Germany could have been stopped, but there was no will among nations to do so. Alliances create the will and the bond. The Cold War divided the world to such an extent that more than the future of nations were on the line with war, the future of life on earth was at stake. He credits the United States as a nation that is different from all other nations because it supports democracy and freedom with its foreign policy.
Forgetting or neglecting his role in establishing Pinochet as dictator over the freely elected Allende in Chile or support for brutal dictatorships. I was surprised that he also sang the praises of Gerald Ford for much the same reasons as I do. He accidentally came to power without owing others outside of government favors. The closing was also surprising in a way that never really occurred to me. In the internet age Kissinger explains it is easy to be a researcher, but harder to be a thinker.
Readily available information in convenient bite-size pieces ends discussions of ideas and well, looks like a politics bulletin board where soundbite plays against sound bite until one person calls or compares another to a Nazi and everyone storms off. The internet also releases information at a fast pace. If an event happens on the other side of the globe people pick it up on Twitter in real time and news sources relay the information as fast as government sources. People demand that a policy be made instantly. Previously, there was time for create a plan of action. It took time for information to move.
The more time available the more rational the decision. Kissinger also presents the another problem of instant information -- political campaigns and public policy.
Three Powers and World Order
With the information collection from online use, instant trending of public opinion politicians and presidents might be encouraged to follow trends rather than formulate long-term plans. The world has changed since Westphalia but according to Kissinger behavior has not. We still establish stability in the same ways.
Granted there were enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over, the chance of them actually being used were very slim. There was order. We kept our allies in line and the Soviets kept theirs in line. When hostilities broke out they were in peripheral countries with the major powers not coming to blows. There was a sense of stability, conflicts were limited and global warfare was seen as something from the past.
Perhaps the lesson is that there is never a perfect world and unlikely one can ever exist. View all 4 comments. I approached this book with a little trepidation. My two previous experiences with Kissinger's earlier books were: Diplomacy, which I found pithy, insightful and very enlightening; and his three volume memoirs which I found to be overwhelming in their level of detail and which eventually defeated my best efforts to read them.
Which Kissinger would be the author of World Order? I worried unnecessarily. World Order is a master class on Foreign Affairs given by a virtuoso on the subject. Kissinger's I approached this book with a little trepidation. Kissinger's grasp of the historical and cultural background of the present world situation is comprehensive and deeply learned.
His central theme is the perennial interplay between legitimacy and power which he illustrates by examining the evolution of order in successive sphere's of influence: Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the United States.
He concludes by assessing what role technology plays now and likely to play in the future. His leitmotif and touchstone is the Treaty of Westphalia signed in , at the end of the Thirty Years War, which led to a new concept of the nation state which he calls the Westphalian system. The reason this system is significant is that, "The Westphalian system spread around the world as the framework for a state-based international order spanning multiple civilizations and regions because, as the European nations expanded, they carried the blueprint of their international order with them.
He is at his most engaging and entertaining when he his introducing the vast array of characters who populate this narrative. He peoples his story with a thousand and one fascinating characters: Augustine of Hippo, Richelieu, Bismarck, Kautilya, Palmerston, Sayyid Qutb, Sadat, Mao Zedong, all described in such detail as to seem to be personal friends of Kissinger, or, if not friends, at least the best of enemies. Kissinger's keen insights and analysis are dispassionate and profound. They are often based on his unequaled direct experience of many of the situations his discusses from the eternal conflict in the Middle East through the reappearance of Islam as a world force to the renaissance of the ancient civilizations of China and India as global powers.
His greatest contribution as a commentator is his ability to place current world affairs deftly into their proper historical context. He combines the insight of a learned historian with the statesman's meticulous grasp of naked realpolitick. This book is a worthy successor of Diplomacy, and should be highly valued for its clear-sighted, unsentimental, and highly-informed view of current world politics View 1 comment. Oct 17, Hadrian added it Shelves: nonfiction , history , politics-and-foreign-policy.
Diplomacy and World Order MA
Throughout his extensive tenure as a politician and a public intellectual, Dr. Henry Kissinger has become something like the high priest of realism. In his decades of consulting and eight years of holding power, Kissinger has consistently advocated the use of the balance of power and the maintenance of an international order as the chief goals of a foreign policy, and that adherence to a moral vision alone as the foundation for a grand strategy leads to detrimental results.
This latter point is Throughout his extensive tenure as a politician and a public intellectual, Dr. This latter point is a unique point in his analysis of American foreign policy, as shown in his earlier work, Diplomacy. Kissinger regards Wilsonian idealism as at best a Sisyphean task.
The unilateral assertion of American power in moral crusades against entrenched opponents has led to foreign policy quagmires, as seen first in Vietnam, and then in the second Iraq War. But I am drawing an incomplete picture here. Kissinger's analysis does not restrict itself to a solely contemporary view.
Instead, he draws the sources of his worldview from five centuries past, and the foundation of the Peace of Westphalia, which arose after the bloodletting of the Thirty Years War. This hard-fought peace allowed for the pluralistic coexistence of multiple states, where the past system had been a conflict of universal ambitions towards the whole of Europe. The value of this peace was in its allowance of the existence of multiple systems, but the preservation of order above all after decades of chaos. His heroes are those who manipulate the balances of states to manage their own states' survival amid chaos.
