Sadmir house. In other words, the book devotes a

Sadmir Sisic


Sadmir Sisic, Istanbul Sehir
University, [email protected], Orhantepe Mahallesi, Turgut Özal
Bulvar?, No: 21, Dragos, 34865 Kartal/?stanbul, Turkey

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Biography of Author:

            Diplomat and political scientist, Henry
Kissinger, was U.S. secretary of state under Richard Nixon, winning the 1973
Nobel Peace Prize for the Vietnam War accords. Born on May 27, 1923, in Fürth,
Germany, Henry Kissinger became a Harvard professor before assuming leadership
in U.S. foreign policy. Henry Kissinger stands out as the dominant American
statesman and foreign policymaker of the late 20th century. With his
intellectual prowess and tough, skillful negotiating style, Kissinger ended the
Vietnam War and greatly improved American relations with its two primary Cold
War enemies, China and the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Kissinger’s ruthlessly
pragmatic, sometimes Machiavellian tactics have earned him as many critics as
admirers. Kissinger has authored several books and countless articles on
American foreign policy and diplomatic history. One of them is White House
years, which writes up his years of being in White House.


       In the
introduction, I would like to underline the main ideas and concerns of the
book, avoiding the classic summarize. The book “White House
Years”  is a Kissinger memoir, and
political memoirs are usually considered as works of self-justification.
Actually,  Kissinger attempt to justify
his political career, which peaked during President Richard Nixon.  The book is a massive content with a
brilliant historical perspective,  it is
certainly one of the books that anyone should read, but it is not often the
most favorite choice of readers, given the detailed and extensive approach.
Expressing the value of the book,  it is
important to emphasize that, the book enables us to learn firsthand history,
that is from Kissinger who has been managing and determining the course of
history. Kissinger begins with Richard Nixon call in 1969, which led him to
national prominence, and finishing with signing the Paris agreement based on
Vietnam 1972. Actually in the center of events, is placed a crisis of Vietnam
war that has strongly harassed the American nation, but the advances made to
China and Moscow are attributed to Kissinger and his fascinating years in the
white house. In other words, the book devotes a great deal of attention to the
details of the US and North Vietnam negotiation, the launch of a detente;
Kissinger’s secret tasks in Peking, then the analysis of working colleagues as
well as the president of Nixon himself. The “white house years” is
work, that provides a special respect for Kissinger, who was sufficiently
capable to institutionalize the power that he possesses, and the outmoded of
President Richard Nixon himself . These monumental records that end with
Nixon’s resignation in 1974, based on Kissinger’s narrative as National
Security Adviser and State Secretary. The book shows Kissinger as a gifted
portrait, great negotiator, stunning thinker.

