tv Secretary Kissinger on President Nixons Foreign Policy CSPAN November 3, 2016 12:22am-1:19am EDT
as first gentleman? first ladies gives readers a look into the personal lives and impact of every first lady in american history. first ladies is a companion to c-span's well regarded biography series and features interviews with the nation's leading first ladies historians. each chapter also offers brief biographies of 45 presidential spouses and archival photos of their lives. first ladies is now available at your favorite bookseller and also as an e-book. >> up next, former secretary of state henry kissinger talks about richard nixon's presidency at the library and museum last month. this is about 50 minutes. ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honor to welcome one of
the president's strongest supporters and certainly part of the nixon family. julia? [ applause ] >> i am having so negotiate dgoh fun. i'm sitting next to a rock star, i have white confetti on my dress and now that we have wine it's going to get really fun. let's see where we can go with introducing our rock star. i can't believe it. i have been here, through all the dust, all the -- you can't imagine the mess it was n never in my life would i have dreamed it would turn out like this. i was just in the oval office. it's so realistic in there. i kind of started looking around for cameras and security people.
but it is just so real. i love that. the nice thing about that library -- about that oval room children and adults can sit in the chair, touch the fabric, the chairs. there's a no hands off, just wonderful experience for young people to be able to do that. good afternoon and welcome to the brand new library. today is a very important day for my husband, george, and our family. how incredible is it for all of us to see this important place come alive again and to be renewed? we have actually been involved from the very beginning. back in 1983, george and so many of you in this room worked to
help establish the nixon foundation. nen 1990, this beautiful building emerged. it just makes us even more proud to be here today, to celebrate our next chapter. i'm also very honored to welcome so many of our friend here, including one very, very, very special friend that we've had the pleasure of introducing. dr. henry kissinger is like a rock star. george and i have known henry for i don't know how many years. he's a great man and a great american. he is known throughout the world as a scholar, an historian, a
writer and a senior spokesman. president nixon brilliantly chose secretary kissinger as the assistant for national security affairs and secretary of state. together nixon and henry kissinger changed the world. they opened up china, after nearly a quarter century of isolation. they stabilized relations with the soviet union and made the world a safer place from the threat of nuclear weapons. they ended the vietnam war on an honorable basis and pioneered a peace process in the middle east. dr. kissinger not only served president nixon, but has also advised every president since john f. kennedy.
he has offered each of these presidents advice and offered nonpartisan friendship i think you'll agree with me that this country needs more of this type of leadership today. so, henry, i've been thinking about this a lot. since you don't have as much to do now i thought that maybe you and i -- i mean we, i would go with you. and we could call hillary and donald on the phone and you could give them some great advice. what do you think?
[ applause ] you know, even a little mentoring would help, don't you think? secretary kissinger will be speaking today with two of his staff members from his years in the nixon white house. the first is ambassador winston lord, ambassador stanton the national security council staff. winston later went on to become state department director of policy planning. he was president of the council on foreign relations, u.s. ambassador to china and assistant secretary of state for east asian and pacific affairs. secretary kissinger has received numerous accolades throughout his career but actually missed out on a very important honor. in july of 1971, he went to china on a top secret trip to
prepare for presidential visit. he thought that he would have the distinction of becoming the first american government official in china in more than 22 years. the way the story goes is that while dr. kissinger remained in the back of the plane, his energetic, 33-year-old special assistant, winston lord, actually snuck up to the front of the plane. and as they got close to the chinese border, he wanted to be up front so that when they entered china from the air, mr. lord was able to claim that special distinction. and dr. kissinger was robbed of being the first american to be in china. i'm not sure -- where is this
gentleman? where is he? raise your hand. i don't know how you two are still friends. i would certainly never speak to you again. anyway also joining secretary kissinger and ambassador lord is k.t. arlan, fox news and security analyst. where is k.t.? there she is. she started her career as an aide on dr. kissinger's security staff went on as a speech writer, deputy assistant secretary of defense to caster wineburg. k.t. received the defense department's highest civilian award for her work in the reagan administration. i am so excited. drink your wine, guys. for this conversation to begin.
