Kissinger himself negotiated the One China policy, which recognizes the Chinese government in Beijing, as opposed to Taiwan.
Addy Baird reports: Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger dismissed concerns Wednesday about President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has been criticized for his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I hope and I am optimistic that the cooperative way will prevail… Keep in mind that if China and America are in conflict, then the whole world will be divided.”
“I pay no attention to this argument that he is too friendly with Russia,” Kissinger said at an event in Manhattan. “He would be useless at the head of Exxon if he was not friendly with Russia… I don’t hear those concerns at all.”
Kissinger was asked about Tillerson at an event put on by the Committee of 100, an organization that works to advance Chinese-American relations, where the former secretary talked about the future of U.S.-Chinese relations under Trump.
“I pay no attention to this argument that he is too friendly with Russia. He would be useless at the head of Exxon if he was not friendly with Russia… I don’t hear those concerns at all.”
But Kissinger walked a fine line in talking about Tillerson, joking when he was asked about the appointment that he didn’t “come to commit suicide,” but that he “sympathized” with Trump’s decision.
“Nobody can meet every single qualification for secretary of state,” Kissinger said. “I think it’s a good appointment.”
Reflecting on Trump’s developing relationship with China, Kissinger said he is optimistic about the coming administration.
“[We have to decide] whether to attempt to deal cooperatively or confrontationally” with China, Kissinger said. “I hope and I am optimistic that the cooperative way will prevail… Keep in mind that if China and America are in conflict, then the whole world will be divided.”
Earlier this month, Trump became the first U.S. president or president-elect to speak with the leader of Taiwan since 1979. And he suggested this past weekend that the U.S. shouldn’t have to be “bound” by the “One China” policy that American leaders have stood by for decades. Those comments “seriously concerned” China’s Foreign Ministry, its spokesperson said Monday. Read the rest of this entry »
Henry Kissinger long ago recognized the problem: a talented vote-getter, surrounded by lawyers, who is overly risk-averse.
Niall Ferguson writes: Even before becoming Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissingerunderstood how hard it was to make foreign policy in Washington. There “is no such thing as an American foreign policy,” Mr. Kissinger wrote in 1968. There is only “a series of moves that have produced a certain result” that they “may not have been planned to produce.” It is “research and intelligence organizations,” he added, that “attempt to give a rationality and consistency” which “it simply does not have.”
“It is clear that the president’s strategy is failing disastrously. Since 2010, total fatalities from armed conflict in the world have increased by a factor of close to four, according to data from the International Institute of Strategic Studies. Total fatalities due to terrorism have risen nearly sixfold…”
Two distinctively American pathologies explained the fundamental absence of coherent strategic thinking. First, the person at the top was selected for other skills. “The typical political leader of the contemporary managerial society,” noted Mr. Kissinger, “is a man with a strong will, a high capacity to get himself elected, but no very great conception of what he is going to do when he gets into office.”
Second, the government was full of people trained as lawyers. In making foreign policy, Mr. Kissinger once remarked, “you have to know what history is relevant.” But lawyers were “the single most important group in Government,” he said, and their principal drawback was “a deficiency in history.” This was a long-standing prejudice of his. “The clever lawyers who run our government,” he thundered in a 1956 letter to a friend, have weakened the nation by instilling a “quest for minimum risk which is our most outstanding characteristic.”
“Nearly all this violence is concentrated in a swath of territory stretching from North Africa through the Middle East to Afghanistan and Pakistan. And there is every reason to expect the violence to escalate as the Sunni powers of the region seek to prevent Iran from establishing itself as the post-American hegemony.”
Let’s see, now. A great campaigner. A bunch of lawyers. And a “quest for minimum risk.” What is it about this combination that sounds familiar?
I have spent much of the past seven years trying to work out what Barack Obama’s strategy for the United States truly is. For much of his presidency, as a distinguished general once remarked to me about the commander in chief’s strategy, “we had to infer it from speeches.”