      To begin with
the theoretical framework of the boook, 
which is based on the Realist approach, that exclude moral norms as a
relevant factor in the foreign affairs. On the contary, everything is reduced
to the strengthening of state interest and the preservation of American
reputation at all costs, where the goal justifies the asset. This is ironically
reflected in the winning Nobel prize for peace as a pyrrhic victory, due to the
fact that 19,000 Americans are killed since the first Nixon inauguration until
winning a nobel prize for peace.   In
order to define diplomatic understanding of the author,  firstly I would like to emphasize that, the
“White House Years” is considered as a conservative book, inspired by
Kissinger’s patriotism, patriotism that is the result of gratitude and deep
understanding of American values. His gratitude arising from the understanding
of America’s role in relation to the Nazi Germany in which Kissinger survived
his childhood. Actually, the book does not only tell us what Kissinger did
during his fourth term as top foreign affairs advisor but why and how he
performed the function. I realized that Kissinger can be quoted toward Real
Machiavellian Approach. In recent times, a man with a better knowledge of the
real world and more complex political and historical knowledge has not come to
the position of Secretary of State. Alongside of that, the attitude of the
author toward other influential politicians also catch my attention. The book
covers several set studies of personalities which historians ultimately will be
quoted. One of the most interesting is analyzes of  Mao, despite internal conflicts of the
personality that can be noticed after long conversations, Mao kept arrogant and
self-confident, however, the paragraph is too long to be quoted. But there is a
pen recording of President Brezhnev, whom Kissinger  described in the following text : „His hands
were perpetually in motion: twisting his watch; flicking ashes from his
ever-present cigarette; clanging his cigarette-holder against an ash-tray.
could not keep still. While his remarks were being translated he would
restlessly bound up from his chair, walk around the room, engage in loud
conversation with his colleagues, or even leave the room without explanation
and then return. Negotiations with Brezhnev thus included the bizarre feature
that he might disappear at any moment, or while you were being most persuasive
he could be concentrating not on your remarks but on forcing food on you. On
one occasion he brought along a toy cannon to the conference-room normally used
for meetings of the Politburo. It refused to fire. Making it work preoccupied
him far more than whatever profundities I might be uttering at the moment.
Finally the contraption went off with a roar. Brezhnev strutted around the room
like a prize-fighter who has knocked out his opponent”.  Besides, the book notes some diplomatic and
political term novelties the author experienced. In the year 1970 the “First
Annual Report on United States Foreign Policy,” an innovation shoved by
Kissinger to form the American public, the Nixon Administration named this
approach the “new realism” and claimed that us have no permanent enemies and
will judgement about other countries entirely based on  their actions and without taking into
consideration their domestic ideology. The policy that was considered also as a
call for the allies, to take the care of themselves.  Moreover, the term “cold-eyed realism,” has
been applied by Kissinger, especially in the Vietnam war, where Nixon could not
accept defeat in his wake, expanding the war to Cambodia and Laos, forcing his
Vietnamization program, and employing extraordinary airpower to stave a North
Vietnamese victory in the Easter attack of 1972. In addition, Kissinger’s well
known “Peace is at hand”  speech in
October of 1972, shadowed by the Christmas bombing and the very short-lived
Peace Agreement in Paris were actually less about the victory of realism than
the political necessity to avoid Vietnam with a “decent interval” between
ultimate North Vietnamese victory and 
American retreat. In addition, when it comes to the experience of the
author, it is significant to note the problems he has resolved during the.  Until we analyze the content, it’s difficult
to understand how much complex international system developed in the period
from January 1969  to  January 1973. The main issue is an
inescapably painful and very difficult US effort to leave the Vietnam War, if
possible in a path that saves the nationalist reputation and escape
compromising the Nixon’s choice. Hence, the book ends with Nixon’s presidential
inauguration and the exposing of the irony that Kissinger faced in the “Paris
Peace and Peace Agreement in Vietnam,” those achievements can be said to
have got very costly not only in lives of humans but also in
national-capabilities. While Vietnam War overshadowed American diplomacy and
politics at all. during this four years did not limit the huge field through
which Kissinger, as Presidential Assistant for National Security had to work
on.  In short, during this period,
Kissinger can rely on two great foreign policy achievements, one of which is
“opening up” China and the other “end” of the Vietnam War.
The White House’s years cover these and many other processes, in the period
from January 1969 to January 1974. Furthermore, what is a notable
characteristic of the book is the style, Kissinger succeeds to keep the book
not only interesting but also often suspicious. He achieved this primarily by
exceptionally good writing. Kissinger has a diverting narrative style and a
talent to summarize a complex idea in a very basic statement. For instance,
Kissinger in a few passages in the book that deals with his pre-1968 life, he
revocation his perceptions of a Jewish boy growing up in Germany dominated by
Nazi:  “Through this period America
acquired a wondrous quality for me. When I was a boy it was a dream, an
incredible place where tolerance was natural and personal freedom unchallenged.
Even when I learned later that America, too, had massive problems, I would
never forget what an inspiration it had been to the victims of persecution, to
my family, and to me during cruel and degrading years. I always remembered the
thrill when I first walked the streets of New York City. Seeing a group of
boys, I began to cross to the other side to avoid being beaten up. And then I
remembered where I was” The author’s narrative style even when he is dealing
with dryer subjects is a delight to read. The style of Kissinger writings makes
it easier to forgive the certain repetitiveness that he did during his
describes North Vietnamese, Russians, also State Department, or describing the
liberal Democrats who possess kind of congenital insecurity, and congenital
stubbornness, according to the author.Moreover, Kissinger, narrate Liberal
Democrats as very naive persons. He tends to explain a very broad observation
about foreign policy.  In fact, Kissinger
also makes many of his favored points related foreign policy, about the
President not once but more than seven times, and about bureaucracy too.  On the other side, there are issues that
author generally ignored. Hence, what makes him special is that he wrote with a
special purpose and under unique circumstances, while Watergate scandal is not
covered, and it impacts the volume significantly since it freed Kissinger from
cautious expressions of real feelings about the administration. Kissinger in
the book wisely avoided giving thought to the unpleasant Watergate scandal, but
he discussed it in details in the latter later edition of Diplomacy one and
two. Actually, Watergate scandal refers to blockage of political scandals of
the U.S. administration under President Richard M. Nixon, which was revealed
following the capture of five burglars at the Democratic National Committee,
