January 22,1969 – The first few days of a Nixon White House – the changes were coming in. One of Richard Nixon’s big campaign promises was ending the war in Vietnam and Foreign Policy was on the agenda, but how? One of his first appointments was that of National Security Adviser – Henry Kissinger would become a familiar face in a wide range of duties. But what exactly was going to happen with our Foreign Policy? Where was it heading?
In this episode of the EEN (pre-PBS) nightly newscast Newsfront, former State Department planning member Zbigniew Brzezinski is interviewed by Newsfront anchor Mitchell Krause over what had gone on in the State Department in the past, what was going on in the State Department today, and what was going to happen in the State Department in the months/years ahead during this new administration. Newly appointed Secretary of State William Rogers was urging an open-door policy in consideration of forming U.S. Foreign Policy. Criticism of previous Administrations was a lack of an effective initiator in the area of Foreign Policy by the Secretary of State. It was hoped that Rogers would turn that around, to make the State Department work as an effective agency. In essence, letting the professionals do their work. It was hoped that Secretary Rogers would implement structural reform in order to effectively assert policy leadership. And unless Secretary of State Rogers used the coming few weeks to appoint key people around him to fill policy slots, to give policy guidance and structures the organization in such a way that they could assert themselves effectively, he would find himself completely outdistanced and out-maneuvered by the White House staff and Defense Department.
A fascinating interview regarding the early days of the Nixon administration and what lay ahead, particularly in relation to the Vietnam war and, to a degree, the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
In addition to the interview there is also news for this January 22, 1969. A bi-partisan move in the Senate to abolish the Draft was put forward. Nine Senators; seven of the Republicans, called for the creation of an all-volunteer Army. President Nixon had called for an end to the Draft, but not until the war in Vietnam was over. The bill introduced on this day would end conscription six months after passage of the law. Walter Hickle, Nixon’s appointee to become Secretary of The Interior wasn’t confirmed by the Senate earlier this day, as critics continued to contend that the Alaska governor was unfit for the job. However, confirmation was expected sometime the following day.
And to close out this episode, a commentary by former New York Times editor Lester Markel on Nixon and The News Media. The prognosis wasn’t good, particularly in the area of image, since the office of President was becoming more about image than of substance, at least according to the political climate of 1969.
And that’s an eye-opening look at what was going on in January 22, 1969 as presented by Newsfront.