter in 1976 and the election of reagan in 1980 as twin reactions against the amoral real policy technique of the nixon and kissinger approach. when reagan challenges ford in the 1976 primary, he is not challenging ford. he is challenging against nixon and kissinger. he is wanting to remoralize american policy and reinvigorate, also with carter. their insulation of it also overtime diminished its staying power. so in that sense, it failed. >> three things on the
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kissinger, bush, scowcroft triad and their relationship which is remarkably complicated. scowcroft was kisser's was his deputy, scowcroft becomes bush's best friend. bush cannot stand kissinger and therefore you got this interesting dynamic where you have essentially the mentor to bush's chief strategy jizz is a person that bush cannot personally stand. and a way we see this in the china diary, that charlie was kind enough to remark on when bush was de facto ambassador to china, there is basically no single insult in the entire document. there is actually no profanity in the entire document which is amazing considering it was a diary that was not written, but rather dictated and usually after a few drinks at night with the one exception, which is when bush refers to kissinger as not a gentleman, which is the worst thing you could possibly be in bush's world view. >> and we're on c-span. >> and i think it's actually
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really indicative of a broader problem that bush and those like him see kissinger as not only not operating properly within the diplomatic and bureau accuratic system, but also not properly representing what america should be on the world stake. to give you one further example of this, there was a very, very detailed brouhaha which i'll alleviate you from hearing all of the details when the united states chose to support nationalist china's continued representation on the united nations general assembly where as most of the rest of the world wanted to move that seat over to communist china. bush defended this to the hilt when he was u.n. ambassador. kissinger unfortunately decided to undermine the policy by essentially showing up in china the day before the vote in order to demonstrate really who washington really cared about and when bush subsequently went
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down to washington basically almost got into a fistfight with kissinger, literally, the two had to be physically separated. what bush wrote in his diary subsequently was i explained to him that he did not understand america and i did. i think that's a really late loaded term that he is using there, that kissinger as an immigrant, a jew, as a new yorker, whatever terms you want to use did notfully appreciate the way the system really should operate and the way that a blue-blooded wasp could do and should be in the white house. so the two of them really complicated relationship. one quick more thing? >> time for one more question. you are giving the next paper. >> we'll take it out of your time, go ahead. >> i understand what jeff is saying. i yield my time to the gentleman from my own state of texas. >> what is interesting about
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scowcroft, he is considered as he best example of an n. security advisor because he was an honest broker and scowcroft rote the model for how the n.s.c. should operate following the iran-contra affair how it should operate. scowcroft did not want the job. he designed it and said someone else should do it and would rather have been secretary of defense when bush came into office. bush explained to him, no, i actually need you at the n.s.c. it's important to note that he describes a job that to his mind is impossible to operate. he doesn't want it. >> one more question in the back. i don't know your name in the checked shirt. in the second to last row, you with the glasses. >> i have a question about who really controls the appointments within d.o.d.,
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dale, his book about layered said that he accepted the job as secretary of defense on the condition that he would control all appointments in d.o.d. do you have contrary examples? >> no, this was an issue with state and with d.o.d. and they let layered have some appointments. they had a number of their own moles keep an eye on him. david packard was quite close to kissinger and others. f course, as you know, laird also had his mole, the navy guy, who was recording conversations, too. talk about a dysfunctional place. >> join me in thanking will for his paper. phrase [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016 announcer: on this weekend on "american history tv" on c-span
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dole in their first debate of the campaign. >> we are the strongest nation in the world. we provide the leadership. we have to continue to provide the leadership. let's do it on our terms when our interests are involved and not when someone blows the whistle at the united nations. president clinton: i believe the evidence is that our deployments have been successful in haiti, in bosnia, moved to kuwait to propel invasion, i sent the fleet into the taiwan straits and head the north koran nuclear threat. the united states are in peace because of the careful deployment of our military resources. announcer: at 6:00 p.m. eastern on american artifacts, we'll take a tour of arlington house with national park service ranger matthew pen rod. built by george washington's step grandson, it was the home of robert everyone lee who moved no the family.
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>> he declared this house as a federalist house. it was to have the ideals of george washington and that included, once again, the idea that this nation would exist forever and that no state had a right to leave it. o how ironic is it that that man's daughter would marry robert e lee who became the great confederate general and perhaps the man who came closest than any other man in history to destroying the nation that was created in the american revolution. announcer: for our complete american history tv schedule, o to next a panel of historians discusses military lessons learned from the civil war at gettysburg colleges summer institute summer conference. they discuss how the events of the civil war shaped the future
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of u.s. military tactics and policy. in addition, assistant director of getty burglary's war draws te ian isherwood sim plarets between the civil war and world war i. he discusses the development of theories have their roots in the civil war era tactics. this panel is about an hour and 15 minutes. >> good afternoon, i'm peter carmichael, professor of history here at geties berg college. it is my pleasure to introduce our panelists this afternoon, conversation on lessons learned by the u.s. military. so let me first introduce our panelists. i will begin with jennifer murray, who of course is on my far right. jennifer is assistant professor of history at the university of virginia,er


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