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2. Editorial Note

In his memoir, The Right Hand of Power, pages 513–514, U. Alexis Johnson, who stepped down as Ambassador to Japan in mid-January 1969 to become Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under President Nixon, recalled meeting Henry Kissinger at the Hotel Pierre in New York City on the evening of January 5, 1969. Although the meeting lasted only about 15 minutes, “that was long enough for me to see that some rough roads lay ahead. Henry outlined his thoughts for wiping out the SIGIRG interdepartmental system General Taylor and I had developed in 1966 that gave State broad responsibility for directing the interdepartmental work of the government in foreign affairs. Henry intended to establish a system centered on the National Security Council staff with himself as head. I had only two minutes to expostulate [Page 11]with Henry. As I was going down the elevator to get a cab to the airport, I tried to brief Rogers and Richardson on the important bureaucratic theology involved in the SIGIRG as far as State was concerned—an area with which, of course, they were entirely unfamiliar. I brooded about this on my flight back, and as soon as I arrived in Tokyo I sent a long back channel message to Richardson trying to explicate the issues involved and urging that he and the Secretary mount the ramparts before January 20 against the Kissinger/NSC takeover of State’s interdepartmental functions.” Johnson’s back channel message to Richardson has not been found. The establishment of the SIGIRG system in 1966 and its operation through the close of 1968 are documented in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XXXIII, Organization and Management of U.S. Foreign Policy; United Nations. For Johnson’s role in establishing the system, see Document 48.