Cardinal Richelieu, Prince Metternich, and Bismarck are recurring figures in this story. Kissinger then draws his analysis out even further, over a comparison of different kinds of international orders drawn up by non-European politics.
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There are the Muslim definition of a religiously defined Ummah, the Chinese view of itself as the Middle Kingdom with all others as orbiting satellites, and even the founding of Indian realism by the political writer Kautilya in the 3rd century BC, who was Machiavelli some two millennium before there ever was a Florence or a Medici family. This grand history of strategy is fascinating and merits much study. When Kissinger enters the 20th century, however, things become more complicated, as he professes an admiration towards the American self-image of being a moralizing hegemon.
He praises Bush the Younger for his moral fiber, and then turns around and condemns the whole enterprise as increasingly doomed to failure.
In these chapters we see multiple Kissingers here - not only the savvy intellectual, but one with a courtier's instincts towards the powerful. Again, it is a complicated tightrope walk - but such is the world of power. Could such an arrangement of states last in today's world, as new wine in old skins? Is our world so sufficiently different from the past that the stratagems of past ministers and counsels still hold sway here? Kissinger allows himself some brief speculative interludes towards ISIS and the role of asymmetric information warfare here, but he holds fast to his view.
But even here, he admits that the meaning of history cannot be declared, but divined. The past decade and a half have seen a few cracks in the Pax Americana, and the future is not yet held. Here is a sage making a few cryptic remarks on the world stage.
Oct 04, Domhnall rated it it was amazing Shelves: politics. I do not share many opinions with Kissinger - and he will not be very troubled to hear this - but given that he has played such an important part in world politics, and has been directly engaged in decisions as serious as war and peace, it is well worth while to see the myths by which he lives.
The first two chapters set out his understanding of power politics. What passes for order in our time was devised in Western Europe nearly four centuries I do not share many opinions with Kissinger - and he will not be very troubled to hear this - but given that he has played such an important part in world politics, and has been directly engaged in decisions as serious as war and peace, it is well worth while to see the myths by which he lives.
What passes for order in our time was devised in Western Europe nearly four centuries ago at a peace conference in the German region of Westphalia, conducted without the involvement or even the awareness of most other continents or civilisations The Westphalian peace reflected a practical accommodation, not a unique moral insight. It relied on a system of independent states refraining from interference in each other's domestic affairs and checking each other's ambitions through a general equilibrium of power Division and multiplicity, an accident of Europe's history, became the hallmarks of a new system of international order with its own distinct outlook.
Kissinger argues that in time, the USA also departed from the Westphalian model, instead advocating liberal democracy and free market economics as a universal aspiration to be actively promoted and even imposed. He never actually seems to criticise the USA's actions, but it is hard not to use his theoretical framework to identify major problems.
Kissinger's sweeping survey of the use made in Europe of the Balance of Power, not to prevent war but to restrain its violence and scope, is to my mind very clever, culminating in a snappy explanation for the outbreak and consequences of the First World War.
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With his model in mind, it becomes terribly easy to see the strategic disaster of the way that war was ended, failing to draw either Germany or Russia into the new order, installing a string of small and hard to defend states along their borders, virtually inviting the great powers to snack on them at leisure. He contrasts this with the peace after the defeat of Napoleon, when France was immediately restored to its proper place in the order of things.
He moves on to give a dry and not very useful account of the Middle East and modern Islam, in which Israel is hardly noticed, before a much more lively chapter about Iran. This is both informative and, to my surprise, respectful of the Iranian approach to diplomacy. Quite simply the Iranian strategy is to seek the complete removal of American and Western influence from the region and to replace the colonial legacy with a restoration of Islamic culture.
It is not difficult to consider this account as one that would be compatible with the sentiments in Edward Said's Orientalism, as others too have observed. Of course, Kissinger does not dwell on the negative aspects of America's role in the region. Although this comes later in the book, his account of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are brief but not without insights. His discussion of Afghanistan especially give a strong impression that he has no patience with American fantasies about the introduction of a western style democracy into a land of diverse local tribes, lacking traditions of even centralized government, and he implies that stronger neighbours will almost certainly intervene in time, reiterating the violent cycle.
His discussions of Japan and of India are succinct. He has far more to say about China, not least to emphasize the continuity of modern and historic Chinese diplomatic strategies, but he talks about Mao in such bland terms that we have to assume he is being diplomatic himself. This does not matter - we have other sources for that. Two chapters directly concerned with the history of the USA give a very clear exposition of the major events of the past two centuries and offer some good insights, notably in his brief discussion of the Vietnam War and the domestic US opposition to that.
He is not at all embarrassed to describe the various expressions of American "exceptionalism" which to my mind are in fact unpleasant. He quotes Thomas Jefferson: "We feel that we are acting under obligations not confined to the limits of our own society. It is impossible not to be sensible that we are acting for all mankind; that circumstances denied to others, but indulged to us, have imposed on us the duty of proving what is the degree of freedom and self-government in which a society may venture to leave its individual members. The book closes with a review of some implications of new technologies, most importantly nuclear weapons and proliferation, but also cyber warfare and the political impact of the internet and search engines.