Dr. Kissinger wraps up his book with some pragmatic advice for the WH policy-making processes. Among the general guidelines are a clear purpose, a thought-through analysis of consequences, and the fine art of striking the right balance between gathering information and acting before it’s too late.
President Ford discusses Vietnam with Kissinger, Martin, General Wayland and Scowcroft.
From his memoirs in Years of Renewal:
Because our Constitution confers extraordinary powers on the President, there can be no absolute rules as to how policy should be formulated or conducted; some scope must be left for the chief executive’s personality and psychological makeup. Nevertheless, I would distill certain general principles from what I have observed or studied.
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After a solid block of delving into Nixon, the book moves on to the reshuffling in the Ford Administration. And how Rumsfeld is beating out Kissinger from his turf, rejecting the soft philosophy of détente from the past. More strength is needed. The Secretary of State Kissinger is even removed away from his base in the White House.
Kissinger interrupts with news from Saigon. At the meeting: Ford, Cheney,
Greenspan, Rockefeller, Rumsfeld, Zarb, Friedersdorf, Marsh.
Click for bigger picture. The golden days of the Nixon-Kissinger Presidency are gone..
Just listen to this dialogue. Morning August 8th, 1974. Vice-President Ford has just gotten the news from President Nixon that he will resign, and calls Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to offer and ask him to stay on board.
President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger, 1974-77.
The language and matter-of-factness are beautiful:
FORD: Good morning.
KISSINGER: Mr. Vice President.
FORD: How are you, Henry?
FORD: I just finished talking with the President, and he gave me his decision, and we spent about an hour and twenty minutes over there. During the course of the conversation, he indicated that you were the only one in the Cabinet with whom he had shared his decision.
KISSINGER: That is right.
We’ll give it a go. Brushed through the preface in the library last night, and noticed how I’ve missed the language and abstract analysis and ambiguities of Henry Kissinger. One of the most brilliant minds of all times.
Small updates and snippets as we go along.
Trivia from the first pages – his mother lived to the age of 97. And he calls the 30 months of the Henry Ford Presidency an overture for later and bigger changes.
The book was published in 1999 – over twenty years after. With philosophical hindsight – and less immediate need to justify the events and actions, but more emphasis on explanations, in his own words.
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Tagged 1970s, book, book review, books, diplomacy, ford, kissinger, library, memoirs, politics, secretary of state