To the Editor:
As one who has always found Walter Laqueur one of COMMENTARY’S most interesting and incisive contributors, I was disturbed by the glibness I found in certain sections of his article, “Kissinger and the Politics of Detente” [December 1973].
Mr. Laqueur devotes but one short paragraph to what he calls Mr. Kissinger’s “highest” achievement: his effort to end the Vietnam war—or at least direct American participation therein. Conspicuously missing from this reference is any mention of the “secret bombing” of Cambodia and Laos, the terror bombing of Hanoi, the present use of American-trained Thai mercenaries in Laos. . . .
“Détente” seems to me anything but the right description for the circumstances surrounding the Yom Kippur War, which was in effect a war which the superpowers fought by proxy (I am not denying the indigenous roots of the war, only questioning whether it could have been carried out at all, or at least as protractedly and destructively as it was, without the massive arms shipments of the superpowers), and which included a global nuclear alert by the United States, an event which President Nixon himself said was caused by the most serious big-power confrontation since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
I am also puzzled why Mr. Laqueur says nothing at all about what effect Mr. Kissinger’s Jewishness will have on his policies, especially with regard to the Middle East crisis. Can we count on the Secretary of State not to “sell out” Israel in the name of détente (or oil), perhaps in part because of his own background and memories? Or will Mr. Kissinger prove to be another Herbert Samuel or Bruno Kreisky, at times “bending over backward” to prove his non-partisanship? We have already seen some evidence of such behavior in terms of Mr. Kissinger’s opposition to the Jackson-Vanik amendment.
Finally, in a period which has seen bitter wars in Nigeria, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and Vietnam, not to mention numerous acts of guerrilla violence and several bloody coups, I am puzzled to say the least by Mr. Laqueur’s assertion near the end of his article that “the last few years have been comparatively calm on the whole. . . .”
David M. Szonyi
West Berlin, Germany