Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 37–58 | Cite as

‘They Can Write It in Swahili’: Kissinger, the Soviets, and the Helsinki Accords, 1973–75

  • Jussi M. Hanhimäki


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  1. 1.
    Christopher Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, London: Verso, 2001.Google Scholar
  2. 1a.
    Some of the accounts published in the past decade that deal with Kissinger and his period in office include: Walter Isaacson, Kissinger, New York, 1992Google Scholar
  3. 1b.
    William Bundy, A Tangled Web, New York, 1998.Google Scholar
  4. 1c.
    An older overview of Kissinger’s career is Robert Schulzinger, Doctor of Diplomacy, New York, 1989.Google Scholar
  5. 1d.
    For an insightful essay see John L. Gaddis, ‘Rescuing Choice from Circumstance: the Statecraft of Henry Kissinger’, in The Diplomats, 19392–1979, ed. by Gordon A. Craig and Francis L. Loewenheim, Princeton, 1994, pp. 564–592.Google Scholar
  6. 1e.
    For a good selection of documents and a fairly up to date historiographical review see: William Burr, ed., The Kissinger Transcripts, New York, 1999.Google Scholar
  7. 1f.
    For a historiographical essay that covers much of the ground up to the mid-1990s see: Robert Schulzinger, ‘Complaints, Self-Justifications, and Analysis: The Historiography of American Foreign Relations Since 1969’, in Michael J. Hogan, ed., America in the World: The Historiography of American Foreign Relations since 1941, New York, 1995, pp. 395–423Google Scholar
  8. 1g.
    for a more up to date review see Jussi M. Hanhimaki, “Dr. Kissinger”or “Mr. Henry’? Kissingerology, Thirty Years and Counting’, Diplomatic History, 2003 (forthcoming). Access to Nixon era documents has dramatically improved in recent years. In May 2002, for example, the National Archives and Records Administration released 107.200 pages of documents from the National Security Council files of the Nixon Presidential Materials Project, while numerous State Department Records have been available for several years. A good source for the latest information on such openings is the National Security Archives (NSA) web site: Scholar
  9. 2.
    Kissinger cited in Burr, Kissinger Transcripts, p. 17 (‘loser’) and p. 326 (‘Swahili’). See also Kissinger, Years of Renewal, New York, 1999, ch. 21. It should be noted that in the previous volume of his memoirs Kissinger hardly mentions the CSCE; the same applies to Nixon’s memoirs.Google Scholar
  10. 2a.
    Kissinger, The Years of Upheaval, Boston, 1982Google Scholar
  11. 2b.
    Richard Nixon, RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, New York, 1978. An excellent printed source, based on British documents, on the CSCE talks is: Documents on British Policy Overseas, Series III, Volume II, The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, 19722–1975, ed. by G. Bennett and K.A. Hamilton, London, 1997 (hereafter CSCE, 19722–1975).Google Scholar
  12. 2c.
    Although the American role in the CSCE has yet to be explored in detail, some key accounts include: Luigi Ferraris, Report on a Negotiation, Helsinki-Geneve-Helsinki, 19722–1975, Geneva, 1979Google Scholar
  13. 2d.
    Yves Ghebali, La diplomatie de la detente: la CSCE, d’Helsinki a Vienne, 19732–1989, Brussells, 1989Google Scholar
  14. 2e.
    Wilfried Loth, Overcoming the Cold War: A History of Détente, 19502–1991, New York, 2002Google Scholar
  15. 2f.
    John Maresca, To Helsinki: The Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, 19732–1975, Durham, North Carolina, 1987Google Scholar
  16. 2g.
    Vojtech Mastny, Helsinki, Human Rights, and European Security: Analysis and Documentation, Durham, 1986Google Scholar
  17. 2h.
    John van Oudenaren, European Détente, Durham, 1992Google Scholar
  18. 2i.
    Raymond Garthoff, Ditente and Confrontation: Soviet-American Relations from Nixon to Reagan, Washington, DC, 1994 (2nd ed.)Google Scholar
  19. 2j.
