Richard Nixon was a psychopath for whom Henry Kissinger worked, first as national security adviser and then concurrently in that position and also as secretary of state. Nixon's psychopathology included his hatred of Jews, their intellectual character, their State, and them broadly as a nation and people. Still, he had many Jews around him, doubtless for what he thought to be their devilish smarts: Leonard Garment was his general counsel, Herbert Stein was his chief economic adviser, Arthur Burns was head of the Federal Reserve, Murray Chotiner was his campaign manager, William Safire (who conceded that "Nixon just didn't like Jews") was a trusted speechwriter. And, of course, Kissinger was Kissinger. Let's face it: the smartest, and perhaps the wisest caretaker of American diplomacy since Thomas Jefferson, who was the first. (A valued former staff member of TNR, David Greenberg, wrote about "Nixon and the Jews" for Slate in 2002.)
Every so often as the secret tape recordings President Nixon made in the Oval Office are released we assume that some scarlet blush will come to Kissinger's face. No doubt Kissinger is very much embarrassed today.
Here is the shameful exchange put out yesterday between the late president and his secretary of state:
Kissinger: "The emigration of Jews from the the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern."
Nixon: "I know. We won't blow up the world because of it."
Of course, all the Kissinger-haters are saying: "You see, he's a monster."
I know something about Kissinger's maneuvering for the Jewish state and for the Jewish people. I and a few Harvard colleagues were in touch with him, actually met with him during the dread days of the Yom Kippur War when Israel's very survival was at peril. (Henry Rosovsky, Samuel Huntington, Michael Walzer, Thomas Schelling and I comprised the group.) Dr. K. confided to us how difficult it was to persuade his bigoted boss that a great deal of American arms (and sufficient Lockheed C-130s "Hercules" aircraft to deliver them) were needed and needed instantly. There is no doubt in my mind that Kissinger rescued the third commonwealth with these munitions.
Imagine, by the way, if George McGovern had defeated Nixon in the 1972 election. McGovern's enmity to Israel was and is well-documented. There would have been no military aid and no Israel.
So, if Kissinger needed to flatter Nixon in order to convince him, that flattery was also a blessing.
Yes, the Soviet government contemplated another genocide of the Jews and also lesser mortifications of them. But, believe me, no progressives believed this was possible. There is much documented evidence of the falsified "doctors' plot." Again, the American left denied it.
But one doesn't have to contemplate a post-World War II genocide of the Jews by the Soviets. There had already been the Nazi genocide. Did the administration of Franklin Roosevelt target any of its centers? Not for a moment. Even the bombing of Auschwitz, proposed by secretary of the treasury Henry Morgenthau, a Jew, was dismissed with contempt and derision. Henry Kissinger did much better than F.D.R. So, for that matter, did the anti-Semite Richard Nixon.