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Kissinger on War

In response to:

An Impeachable Source Who Can Be Identified from the September 25, 1969 issue

To the Editors:

In the issue of September 25, 1969, Mr. Clayton Fritchey states that “Nixon had little to go on in studying Kissinger’s writings for a clue to his real feelings about Vietnam. In having kept most of his thoughts on the war to himself all these years, Kissinger is almost alone among the nation’s prominent students of foreign policy.” This statement is not supported by the record. In the August 9, 1966 issue of Look, Kissinger published an article strongly supporting the war. The first section entitled “The Impossibility of Withdrawal” ends with this summation: “In short, we are no longer fighting in Vietnam only for the Vietnamese. We are also fighting for ourselves and for international stability.” On February 6, 1966, the German Broadcasting and TV System taped a program in which I opposed the war while Kissinger supported it. He did the same in public lectures. Furthermore, considering the Johnson administration’s abhorrence of dissent, Kissinger would not have been sent on official missions to Vietnam had he not supported the policies of that administration. Finally, the Rockefeller-Kissinger peace plan of July 13, 1968 is based upon the assumptions of the Johnson administration. Thus Nixon could have had no doubt as to where Kissinger stood on Vietnam.

Hans J. Morgenthau

Chicago

Clayton Fritchey replies:

I agree with Professor Morgenthau that Nixon must have satisfied himself about Kissinger’s views before appointing him, for the President interviewed the Professor at some length in New York prior to hiring him. There was little on the public record, however, to guide the President. Mr. Morgenthau refers to a Kissinger article in Look three years ago, and a German radio broadcast that was not heard in the US. Compare that with Professor Morgenthau’s record. Almost every literate American knows where the latter stands because he has probably made over one hundred public assaults on the Vietnam war in the form of articles, lectures, speeches, debates, etc. Like thousands, perhaps millions, of others, I have been impressed and influenced by his forthright and compelling views.

However influential Kissinger has been behind the scenes, I doubt if he had any public impact on the Vietnam issue before going to the White House. I also agree with Mr. Morgenthau that “Kissinger would not have been sent on official missions to Vietnam had he not supported the policies of the Johnson Administration.” In fact, I wrote that “when Nixon invited him [Kissinger] to join his staff, he must have sensed in Kissinger the qualities that also appealed to other Presidents he has advised—the coldness and belief in Realpolitik that are reassuring to the White House.”

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