    Daniel Thomas, The Helsinki Effect. International Norms, Human Rights and the Demise of Communism, Princeton, 2001Google Scholar
  20. 2k.
    James E. Goodby, Europe Undivided: The New Logic of Peace in US — Russian Relations, Washington, DC, 1998, esp. ch. 2Google Scholar
  21. 2l.
    Jussi M. Hanhimaki, ‘Ironies and Turning Points: D6tente in Perspective’, in Reviewing the Cold War: Approaches, Interpretations, Theory, ed. By Odd Arne Westad, London, 2000, pp. 326–342Google Scholar
  22. 2m.
    Dana H. Allin, Cold War Illusions: America, Europe and Soviet Power, 19692–1989, New York, 1995Google Scholar
  23. 2n.
    and Charles G. Stefan, ‘The Drafting of the Helsinki Final Act: A Personal View of the CSCE’s Geneva Phase (September 1973 until July 1975)’, SHAFR Newsletter 31:2 (June 2000), pp. 1–10.Google Scholar
  24. 2o.
    In addition see: Robin Edmonds, Soviet Foreign Policy: The Brezhnev Years, Oxford, 1983Google Scholar
  25. 2p.
    Michael B. Froman, The Development of the Idea of Détente: Coming to Terms, New York, 1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 2q.
    and Joan Hoff, Nixon Reconsidered, New York, 1994.Google Scholar
  27. 3.
    Goodby, Europe Unidivided, p. 51; Maresca, To Helsinki, p. 158. See also Stefan, ‘Helsinki Final Act’, p. 8 and Kissinger, Years of Renewal, p. 641.Google Scholar
  28. 4.
    Cabinet Meeting, August 8, 1975, Box 14, National Security Advisor, Memoranda of Conversations, Gerald Ford Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan (hereafter GFL).Google Scholar
  29. 5.
    Kissinger, White House Years, p. 403. On the ‘prehistory’ of the CSCE and East-West detente in Europe see, for example, John van Oudenaren, Détente and Loth, Overcoming the Cold War.Google Scholar
  30. 6.
    Kissinger to Nixon, NSC, President’s Trip Files, box 489: ‘Dobrynin/Kissinger 1969 [part 2]’, Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland (hereafter NPMP). For a useful overview of these developments see Goodby, Europe Undivided, pp. 47–49.Google Scholar
  31. 7.
    More detailed overviews in Ghebali, La diplomatie de la détente; Maresca, To Helsinki; Goodby, Europe Undivided; Loth, Overcoming the Cold War; and van Oudenaren, Détente.Google Scholar
  32. 8.
    On the State Department’s efforts see particularly Goodby, Europe Undivided, 52–58.Google Scholar
  33. 8a.
    On Ostpolitik and the various aspects of the German question see: Timothy Garton Ash, In Europe’s Name: Germany and the Divided Continent, New York, 1993Google Scholar
  34. 8b.
    A. James McAdams, Germany Divided: From the Walt to Reunification, Princeton, 1993; idem., ‘The New Diplomacy of the West German Ostpolitik’, in The Diplomats, 1939–79, pp. 537-563Google Scholar
  35. 8c.
    Mary E. Sarotte, Dealing with the Devil: East Germany, Detente, and Ostpolitik, 19692–1973, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2001Google Scholar
  36. 8d.
    Michael Ploetz, Wie die Sowjetunion den Kalten Krieg verlor: Von der Nachrustung zum Mauerfalt, Berlin, 2000Google Scholar
  37. 8e.
    and Gottfried Niedhardt, ‘Revisionistische Elemente und die Initiierung friendlichen Wandels in der neueun Ostpolitik 19672–1974’, Geschichte und Gesellschaft 28:2 (2002), 233–266.Google Scholar
  38. 9.
    CSCE, 19722–1975, p. 34, fn. 2.Google Scholar
  39. 10.
    Ibid., p. 35.Google Scholar
  40. 11.
    Kissinger, Diplomacy, p. 758. Joan Hoff, Nixon Reconsidered, especially chapters 5 and 6.Google Scholar
  41. 12.
