Henry Kissinger’s Deviousness Recalled

Kissinger, Brezhnev, Ford, and Gromyko in Helsinki
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In the remembrances of Henry Kissinger, much has been made of his deviousness.  I discovered evidence of this quality of his when I was researching a biography of William F. Buckley, Jr.  I discovered in Buckley’s papers at Yale a note Buckley had sent Kissinger, who was Gerald Ford’s Secretary of State, on May 18, 1976, the day of the Republican primary between Ford and Ronald Reagan.  Buckley was responding in his note to advice to Reagan that Kissinger seems to have offered in a telephone call between Buckley and Kissinger:

It is agreed I must call R. Reagan and attempt to persuade him a) to drop his formal, legal position on Panama Canal zone, substituting the substantive-symbolic point; and at the same time urge him to give an anti-Helsinki speech in Michigan to catch the eye of the ethnics (Done: Refractory on point #1, enthusiastic on Point #2).

I am not sure anymore what #1 meant, but #2 was clearly campaign advice to Reagan to help him defeat Ford, who was Kissinger’s employer and admirer.  In 1975, Ford and Kissinger had negotiated, and Ford had signed the Helsinki Accords. Although Kissinger had not been enthusiastic about them, they were seen as an extension of his attempt to promote detente with the Soviet Union. It was a clear act of betrayal to suggest to Ford’s rival that he use Ford’s support for the Accords to defeat him for the Republican nomination.

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