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The Nation: Nixon and Kissinger: Triumph and Trial

27 minute read

IT was a year of visitations and bold ventures with Russia and China, of a uniquely personal triumph at the polls for the President, of hopes raised and lately dashed for peace in Viet Nam. Foreign policy reigned preeminent, and was in good part the base for the landslide election victory at home. And U.S. foreign policy, for good or ill, was undeniably the handiwork of two people: Richard Milhous Nixon and Henry Alfred Kissinger, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs. For what they accomplished in the world, what was well begun—and inescapably, too, their prolonged and so far indecisive struggle with the Viet Nam tragedy—the two are Men of the Year.

They constitute in many ways an odd couple, an improbable partnership. There is Nixon, 60, champion of Middle American virtues, a secretive, aloof yet old-fashioned politician given to oversimplified rhetoric, who founded his career on gut-fighting anti-Communism but has become in his maturity a surprisingly flexible, even unpredictable statesman. At his side is Kissinger, 49, a Bavarian-born Harvard professor of urbane and subtle intelligence, a creature of Cambridge and Georgetown who cherishes a never entirely convincing reputation as an international bon vivant and superstar. Yet together in their unique symbiosis—Nixon supplying power and will, Kissinger an intellectual framework and negotiating skills—they have been changing the shape of the world, accomplishing the most profound rearrangement of the earth’s political powers since the beginning of the cold war.

The year contained vast promise, tidal changes, a movement from a quarter-century of great power confrontation toward an era of negotiations. But if Nixon and Kissinger succeeded in opening the gates to China, in urging a new détente with Russia, in pressing forward the SALT talks and a dozen other avenues of communication between East and West, it was also, in its final days, a year of devastating disappointment. In October, Kissinger euphorically reported to the world that “peace is at hand” in Viet Nam. Then, as it has so many times before in America’s longest and strangest war, the peace proved once again elusive. As the Paris negotiations dissolved in a fog of linguistic ambiguities and recriminations, Richard Nixon suddenly sent the bombers north again. All through the year, Nixon and Kissinger labored at a new global design, a multipolar world in which an equilibrium of power would ensure what Nixon called “a full generation of peace.” But at year’s end, the design remained dangerously flawed by the ugly war from which, once again, there seemed no early exit.

Other themes and other figures, of course, also preoccupied the world in 1972. While Nixon and Kissinger projected their visions of order, political terrorists kept up a counterpoint. In May, three Japanese gunmen hired by Palestinian guerrillas opened fire at Tel Aviv’s crowded Lod airport, killing 26 travelers and wounding 72 others. Then in September eight Palestinians invaded the Israeli Olympic team’s dormitory in Munich. Twenty hours later, 17 men, including eleven Israeli athletes and coaches, were dead.

The shadow of the gunman still hung over Northern Ireland. This year alone more than 450 people died in the terror. A bomb blast in downtown Dublin killed two people and accelerated a government crackdown on the Irish Republican Army in the South. The dangerous freelance adventurism of skyjacking persisted. As of last week there had been 393 such episodes round the world in 1972, including one marathon in November that lasted 29 hours before the three hijackers left the Southern Airways jet in Havana.

China’s Premier Chou En-lai was crucial to the beginnings of the detente that is leading more than one-fifth of the earth’s population out of its dangerous isolation. So was Russia’s Leonid Brezhnev; with the Soviets, the Americans signed 15 far-reaching bilateral agreements for trade and cooperation in space, technology and other fields. The Man of the Year in 1970, West Germany’s Willy Brandt, continued pursuing his Ostpolitik with the signing of a treaty normalizing relations between the two Germanys, and won a surprisingly generous mandate at the polls from his people for it. But the primary will and intellect behind the emerging alignments resided in the White House.

From Ideology to Realpolitik

It was a full year for Nixon, who had to combine the roles of statesman abroad and politician seeking re-election at home. In a pre-election address on foreign policy, Nixon declared with some satisfaction that “1972 has been a year of more achievement for peace than any year since the end of World War II.” Such optimism reckoned without the breakdown of the Viet Nam negotiations, yet in many ways the assessment was accurate. Nixon and Kissinger adroitly played Russian and Chinese desires and fears off against one another to establish a nonideological basis for relations among the three great powers.