headquarters in the Watergate office of the hotel complex in Washington on June
17, 1972. On August 9, 1974, facing blamed for his function in covering up the
scandal, consequently, Nixon became the only US president to resign
oneself.  Comparing it with other memoir
books written on the same subject, the “White House year”s is an
excellent political memoir, most likely the best that America ever produced.  For inspection, sincerity, and detail, it is
much better than several memoirs published by ex-presidents in the previous
centuries. However still, to some extent, it could be well compared to a number
of famous autobiographies written by previous diplomats, such as memoirs of
George Kennan and Dean Acheson’s work Present at the Creation.  Regarding the Issues that the author has
given importance, for Kissinger, the real value is ideology and the truth is
power. Overcoming the emotions and influence of the audience, he firmly
maintained his realistic perspective, through hungry Cambodians, and massive
extinction in Vietnam, Kissinger focused on maintaining American’s
international credibility as well as its effectiveness. In a general  evaluation mention that  the book meets nearly everyone’s expectation:
the Kissinger antagonists have found many defensive statements and damned
receptions, his fans achieve a fierce defense of Nixon’s strategy in order to
establish peace, and the rest we found a profusely detailed, top-level anatomy
of US foreign policy. I want to
express that throughout the book we can follow the process of how the US
foreign policy has been developing towards China, indirectly marking an
important transition in US-Soviet relations, that latter will be considered as
detente. The book notes the significant boost in bilateral cooperation, that
has been expanded and developed in second part of the cold war. The author
found himself in a deeper and more comprehensive approach to issues of highest
priority, such as nuclear proliferation, Vietnam war, alleviation of relations
between the US and Soviet. Having in mind that the US-China cooperation remains
as a key strategic game in overcoming the Cold War catastrophe. The strategy
that is attributed to the Nixon Administration, and his advisor Kissinger who
deeply understood the real politic, since Cold War was based on the crucial
Realistic theory called the balance of power, manifested a toward a bipolar
system. What is different from the relatively recent Liberal means of
cooperation that is earned by more and more trust in the world, on the
contrary, the reason for Cold World establishing and providing of cooperation
was lack of trust and security. However when it comes to policy over Vietnam, the
author refers to some of the seniors of US officials who support the US foreign
policymaking during Vietnam crisis, but they were minorities with the huge mass
that condemned Nixon and Kissinger based on emotional approach.The author
further asserts that outsiders usually find it very difficult to understand the
US’s foreign policy, which is formulated based on huge calculations, because of
it’s global responsibilities.  The
arguments that we meet in the book have the source in the official statements
and reports of US, thus making the book a great scholarly work.  Besides, the book does not pertain only to
readers with scholarly careers in political science, but also it is a useful
material for other research areas such as history, economics, Law. The
reader should be conscious of the challenges when reading this huge work.  Kissinger leads the reader to numerous
meetings with globally influential leaders and exposes different vogue of
foreign policy.  The differences
between  Chinese and Russian negotiation
uncover too much. However, offering various pieces of information Kissinger
puts too many strains on the readers, even information that is not in the close
relation with the argument.  Exhaustion
could drive the reader into a confusing position.  Kissinger will go into detail, so you will
forget what was the starting point, and be compelled to return the paragraph
back.Reading the book was like protracted struggle with someone who will not
let you get a word in the discussion. The criticisms that Kissinger most
encountered, his methods are said to be innocent, his character is suddenly
megalomaniacal and unsafe, his realpolitik is poorly adapted to national
ideals. At the same time, criticism has expressed the combination of apathy and
respect, distrust and adoration, that he shared together with Richard Nixon.
Kissinger is probably mistaken for the result of excessive interventionism;
Some of his interventionism policies, such as Chile’s destabilization and
Iran’s ruthless arms, were badly advised. There are many things in these
memoirs that he lists as critics on his name. In his and president Richard’s
approach to the link of great powers-the, Western Europe, Soviet Union, Japan,
and China -the foundation of the new order of peace was laid out. Kissinger
gave a philosophical deepening and a resumed sense of goal for American
politics at a time of enormous suffering. Additionally, referring to the
chapter that covers Chile, it seems to be lack of conscience of the less
effective or even counter-productive effects of the “covert
operations” that the United States Government has inquired to protect its
national interests in region Latin America. This kind of small mistakes are
negligible while taking into consideration this remarkable book, but given that
the critical revision is necessary, I will look at some of the inconsistencies
in the text. Incoherently, emerges the inconsistency, so for instance in one
page Kissinger writes, “There does not seem to be any unifying flow to
Soviet policy” however on another he talks ‘the durable impulses of
nationalism and ideology that lie behind Soviet policy’. But those can be
considered as minor faults in such great book. Presenting my own comment, I can say that I attempt to
present the book in its full light, throughout its significant points,
following its chronological order. I mentioned that the book’s style differs in
various ways from them previous memoirs, especially because of the fact that,
it is written back in 1970, and still, it remains as the most relevant
diplomatic memoir, the fact that makes the book revolutionary. If you ask me,
what makes the book especially interesting, I would say that the fascinating
part for me was the Kisindzer’s obsession with the characters and behavior of
great figures, like Mao and Brezhnev, and he succeeded to express it in the
book in a credible way, describing the tiniest details, so that in the mind of
readers, he revives the figures of the past century who  determined 
the destiny of mankind.

he opens the door to his private feelings and sour taste. Kissinger’s speech
offers us details about a number of Presidential directives that he ignored,
waiting until the temperature in the Oval Office to turn off. In addition, we
realize that he loved the motorcycle and helicopter escort, the fake
stomachaches, and sunglasses but also he loved the creative conversations with
Andre Malraux. His favorite diplomatic documents were handwritten messages that
he carried by the personal bag from China through Pakistan to the ultimate
station in Washington. Kissinger was President Nixon’s personal Harvard
professor, taken away from Nelson A. Rockefeller. He shares with us that the
only time he couldn’t sleep while he was in office, was on the eve of his
voyage to China.  In short, actually, the
complete account seems to be what Kissinger wanted to record in the book. What
Kissinger attempted to create is a reader’s sensibility for the context of
foreign policy at the time, but also fully explains and justifies the Nixon-Kissinger
policy, which must have been fairly justified in the antiwar mentality that
prevails in society, as well as misery and failure of Vietnam War.