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Behind the Headlines Kissinger’s Future Seems Bleak

Discussion here of Henry A. Kissinger’s future is not whether he will resign as Secretary of State but when and why he will step out of the position he assumed only last Sept. Resignation “within weeks,” some of the country’s principal conservative voices are now saying. He will leave the Cabinet, they say, to help former New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, his prime political sponsor and friend, groom for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1976.

Liberal commentators agree Kissinger may leave but for different reasons. The Secretary, they say, has incurred President Nixon’s displeasure for being identified daily in the media as a diplomatic magician and as America’s number one hero for moving world diplomacy at his pace. The implication is that the President, simmering in domestic problems, is a “yes man” to his subordinate on foreign policy which the President cherishes as his domain of eminence in the historical record.

KISSINGER COMPARED TO SERVAN-SCHREIBER

A French source said the President could not and would not allow Kissinger to continue in his Cabinet after hearing the Secretary lay the blame on the military of both superpowers for the failure to reach agreement on nuclear weapons at the recent Moscow summit conference. The French analyst compared Kissinger’s remark with that of Jacques Servan-Schreiber, Minister of Reforms in the new Cabinet of President Valery Giscard d’Estaing.

The popular minister was critical of the French government for exploding an atomic bomb in the Pacific. He was fired immediately by d’Estaing, the French analyst said, “because no head of state can countenance a subordinate telling the public that his leader does not control his own government. Can Nixon be any different?”

SCHLESINGER POINTED OUT

In blaming the military for failure on SALT at the summit, Kissinger pointed a finger at Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger, his Harvard classmate who has also risen phenomenally to the top of the government’s appointive hierarchy. Schlesinger’s thinking on Soviet-American relationship in matters of defense and armaments is close to that of Sen. Henry M. Jackson’s views, while Kissinger’s is close to that of Sen. J. William Fulbright.

At the summit, Nixon decided to go along with Schlesinger rather than with Kissinger. Some say that Schlesinger will take over at the State Department if and when Kissinger should leave. Others consider the post will go to either former Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Rush, who recently became economic czar at the White House or Joseph J. Sisco who was promoted to Undersecretary only last winter after having resigned as Assistant Secretary for the Middle East to become president of Hamilton College.

POLICIES WILL CONTINUE

What will happen to the Soviet emigration and Middle East issues should Kissinger leave? Basically, the same policies will continue. Nixon made his commitments to Leonid I. Brezhnev on most favored nation status and credits, and, therefore, no matter who is Secretary of State, as was evident during William P. Rogers’ tenure, the Administration cannot deviate from that course even if Congress won’t go along.

Regarding the Middle East, the policy of persuading Israel to give up land while encouraging the Arabs to look upon the United States with friendlier eyes was believed to have been set even before Kissinger took office barely a fortnight before the Yom Kippur War broke out. If the war had not taken place, other means would have been found at the State Department–less dramatic, less costly, less agonizing–to develop the “new realities” in the Middle East. The era of “even-handedness” was in the Nixon hand of cards. Therefore the policy will be the same in the foreseeable future although the tactics may switch should alternatives be required in the delicate business taking place.

Perhaps the most telling comment of all on the possibility of Kissinger leaving the government was the remark of a senior official when he was asked what the effect of the Secretary’s departure would be on the State Department. In matter of fact tones and in a manner indicating that Kissinger’s resignation appears to be a certainty and not a rumor which it still is at this stage, the official responded that the State Department has many good people in it and will continue to function. In other words, the Department considers no one in it is indispensable and it will go its way as usual whoever is at the helm.

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