Nichter is Assistant Professor of History at Texas A&M
University-Central Texas. He prepared this article for
Whether Vietnam, Iraq, or now Afghanistan, wars come and go, but the real battle is a philosophic one between two sects of conservatives. In The Forty Years War: The Rise and Fall of the Neocons from Nixon to Obama,
authors Len Colodny and Tom
Shachtman challenge readers to examine the role of a little-known
Pentagon figure named Fritz G.A. Kraemer.
Colodny and Shachtman argue
that Kraemer was the leading intellectual behind what became known as
the neo-conservative movement, witnessed by the fact that Kraemer
influenced so many high-ranking conservative figures over the course of
decades. (VN: Which does not diminish the role of Kissinger in all of this either. Notice he is at Nixon's "Right Hand" to make sure all is done as the nazi masters require which is why Kraemer and Kissinger had a falling out. I believe its because Kraemer was an idealist and Kissinger was working subversively for the nazi international zionist banker elite, which had a completely different agenda. NWO ring a bell? )
What we see in The Forty Years War is
that Vietnam split conservatives into two groups:
those who sought reconciliation with America's adversaries (including
not only North Vietnam, but also the Soviet Union and China), and those
who thought weak-kneed political leaders were giving away too much to
America's adversaries, including restricting military solutions in
Vietnam and more generally pursuing policies of détente. Following
Vietnam, Henry Kissinger emerged as the best example of a member of the
former group, while Fritz Kraemer continued to lead the latter group.
split occurred during the fall of 1972, at the moment the Nixon
administration was closest to reaching a peace agreement with North and
South Vietnam. Most importantly, the split was captured on the Nixon
taping system. Before publication of The Forty Years War,
no attention had been paid to a meeting that took place on October 24,
1972, yet it has all the makings of pure intrigue. At 11:15 am, Henry
Kissinger and his long-time mentor, Fritz Kraemer, entered the Oval
Office for a private meeting with President Nixon.
The role of Fritz Kraemer on Henry Kissinger's formative years
[Kraemer] brought him [Kissinger] down to Harvard, nurtured him, loved
him dearly, but became profoundly disappointed on the issue of Vietnam,
and arms control, and other
things. Because he happens to be a dear friend of mine, and I love him
and respect him dearly. And I'm trying to get the two back together, and
there's just no way; it's never going to happen. Because Fritz is an
ideologue and a principled individual who'd never compromise on his
Alexander M. Haig, Jr.
obvious question, then, is why don't we know more about this shadowy
Pentagon figure who seemingly influenced nearly every conservative
foreign policy thinker from the Nixon administration forward? Even his
death, in 2003, has been no impediment to his influence. Former Vice
President Dick Cheney's recent criticism of President's Obama's
Afghanistan policy could have come from Kraemer himself.
with what we do know. On September 18, 1971, in an Oval Office
conversation between Henry Kissinger and President Nixon, Kissinger
reminded Nixon that Kraemer had been sending a series of papers related
to his theory of "provocative weakness" to the White House, to
Henry Kissinger's attention. Kraemer's"provocative weakness" applied to
Nixon's foreign policy in the broadest possible sense, including
subjects such as Vietnam, China, and detente with the Soviet Union. In
the excerpt below, Nixon clearly recalls Kraemer, and asks Kissinger to
set up a meeting so that Nixon could meet with Kraemer himself.
Kissinger: I have this friend, this right-wing friend in the Pentagon, I’ve shown you some memos of his—Kraemer—
Nixon: Kraemer. Yeah.
Kissinger: Who, when he was—
Nixon: He always was the one who sent in—who gives us the analysis—
Kissinger: Yeah, well—
Nixon: I like him.
Kissinger: He was giving me—
Nixon: I should meet him sometime.
Kissinger: Well, I’ll bring him in if you want—
Nixon: You bring him in. All right, go ahead.
Nixon: Tell him that I do read his stuff, though.
Kissinger: I—Yeah, I will tell him that.
Kraemer's theory of provocative weakness, greatly simplified, goes like
this: displaying too much force, such as engaging in an arms race or
using excessive force during wartime, are provocative but necessary
actions in the face of an irrational adversary. Such displays of
strength are preferable to appearing too weak in the eyes of your
adversary, which is also provocative since such weakness may incite an
adversary to take unnecessarily risky actions that they would
otherwise not take. Colodny and Shachtman argue that this philosophy
has been an overriding principle of the neo-conservative movement, which
has been applied to a variety of international conflicts over the past
Fritz Kraemer was placed on
President Nixon's schedule, on October 24, 1972, at 11:15 am. Kissinger's
deputy, General Alexander M. Haig, Jr., who remained loyal to Kraemer
after the Kraemer-Kissinger split, was not permitted to attend. At the
start of the
meeting, White House Photographer Ollie Atkins captured numerous
images, which appear below. They depict Nixon and Kissinger in a jocular
mood, clearly enjoying themselves, while Kraemer looked grave, perhaps
annoyed that the start of his meeting had been reduced to humor and
the meeting, Kraemer made it increasingly clear
that he was not happy with Nixon's foreign policy, specifically with
respect to Vietnam. Kraemer believed that the forthcoming peace
agreement had been negotiated according to political timing, as opposed
to sound negotiating principles. (VN: Remember, Kissinger sold out the MIA's and POW's during this time which had never been done before. Again, the first real slapping down of our military might, not for integrity purposes, rather to begin that process being completed today, to dimish our military to allow domination of the planet by China, the bankers new front country)
began the meeting by flattering Kraemer."There are so few people with
intellectual capabilities who aren't hopelessly unrealistic. We call
them doves, for lack of a better name for it. That's too good of a name
for it. They're actually worse. To have an intelligent appraisal by
someone who really understands great forces at work in the world...with
the Soviets, China, etc., to have that kind of analysis...I appreciate
it. It's been very helpful."