so, let's get to it. could you please, secretary kissinger? [ applause ] joined by his some time friend, winston lord and k.t. mcfarland. >> julia, i have one side correction i wasn't really an aide to henry kissinger. i was the night secretary. all i did was type. >> don't tell him that. >> i was a really good typist. the significance of this --
you've all been through the exhibit and realize the achievements of president nixon. it has been called golden age of american diplomacy with very good reason. any one of the significant achievements that president nixon had during his presidency would have been something that every other president would have been proud to say was his crowning glory and achievement, but nixon had success after success after success. and one of the important reasons for that is the man sitting right here, henry kissinger who, believe it or not, when richard nixon was elected president, he decided he was going to choose a national security adviser. he wanted to have national security, foreign policy defense issues be paramount in his administration but called on someone he had never met before. dr. henry kissinger. would you like to describe what
that was like when you got a call from the president-elect of the united states asking you if you wanted to be his partner in changing the world? >> first of all, i want to thank julia for her very friendly introduction which left me in a position where i was once at a reception where a lady walked up to me and said i understand you're a fascinating man, she said. fascinate me. now to give you an explanation of how my appointment happened,
tricia notes that her father was always nervous. i had an appointment with president nixon for about two hours. and i didn't know quite what he wanted. i knew he wanted something. i left. nothing happened. a week later tom mitchell called up and said are you going to take the job or not? and i said, what job are you talking about? and he said oh, my god, he screwed it up. so then i was asked to come back. at that moment, to my disgrace, i said you may not know that i
had been closely associated with nelson rockefeller, who was the principle opponent of president nixon. so i said to president nixon, shamefully -- i'm not bragging about that. i said, i've been working for nelson rockefeller for 15 years. and i would like to think about this. and he should have told me to get lost. and he said, take a week. so the next day i went to see nelson rockefeller. it shows you something about the mind-set at that time. and nelson rockefeller said has it ever occurred to you that richard nixon is taking a much bigger risk on you than you are taking on him? and that was true.
and a newly elected president would appoint in one of the principle jobs of the government somebody whom he had never met and who had public ly supported his opponent is an enormous tribute to the way richard nixon thought about foreign policy. that he focused on what the right thing to do was. and then we worked closely together. the credit for that really goes to richard nixon, not to me. and i just wanted to make that point.
[ applause ] >> i just want to do a mike check for myself. is everyone okay? raise your hand if you're having any trouble hearing. a little bit. >> how can you raise your hand to that question if you can't hear? [ laughter ] >> well, if you would like, we can have additional microphones. but since you're all doing such a good job of not hearing as it is, i think we'll just carry on. dr. kissinger, you have met some of the greatest statesmen in the 20th century, going back to
charles degaulle, eisenhower, mao. talk to us about the particular qualities of president nixon and his statesmanship. why was he able to do what no other president has been able to do before or since? what personal qualities of leadership did he have and statesmanship that allowed him to be so successful? >> in my view, is to take society from where it is to where it hasn't been. in order to do that he first has to analyze the situation in which he finds himself. he then has to analyze the situation of friends and
adversaries so that he can determine what assets are available and what risks. then he has to chart a course. then he has to get that through the bureaucracy that has been implemented. these are all qualities [ inaudible ] nixon was extremely studious. he did not like inconsequential discussion. and to see people just to chat was formidable, usually
unsuccessful. he had a lot of time occupied by running the offices to read book s. i'm talking so much because i'm afraid when they talk, they might talk about human rights violations that were committed against them while they were working on my staff. but when we were preparing, you could not persuade nixon just by making a recommendation to him. he wanted a think piece.
