Monday, May 28, 2007

Nixon and Kissinger

Robert Dallek, who has produced many acclaimed biographies of American presidents, has now come up with a book, Nixon and Kissinger: partners in power, which details the profound mistrust between the two Machiavellian characters.

The Economist (May 17) has an excellent review of the book that mentions how the distrust destroyed Nixon's presidency.

Nixon's downfall was in the end brought about by the “smoking gun” contained in his own White House tapes. The taping mechanism had been installed to provide an accurate account of his conversations with his national security adviser in order to prevent Mr Kissinger from falsely claiming credit for Nixon's accomplishments

The book also details the paranoia that had gripped the principal characters in the Nixon administration:

Among those whose telephones were tapped were close aides of the secretaries of state and of defence; this was tantamount to recording the conversations of their bosses. The secretary of defence used the National Security Agency and the army's signal corps, which was in charge of secure White House telephone calls, to keep tabs on both Mr Kissinger and Nixon. A naval yeoman attached to the National Security Council was instructed to go through secret files of Mr Kissinger's that had been put aside in “burn bags” for destruction and make copies for the joint chiefs of staff. Alexander Haig, Mr Kissinger's deputy, would surreptitiously supply the president with transcripts of Mr Kissinger's telephone conversations. No wonder Mr Kissinger believed his line was tapped. And no wonder both president and national security adviser were routinely described by their colleagues as “paranoid”.

1 comment:

Krishnan said...

Wonderful as history is, it is a shame we did not any/some of all this before/during those Nixon shenanigans, or perhaps we did and did not realize what was going on.

I wonder about the current Bush Presidency and the enormous power grab orchestrated by the Vice President, Dick Cheney. Talk about being a fly-on-the-wall in his chambers/office/private jails/. The true nature of the disaster called the "W" Bush presidency will sure show how destructive Cheney was and the extent to which he usurped power not only from the President himself but from everyone else. (Cheney's National Security Staff/resources are apparently larger than what the President himself enjoys - I can see why Cheney annointed himself as the VP while being head of the committee to get a VP). Unfortunately even the present congress is too busy porking themselves and the American people to go after Cheney - no doubt given the fact that many in congress are themselves culpable. The more I see the machinations of politicians, the more I realize - they are all the same!