IN HIS NEW BOOK, "The Price of Power," Seymour Hersh de scribes a tense meeting in June, 1969, between Henry Kissinger and Gabriel Valdes, foreign minister in Chile's Christian Democratic government. The previous day Valdes had caused a stir at a White House meeting of Latin American foreign ministers by complaining about the difficulty of dealing with the United States. President Nixon, present at the session, was irritated. The next day Kissinger confronted Valdes at a private lunch which Hersh describes: The meeting was unpleasant. As Valdes describes it, Kissinger began by declaring, "Mr. Minister, you made a strange speech. You come here speaking of Latin America, but this is not important. Nothing important can come from the South. History has never been produced in the South. The axis of history starts in Moscow, goes to Bonn, crosses over to Washington, and then goes to Tokyo. What happens in the South is of no importance. You're wasting your time."

"I said," Valdes recalls, "Mr. Kissinger, you know nothing of the South." "No," Kissinger answered, "and I don't care." At that point, Valdes, astonished and insulted, told Kissinger: "You are a German Wagnerian. You are a very arrogant man."