Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with John H. Holdridge
HOLDRIDGE: Well I don't think the Foreign Service looked with great enthusiasm upon the NSC as organized under Kissinger. I had been in INR of course, and Fred Green, when he was the head of the INR/REA operation of which I was Deputy, I had gone over to the NSC and we had actually sat down and talked to McGeorge Bundy. That particular NSC didn't seem to be interfering in the normal activities of what the Foreign Service was doing. But certainly, after we got back from the round the world trip—I got off in Bangkok incidentally, and a colleague of mine, Hal Saunders, took over for that section that went on to India and Pakistan, that was his area, and I guess somebody else must have covered the European bit of the Soviet Bloc, the stop in Romania, it was probably Hal Sonnenfeldt who went on. Anyway, where was I?
Q: You were talking about what you were getting from the Foreign Service.
HOLDRIDGE: Well, to the Foreign Service at this point the NSC had not loomed as a dragon. It was something that was working with us, we thought, and I had sat in on the deliberations representing the NSC on the NSSM 14 chaired by Win Brown. I thought what had come up with his recommendations were eminently sensible. No problems—the bureaucracy had worked. To give Kissinger credit, he always made sure that the views of everyone of the agencies concerned were in fact reflected in the paper that emerged. He always had an extra paragraph for the President which said, now you may consider this, you may consider that view, but for various reasons maybe you ought to focus on this particular aspect. At any rate, the agencies did get their voice heard and their day in court. So there was no great problem, but then the turning point I'm sure came, I mentioned it in the book that I collaborated along with Bill Stokes and Marshall Green, that after we got back, Kissinger decided, or the President decided, maybe at Kissinger's urging, that there would be an annual report to the Congress on the Foreign Policy of the United States that was drafted entirely inside the National Security Council, no clearances from State, no input from State, nothing. After we had issued it, Nixon called in all of the staff members of the NSC and sat us all in the Cabinet Room, next to the Oval Office and we all arranged ourselves around the table, Kissinger on Nixon's right, Nixon made it very plain by golly, that Foreign Policy was going to be run by the NSC. No two ways about it, that we were to keep our distance from State and not in fact do anything more than to ask for inputs, but certainly not to ask for advice. It was up to geniuses on the NSC to come up with our own solutions, Kissinger sitting at the top of this pyramid. In fact to jump ahead a couple of years, I had one Foreign Service Officer assigned to me, I don't know if I should mention his name...