Friday, January 3, 2014

The Ends of Power 12

On pages 370-371 of The Ends of Power, H.R. Haldeman (with Joseph DiMona) states the following:

“A Presidential chopper was sitting on the helipad waiting for us.  I wouldn’t be seeing that again…The Pentagon.  Vietnam War, May 8, 1972.  Sitting in the Oval Office debating with Henry Kissinger on a military move to end that war.  Past.  Gone.”

Haldeman debated with Kissinger on military strategy?  What qualified Haldeman to do that?  Kissinger had a Ph.D. pertaining to foreign policy and an academic career in that field.  Haldeman was a former advertising man.

I hope that I don’t come across as an intellectual snob here, because I’m not.  I think that people from all walks of life can learn things and come up with valuable ideas.  It just interests me that, in the realm of politics, we often see academics debating issues with people who don’t have academic qualifications in a field, simply because the latter have power.  This is especially the case with the person at the top, the President: Presidents usually don’t have doctorates in economics, sociology, or foreign policy, yet we entrust ourselves to their judgment on these issues.  They may listen to academics, but the Presidents are the ones who get to decide what they will do.

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