Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Kissinger Has Your Answer, if you are Willing to Listen

Walter Russell Mead over at WSJ has a quick summary of Kissinger's view of today. There is so much here to agree with, and hopefully Kissinger, a WWII vet still with us, is able to still influence the right people in the right places.
I once heard someone ask Mr. Kissinger what he saw as the most important trends in the world. I braced myself for an hour of sage but complex geopolitical monologue. Instead he replied with a single sentence, albeit one with more substance than most books published in the field: “You must never forget that the unification of Germany is more important than the development of the European Union, that the fall of the Soviet Union is more important than the unification of Germany, and that the rise of India and China is more important than the fall of the Soviet Union.”
How those two rise in parallel will be the story of this century. We are a "mature" and settled power, they are not.

His next point, which should be obvious, is ignored every day by people of both parties. Culture, tradition, and history are critically important.

People do not think the same. Not all cultures are equal. History does not pick a side, and unquestionably does not owe you a future.
It has often been said, sometimes by Mr. Kissinger himself, that he is a “realist” while many of his critics are “idealists.” There is some truth there, and Mr. Kissinger’s most trenchant opponents attack what they characterize as his cynical willingness to achieve policy objectives through morally dubious or even reprehensible means. But the gap between Mr. Kissinger and the rest cuts deeper. He isn’t suspicious merely of rosy idealism; he is suspicious of those who think ideologically about foreign policy, reasoning down from first principles and lofty assumptions rather than grounding their analysis in the messiness and contradictions of the real world.
Historical study and a lifetime of experience have taught Mr. Kissinger the folly of assuming that Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping or Ayatollah Khamenei thinks like American leaders do or wants the same things. Each of these men and their supporters are grounded in cultural and historical imperatives that do not always mesh with ideas about Adam Smith, liberal order and win-win negotiating.

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