The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy

The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy

The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy

The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy

Synopsis

Henry Kissinger dominated American foreign relations like no other figure in recent history. He negotiated an end to American involvement in the Vietnam War, opened relations with Communist China, and orchestrated detente with the Soviet Union. Yet he is also the man behind the secret bombing of Cambodia and policies leading to the overthrow of Chile's President Salvador Allende. Which is more accurate, the picture of Kissinger the skilled diplomat or Kissinger the war criminal? In The Flawed Architect, the first major reassessment of Kissinger in over a decade, historian Jussi Hanhimaki paints a subtle, carefully composed portrait of America's most famous and infamous statesman. Drawing on extensive research from newly declassified files, the author follows Kissinger from his beginnings in the Nixon administration up to the current controversy fed by Christopher Hitchens over whether Kissinger is a war criminal. Hanhimaki guides the reader through White House power struggles and debates behind the Cambodia and Laos invasions, the search for a strategy in Vietnam, the breakthrough with China, and the unfolding of Soviet-American detente. Here, too, are many other international crises of the period--the Indo-Pakistani War, the Yom Kippur War, the Angolan civil war--all set against the backdrop of Watergate. Along the way, Hanhimaki sheds light on Kissinger's personal flaws--he was obsessed with secrecy and bureaucratic infighting in an administration that self-destructed in its abuse of power--as well as his great strengths as a diplomat. We see Kissinger negotiating, threatening and joking with virtually all of the key foreign leaders of the 1970s, from Mao to Brezhnev and Anwar Sadat to Golda Meir. This well researched account brings to life the complex nature of American foreign policymaking during the Kissinger years. It will be the standard work on Kissinger for years to come.

Excerpt

It was late afternoon on December 10, 1973. At the town hall of Oslo, Norway, everyone was getting ready for the ritual that each year briefly focuses the world's attention on this Scandinavian capital: the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. There was just one problem: the recipient of the prize, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Alfred Kissinger, was nowhere in sight.

Two months earlier, the Norwegian Nobel Committee had, in fact, announced two winners. Le Duc Tho, Kissinger's principal North Vietnamese counterpart in the Paris peace talks, angrily refused to accept the prize, denouncing South Vietnamese violations of the January 1973 agreements. Kissinger had accepted but cited a NATO foreign ministers' conference in Brussels as the reason for his absence from the ceremonies. Many observers, though, assumed that he simply did not wish to be subjected to the wrath of the demonstrators who would surely protest his winning the award. Others wondered whether Kissinger decided to bypass the ceremonies in order not to further inflame his tense relationship with his boss, Richard Nixon, who resented his high-profile secretary of state for stealing the limelight while the president himself was being attacked for his role in the Watergate scandal. Whatever the reason for Kissinger's absence from Oslo, however, the U.S. ambassador to Norway, Thomas Byrne, ended up reading Kissinger's brief acceptance speech to an audience, which in keeping with the uniqueness of that year's ceremony, had not filled the auditorium. In the United States Edwin Reischauer, a renowned scholar of Japan, tapped into the popular mood when he quipped that the choice of Kissinger “shows either that the people of Norway have a very poor . . .

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