Peking’s perception of an American determination to get out of Viet Nam, its worry about Russian influence spreading deeper into Asia, and to a lesser degree its concern about the burgeoning power of Japan—all these factors led to the Chinese summit last February, with its astonishing tableaux of Nixon walking the Great Wall, of Nixon toasting Chou. The genius of the Nixon-Kissinger policy was its sensitivity to thinking in Moscow and Peking. That startling thaw between the U.S. and China deeply disconcerted the Soviets.

Anxious to quiet its Western Europe borders, Russia had been diligently courting Willy Brandt and other leaders in the hope of solidifying the status quo in Europe. But the Washington-Peking tie also made a U.S.-Soviet thaw imperative from Moscow’s standpoint, which is precisely what Nixon and Kissinger had planned. In a sense, Nixon vaulted over the Western Europeans to establish his goal: improved ties with Russia. From this triangular power play emerged continued improvements in relations and slowly expanding trade with China, and the series of agreements, including a massive trade pact, with Russia. It opened the path toward other negotiations, notably on “Mutual Balanced Force Reductions” in Europe, scheduled to begin Jan. 31.

The theoretical basis of the Nixon Doctrine is stated in Kissinger’s 1969 American Foreign Policy: “Regional groupings supported by the United States will have to take over major responsibility for their immediate areas, with the United States being more concerned with the overall framework of order than with the management of every regional enterprise.” Kissinger recognized that the legacy of Viet Nam would be a reluctance to risk further involvement overseas; he and Nixon also understood the inherent instability of a bipolar world.

The Nixon-Kissinger objective has therefore been to shift the focus of revolutionary regimes round the world from ideology to issues of national interest. Both men are turning the criteria of decision making from what some Europeans cynically call “the savior attitude” to the equations of Realpolitik, implicitly abandoning the moralistic considerations that have dominated American foreign policy since Woodrow Wilson. “The world is becoming less ideological,” says British Political Scientist Frederick Northedge, “and more concerned with survival.”

The classical policy that Kissinger and Nixon are practicing derives from perceptions of national interest that have dictated successful foreign policy in Europe for 500 years. Political thinkers like Machiavelli and Hobbes contributed to a body of experience and theory that culminated in the 19th and 20th centuries in the effective policies of Metternich, Bismarck, Adenauer and De Gaulle, four statesmen whom Kissinger admires. Metternich claimed that “it is freedom of action, not formal relations” that leads to successful diplomacy. Following that dictum, Kissinger and Nixon have reassessed U.S. relationships, abandoning some ties as out-of-date (Taiwan), remaking others that might inhibit freedom of action (Japan, Western Europe) and forging new ties with old enemies (Russia and China) to expand the field of play. Another dictum of Realpolitik holds that “interests are constant, alliances are not.”

For all the successes of the Nixon-Kissinger policies, there have been some missteps even apart from Viet Nam. One evident weakness is that the balance-of-power design has not allowed much of a role for lesser nations. The White House has tried to compensate by declaring that in reality Japan and Western Europe are the two additional poles in a pentagonal relationship. Argues Harvard Government Professor Stanley Hoffmann: “We have, especially in Asia, moved as if the era of horizontal great-power diplomacy had arrived, and our weaker allies are disconcerted. We have, both in Europe and in Asia, behaved as if our principal allies were already part friends, part rivals.”

Most of the shocks to American allies were registered in 1971 after the first overtures to Peking. Japan was hardest hit but other Asian allies were similarly disconcerted—South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and, most traumatically, Taiwan. There was also some unease across the Atlantic. In

1972 there was increasing accommodation to the new realities, but inevitably uneasiness remained. Partly to relieve Western Europe’s apprehensions about the new American Realpolitik, the White House has declared 1973 to be “the year of Europe,” with the intention of mending long-neglected relations there once the U.S. disentangles itself from Viet Nam. The Administration still must formulate a coherent European policy, especially in the area of economics.

The ambiguities and shock of the Viet Nam impasse have led some in Washington to speculate that the extraordinary Kissinger-Nixon relationship was in some trouble. The question was beguiling but difficult to answer, for the two have constructed a working arrangement that is unique in U.S. history. Among other things, it has been an odd arrangement for Secretary of State William Rogers, whose department Nixon has largely bypassed in the making of foreign policy. For the President, Kissinger has been a combination of professor-in-residence, secret agent, ultimate advance man and philosopher-prince. In an important sense, he is Nixon’s creation, using the power base of the presidency to roam the world and speak for Nixon, to set the stage for summits, to negotiate war and peace. There have been similar relationships before, but none exactly the same: Richelieu and Louis XIII, Metternich and Hapsburg Emperor Francis I, Colonel House and Woodrow Wilson, Harry Hopkins and F.D.R.