“Today the U.S. faces three strategic challenges: the maelstrom in the Muslim world, the machinations of a weak but ruthless Russia, and the ambition of a still-growing China. The president’s responses to all three look woefully inadequate.”
At first, I assumed that the strategy was simply not to be like his predecessor—an approach that was not altogether unreasonable, given the errors of the Bush administration in Iraq and the resulting public disillusionment. I read Mr. Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech—with its Quran quotes and its promise of “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world”—as simply the manifesto of the Anti-Bush.
“Those who know the Obama White House’s inner workings wonder why this president, who came into office with next to no experience of foreign policy, has made so little effort to hire strategic expertise.”
But what that meant in practice was not entirely clear. Precipitate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq, but a time-limited surge in Afghanistan. A “reset” with Russia, but seeming indifference to Europe. Read the rest of this entry »
America for One Day
Dear President Xi,
Welcome back! The last time you were stateside—at the Sunnylands estate in California a couple of years ago—you seemed to be at the top of your game. China’s GDP was about to overtake America’s. You were cracking down on corruption, liberalizing markets, setting the pace for what you called “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” Upper East Siders competed to place their toddlers in Mandarin immersion programs. Newspaper columnists fantasized about the U.S. becoming “China for one day.”
Now your stock market has fizzled, your economy is sinking under the weight of unsustainable debts and zombie companies, your neighbors despise you, and every affluent Chinese is getting a second passport and snapping up a foreign home. Even in Beijing, word is out that behind that enigmatic smile you’re a man overmatched by your job. And out of your depth.
Maybe you’re even thinking: Wouldn’t it be nice to be America for one day?
Yes, America, perhaps the only country on earth that can be serially led by second- or third-rate presidents—and somehow always manage to come up trumps (so to speak). America, where half of the college-age population can’t find New York state on a map—even as those same young Americans lead the world in innovation. America, where Cornel West is celebrated as an intellectual, Miley Cyrus as an artist, Jonathan Franzen as a novelist and Kim Kardashian as a beauty—and yet remains the cultural dynamo of the world.
America, in short, which defies every ethic of excellence—all the discipline and cunning and delicacy and Confucian wisdom that are the ways by which status and power are gained in China—yet manages to produce excellence the way a salmon spawns eggs. Naturally. By way of a deeper form of knowing. Read the rest of this entry »
History: President Nixon Resigns With This Letter, Initialed by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger Today, August 9, 1974Posted: August 9, 2015
John Kerry Awarded Historic Rating! Unfortunately, Not the Good Kind: Kerry Rated ‘Worst Secretary of State in 50 Years’Posted: April 26, 2015
The Survey of 1,375 U.S. Colleges and Universities was Conducted by Foreign Policy Magazine and the College of William & Mary. John Kerry Came in Dead Last.
“I got beat by James Baker and Madeleine Albright?”
Henry Kissinger was ranked the most effective secretary of state with 32.2% of the vote. He was followed by James Baker, Madeleine Albright, and Hillary Clinton, as judged by a survey of 1,615 international relations scholars.
Kerry received only 0.3% of the votes cast. Read the rest of this entry »
“It is a mistake to suggest U.S. foreign policy is weak only because Barack Obama is running it. On the cusp of a presidential election, the more pertinent question is whether U.S. foreign policy is weak because a Democrat is running it.”
“You asked about an Obama doctrine,” Mr. Obama said. “The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”
“You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”
— President Obama
In nine words, Mr. Obama explained what has been going on the past six years, culminating in what we now see is the nucleus of the Obama worldview, an accommodation with Iran.
“This statement, and indeed the Obama Doctrine, is a hoax. Set aside that ‘messes with Israel’ and ‘America will be there’ are phrases with no real operational meaning.”
The corollary of the Obama Doctrine, as the president explained, is that if engagement with a hostile power turns dangerous, everyone in the world knows that U.S. “military superiority” will emerge and prevail. In case of emergency, Uncle Sam will break glass.
“What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”
— President Obama, bluffing.
