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My Memories of Henry:  A different Interpretation of the Man
Paul Craig Roberts

Henry Kissinger at 100 years of age left the world he temporarily altered for the better after watching the neoconservatives in the Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden regimes wipe out his accomplishments.

Kissinger and President Nixon were men of peace.  They inherited a disastrous war–Vietnam–that they had no hand in making.  President John F. Kennedy intended to stop the war before it could get started, which was one of the reasons he was assassinated by the CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secret Service.  The Soviet Threat had to be resisted even at the cost of President Kennedy’s life and the trauma inflicted on what was still in those days a free nation.

President Nixon and Kissinger also had to restart the efforts of President Kennedy to defuse the dangerous tensions of the Cold War that both the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam war brought to the surface.  The pursuit of detente by the Nixon administration produced the Strategic  Arms Limitations Agreement and created a working relationship between Washington and Moscow.  Nixon’s opening to China might have prevented another war.  Nixon and Kissinger’s achievements in defusing the Cold War were unrivaled until President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev ended the Cold war.

The Clinton regime violated the word of the George H.W. Bush administration that in exchange for the Soviet Union permitting the reunification of Germany, the US would not move NATO one inch toward the East.  All subsequent US regimes exited from all of the arms agreements that had reduced tensions and created a bond of trust between the nuclear superpowers.  This bond is especially important, because of the numerous false warnings from warning systems.

The consequence of unraveling the work of Nixon, Kissinger, and Reagan is the total lack of trust today between the US and Russia.  The situation today is far worse than it was in the darkest days of the Cold War.

As an insider I well know that the problem of conservative presidents, such as Nixon and Reagan, in easing tensions with Russia is that their conservative base is suspicious of the effort.  I well remember that Reagan’s efforts at detente with the Soviet Union were suspected by Reagan’s conservative base. Conservatives worried that a former movie star was not a match for cunning communists, and that America would come out the loser.

Nixon faced a worse problem. He was trapped by President Johnson’s regime in a gratuitous war that could not be won.  But if he left without winning he would endanger his base of support.  The problem of the conservative base is the reason both Reagan and Nixon spoke aggressively, thus causing the leftwing to see them as warmongers. 

The dilemma Nixon and Kissinger faced is the reason for the Cambodian bombings.  They were desperate to get a situation from which they could exit the war without it being interpreted as a defeat by their political base. They were trying to use force to achieve an honorable exit, but the enemy would not give it to them.

The leftwing, of course, unable to comprehend the conundrum, interpreted  Nixon and Kissinger as war criminals.  This erroneous interpretation has held to the present day. See: 

Today I still encounter American conservatives who claim that Reagan won the Cold War.  This is nonsense.  Reagan told those of us involved that the purpose was to end, not win, the Cold War.

Conservatives justify Reagan as the winner of the Cold War, as the man who collapsed the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union collapsed three years after Reagan left office.  No one, including the CIA, expected the collapse of the Soviet Union.  It caught the US government off guard.  The Soviet collapse occurred because hardline members of the Politburo, who feared Gorbachev was liberalizing too rapidly, placed Soviet President Gorbachev under house arrest. It was Gorbachev’s arrest that led to Yeltsin and the   collapse of the Soviet Union.

Henry Kissinger was not a neoconservative who believed in US hegemony over the world.  He believed in stability.  American power was to be used to maintain stability.  In those days there were still Marxist movements or alleged Marxist elements which were often only national movements.  In pursuit of stability, Kissinger often overthrew regimes he regarded as destabilizing.  But his reason was to maintain stability in a dangerous world.


Hon. Paul Craig Roberts is the John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. A former editor and columnist for The Wall Street Journal and columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service, he is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate in Los Angeles and a columnist for Investor's Business Daily. In 1992 he received the Warren Brookes Award for Excellence in Journalism. In 1993 the Forbes Media Guide ranked him as one of the top seven journalists.

He was Distinguished Fellow at the Cato Institute from 1993 to 1996. From 1982 through 1993, he held the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. During 1981-82 he served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy. President Reagan and Treasury Secretary Regan credited him with a major role in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, and he was awarded the Treasury Department's Meritorious Service Award for "his outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy." From 1975 to 1978, Dr. Roberts served on the congressional staff where he drafted the Kemp-Roth bill and played a leading role in developing bipartisan support for a supply-side economic policy.

In 1987 the French government recognized him as "the artisan of a renewal in economic science and policy after half a century of state interventionism" and inducted him into the Legion of Honor.

Dr. Roberts' latest books are The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with IPE Fellow Lawrence Stratton, and published by Prima Publishing in May 2000, and Chile: Two Visions - The Allende-Pinochet Era, co-authored with IPE Fellow Karen Araujo, and published in Spanish by Universidad Nacional Andres Bello in Santiago, Chile, in November 2000. The Capitalist Revolution in Latin America, co-authored with IPE Fellow Karen LaFollette Araujo, was published by Oxford University Press in 1997. A Spanish language edition was published by Oxford in 1999. The New Colorline: How Quotas and Privilege Destroy Democracy, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, was published by Regnery in 1995. A paperback edition was published in 1997. Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, co-authored with Karen LaFollette, was published by the Cato Institute in 1990. Harvard University Press published his book, The Supply-Side Revolution, in 1984. Widely reviewed and favorably received, the book was praised by Forbes as "a timely masterpiece that will have real impact on economic thinking in the years ahead." Dr. Roberts is the author of Alienation and the Soviet Economy, published in 1971 and republished in 1990. He is the author of Marx's Theory of Exchange, Alienation and Crisis, published in 1973 and republished in 1983. A Spanish language edition was published in 1974.

Dr. Roberts has held numerous academic appointments. He has contributed chapters to numerous books and has published many articles in journals of scholarship, including the Journal of Political Economy, Oxford Economic Papers, Journal of Law and Economics, Studies in Banking and Finance, Journal of Monetary Economics, Public Finance Quarterly, Public Choice, Classica et Mediaevalia, Ethics, Slavic Review, Soviet Studies, Rivista de Political Economica, and Zeitschrift fur Wirtschafspolitik. He has entries in the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Economics and the New Palgrave Dictionary of Money and Finance. He has contributed to Commentary, The Public Interest, The National Interest, Harper's, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Fortune, London Times, The Financial Times, TLS, The Spectator, Il Sole 24 Ore, Le Figaro, Liberation, and the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. He has testified before committees of Congress on 30 occasions.

Dr. Roberts was educated at the Georgia Institute of Technology (B.S.), the University of Virginia (Ph.D.), the University of California at Berkeley and Oxford University where he was a member of Merton College.

He is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, The Dictionary of International Biography, Outstanding People of the Twentieth Century, and 1000 Leaders of World Influence. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: [email protected]


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