we could be sure that if we prepared a thoughtful piece, he would read it. and so over months we could work out policies. for example, when we went to -- on the trip to china, nixon knew when he went into -- came into office that that's what he wanted to do. as it happened, i also thought it was a good idea to do this. but i had not, of course, been in a public position to do anything about it. so we systematically studied what the options were. early in the administration, there was a series of incidents at the chinese border.
we analyzed those and came to the conclusion that probably the soviet union was the aggressor. so then that created a strategic challenge. here was a country with which we had no diplomatic relations and no means of contact which maybe was going to be attacked by the soviet union and we had the vietnam war to deal with. and so nixon agree d that we ha to make clear that from the point of view from we were not indifferent. in fact, that we would be
concerned. here is a country on the verge of being attacked. the chinese noticed this. i won't go through every step but it took us three years of very -- some of the communications the chinese sent to us were inscrutable by western standards. it was the first communication. chinese communication that was the first message we had from us from a head through a head to a head. that was true but how to go from
there to -- all i'm saying is nixon was infinitely patient about this. and the essence was you pay the same price for doing something halfway and doing it completely so you might as well do it completely. so he -- strategic structure of the united states was based on -- another example in 1969, we decided that we were going to
try to push the soviet military out of the middle east. and it sounded crazy. i stupidly said this in a press conference, that this was out of -- everybody thought it was so ridiculous. but we did it systematically by thwarting every soviet move based on military thought until it was decided he could make war with soviet arms but in order to make peace he had to use american diplomacy. these are the examples, right? and, of course, the same was true of vietnam. in the literature of the journalist, everybody said oh, nixon likes war so he's
continuing the war. we had a strategy that was designed to get an honorable end and be defined honorable that the vietnamese people should have the right to make their own choice, that we would not turn over a government that our predecessors -- not we, democratic predecessors had helped install to a country or to a movement that was the only issue in the vietnam negotiation. every other had been filled. and i can tell you, winston was my closest associate. and when he started, we were discussing would he be better
off being outside, protesting? he decided, no, he was going to stay and help finish it. there was a dramatic moment with the top vietnamese negotiated leader who handed him a piece of paper which accepted a proposal that nixon had made public six months earlier and when the meeting ended i turned to winston and i said we've got him. it was the high point of my governmental period. it turned out we didn't do it because the country cut off support for the vietnamese because we were torn in a lot of domestic -- but this is the way
nixon approaches things. >> first of all, i agree with you about the high point. certainly for me personally, and the great honor it was to be there. another dimension of statesmanship particularly with nixon and that is courage to make tough decisions. the statesman has to take society where it is and move it to where he sees it with his own vision. that's another way of saying making -- because others can't necessarily see where we're going. one example is the china visit i remember now with conventional wisdom to say it was inevitable we were going to open up with china some day. they forget how controversial that was and could have been. i railroad flying back when air force one -- others in this room who remember this, that the president and dr. kissinger were concerned about the public
reaction in the united states to this initiative. we were not aware of the colorful, dramatic television images across america that had made this dramatic and popular. this is just an example that even coming back after the shanghai communicae, nixon could not be sure it was going to be as popular as it turned out to be. you may want to give other instances but whether it's vietnam or other issues, it wasn't that he knew where he was going but willing to take a lot of unpopularity to get there. >> actually, in the film you're showing, i was sort of amused to see pat buchanan was favorable of the trip to china. on the presidential plane he was coming back and all the way back, pat was beating up on nixon and me, how we had sold
out the conservatives. but he has now seen the light and i'm happy to see him. and he's now recorded in the museum here. >> talk to us for a minute about the division of labor between nixon and kissinger. there are plays written about nixon and kissinger. it's almost like the two of you had to be together at the same time, that nixon without kiss g kissinger wouldn't have achieved the things kissinger without nixon might have. >> nixon was president. he was the one who made the decisions. if he sent me to china without telling the secretary of state and if the trip had failed, nobody would have blamed me. he would have had the
