16. Editorial Note
President Richard Nixon announced the resignation of Secretary of State William P. Rogers during an August 22, 1973, news conference at the Western White House in San Clemente, California. After praising Rogers as one of the “major architects” of his administration’s foreign policy, Nixon said that he intended to nominate Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger as Secretary. The President explained that Kissinger would retain his position as Assistant:
“The purpose of this arrangement is to have a closer coordination between the White House and the departments, and in this case, between the White House, the national security affairs, the NSC, and the State Department, which carries a major load in this area.” (Public Papers: Nixon, 1973, page 711)
On August 23, Kissinger, who was with Nixon in San Clemente, held a press conference to discuss his nomination. Kissinger referenced the foreign policy successes of Nixon’s first administration:
“In the first term of the President, many important and some revolutionary changes were made. These required, to considerable extent, secret diplomacy, and they were conducted on a rather restricted basis. But now we are in a different phase. The foundations that have been laid must now lead to the building of a more permanent structure. What has been started is still very tender.”
The Secretary-designate intended to capitalize upon these accomplishments:
“So what we are going to try to do is to solidify what has been started, to put more emphasis on our relationship with Europe and with Japan, and to conclude during the term of the President the building of a structure that we can pass on to succeeding administra[Page 72]tions so that the world will be a safer place when they take over.” (Department of State Bulletin, September 17, 1973, page 368)
Following the August congressional recess, Kissinger testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee September 7–17. The confirmation hearings were chaired by Senator J. William Fulbright (D–Arkansas) and were dominated by questions about illegal wiretapping. In his opening remarks, Kissinger underscored the interconnectedness between foreign and domestic policy:
“Mr. Chairman, we have come to experience in recent years that peace at home and peace abroad are closely related. How well we perform in foreign policy depends importantly on how purposeful we are at home. America has passed through a decade of domestic turbulence which has deepened divisions and even shaken our national self-confidence in some measure. At the same time, profound changes have occurred in the world around us a generation after World War II. Our era is marked by both the anxieties of a transitional period and the opportunities of fresh creation.
“These challenges, though they appear as practical issues, cannot be solved in technical terms; they closely reflect our view of ourselves. They require a sense of identity and purpose as much as a sense of policy. Throughout our history we have thought of what we did as growing out of deeper moral values. America was not true to itself unless it had a meaning beyond itself. In this spiritual sense, America was never isolationist.
“This must remain our attitude.” (Ibid., October 1, 1973, page 425)
Kissinger then asserted that greater domestic consensus would allow the United States to project an image of “steadiness.” Cooperation among the three branches of government and a new partnership between the American public and the Federal government informed the administration’s new approach. Kissinger concluded his statement by remarking:
“A few years before he died, one of our most distinguished Secretaries of State, Dean Acheson, entitled his memoirs ‘Present at the Creation.’ He chose that title because he was one of the leading participants in the creation of the postwar international system. The challenge before our country now is whether our generation has the vision—as Dean Acheson’s did more than two decades ago—to turn into dynamic reality the hopeful beginnings we have made toward a more durable peace and a more benevolent planet.” (Ibid., page 428)
The Senate confirmed Kissinger on September 21 by a 78–7 vote. Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Warren E. Burger administered the oath of office to Kissinger at the White House on September 22. For Nixon and Kissinger’s remarks at the White House ceremony, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1973, pages 815–817. For additional documenta[Page 73]tion on Kissinger’s confirmation hearings, see Congress and the Nation, volume IV, 1973–1976, pages 854–856. Kissinger also provides details of his nomination and appointment in Years of Upheaval, pages 3–5 and 423–432.