Introduction to Roundtable Discussion of Former Government Officials
DR. SUSSER: After two decades of Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, President Richard Nixon and Communist Party General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev began to forge a new kind of relationship which introduced a new diplomatic term to much of the American public: Détente. It was during this era that National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger opened a confidential channel of communication with the Soviet Union. In a relationship that was known to only a select few in Washington, Dr. Kissinger met regularly with the longtime Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin to discuss major issues of the day.
This Kissinger-Dobrynin confidential channel provided a means for each side to reach out to the other, to probe, to test the waters and to move the bilateral relationship from outright enmity to an era of lessened tension. We are indeed fortunate to have with us today Dr. Kissinger and one of his colleagues from the Nixon and Ford administrations, Dr. James Schlesinger, who also filled, as the Secretary pointed out, more than one key position during this era.
Unfortunately, General Alexander Haig was hospitalized last week and is under doctor's orders not to leave his house. We will send him a copy of the volume and we send him our good wishes for a speedy recovery.
There are brief biographies of our panelists in your program, but I believe I can accurately say that for students of the Nixon-Ford era, Dr. Kissinger and Dr. Schlesinger really need no further introduction. Each of them has, I believe, some opening remarks prepared. So, Dr. Kissinger, would you begin?