responsibility. and then in 72, two weeks before he was supposed to go to a summit in moscow and less than six months before an election, and vietnamese had launched an offensive. he decided to blockade north vietnam and resume bombardment. that goes against every principle of domestic politics to do that. and he looked only at the national interests. and at the height of watergate, when the russians threatened to send the -- we thought they threatened to send troops into the middle east, he launched the
air lift and we went on alert. none of these things could have been done if i had had to go to him and convince him of doing something he didn't want to do. now, as i said, he did not see as many people as a normal president does. he and i spent a lot of time together so that i knew his thinking. and we were talking about the incident in china. on my second trip to china, i was supposed to prepare the nixon trip. and we had drafted a communicae to be issued on the nixon trip. in china, i had no communications with washington because there was no add equate
communication system. so we submitted what we had drafted and they looked at it for an evening. at first we thought we can work within that framework. and then came back from mao and said this is nonsense. you're pretending to have an agreement when there isn't a full agreement. so i propose or we propose that we list our disagreements and then we put in a few agreements. that will make the agreement believable and it will -- now here i was, sitting in beijing with no means of communication. and i was prepare d to junk the approved comumunicae because i
was convinced that nixon could see the good sense in the chinese proposal. that's exactly what happened when i came back. of course, there are things you need to fix. but as a concept. so nixon and i -- and i know no exception where we did not agree on the strategy. when i went off on a negotiation, i never received any cables. can you remember? in all the negotiations, there was -- and i sent him a daily report except when i was in china. i sent him a daily report. i never got a reply that said you shouldn't have done this or a reply that you should do something else. but it wasn't that i convinced
him to do this. it grew out of a dialogue that was really permanent. and that's really how we worked together. he would be reading books and memos and i was called in for these discussions and they would go on for quite a while. and i was trying to get back to my day-to-day stuff but it was a very close cooperation. >> you mentioned, you referred earlier to nixon knew where he wanted to go and took the -- patiently took the steps to get there. you also talked and written about the way that nixon and you saw foreign policy not just as
american/chinese relations or american soviet relations or american egyptian relations. you saw the interconnectedness of it. can you elaborate on that for a minute? >> you have to look at the situation that nixon found when he came into office. the soviet union had just occupied czech loccupy ed czechloslavakia a few months earlier. both the chinese and we thought they might attack but we had no communication with the chinese. we had war in vietnam and within two weeks of nixon coming into office, the vietnamese started an offensive in which we had 500 casualties a week. we had, in one month, more e casualties than we had in the
whole afghanistan experience. the middle east states, most of the middle east states had broken diplomatic relations with us because of the -- during the '67 war in the previous administration and each were conducting undeclared air war along the suez canal. and all of this happened in the third week of the war. so one basic principle we had is that you have to be able to lift these various efforts together. you can't commit, say, the soviet union to have very good relations over china but conduct
a war in the middle east. and so one of the first things that was done was we sent a letter from nixon to all the departments saying that we meant state department loves to negotiate. if you interrupt a negotiation for strategic region, they think that's the beginning of a negotiation not a presidential order. but if you watch the basic policy of nixon, he was try iin to if you take for example iranian negotiations, i don't know what
ideas he would have had. i know he would not have wanted to make a military agreement without a political component. so this was the basic approach. >> henry, i would add that in terms of the landscape that the president inherited, the domestic turmoil, the riots, assassinations, protests against the war in which seemed to me -- made it even more complicated. seemed to me one of the greatest achievements was to lift the morale of the american people and the credibility of the united states in the world that we were not mired in vietnam, we were not crippled by domestic turmoil. he could make bold moves and, therefore, change the landscape. >> so we thought it was exciting to work in that favor.
