Final Comments by Dr. Kissinger and Dr. Schlesinger
DR. SUSSER: We're just about at the end of our time limit. Perhaps you would each like to just sum up your impressions over the--for a couple of minutes?
DR. SCHLESINGER: Some of our impressions about what?
DR. SUSSER: On the era, your experience, final words? Any advice for future administrations?
DR. KISSINGER: I'd like to pick up a point that Jim made about Nixon (inaudible). New administrations usually bring in with them a bunch of people who were in the campaign and who have been running the campaign on the argument that they could do a lot better. The margin of real choice for a great nation is finite and one cannot keep tearing up trees to see where the roots are. So a new administration should spend a month, or whatever time it takes, to assess where it finds itself and to make a judgment about the range of its real choices. They don't have to be the same as the previous administration's, but they can't be 180 degrees different either.
And I think we are in a--the contribution of Nixon was that he recognized that he was in a new period, we were in a new period with respect to the impact of strategic weapons and the damage they could create, we were in a new period with respect to China. He understood also the importance of reducing the balances in the Middle East. And whatever criticisms one can make of Nixon, he was prepared to undertake a long-range policy and to stick with it through turmoil.
I think a new president is coming in in a situation in which two or three revolutions are going on simultaneously in the world, and these revolutions do not have the same character. And therefore, the attempt to find a magic solution that applies to all of them is going to be unfortunate. But to assess the strength and to attempt to master them, it's essential, especially since we are in a position not of dominance but of great influence, so that the conduct of the United States from here on is going to be very decisive. And I hope this can be done with at the same time removing much of the divisiveness on as much of a nonpartisan basis as we can generate. And I'm sure those of us who are on this platform will certainly cooperate.
DR. SCHLESINGER: An irony is that the United States, this great democracy with all of its impulsiveness and willingness to suddenly change course, has become the leading power in the world. It reflects what I've always called DeTocqueville's challenge, if you remember Democracy in America. He states that democracies have a very difficult time following a consistent foreign policy; they are unable to plan in secret and preserve those secrets; they lack the ability over many years consistently to follow the same policy. At the end of the Cold War, I observed that we had beaten DeTocqueville's challenge because for 40-odd years we had stood the watch on the Elbe, and that would have surprised DeTocqueville. And it's not clear to me that we are in a position to have the same consistency in dealing what is the principal challenge of this era, which is the rise of radical Islam, and to consistently follow a policy that will lead us to victory, survival, survival of the West. It's not clear.
DR. SUSSER: Thank you both. Thank you all for coming.