Kraemer soon began to lay into Nixon's and Kissinger's strategy in Vietnam, including that crucial concessions had been made—such as not insisting on a North Vietnamese withdrawal from South Vietnam—in order to obtain a flawed peace in time for the 1972 presidential election. Kissinger and Nixon defended
difficulty, Kraemer, has been not that we have made concessions before
the election. Our difficulty has been to think up demands which could
protract it beyond the election because every demand we make—
Nixon: They settle.
Kissinger: They meet within twenty-four hours. So we are literally running out of proposals we can make to them.
Kraemer: Make a proposal that they should withdraw from South Vietnam.
Kissinger: We've made that now. We've made the proposal, for example, that their prisoners have to stay in South Vietnamese jails.
Nixon: Forty thousand.
Kissinger: Forty thousand political prisoners would stay in South Vietnamese jails, which we thought was unacceptable.
they have now accepted that their cadres stay in South Vietnamese
jails. Now, you know that this is not an easy thing for them to sign a
document in which they release our prisoners, [they] have to release
military prisoners, but all [North Vietnamese] civilian prisoners stay
you perhaps think, that the ceasefire is such an advantage to them for
the psychological reason that they are more disciplined...?
think they are fairly confident, but I think there is the other factor,
which I think we must have in mind. Remember, we never want to
obviously underestimate...that they have taken a hell of a beating. I
mean the bombing has hurt,
the mining has hurt, the attrition that has occurred in South Vietnam. I
mean, when you stop to think of, not just what we have done in the
North, but the 52s, those six carriers we've had out there, and
everything. We have clobbered the bejeezus out of them. I think,
therefore, that they have reached a point, and it is only temporary, I
agree, where in their thought there, they may have read Mao. You know,
he was always willing to retreat.
may have been, in fact, too successful...because we told them, for
example, that all communications will be cut off on November 7th.
Because the president would have to retreat to reorganize the
meeting was probably the only one to have occurred during the Nixon
presidency in which Nixon and Kissinger permitted a rigorous debate, in
the Oval Office no less, over the merits of not just Vietnam policy, but
Nixon foreign policy more generally. Kraemer knew the
issues well enough that both Nixon and Kissinger were forced to defend
themselves to someone who represented an increasingly disenchanted sect
of conservatives. Kraemer believed, as other conservatives did, that the
conduct of Nixon foreign policy had became tainted by short-term
political considerations, and that politicians had acted as a
restraining influence on military leaders who believed they were capable
of achieving a military victory..
fought a pretty good fight up to this point, and we're not caving.
Because we see that it's a very difficult war. Success or failure now,
not just for the moment—because anything will look good for two or
three months—but something that has a chance to survive, shall we say, for two or three years. That is very much a condition that we cannot compromise on.
Kraemer: May I formulate, say, one strategic sentence—
it should prove, within a number of fronts, that we, the United States,
were not able to deal with the entity North Vietnam, 31 million
inhabitants, that would be,
apart from everything moral,
the question will arise—among
friend, foe, and entrants—with whom can the United States ever deal
successfully? Because this entity of 31 million, supported by the
Soviets, by China, but not by their manpower—
relatively so small that everybody from Rio de Janeiro to Copenhagen,
and from Hanoi to Moscow, can draw the conclusion: obviously, the
enormous American power couldn't deal with this. Therefore, as a lawyer,
say...since we cannot deal with Vietnam, with whom can we deal?
tone of the conversation was not adversarial, but it was clearly
elevated. Nixon admitted that Kraemer touched on far more than simply
American policy towards Vietnam. "The whole foreign policy of the United
States is on the line here," Nixon noted. The half-hour
meeting was too brief for what Kraemer had in mind. He made his
disagreement known to the president, which ultimately resulted in a
split with Henry Kissinger. The estrangement that resulted between the
two men, who had met a quarter century earlier after each enlisted in
the U.S. Army during World War II, continued stubbornly even beyond
Kraemer's death in 2003.
It is because these two conservative sects split—one
led by Henry Kissinger and the pragmatists, and the other led by Fritz
Kraemer and later figures such as Alexander Haig, Donald Rumsfeld, and
well as the fact that they never resolved their differences before
Kraemer's death, that this
split continues today. Since Vietnam, wars have come and gone, but
this philosophic battle has never been overcome. Former Vice President
Dick Cheney's criticism of President Obama's policy with respect to
Afghanistan could have come from Fritz Kraemer himself. While many in
the media have interpreted Cheney's comments on purely political, they
miss the greater struggle taking place within the conservative camp. The
debate over future American policy towards Afghanistan is merely the
vehicle for the latest chapter in the epic struggle. (VN: Remember, not everyone is in on the larger agenda that Cheney, Rumsfeldt and Bush carried into the next administrations run by this trio. Nixon did not have a clue, but the Kissingr faction did from the beginning. He was from Germany, the nazi brigade and the CFR, Trilateral, etc. )
The Forty Years War should
serve as a call to researchers to learn much more about Fritz Kraemer.
Perhaps the outcome of this future research will confirm Colodny and
Shachtman's view that Kraemer was a sort of ideological godfather to
the neo-conservatives. After all, a split in the conservative camp
indeed took place, and was never resolved. On the other hand, others may
conclude that the emphasis on Kraemer is overdone. Either way, the
first step is to learn more about the mysterious figure who was
indeed influential to so many American diplomatic and military figures
since Vietnam. For that, The Forty Years War indeed deserves credit.
The article is reproduced in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.