Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 3 No. 2 Summer 1981

power over the bureaucracies in the State Department and other branches of Governnment—a task Kissinger undertook with such relish as an exercise of his own ego in the service of his greatman interpretation of history. That done, Kissinger could begin the effort to order and balance the world. He now and again admitted the impossibility of doing that without a clear conception of such a system, and likewise spoke of the importance of justice, but he never provided either the vision of the definition of justice. Indeed, Kissinger had little patience with anyone who was concerned with the character of the world order he invoked so often. In one classic instance, for example, he dismissed such people for “confusing social reform with geopolitics.” Yet his favorite word to define geopolitics was “equilibrium”—little more than a fancy synonym for order. As for justice, Kissinger might usefully have remembered the rabbi’s wisdom about Deuteronomy 16:20: “Justice, justice shalt thou pursue.” Asked why the word justice is repeated, the rabbi explained that it was done to emphasize the necessity of pursuing justice with justice. Given the Nixon-Kissinger willingness to settle for controlling nothing more than the world outside Russia and Eastern Europe, their policy of detente and strategic arms control was a rational first step toward that objective. And it is certainly arguable that their approach to China (despite their tactics of secrecy and shock) was on balance a positive and stabilizing maneuver as long as it was not allowed to become a part of a new strategy of containment designed to destabilize the Soviet Union. And that caveat applies to subsequent American leaders as well as to Nixon and Kissinger. The weaknesses of the Nixon-Kissinger approach became clear in their dealings with the rest of the world. On the one hand, they defined stabilization as allowing the United States to decide what was permissable and impermissable beyond the Soviet sphere. But, on the other hand, they lacked any significant It is difficult to imagine how anyone of Kissinger’s intelligence could combine more errors of perception, understanding, analysis and policy in dealing with Iran. comprehension or understanding of the dynamic, causal interrelationships between economics, politics and social affairs within the poor regions of the world, or between the global rich and poor. Hence they mistakenly linked any changes not approved or controlled by the United States to the influence of the Russians. The unhappy results became most apparent in Cambodia, Chile and Iran. The unconstitutional bombing of Cambodia, which clearly did more to destroy the fabric and morale of that society than the incursion of the North Vietnamese which Kissinger used to justify the monstrous act, is in some respects less revealing of their diplomacy than their actions in Chile and Iran. The American Ambassador to Chile began his report on that nation’s Presidential election of 1970 with these words: “Chile voted calmly to have a Marxist-Leninist state, the first nation in the world to make this choice freely and knowingly. [Italics added.] In keeping with the primary responsibility of a foreign service officer, that is an essentially factual report; although adding the term Leninist to Marxist has long been the routine ploy used by those in power in America to turn an avowed socialist into a Communist pawn of the Kremlin. The ambassador then offered, in a wholly legitimate way, his evaluation of the evidence: it was his view “a grievous defeat’* for the United States. Kissinger’s account of America’s subsequent efforts to prevent Salvador Allende from becoming President of Chile, and later to destabilize and subvert his Government, is remarkable for its conscious and unconscious revelations about the Nixon-Kissinger conduct of foreign affairs. Before Allende became President, for example, Kissinger presents the man as a doctrinaire Communist in the Russian mold. Once Allende becomes President, however, Kissinger talks about the possibility that he will become such a puppet. In a similar way, the former Secretary of State stresses Allende’s narrow plurality in 1970 without once noting, even in a footnote, that Allende increased his vote in the next election, which was held in accordance with Chile’s constitution. All that tells us more than Kissinger intended us to know, but he is even more illuminating when he insists that “our concern with Allende was based on national security, not on economics,” and proceeds to emphasize “American interests in the hemisphere.” There are three responses. First, Kissinger cannot seriously expect the observer to believe that Washington was worried about the Russians’ turning Chile into a base for a strategic—geopolitical—military attack on the United States. Even he admits that the matter had been settled during the Cuban missile crisis, and, for that matter, refined during his tenure in the basement of the White House. Second, if Kissinger did in truth not consider economic interests as an integral part of national security (“American interests in the hemisphere”), then one must conclude that he was stunningly obtuse and probably not qualified to be Secretary of State in the world’s premier capitalist political economy. Third, in view of Kissinger’s presentation of himself as a realist, he wholly ignores the feasibility of working with an elected socialist government as a hardheaded as well as moral strategy to counter the Soviet appeal in the Third World and to give hope to all democratic reformers in the poor nations. American leaders seem to be limited in their sight to the left by benevolent dictators like Marshall Josip Tito of Yugoslavia. The Secretary’s performance in dealing with Iran offers support for all those criticisms. Give him his due: he has cryptically admitted that his comprehension of the relationships between economic, political and social development was less than sophisticated. Hardly even rudimentary. But that is only part of the explanation of his failure in Iran. For it is extremely doubtful that anyone could control events in the non-Soviet world. Asked for his comment on the matter, Karl Marx would have laughed aloud in the reading room of the British Museum. Still and all, it is difficult to imagine how anyone of Kissinger’s intelligence Alan Costieys Cobblers Bench 816 sw 10 portland 222 2577 Maine Moes by Chris Craft red, navy, green, yellow, brown, taupe, wine, $25. 28 Clinton St. Quarterly