    Memcon: Kissinger, Brezhnev et al., September 12, 1972, NSC, HAK Office Files, box 74: ‘HAK Trip to Moscow September 1972 Memcons,’ NPMEGoogle Scholar
  42. 13.
    CSCE, 19722–1975, p. 56 (Nixon in fn. 4).Google Scholar
  43. 14.
    Sonnenfeldt to Kissinger, September 7, 1972, HAK Office Files, Trip Files, box 24, NPMRGoogle Scholar
  44. 15.
    CSCE, 19722–1975. p. 102.Google Scholar
  45. 16.
    Ibid., p. 103.Google Scholar
  46. 17.
    Haldeman’s diary entry, October 12, 1972, The Haldeman Diaries, New York, 1994, p. 627.Google Scholar
  47. 18.
    On Nixon and Watergate see, among others: Stanley I. Kutler, The Wars of Watergate, New York, 1990Google Scholar
  48. 18a.
    Richard Reeves, PresidentNixon: Alone in the White House, New York, 2001Google Scholar
  49. 18b.
    and Keith W. Olson, Watergate: The Presidential Scandal That Shook America, Lawrence, Kansas, 2003.Google Scholar
  50. 19.
    For a brief analysis on the Congressional challenge to Nixon’s foreign policy see: Melvin Small, Democracy and Diplomacy: The Impact of Domestic Politics on U.S. Foreign Policy, 17892–1994, Baltimore, Maryland, 1995, chapter 6.Google Scholar
  51. 20.
    On United States and European integration see Geir Lundestad, ’Empire’by Integration: The United States and European Integration, 19452–1997, Oxford, 1998, esp. ch. 7.Google Scholar
  52. 21.
    The speech can be found in Mayall and Navari, The End of the Post-War Era: Documents on Great-Power Relations, 19682–1975, Cambridge, 1980, pp. 360–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 22.
    Frank Costigliola, The Cold Alliance: France and the United States, New York, 1992, p. 174.Google Scholar
  54. 23.
    Willy Brandt, My Life in Politics, New York, 1992, p. 175.Google Scholar
  55. 24.
    Rostow to Kissinger June 25, 1973 and Kissinger to Rostow, August 8, 1973, ‘[EX] CO 1–5 Europe 1/1/73’ [2 of 3], WHCF, Subject Files, CO (Countries), box 5, NPMP. Upon leaving government in early 1969 Rostow had become professor of history and economics at the University of Texas, Austin. In his memoirs that were published a quarter-century after the ‘Year of Europe,’ Heath made the point as follows: ‘for Kissinger to announce a Year of Europe was like for me to stand on Trafalgar Square and announce that we were embarking on a year to save America!’ Edward Heath, Course of My Life, London, 1998, p. 493.Google Scholar
  56. 25.
    Memcon: Kissinger, Gromyko et al, May 6, 1973, ‘Kissinger Conversations at Zavidovo May 5–8 1973,’ NSC Country Files, USSR, box 75, NPMEGoogle Scholar
  57. 26.
    Kissinger to Nixon, May 11, 1973, ‘Kissinger Conversations at Zavidovo May 5–8 1973,’ NSC Country Files, USSR, box 75, NPMP.Google Scholar
  58. 27.
    As Vojtech Mastny puts it, the ‘open-endedness of the Helsinki process served to expand the substance of security by inducing its participants to redefine their concepts of security and relate them to human rights.’ Vojtech Mastny, Helsinki, p. 33. See also Goodby, Europe Undivided, pp. 62–63.Google Scholar
  59. 28.
    Memcon: Nixon, Brezhnev et al, June 18 and 20, 1973, ‘Brezhnev Visit June 18–25, 1973. Memcons,’ NSC Country Files, USSR, box 75, NPMP.Google Scholar
  60. 29.
    Stefan, ‘Drafting of the Helsinki Final Act’, pp. 2–3; Maresca, To Helsinki, pp. 44–45Google Scholar
  61. 30.
    In the early 1970s the US imported only 10–15% of its oil from the Middle East.Google Scholar
  62. 31.