that was the essence of this. and i think the reason for its success -- >> talk for a minute about the whole legacy. not just china, vietnam. what is the overarching legacy of president nixon's foreign policy advances? >> well, first of all, he inherited a domestic situation, as has been pointed out, in which there has been assassinations, constant demonstrations and obsession with the vietnam war. he had put before the american people a vision and said we are about world order. and that's why we want to have
relations with china and that's why we have prepared to talk to the soviet union. and europe also should look at it. i mean, these were his basic themes. and he had always been accused of being a war monger. once the policy got going, some of his critics were saying if nixon is for peace, maybe we ought to look at peace. maybe there's something wrong with peace. and suddenly found himself accused of being soft on the soviet union after having gone through -- ordering two alerts, one in 1970 and the other in
1973. and in the world, whether the people agreed with every large thing that we did or not, there was a sense that the united states had a sense of direction, that we knew what we were doing and we knew -- or we were trying to balance the incentives and penalties in such a way as to get the best possible result. therefore i believe and i have written it. and i'm going to say it again in a speech in england i think nixon was the most consequential foreign policy president that we've had.
[ applause ] now the american psychology in history, if there is tension somewhe somewhere, we think it can be removed in one situation. we don't look at underlying causes. we think there's a problem, we fix it and it can go away. our chinese friends think the solution of a problem is an admission ticket to another problem and that, therefore, you have to look at the sequence of events and so with nixon foreign policy, you couldn't step out there with one great speech like -- say like kennedy say g
saying -- nixon foreign policy was complicated. but if you looked at its pattern, it had a purpose and that is the lesson that sooner or later we'll have to learn as a country. because we are now so connected with other people that you think of final solutions that gets you into a frame of mind that led to world war i, which we can't afford. nobody can afford. so this is the real legacy of nixon. it isn't any one of these steps we're taking that we described
here but the pattern and the way of picking. >> you, probably more than -- please, go ahead. [ applause ] >> ron walker. okay. if you can, do it without a mike. there you go. >> 1970, 2007 how come i never have crowds when i arrive? i said dr. kissinger, i don't know. you always arrive with the president and, therefore, that's where the crowds are. you came in on a separate airplane on 9-70. winston, you may not remember this. i grounded up -- rounded up
maybe 50 to 100, maybe 100 workers on the ground and as you were exiting the airport, you came out and you had a big smile and you stood on the ramp and you gave it one of these. do you remember that, sir? >> ron walker has just reiterated one of the great moments when you were in -- in rome? >> rome. >> and you were pretending you were richard nixon and you were doing the v signs. is that right? >> you had been very disappointed that you had never had any crowds for your arrival. so we made arrangements for you to have a very responsive crowd that said viva nixon, viva kissinger. >> thank you. >> what did i do? >> i've got one final question.
here we go. >> you know, lose their sense of proportion. i don't remember that i would have been so suicidal as to imitating president nixon. >> i have one question about nixon, the man. you saw nixon the great diplomat, nixon the world leader, nixon the president. but what was nixon the man like? you were with him at his highest moments of achievement and you were also with him at some of the most difficult moments. share with us sort of the personal courage of the man, as governor wilson says, i'm not a quitter. the man who kept going even when times were tough. the man who had the courage and found deep within himself some real moral character. >> nixon had an impulsive side
so that he might react quickly to a challenge but you knew that if he thought about it again, he would put it into -- so i separate what he might -- you can get a lot of quotes from these office conversations where he would say we ought to do this and we ought to do that. but if you read on, you would see it never happened when it was put that way. in personal conversation, certainly, i never saw him raise his voice to any staffer. he was extremely polite.
