Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and erstwhile Nixon Secretary of State and Vietnam War architect Henry Kissinger were caught dining together last Thursday at Washington's Bistro Bis, ROLL CALL reports Monday. Excerpts:
The former secretary of State arrived first and waited a good 15 minutes for Rummy. While he waited, sources say he ordered a Virgin Mary. (Who knows, maybe Kissinger wanted to stay sober to remember the moment in the event Rumsfeld apologized for that little spat that dates back to the day when he accused Kissinger of being too slow to pull out of Vietnam.)
Rummy drank white wine, our sources say. And it appeared they had a “chummy, nice, relaxing dinner,” said Angela Phelps, director of publicity at Regnery Publishing, who dined at a nearby table.
Phelps said that when Kissinger and Rumsfeld got up to leave Bis, they were nearly mobbed with folks taking pictures and wanting to chat with them. Clearly, Rumsfeld’s constituency dines at Bis: One former GOP Congressional staffer stopped the secretary to say he supported and appreciated the administration’s efforts in Iraq.
Phelps chimed in to say she agreed. She told Rumsfeld that her mother is from Iraq, and that her father served in the Army for 30 years and they are “big fans” of Rummy. She added that diners in the restaurant were “all over” the two men as they left.
Kissinger has long been criticized for his role in the Vietnam War and his support for a military junta accused of atrocities in Chile. Some have said he should be tried for war crimes; among those leading the charge is conservative iconoclast Christopher Hitchens.
Nixon's right hand was a major player in the orchestration of the U.S. bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War, which sought to stem the flow of North Vietnamese guerillas into Southern Vietnam. The bombings ignited mass protests in the United States, and contributed to Cambodia's civil war.
Kissinger won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a ceasefire to end the war in Vietnam. He now leads a consulting firm.