    On the October War and Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy see: Bundy, A Tangled Web, pp. 428–472.Google Scholar
  63. 32.
    CSCE, 1972–75, pp. 258–259, fn 4. Kissinger to Nixon and Scowcroft, March 29, 1974, HAK Office Files, Trip Files, box 48, NPMP.Google Scholar
  64. 33.
    Nixon to Brezhnev, March 21 1974, ‘Secretary Kissinger’s Pre-summit trip to Moscow, March 24–28, 1974, Memcons and Reports,’ NSC Country Files, USSR, box 76, NPMP.Google Scholar
  65. 34.
    Kissinger to Nixon, March 26, 1974, ‘Secretary Kissinger’s Pre-summit trip to Moscow, March 24–28, 1974, Memcons and Reports,’ NSC Country Files, USSR, box 76, NPMP.Google Scholar
  66. 35.
    Memcons: Kissinger, Brezhnev, Gromyko March 26 and 27, 1974, ‘Secretary Kissinger’s Pre-summit trip to Moscow, March 24–28, 1974, Memcons and Reports,’ NSC Country Files, USSR, box 76, NPMP.Google Scholar
  67. 36.
    Memcon: Kissinger and Gromyko, Geneva, April 28, 1974, ‘HAK + Presidential Memcons March 1 — May 8 1974 (1 of 4),’ NSC, Box 1028, NPMP.Google Scholar
  68. 37.
    Kissinger to RN/Scowcroft, March 29, 1974, HAK Office, Trip Files, box 48, NPMP.Google Scholar
  69. 38.
    Kissinger, Years of Renewal, pp. 614, 621.Google Scholar
  70. 39.
    Kissinger to Nixon, June 26, 1974, NPMP, NSC, VIOP visits, box 950, NPMP.Google Scholar
  71. 40.
    For these see: Bundy, A Tangled Web, esp. ch.7; Garthoff, Détente and Confrontation, esp. ch.12.Google Scholar
  72. 41.
    Memcon: Nixon, Kissinger, Brezhnev, Gromyko etal. June 29, 1974, ‘Memcons Moscow Summit June 27–July 3, 1974,’ NSC Country Files, USSR, box 77, NPMP.Google Scholar
  73. 42.
    Peck to Callaghan, July 4, 1974, in CSCE, 19722–1975, pp. 304–306.Google Scholar
  74. 43.
    Elliott to Callaghan, July 29, 1974, in CSCE, 1972–1975, pp. 317–326.Google Scholar
  75. 44.
    See CSCE, 1972–1975, p. 331 fn. 6 and p. 335 fn. 3.Google Scholar
  76. 45.
    Memcon: Kissinger, Brezhnev et al., October 24, 1974 in Burr, Kissinger Transcripts, pp. 327–342. Citation from p. 342. On Kissinger’s rebuttal and December comments, ibid, pp. 342–343.Google Scholar
  77. 46.
    Alexander to Burns, May 30, 1975, CSCE, 1972–75, p. 410.Google Scholar
  78. 47.
    See: CSCE, 1972–1975, p. 411 fn8.Google Scholar
  79. 48.
    On 7 May 1975, for example, Prime Minister Wilson had told Kissinger and Ford that ‘he had been impressed by the fact that Brezhnev gave the appearance of an old man in a hurry,’ during Wilson’s visit to Moscow in February 1975. ‘We should turn this,’ Wilson had added, ‘to our advantage.’ CSCE, 1972–1975, p. 415 fn6.Google Scholar
  80. 49.
    Burr, Kissinger Transcripts, pp. 356–366.Google Scholar
  81. 50.
    Cited in John Robert Greene, The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford, Lawrence, Kansas, 1995, p. 153.Google Scholar
  82. 51.
    Reagan in ibid., p. 153. On Chinese criticism see Burr, Kissinger Transcripts, p. 389. See also Kissinger, Years of Renewal, pp. 662–663.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Board of the Journal of Transatlantic Studies 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jussi M. Hanhimäki
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate Institute of International StudiesGeneva and Woodrow Wilson International Center for ScholarsWashington, DCUSA

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