- Historic Sites
“Explaining What You Are After Is The Secret Of Diplomacy”
This century’s most powerful Secretary of State talks about the strengths and weaknesses of the Foreign Service, the role of the CIA, the rights of journalists, the contrast between meddlers and statesmen—and about the continuing struggle for a coherent foreign policy
August/september 1983 | Volume 34, Issue 5
Would you, under any circumstances, want to return to that office?
Not really. I suppose that in a crisis one has a duty to accede to a President’s request, but for normal times public life is now behind me. I consider myself an elder statesman who is willing to advise. I have enormous admiration for the current Secretary and I’m helping him in any way I can from the outside.
Just considering the Department as an institution, what are some of the major problems a Secretary faces today?
There’s a certain historic snobbishness that has left a residue even though the social background of personnel has broadened, as I mentioned before. There is still a certain lack of discipline. When you consider the Secretaries of State who didn’t know anything about foreign policy when they were appointed, or very little, and add to it the frequency of change, it is not surprising that there have been relatively few consecutive periods in which strong Secretaries of State could impose a coherent way of thinking on the Department. This has made for a tendency toward self-will. It doesn’t always make it easy to carry out a coherent policy.
I take it that since you admire the present Secretary, you believe he will be able to improve the Department in this regard.
I have no doubt that he will succeed, if he stays in the job long enough.
And the President will let him?
I am confident the President will let him, but we have another election in ’84, and if there should be a change, that means somebody else will have to start again from scratch.