The Loyalist Who Never Joined the Team

In their personal dealings, Kissinger and Nixon tend toward formality, with a certain restraint and distance that are natural to both men. Each, in his way, is a somewhat enigmatic character. Despite moments of humor, Nixon remains his intense, somewhat rigid self, even with Kissinger. Both men have their private lives, and Kissinger is not on the list (a short one) of the President’s intimate friends. For all his outer ego, his fierce driving of subordinates and his international celebrity, Kissinger has a servant’s heart for Nixon when it comes to power and ideas. He has been willing to subject himself to the scorn of his academic peers (after the Cambodian invasion) and serve the President with a total loyalty that is matched inside the White House only by H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler and Kissinger’s own deputy on the National Security Council, General Alexander Haig. Once, after listening to department spokesmen advocating their parochial concerns before the National Security Council, Kissinger stalked out of the room, grumbling that “not a goddamned one of them except the President cared about the national interest.”

Kissinger is not a team player in the almost obsessive sense that the other Nixon loyalists are. He will, for example, lunch on occasion with a reporter and provide background on the peace negotiations. He has no close friends inside the White House — and not a few enemies who resent his power and personal style, his dates with beautiful women and access to a larger, more glamorous world. Kissinger’s strength in the Administration, so far, has been that he has won the President’s confidence and trust, that they enjoy a remarkable professional rapport. Says one high-ranking U.S. diplomat: “The halls of the State Department are littered with the bones of those who thought they could split the President and Henry.” The President even wrote Kissinger once: “Frankly, I cannot imagine what the Government would be without you.”

Despite their dissimilarities, they share some traits. One is a contempt for bureaucracy. “In the bureaucratic societies,” Kissinger once wrote, “policy emerges from a compromise which often produces the least common denominator, and is implemented by individuals whose reputation is made by administering the status quo.” Both tend toward perfectionism. Kissinger drives his National Security Council staff to strive for that state of refinement in their position papers and memos that he likes to define as “meticulous” — a favorite adjective of approval.

The Adviser as Lone Cowboy

Nixon takes a particular delight in Kissinger’s secret operations and ruses. Sometimes Nixon has even helped to throw observers off the track — spending an apparently nonchalant weekend at Camp David when a secret meeting was on in Paris. So secretly have the Paris talks been held that only a handful of Administration officials saw the draft agreement that Kissinger hammered out with Le Due Tho in their five-day session last October. CIA Director Richard Helms obtained his copy through his sources in Viet Nam and asked Kissinger if the text was accurate. Said Kissinger suavely: “It has the odious smell of the truth.” On another level, late one night before the election, Nixon came back to Washington from a campaign trip and Kissinger flew in from Saigon. The President told Kissinger that the two of them had been on different journeys that day, but he believed the roads led to the same goal.

The relationship between the two has occasionally been strained, however, most notably by a recent two-hour interview that Kissinger foolishly granted to Italian Journalist Oriana Fallaci. The quotes in that performance were so startling and hubristic that some readers familiar with Kissinger’s intellectual style suspected Fallaci of embroidery. “President Nixon showed great vigor, a great ability, even in picking me,” Kissinger is quoted as saying, apparently in all seriousness; of course he was quite right, but perhaps he should not have been the one to say it. In an interview that fairly bristles with the first person singular pronoun, Kissinger revealed that he loved “acting alone” in his diplomacy: “The Americans love the cowboy who comes into town all alone on his horse, and nothing else. He acts and that is enough, being in the right place at the right time, in sum a western. This romantic and surprising character suits me because being alone has always been part of my style.”

The idea of Kissinger as Jimmy Stewart has a certain ridiculous charm, although the notion is probably closer to Nixon’s image of himself as expressed in Six Crises a decade ago. In any case, the President’s men were not amused.

“About this point,” says one White House source, “it was high noon in the old West Wing. At least a half dozen people who matter here in the White House hit the ceiling when they read that story. They called it the biggest ego trip any one had ever taken.” Soon afterward, at press briefings, Ziegler pointedly and repeatedly emphasized that the President was “giving instructions” to Kissinger about the Paris negotiations, deflating any suggestion that Kissinger was a diplomatic Destry. Since then, Kissinger seems deliberately to have kept a very low profile — although that might have reflected discouragement with the progress of the peace talks.

