The following is an excellent excerpt from the article in the September 22, 2014 issue of Time magazine written by Walter Issacson on page 36 titled in the magazine “The Lion in Winter” but on the Time website as “Henry Kissing Reminds Us Why Realism Matters” and I quote:
“Henry Kissinger Reminds Us Why Realism Matters”
The former Secretary of State, now 91, argues for a moral but rational foreign policy in the age of terrorism
In his new book, the 91-year-old statesman strikes a note of humility
When Henry Kissinger talks about world order, to some it might seem as if he is living in a previous century. The 17th, perhaps. Beginning with his Harvard doctoral dissertation 60 years ago, he has extolled the concept of international order that was established in 1648 by the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War. Instead of being shaped by wars of religion and the death spasms of the Holy Roman Empire, Europe’s international system was thenceforth based on independent nation-states, each sovereign over religion and other issues in its own territory. States would not interfere in the internal affairs of other states, and order would, ideally, be maintained by clever statesmen who focused on national interests and curated a balance of power.
Kissinger’s appreciation for order, he later recalled, came after his family fled Hitler’s Germany in 1938 and arrived in New York, where he realized he did not have to cross the street to avoid non-Jewish boys who might beat him up. Kissinger became an exemplar of the realist, as opposed to idealist, school of diplomacy, someone who believed that a foreign policy that is overly guided by moral impulses and crusading ideals was likely to be dangerous. “The most fundamental problem of politics,” he wrote in his dissertation, “is not the control of wickedness but the limitation of righteousness.”
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Kissinger’s fellow students in Harvard’s government department scoffed at his choice of topic. The atom bomb, they contended, had fundamentally changed global affairs. One snidely suggested he should transfer to the history department.
Likewise, we are tempted to raise an eyebrow at the news that Kissinger, now 91, has produced another paean to the Westphalian system, his 17th book in 60 years, this one titled simply World Order. Respect for sovereignty? How quaint! Hasn’t he heard that in the 21st century, threats respect no borders, the world is flat, and we have a humanitarian duty to protect people in places where regimes are repressive? That is why we rejected realist thinking for a “Freedom Agenda” that included invading Iraq to make the Middle East safe for democracy, toppling Muammar Gaddafi in Libya under a humanitarian banner and seeking (well, at least until ISIS came along) to do the same to President Bashar Assad in Syria.
Hmmm…upon reflection, maybe throwing out the Westphalian system, forsaking the principle of respect for sovereignty and letting idealism overwhelm realism wasn’t such a good idea after all. And if that’s the case, then Kissinger’s World Order doesn’t seem dated at all. The U.S. might do well to heed his prescription that it alloy its idealism with a new dose of realism. “Westphalian principles are, at this writing, the sole generally recognized basis of what exists of a world order,” he notes.
Kissinger’s book takes us on a dazzling and instructive global tour of the quest for order, from Cardinal Richelieu to Metternich and Bismarck, the Indian minister Kautilya of the 4th century B.C. and the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman, and a succession of American Presidents beginning with Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, all culminating in a world order based on sovereign nation-states at the end of World War II. “By the mid-20th century,” Kissinger writes, “this international system was in place on every continent.””
(THE AUTHOR WROTE A GREAT STORY ABOUT HENRY KISSINGER. A MAN THAT’S WORKED WITH MANY PRESIDENTS AND COUNTRIES THAT EXEMPLIFIES THE VALUE OF HISTORY AND THE DIFFERENT RELIGIONS AND WHY THEY SHOULD WORK TOGETHER BECAUSE EVERYONE BENEFITS AND NOT HAVE WARS THAT TOOK PLACE IN 1618-1648 CALLED THE THIRTY YEARS’ WAR UNTIL THE PEACE OF WESTPHALIA IN 1648 ENDED THE WAR. THESE WARS TOOK PLACE ABOUT 366 YEARS AGO. AFTER THE THIRTY YEAR’S WAR, THE PROTESTANTS AND THE CATHOLICS IN EUROPE FINALLY DECIDED THEY COULD LIVE BETTER NOT FIGHTING ONE ANOTHER AND COMPROMISE AND EVERYBODY WOULD BE BETTER OFF. SINCE THEN, EVERYTHING HAS BEEN WORKING GREAT. A LOT BETTER THAN HAVING WARS AND MAYBE HOPEFULLY THE ARABS WILL FIGURE THIS OUT AND RATHER THAN FIGHTING ONE ANOTHER, THEY WILL COME TO A COMPROMISE TO THEMSELVES AND ALSO WITH OTHER RELIGIONS. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT THE PROTESTANTS AND THE CATHOLICS HAVE BEEN PROMOTING SINCE THEY CAME UP WITH AN ORGANIZATION THEY CALLED THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES. IT WOULD SAVE A LOT OF GRIEF AND WARS IF EVERYONE WOULD COME TO THIS CONCLUSION OF WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF MANKIND.
LaVern Isely, Overtaxed Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen and AARP Members