Title: Readings in American Foreign Policy
Author: Morton H. Halperin
Halperin, Morton H. (1973) and] Arnold Kanter, eds. Readings in American Foreign Policy; A Bureaucratic Perspective. Boston: Little, Brown
- United States–Foreign relations administration.Date Posted: November 16, 2015
Date Posted: November 16, 2015
A useful book for reviewing a number of perspectives on American Foreign Policy during the Cold War. Halperin received his Bachelor of Arts from Columbia College and his Ph.D. in international relations from Yale University.
When a member of the Harvard Center for International Affairs, he authored the book Contemporary Military Strategy in 1967, where he defended “large-scale American bombing in South Vietnam” on the grounds that although it “may have antagonized a number of people” it nonetheless “demonstrated to these people that the Vietcong could not guarantee their security”—thus “illustrat[ing] the fact that most people tend to be motivated, not by abstract appeals, but rather by their perception of the course of action that is most likely to lead to their own personal security”.
Halperin served in the Department of Defense under President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, and was dovish on the Vietnam War, calling for a halt to bombing Vietnam. When Richard Nixon became president in 1969, Henry Kissinger, his new National Security Advisor announced Halperin would join the staff of the National Security Council. The appointment of Halperin, a colleague of Kissinger’s at Harvard University in the 1960s, was immediately criticized by General Earle G. Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; FBI director J. Edgar Hoover; and Senator Barry Goldwater.
One of Halperin’s famous quotes is:
“The NATO doctrine is that we will fight with conventional forces until we are losing, then we will fight with tactical weapons until we are losing, and then we will blow up the world.”
Kissinger soon lost faith in Halperin. A front page story in The New York Times on May 9, 1969, stated the United States had been bombing Cambodia, a neutral country. Kissinger immediately called Hoover to find out who might have leaked this information to the press. Hoover suggested Halperin and Kissinger agreed that was likely. That very day, the FBI began taping Halperin’s phones at Kissinger’s direction. (Kissinger says nothing of this in his memoirs and mentions Halperin in passing about four times.) Halperin left the NSC in September 1969 after only nine months, but the taping continued until February 1971. Halperin was also placed on Nixon’s Enemies List.
He was a friend of Daniel Ellsberg. When Ellsberg was investigated in connection with the Pentagon Papers, suspicion fell on Halperin, who some Nixon aides believed had kept classified documents when he left government service. John Dean claimed that Jack Caulfield had told him of a plan to fire-bomb the Brookings Institution, Halperin’s employer, to destroy Halperin’s files.