The Kissinger Presidency
Battered by Watergate in 1973, President Nixon was losing his epic power struggle with Henry Kissinger. Then the Middle East exploded. In an excerpt from his new book, using freshly opened archives, the author describes how the secretary of state took control.
by Robert Dallek May 2007
Excerpted from Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power, by Robert Dallek, to be published this month by HarperCollins Publishers; © 2007 by the author.
Henry Kissinger never wanted the 20,000 pages of his telephone transcripts made public—not while he was alive, at any rate. And for good reason. It was Kissinger's practice while he served as Richard M. Nixon's national-security adviser and, later, as his secretary of state to have assistants listen in on dead-key extensions and make verbatim transcripts. The result is a record of conversations and decision-making rivaled only by the Nixon tapes—and a real-time rendering of events often at variance with official portrayals. It is ironic: Nixon and Kissinger presided over an administration that was unsurpassed (until the current one) in its secrecy, and yet produced the richest trove of presidential records in history, making the Nixon White House more transparent in retrospect than any before or since.
During the past four years I have sifted through much of the Nixon administration's recently opened archives: all of those Kissinger telephone transcripts, for instance, along with the unpublished portions of the diaries of Nixon's first chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman; hundreds of hours of newly available Nixon tapes; and the national-security records (which total close to a million pages) that include Kissinger's private office files and the previously unread papers of Alexander M. Haig Jr., who was Kissinger's deputy at the National Security Council and then took Haldeman's place as chief of staff. Put it all together and an intimate picture emerges of the complex relationship between Nixon and Kissinger, men who were allies but also rivals—paranoid and insecure, deceitful and manipulative, ruthless and strangely vulnerable.
Nixon is dead, but Henry Kissinger remains very much a man in public life. In recent years, President George W. Bush has consulted him for advice on the Iraq war, which Kissinger has supported. Since 2001, Kissinger has, according to Bob Woodward's State of Denial, met with the president every other month, and with Vice President Dick Cheney every month, and he has advised President Bush that "victory … is the only meaningful exit strategy" for Iraq. So it is a good moment to visit the newly available documents and transcripts for the fresh detail they provide. They show Kissinger at moments of high drama—for instance, during the Yom Kippur War, when he made decisions of utmost gravity while keeping Nixon at arm's length. They show a man whose growing power derived from Nixon's deepening incapacity. And they reveal Kissinger's troubling personality and methods across a broad front.( Collapse )
Death and the Maidens
Directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, with their inspired yet twisted mix of gritty glamour complete with guns, gore, and plenty of sex, have collaborated on the double feature "Grindhouse"—a moniker for the run-down movie palaces that screened B exploitation films in America throughout the 70s. Sticking to the true nature of the genre, Tarantino and Rodriguez have packed the cast full of women who look gorgeous even when they're covered with blood and zombie guts. In this exclusive footage from their photo shoot for the May issue, Rose McGowan, Rosario Dawson, Marley Shelton, and the rest of the Grindhouse Girls strut their ample stuff for photographer Patrick Demarchelier.
The best episodes had equal amounts of high and low appeal, an alchemy of artistry and gutter-level blood and gore, all of it leavened with humor.
This Thing of Ours, It’s Over
I’M old, Carm,” Tony Soprano says at the beginning of the end on Sunday. This New Jersey mob boss has recovered from last season’s shooting but tells Carmela he feels changed: “My body has suffered a trauma it will probably never recover from.”
Death was never the most dreaded thing in “The Sopranos” — decline was. Long before any rival mobsters were beaten, knee-capped or killed, there were wistful intimations of decay. In the opening scene of the premiere episode in 1999, Tony confided to his psychiatrist that he no longer found much satisfaction from work: “Things are trending downward.”
Now they are bottoming out, and as Tony and his people grapple with their sense of impending loss, so are viewers.( Collapse )
Salonika has always been an alternative city, moving to its own rhythm
Greek Youth Remake ‘Seattle of the Balkans’
NEAR the seventh-century Church of Aghia Sophia in the northern Greek city of Salonika, prides of revelers are filling art-grunge bars like Urban and Pastaflora Darling! on lively Zefxidos Street. It's a weeknight — a Monday going on Tuesday, in fact — but it feels like a Saturday. The tsipouro is flowing, the New Pornographers are blaring, and the people, a blend of wispy artists bobbing to the music, balding academics recalling their anarchist years and caffeinated students now living theirs, are energized.( Collapse )
The new Paul Verhoeven film, “Black Book,” is set almost entirely in Holland during the later stages of the Second World War. It charts the efforts of a young Jewish woman named Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten) to survive and prosper. She hides out with a farmer’s family, then teams up with her own relatives and tries to flee the country on a barge. They are betrayed and slaughtered; Rachel alone escapes, and joins the Dutch Resistance. Here she is allotted the task of seducing Ludwig Müntze (Sebastian Koch), the courteous, stamp-collecting head of the local Gestapo. How, one might ask, did he rise to his present position? Did he torture his suspects with a pair of philatelist’s tweezers?
From here, the film is entwined in double crosses, strokes of luck, and panicky exchanges of gunfire. Somebody within the Resistance is in league with the Germans; for more than two hours, Verhoeven keeps us on what he believes to be tenterhooks before revealing the villain. By this stage, the war is over, with Allied troops being fêted in the streets and the unfortunate Rachel accused of collaboration. Her fate should hang in the balance, but, since the opening scene of the film shows her teaching in a kibbutz in 1956, the scales are decisively tipped.( Collapse )
One Sunday afternoon last month, members of Zimbabwe’s opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, were gathering—for a prayer meeting, they said—when President Robert Mugabe’s security forces descended on them, firing tear gas, water cannons, and bullets. One person was killed, and at least fifty others were injured after being taken into custody. When the M.D.C. leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, a former trade-union activist, arrived at the police station, Mugabe’s men repeatedly bashed his head against a wall, then detained him, too. Mugabe has always been rough with the M.D.C., a party formed eight years ago to challenge his dictatorial powers, and Tsvangirai has been arrested and knocked around many times before, but this time he was badly disfigured and his skull severely lacerated. These are actions that most dictators would cover up, but several days later Mugabe held a public rally to commend the police for their use of force, and to warn Tsvangirai and his followers that they could expect more violence. True to his word, Mugabe unleashed his goons on a nationwide rampage that resulted in hundreds of his opponents and critics being dragged from their homes and offices and beaten.
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Audrey Kawasaki interview on MacTribeAt MacTribe, Jess Hemerly interviewed the incredible painter Audrey Kawasaki. Thanks to Kirsten Anderson at Roq La Rue Gallery, I'm fortunate enough to have one of Ms. Kawasaki's pencil drawings, seen here at right, hanging in my living room.
From the interview:
MacTribe: What was your concentration (while studying at Pratt), fine arts or illustration?
AK: My concentration was fine arts painting, but since I was there for only 2 years I never had the chance to really dive into my work. So all the painting I did there were of nude models, oil on large canvas. I once brought my painted girls on wood (similar to what I do now) and both professors who I very much admire told me to stop, and never to work like that again.
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The Dance of Life