Kissinger finds Reagan 'prudent; recklessness is least of his problems'
Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger endorses the foreign policy approach being taken by Ronald Reagan, a man with whom he was strongly at odds four years ago but whom he now describes as an essentially prudent man.
In a breakfast meeeting with reporters here Oct. 23, Dr. Kissinger also said he expects the American hostages eventually to be released from Iran -- not because of any actions taken by the Carter administration but because circumstances in that part of the world have changed.
The Kissinger endorsement is important to Governor Reagan, for one thing, because of the view held by some potential voters, and encouraged by President Carer, that Mr. Reagan might be more likely than Mr. Carter would to lead the United States into a war. Kissinger says that the contrary is true.
Kissinger is viewed as a "moderate" on a number of key foreign policy issues in comparison wiht the many "hawks" in the Reagan camp. His endorsement adds a certain balance to the Reagan foreign policy approach as the presidential contender seeks to move away from the extreme right and closer to the center in foreign affairs.
The former secretary of state spoke to reporters on the understanding that most of his remarks not be quoted directly.
Kissinger made clear that he does not agree with all of Reagan's views or those of his leading foreign policy advisers. He acknowledged as well that after working together for awhile in the Nixon administration he and Reagan's top foreign policy adviser, Richard Allen, drifted apart in their relationship.
But Kissinger described Reagan as a man who has grown in wisdom and stature in recent years, a man whose perspecttives broadened as he began to address a national constituency rather than the more limited constitutencies he had focused on in parimary races.
"My perception is that he is an essentially prudent man," said Kissinger. "My perception of the man is that reclessness in action is the least of his problems."
The former secretary of state does not think the Reagan approach to the development of new nucelar weeapons and to arms control will destroy the SALT negotiating process with the Soviet Union. But he does not think it was advisable to advocate nuclear "superiority" as the Republican Party platform and Reagan personally, on occasion, have done. Superiority is an imprecise "buzz word" that can easily be misunderstood, he said.
Kissinger described Carter as a man who personalizes foreign policy and who has made the US less predictable to both its frinds and adversaries. This, he said, has made it more difficult for friends to cooperate with the US in systematic way.
Carter, he said, had no feeling for fundamental economic and historic forces but instead acted as though relations with other nations were analagous to his personal relations with other people.
Reagan, he said, would be firmer in meeting challenges than Carter has been.
The former secretary of state said he did not seek any permanent assignment with a Reagan administration but left open the possibility of accepting special assignments or being called into to provide advice to such an administration.