Lessons in Global Strategy from the Wise and Insightful Politician Henry Kissinger

The personality of international politics who went by the name of Henry Kissinger, exerted a “charm” throughout time. The majority of posthumous analyzes call him “controversial”. Interestingly, the characterization comes mainly from the Western media, as access to the rest, after Ukraine, has become problematic. However, they deify him, with the Russians and the Chinese being the first and best.

As it turns out, it all depends on the angle from which one approaches an issue. From the “glasses” he wears in this process. However, approaching the issue from a geopolitical point of view, that is, from that of balances at the level of the “global system”, gives a significantly different picture.

Russian and Chinese “saintization”

Russian President Vladimir Putin saw himself as a “wise and insightful politician”, as revealed in his condolence message to the widow of the deceased, which also refers to the personal experience of discussions between them. A “statesman” who has associated his name with pragmatic foreign policy. he managed to achieve détente between the superpowers of the Cold War, to leave his personal mark on the most important US-USSR agreements, strengthening international security. And all this, even though Kissinger had made a U-turn on the issue of the war in Ukraine, aligning himself with the dominant narrative, while at first he had appeared visibly critical. Perhaps this shift too was ultimately a derivative of the cynical realism that characterized his thinking, which the Russian leader clearly admires and follows.

A cynical realism, however, which does not place exclusively the national interest at the top of its priorities, but also more personal – selfish calculations. From the position he had found in recent years, that of paid external advisor to countries and leaders, including the USA, he understood that the new political correctness that had been formed, left no room for differentiation. A selfish turn which he covered under the cloak of the need to support the “national effort”. In the case of Ukraine, however, not as e.g. in Korea and Vietnam, i.e. also with American blood, since the sacrifice is and still is, exclusively Ukrainian blood.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted the loss of a “faithful friend” in its announcement, calling Kissinger a “pioneer and architect” of Sino-American relations. The representative of the ministry stated that the Chinese people will remember him for his “sincere dedication” and contribution to bilateral relations. Kissinger’s death was a central topic of discussion on social networks in the vast Asian country. The apotheotical references are numerous. His secret diplomacy and visit to China in July 1971 marked the opening of the “dragon” to the world. A year later, the visit of the American president, Richard Nixon, followed.

Anglo-Saxon geopolitics

But just as Kissinger’s opening to China in the 70s was not dictated by “friendship” and “positive disposition”, but by geopolitical calculations, mainly the exploitation of the opening in the context of the effort to isolate the USSR, a policy aligned with the permanent ” constant” of the Anglo-Saxon geopolitics to prevent the alliance of two great Eurasian powers, something similar was also happening regarding the motives of his Soviet and Chinese interlocutors. Kissinger’s policy towards China was instrumental in persuading the Soviets to sign the “détente”, which was thrown into the air by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

In simple words, Kissinger’s diplomatic choices were not aimed at any “lasting peace”, but at managing relations so as not to lead to escalations that would bring the superpowers to the brink of nuclear war. The precedent of the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) played its part. How much is the similarity between that period and today, leading to “paintings” of Kissinger on the occasion of his loss?

The nature of the problem remains the same, as it is defined as the planetary rivalry of the great powers. The informal ranking has apparently changed, with China now occupying the second place previously held by the Soviet Union. Russia remains a major power due to its nuclear arsenal, sheer size and wealth-producing resources at its disposal, regardless of the performance of its conventional forces on the Ukrainian front, which has become the focus of intense criticism and questioning.

Modern “balance of power”

So what makes Russia and China so revere Kissinger and his intellectual contribution and legacy to international relations is his adherence to the big picture of planetary rivalries. It is his focus on the “balance of power,” as that term emerged from intra-European rivalries from the 17th to the 19th centuries. That is, the cynical observation of a multipolar world that needs to be balanced, avoiding war conflicts between the strongest actors.

When no one is able to dominate, as the counter-gatherings created effectively cancel out any relative desire, a relative peace is ensured. This is enough for Moscow and Beijing to conclude that “single superpower” beliefs were considered naïve in Kissinger’s thinking. Much more so when post-war (WWII) the relative power of the USA is constantly reduced (i.e. the percentage to which its power corresponds in the global distribution of forces). They never hid it in their rhetoric, that for them the world is multipolar and that everything will be better when Washington accepts it, adjusting its behavior accordingly.

Based on Kissinger’s worldview, the problems of Ukraine and Taiwan acquire a different content. It is no coincidence that numerous regional fronts flared up after the collapse of bipolarity. Beijing and Moscow are interested in the existence of “rules” in geopolitical competition, which will prevent the dominance of one over the rest. Would the establishment of such a “balance of power” system be relevant today? This is the crucial question, and this explains the treatment of Kissinger by the Russians and the Chinese.

If these are the calculations in Beijing and Moscow, do the regional actors of the international system realize that they are pawns on this great chessboard? When during the Cold War and always in the context of Kissinger’s thinking, Turkey’s importance to the US was reflected in the big picture centered on its role in countering the USSR and in the geographic intervention that prevented the descent of the adversary in the Middle East and the Gulf, the current absence of a clear framework in the relations of the powerful has changed the facts, dramatically.

Distractions and flare-ups…

In anticipation of the emergence of a new security architecture that will define a commonly accepted restrictive framework, individual ambitions are being aggressively promoted causing destabilization. The whole planet remains a chessboard, but without commonly accepted rules that will (self) limit the powerful, with the result that the exercise of effective pressure on one front (e.g. Ukraine) leads as a distraction to the ignition of others, with incitement either by the “big” or middle powers (eg Nagorno-Karabakh, Middle East, etc.).

What are the real lessons that Kissinger offers at the level of national strategy? Could the true meaning of “right side of history” be successfully balancing our international alliances while avoiding being taken for granted? Because from this point you have opened the path of tactical manipulation by yourself… Because at the strategic level, deep down, no one wants a war conflict, since it can take you from a few decades back, to the total destruction of civilization.

About the author

The Liberal Globe is an independent online magazine that provides carefully selected varieties of stories. Our authoritative insight opinions, analyses, researches are reflected in the sections which are both thematic and geographical. We do not attach ourselves to any political party. Our political agenda is liberal in the classical sense. We continue to advocate bold policies in favour of individual freedoms, even if that means we must oppose the will and the majority view, even if these positions that we express may be unpleasant and unbearable for the majority.

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