The new spirit of national interest and Realpolltik naturally dictated disengagement from Viet Nam. Yet Saigon’s hold on the U.S. was once again disastrously tenacious. Elected in 1968 on a pledge to end the war, Nixon chose an excruciatingly slow four-year policy of Vietnamization — turning the war over to Thieu’s forces — as a means, so he thought, to salvage some “honor” from the commitment. His forays to Moscow and Peking this year were decisive in turning Hanoi toward serious secret negotiations; the critical moment came last spring when, even after Nixon had gambled by mining the harbors of the North, the Russians decided not to call off the summit meeting.

The Reasons Why Peace Was Not at Hand

At last, on Oct. 26, Kissinger made his now famous misstatement: “Peace is at hand” in Viet Nam. The world’s hopes soared, the stock market leaped upward with Kissinger’s declaration: “What remains to be done can be settled in one more negotiating session with the North Vietnamese negotiators, lasting, I would think, no more than three or four days.” But between Oct. 26 and Dec. 16, the settlement that both sides had supposedly agreed upon disastrously unraveled. Kissinger blamed the North Vietnamese for the impasse, and in calculated anger, the President unleashed the most massive bombing of North Viet Nam of the whole long war. One top Administration official said last week that Nixon’s behavior was influenced by the way in which Dwight Eisenhower ended the Korean War. “You remember,” the official said, “that the talks with North Korea were bogged down. Ike took over and immediately ordered massive bombing of North Korea, including the dikes. Nixon was Vice President then, and he says that, however much of a peaceful image Ike struck, his show of strength worked.”

In assigning blame, others looked to South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu, who certainly was doing everything within his power to torpedo the proposed agreement. Inevitably, too, the Nixon-Kissinger relationship was scrutinized more earnestly than ever for frictions. It became a journalistic fashion to look for “light between” the President and his adviser. There was some encouragement for this activity from within the White House, notably from Haldeman, who considers himself an extension of Nixon and deeply resents Kissinger’s high profile and the fact that Kissinger is not subordinate to him as is everyone else on the President’s staff. And it did not escape notice that in his Dec. 16 briefing, Kissinger repeatedly emphasized that it was the President who had to be satisfied with the settlement.

These scraps aside, there is no real evidence of strain be tween the President and his adviser, perhaps because a care ful reconstruction of the chronology of events in Paris and Saigon (see box, page 21) indicates both must share some responsibility for the breakdown in reaching an agreement. Kis singer seems to have underestimated the difficulty of the remaining “details” to be worked out. It was odd for a man of Kissinger’s caution to have been so euphoric and expansive as he was on Oct. 26. His anticipation was too great, relying too much on what he called the continued “good will” of Hanoi and Le Due Tho, with whom he evidently got on well. He also underestimated the opposition of Thieu.

For his part, Nixon, who fully understood what Kissinger had brought back from Paris, backed off when Thieu balked. In sending Kissinger back to the North Vietnamese to extract more specific language in the draft on the sovereignty of South Viet Nam, so as to meet some of Thieu’s objections, Nixon alarmed Hanoi, which had believed it had a deal. In predictable riposte, Hanoi then began asking for revisions of its own. As Kissinger explained in his Oct. 26 briefing, an agreement had finally seemed possible because the military and political issues of the war were to be separated: a cease-fire now, then politics and maneuvering among the Vietnamese for the ultimate control of Saigon. By raising the sovereignty issue, among others, Nixon sharpened a deliberately fuzzed point, bringing the detailed politics of the settlement back into the present negotiations. In other words, he insisted on nailing down specifics where Kissinger and Tho had purposefully left them vague, subject to future negotiations, as the only means of reaching agreement.

When Hanoi refused to buy, Nixon ordered the bombers aloft to try to pressure the North Vietnamese. The heavy military gamble, in his view, had paid off before, when he invaded Cambodia in 1970, Laos in 1971, and mined Haiphong last May in the face of criticism and protest in the U.S. The atmosphere around the White House was even similar to last spring’s, a mood of coolness and toughness only occasionally soured by the fulminations of the “doom and gloom brigade,” as the Washington press corps is called. Gambling had, in fact, become part of Nixon’s international style — to seem deliberately unpredictable, to let Hanoi, Moscow and Peking know that he was capable of almost anything, to keep them off their guard. It may be that he felt doubly confident this time in re-escalating the war, for the U.S. election six weeks before may have persuaded him, rightly or wrongly, that public opinion would be solidly behind him.