>> he was just like you, henry. >> just like you, exactly. polite, never raised his voice. always very respectful and appreciative. i think before -- >> i found him -- i remember my working with him with great pleasure. there were never -- i can't think actually of a single confrontational moment. there were points where he thought he had a different view or i had a different view but i really cannot think in any of the big policy decisions -- i read all this stuff where he would send me a cable and order me to do something different. that never happened. when i went to office, we had always -- whatever needed to be
done. he was sub oriented. he didn't like to talk about a lot of gossip. so most of my conversations with him -- i would say 95%. >> i know that you have to leave. but is there anything you want to leave with us, the people -- many of the people in this room were with president nixon in the white house, in the administration, were there in the golden age of american diplomacy. a number of other people are very young. they're studying about president nixon. what do you want to leave us with, the final thoughts of president nixon? >> i think the fundamental problem remains the willingness to ask the questions and our
administration, our government very rarely does it because our machinery of government is geared to actually cables that come in with problems. there is a theatrical mechanism but i've now heard in one way or another. he is the president who has been most concerned with long-range purposes and with wanting to know where we're going and really what people ought to take away is there are no flashy solutions to the middle east problem. the solution will be to understand correctly what are the forces -- which are the forces we need to balance, which are the forces with which we can
cooperate and which are the ones we need to defeat. and then we have to find who we can do it with or if we have to do it alone. anyone who says he has a solution to the syrian problem, when you put so many nationalities and religions in one political unit and then try to decapitate the head, they'll start fighting with each other. unless you reassert some authority, and it's no clever intellectual solution. i feel very strongly we have to start teaching this attitude in our schools of foreign service and foreign policy because
that's at the heart of it. i, unfortunately, have to get to los angeles where my son has assembled 50 hollywood guys. >> as usual. >> it will not be as friendly as you are. >> as usual, dr. kissinger has to leave. [ applause ] drr kissinger is on his way to hollywood. his reputation was that he always had a beautiful actress who was waiting for him, a
beautiful hollywood actress. so he has just announced he's going back to hollywood. some things never change. thank you all very much. [ applause ] with less than a week left in campaign 2016, american history tv brings you a look back at past presidential debates, including debates between gerald ford and jimmy carter, george h.w. bush and governor bill clinton, ronald reagan and walter mondale as well as george h.w. bush be and michael dukakis. that all starts at 8:00 pm eastern. in the morning acting administrator for the centers for medicare and medicaid services will talk about containing health care costs. that's live at 9:00 am eastern right here on c-span 3.
>> this weekend on c-span 3 on lectures in history, colin calloway on native american history from the colonial era through westward expansion. >> these red coats who presented themselves to us as allies and friends of the future are clearly our enemies, occupying our lands with troops, which is one thing we're fighting against. at the same time by cutting off and withholding gifts, refusing to give gifts, limiting trade with us, that's essentially a declaration of hostile intent. >> later, at 10:00 on reel america we look back to the 1966 campaign for california governor between incumbent democrat edmondg. pat brown and challenger ronald reagan. >> my experience has turned knee
inevitably to the people for problem. just as instinctively i put my faith in the economy. and believe the people's rightened ability to run their own affairs. >> and every single solid taer category of business that tells whether or not california's economy is good is proven that we have done a good job. >> then sunday morning at 10:00 eastern on road to the white house rewind. >> next tuesday all of you will go to the polls and stand there in the polling place and make a decision. i think when you make that decision it might be well if you would ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago? >> our proposals are very sound and very carefully considered to stimulate jobs, to improve the industrial complex of this country, to create tools for american workers and at the same time would be anti-inflammationry in nature. >> 1980 debate between incumbent
president jimmy carter and former california governor ronald reagan. at 7:00 -- >> a realist would not have devoted his life to fighting slavery and a realist would not have said this, which is that a dissolution of the union for the cause of slavery would be followed by a war between the two severed portions of the union. it seems to me its result might be the exculpitation of slavery. so glorious would be its final issue that so god would judge me i dare not say then it is not to be desired. >> at the new york historical society, james legacy of the sixth president. for our complete american
history tv schedule, go to cspan.org. the richard nixon presidential library and museum in california completed a major renovation last month. the museum's designer sat down to talk about how they revised the exhibits to tell a more complete story about president nixon and his administration. this is just over 90 minutes. ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the new richard nixon presidential library and museum. today's program will be introduced by ronald a. walker and david farial. the arcavist of the united states. [ applause ]