Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kissinger and the pres - NPR Fresh Air

Thanks to Dan Colman's blog Open Culture, I have found the podcasts published by NPR, especially Fresh Air. From Fresh Air I have listened to a rerun of an interview Terry Gross had with Robert Dallek about his book Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power. The Nixon-Kissinger relationship comes to be identified by Terry Gross as a 'bad marriage', where both partners are terribly dependent and at the same time distrust, detest and fear each other. Dallek agrees.

What makes the interview so impressively relevant are the parallels one inescapably sees between the handling of the war and the retreat from Vietnam, with today's situation in Iraq. When Nixon and Kissinger still were feeding the public with rhetoric of impending victory and a glorious retreat from Vietnam, behind closed doors they were totally aware of the hopeless situation the US was in. Yet, their cynicism allowed them to scam their way. The highest good was to limit political losses, keep face and not the interests of the US let alone of the public. In away this also blinded them from the notion in the world at large: every additional minute the US stayed in Vietnam was rubbing off adversely.

Dallek makes the talk all the more actual, when he reveals (to me this was news) the Bush administration is seeking the advice of Mr. Kissinger. Dallek fears that he will instruct Bush to handle Iraq as Nixon and Kissinger handled Vietnam. Again the US administration fails to understand how bad it looks elsewhere anyway and will scheme with propaganda and a protracted retreat in an effort not to lose face. A face lost a long time ago.