The Election and Nixon’s America

The President, in fact, was spending much of the time last week working on his Inaugural Address, taking as his thematic starting point Teddy Roosevelt’s two Inaugurals emphasizing the responsibilities of the U.S. as a world power and of individuals as citizens. Its tone and confidence would surely reflect the scale of his victory last November. With 49 states and 60.7% of the ballots cast, Nixon’s landslide ranked with Lyndon Johnson’s in 1964 and Franklin Roosevelt’s in 1936. The appearance of a mandate was there, but it was in some sense deceptive. Nixon’s men claimed the endorsement of a “new Republican majority,” but they were ignoring the widespread ticket-splitting that occurred at the polls. In the House, the G.O.P. picked up only 13 seats, and in the Senate, where Republicans needed five to claim control, they lost two seats. That left the Democrats ahead 57 to 43 in the Senate and 243 to 192 in the House, where three seats will be declared vacant. The Democrats also made a net gain of one governorship.

It was, as everyone said, a peculiar election. Aided by the Democratic reforms that he himself had helped to institute, George McGovern seized control of the nation’s majority party and then so mishandled it that the election became a referendum less on issues and ideologies than on the personal competence of the two men. Issues of economic and social justice became lost in a tangle of doubts about McGovern himself. First he proposed a $1,000-a-year guarantee for every American, only to revise the suggestion later. Then came the Eagleton affair. McGovern never could shake the charge, however unfair, that he was the candidate of “amnesty, acid and abortion.” He was, too many voters believed, an indecisive radical — the worst kind.

Somehow McGovern deeply misjudged the American psyche. In part, he was defeated by a mood of reaction against the ’60s, against the counterculture, against permissiveness, against social programs for blacks, against excessive welfare spending. Yet the nation was not engaged in a precipitate swing to the right. Rather it was apprehensive about too rapid change and about George McGovern as a leader.

When Arthur Bremer gunned down George Wallace in a Maryland shopping center last May, Richard Nixon’s re-election was all but assured. He picked up the vast majority of Wallace votes in November.

Given the McGovern nomination, Nixon waged a comfortable noncampaign from the incumbent’s traditional stance of statesmanship-above-the-battle. The economy, one issue that might have sunk the Republicans, was humming along toward recovery. Scandals, or near scandals, erupted, infecting the political air with a sour smell. First there was ITT, with the suggestion that the Justice Department dropped antitrust suits against the corporation in return for at least a $200,000 subsidy of the G.O.P. convention. Agents with ties to the Committee for the Re-Election of the President and to the White House were arrested after breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s Watergate headquarters to remove electronic bugs planted there earlier. Nixon’s campaign was heavily financed by anonymous donors. Yet none of those issues took hold in a serious way, none of them seemed to make much difference. Says Paul Asciolla, a liberal priest and editor in Chicago: “Nixon was smart. He talked about the football blackout when McGovern was going on and on about the bombing. He talked about safety in the streets when McGovern concentrated on Watergate.”

Americans were not all that callous or indifferent. Yet they seemed, in a sense, disengaged from the large political and social and military issues that had demanded so much of them in the decade past. There was some sense of endorsing the status quo, or of improving it gradually; a nation bombarded by rhetoric through the ’60s did not take to McGovern’s apocalyptic language. This disengagement undoubtedly worked to Nixon’s political advantage in the election, just as it gave him, paradoxically, the freedom with which to pursue his boldest international ventures.

But generalized portraits of a national mind have a tendency toward caricature. America is — has always been — a mosaic of inconsistencies, of deeply contradictory and often unexpected of impulses. The language of “liberal” and “conservative,” “Middle American” and “radical,” usually lags behind the real changes. Thus, for example, William F. Buckley now favors decriminalization of marijuana, Black Panther Bobby Scale is running for mayor of Oakland, Calif., and between those conservative and radical poles, the mass of Americans exhibit a complexity that defies tidy compartmentalization.

Nixon has taken more and more to articulating his own vision of America. At its core is his profound conviction that the real Founders’ virtues, America, has the somehow heartland been America, betrayed the by land the of liberal the Eastern media and by Government and academic intellectuals who grew up in the legacy of the New Deal. Without those enemies, the President seems to believe, the nation would belong to itself again.

