The initial two essays, "Domestic Structure and Foreign Policy" and "Central Issues of American Foreign Policy," appeared in the original edition of this volume and have been retained as backdrops for fifteen major addresses delivered by Mr. Kissinger over the past four years. The new selections include a statement to Congress that traces the main lines of detente policy; a review of the step-by-step process of negotiations in the Middle East; an analysis of efforts to achieve accords, with the Soviet Union on strategic arms limitation without imperiling American national security; a speech to the United Nations on the imperative of establishing a balanced global approach to economic development and resource conservation; several papers that candidly appraise prospects for new ties between the United States and the nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America; and one that sets forth measures to strengthen the bonds among the industrial democracies. In their scope and detail, these documents constitute a remarkable set of designs, blueprints, and working drawings by a master architect of foreign policy.
Straws in the crosswinds: the essay on the Vietnam conferences in Paris probably has greater interest than the ones on problems of domestic and international "structures" in general. Kissinger is said to be Nixon's brainiest military adviser. Here he employs discredited platitudes like Hanoi's conviction that American dissent will bring victory. Not surprisingly, he also bypasses the issues of past U.S. sabotage of negotiation offers and current U.S. offensives, simply mentioning "a substantial improvement in the American military position" since the bombing halts. What is notable is the opinion that "negotiating a ceasefire may well be tantamount to establishing the preconditions of a political settlement," and that U.S. imposition of a coalition government would be disastrous. Instead, a withdrawal of "external forces" should push Saigon to settle, formally or tacitly, with the NLF - and/or face collapse. The other two essays are abstract in the most unsatisfactory sense, conservative in the literal sense. Kissinger calls for an international "agreed concept of order." The U.S. dilemma: "there can be no stability without equilibrium," but "equilibrium is not a purpose with which we can respond to the travail of our world." (Watch those imperial pronouns!) The reader who can get through the turgor of "modern states," "thoughtful Europeans," "charismatic leadership" will find criticisms of bureaucratic decision-making; strategic recommendations (NATO must avoid "false inconsistencies between allied unity and detente"); and such amazing dicta as "until the emergence of the race problem [when, one wonders?] we were blessed by the absence of conflicts between classes and over ultimate ends." Doubtless a great many readers will make the effort. (Kirkus Reviews)