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Ferguson also writes, "If Henry Kissinger really was so keen for a government job after the 1968 election, was leaking sensitive information about the Vietnam negotiations to Richard Nixon-who was by no means guaranteed to win-the obvious way to get it?" The first response to this strange rhetorical question is to point out that no presidential candidate is guaranteed to win an election. The second is to note that Kissinger hedged his bets, simultaneously approaching the campaign of the Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey and dangling files of opposition research on Nixon, whom he claimed to loathe. (One of Humphrey's staffers called this double dealing "grotesque.") And the third response to Ferguson's question is to emphasize the opportunistic nature of Kissinger's movements. He had picked another candidate in Rockefeller, but Rockefeller lost his party's nomination. So Kissinger set about wooing the Republican and Democratic candidates in any way he could. Ingratiating oneself to both presidential campaigns at the eleventh hour seems like exactly the way to get a government job. K issinger's complete legacy is beyond the scope of Ferguson's book, which ends just before Kissinger assumes power in 1969. But it is the subject of Greg Grandin's Kissinger's Shadow. Grandin, a historian at New York University, contends that Kissinger has left us with war as an instrument of policy, less as a last resort than as a kind of peacock's strut. "Kissinger taught that there was no such thing as stasis in international affairs," Grandin writes. "[G]reat states are always either gaining or losing influence, which means that the balance of power has to be constantly tested through gesture and deed." (He quotes Kissinger as asking a fellow cabinet member, "Can't we overthrow one of the sheikhs just to show that we can do it?") The abiding concern driving Kissinger's foreign policy was therefore maintaining credibility: action to avoid the appearance of inability to act. Hence, Grandin persuasively argues, the bombing of Cambodia is Kissinger's signature policy, supported as it was by a self-perpetuating justification. Kissinger helped scupper the Paris peace talks in 1968, and then when INTERNATIONAL FULL-SERVICE SALON AND SPA Hair * Nails * Skin Makeup * Wigs Hair Replacement Spa Services Boutique Featuring private rooms for discreet, caring hair replacement and wig services for cancer patients. As seen in The Washingtonian: "Dealing With Cancer" 20% OFF for new clients 2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW * Washington DC 20007 Please call 202.965.2100 for your appointment www.EivindAndHans.com 120 September/October 2015 the talks were set to resume, the United States needed to show its resolve-so it began bombing Cambodia. In secret. Secrecy is very much a part of Kissinger's legacy. His systematic efforts to keep the war in Cambodia from becoming public- false records, wiretaps, blatant lies told to Congress-are much more disturbing than the fourth-rate jiggery-pokery of Watergate. Ferguson downplays this too, projecting his disagreement by writing disdainfully that "we are told" Kissinger loved secrecy. Perhaps Ferguson could prove his point by finding the client list of Kissinger Associates, the business consultancy that facilitates relationships between corporations and governments, often in the world's nastiest places. Sometimes diplomacy requires secrecy, as when Kissinger took elaborate steps to hide his advance visits to China in preparation for Nixon's historic meeting with Mao. But sometimes secrecy merely serves domestic political purposes-and sometimes it lubricates the accumulation of power. By the time Secretary of State William Rogers learned that Kissinger was conducting the nation's foreign policy without even notifying his department, it was too late to stop him. It would be unfair to discuss Kissinger's legacy without mentioning his triumphs: the opening to China, nuclear nonproliferation agreements, and diplomacy in the Middle East during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Yet I suspect the abiding image of Kissinger will come from Hitchens, who observed Kissinger panicking in 1998 after learning that the federal government planned to release details of Pinochet's killings and torture-and that this might implicate him. "Sitting in his office at Kissinger Associates, with its tentacles of business and consultancy stretching from Belgrade to Beijing, and cushioned by innumerable other directorships and boards, he still shudders when he hears of the arrest of a dictator." Realpolitik is ugly business. And for Henry Kissinger, business was good. Michael O'Donnell is an attorney in the Chicago area and a frequent contributor to the Washington Monthly. His writing also appears in the Atlantic, the Nation, and the Wall Street Journal. http://www.EivindAndHans.com http://www.EivindAndHans.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Monthly - September/October 2015

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