Something Less than the New Revolution

But when he articulates this vision, Nixon on occasion deals in simplicities of virtue, spiritual nostalgias, even paternalistic atavisms that are as unrealistic as the excesses of radical rhetoric. In an extraordinary interview he granted to the Washington Star-News before the election, Nixon said: “The average American is just like the child in the family. You give him some responsibility and he is going to amount to something. If on the other hand you make him completely dependent and pamper him and cater to him too much, you are going to make him soft, spoiled and eventually a very weak individual.”

For all the dazzle — and trials — of his foreign relations, Nixon’s domestic record in the first four years has represented something less than his “New American Revolution.” When the President heralded that objective two years ago, he listed six major goals: revenue sharing, government reorganization, health insurance reform, welfare reform, full employment and new environmental initiatives. Of those efforts, only general revenue sharing has been approved by a hostile Congress; the other goals have proceeded fitfully or not at all. Most of Nixon’s domestic efforts in Congress have involved beating back passage of bills the Administration regarded as too expensive. When that failed, he resorted to the veto or, as in the case of the very expensive water-pollution bill, he simply refused to spend all the funds authorized.

In the Nixon years, federal spending has mounted massively, but in his second term the President will try to curb the rate of increase. It is also going to be a period of rough riding for the President on Capitol Hill. Majority Leader Mike Mansfield has announced that he will pursue ways to develop Democratic alternatives to White House proposals. In fact, chances are that Nixon will simply not propose a great deal, but will concentrate on trying to run more efficiently the vast number of federal programs already in being. The middle and blue-collar classes certainly do not want to pay more taxes for programs which, they feel, benefit mostly the blacks or other members of what sociologists call the “under class.” But there may be some areas—for instance, medical care or the environment—where even Nixon’s own constituency may eventually become dissatisfied in the absence of greater federal effort.

Nixon’s victory hardly caused a mood of merriment to descend on Republican Washington. “We are sore winners,” said one Cabinet member. The morning after the election the President demanded resignations from 2,000 politically appointed members of his Administration, including his entire Cabinet, so that he could clean house as he chose. Only four of his eleven Cabinet members will still be at their desks after Jan. 20, plus Elliot Richardson, who moves from HEW to the Department of Defense. The only obvious pattern in the changes is an emphasis on managers, budget trimmers —and loyalists. But the large turnover, which is being reflected in lesser posts down the line, serves a larger management purpose in Nixon’s mind. Nixon told reporters in a post-election Camp David meeting: “The tendency is for an Administration to run out of steam after the first four years, and then to coast, and usually coast downhill.” Too often, he observed, anyone in government “after a certain length of time becomes an advocate of the status quo; rather than running the bureaucracy, the bureaucracy runs him.”

From Privacy to People, Power and Peace

What Nixon seems not inclined to tamper with is the staff of his palace guard, whose pettiness and unswerving zealotry, many would argue, do not serve the President well. More than ever, Nixon lives in isolation, avoiding the press as much as possible as he moves from Camp David to Key Biscayne to San Clemente, reveling in the privacy that those retreats provide him. He treats Congress as an entity to be ignored or an obstacle to be surmounted, often to the distress of its members even in his own party. Although the Administration during the campaign observed a moratorium in its vendetta with the press, it has now begun a calculated drive to frighten the TV networks into more “balanced” coverage (see TELEVISION).

His critics call him remote and heartless, but Nixon believes that he is linked in a mysterious way to the great American majority—the silent American, the middle American, the middle class, the middleaged. He believes a majority of Americans share his vision of a traditionalist revival, of trying to make less government work better, of encouraging local remedies and local responsibilities for local problems. It is his version of power to the people, and it is a power he thinks can be harnessed to change the direction and spirit of the country for good. Observes TIME’s Hugh Sidey: “He is out to lay claim to a whole counter-counterculture, this one the culture of Middle America.”

Abroad, Nixon will now concentrate on making his Realpolitik an ongoing reality through SALT II, world trade and money agreements, the slow, patient task of redefining ties with old allies. By visiting China and Russia, Nixon and Kissinger have constructed a triangular world order with Japan and the major European powers also invited to play new roles in his “generation of peace.” All this could, of course, be undone if President and Adviser cannot end the war in Southeast Asia. It remains, as it was, incredibly, four long years ago, Nixon’s and Kissinger’s first and most vital priority, a possible destroyer of the best of presidencies and policies. Together the Men of the Year accomplished much in 1972, but the essential achievement continued to elude them.

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