Mr. Obama then offered an example of how this would work—U.S. support for Israel: “What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”
“To understand the bluff, look closely at the Democrats’ Doctrine on paper or in practice, and you’ll notice that it’s always prospective. It promises to act at some point in the future if circumstances become so dire that they oblige the U.S. to ‘overwhelm’ the problem with superior power. Never has there been a bigger ‘if.’”
This statement, and indeed the Obama Doctrine, is a hoax.
Set aside that “messes with Israel” and “America will be there” are phrases with no real operational meaning.
“Mr. Obama’s ‘doctrine’ is essentially that if something bad happens, he will send in the 82nd Airborne Division. But he won’t. No Democrat whose view of large-scale U.S. military power was formed by the Vietnam War or the Iraq War will do that.”
“America will be there” could mean that if someone set off a nuclear backpack bomb in Tel Aviv, where the Obama administration would be the next day is on New York’s east side, condemning the attack in a U.N. Security Council resolution. Read the rest of this entry »
Mixing shrewd diplomacy with defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has turned the negotiation on its head
“In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another.”
Debate regarding technical details of the deal has thus far inhibited the soul-searching necessary regarding its deeper implications. For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years.
Mixing shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head. Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today. The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran. While Iran treated the mere fact of its willingness to negotiate as a concession, the West has felt compelled to break every deadlock with a new proposal. In the process, the Iranian program has reached a point officially described as being within two to three months of building a nuclear weapon. Under the proposed agreement, for 10 years Iran will never be further than one year from a nuclear weapon and, after a decade, will be significantly closer.
Inspections and Enforcement
The president deserves respect for the commitment with which he has pursued the objective of reducing nuclear peril, as does Secretary of State John Kerry for the persistence, patience and ingenuity with which he has striven to impose significant constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.
[Also see – Clouds of Grey Fuzz Hang Over Iran Deal]
Progress has been made on shrinking the size of Iran’s enriched stockpile, confining the enrichment of uranium to one facility, and limiting aspects of the enrichment process. Still, the ultimate significance of the framework will depend on its verifiability and enforceability.
“Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints…”
Negotiating the final agreement will be extremely challenging. For one thing, no official text has yet been published. The so-called framework represents a unilateral American interpretation. Some of its clauses have been dismissed by the principal Iranian negotiator as “spin.” A joint EU-Iran statement differs in important respects, especially with regard to the lifting of sanctions and permitted research and development.
“…It only places them under temporary restriction and safeguard—amounting in many cases to a seal at the door of a depot or periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites. The physical magnitude of the effort is daunting.”
Comparable ambiguities apply to the one-year window for a presumed Iranian breakout. Emerging at a relatively late stage in the negotiation, this concept replaced the previous baseline—that Iran might be permitted a technical capacity compatible with a plausible civilian nuclear program. The new approach complicates verification and makes it more political because of the vagueness of the criteria.
“Is the International Atomic Energy Agency technically, and in terms of human resources, up to so complex and vast an assignment?”
Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints. Read the rest of this entry »
Rich Lowry writes: …His surprise unilateral change in the U.S. posture toward the Castro dictatorship came without even the pretense of serious promises by the Cubans to reform their kleptocratic, totalitarian rule.
The trade of Alan Gross, the American aid worker jailed in Cuba for the offense of trying to help Jewish Cubans get on the Internet, for three Cuban spies is understandable (we also got back one of our spies, and Cuba released several dozen political prisoners as a sweetener).
“If tourism were the key to empowering and eventually liberating the Cuban people, the country would be a robust democracy by now. About a million Canadian tourists go to Cuba every year. In total, more than 2 million tourists visit annually, and yet the Castro regime is still standing.”
The rest of Obama’s sweeping revisions — diplomatic relations and the loosening of every economic sanction he can plausibly change on his own — are freely granted, no questions asked. It is quid with no pro quo. Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade.
After waiting out 10 other U.S. presidents, the Castro regime finally hit the jackpot in Obama, whose beliefs about our Cuba policy probably don’t differ much from those of the average black-turtleneck-clad graduate student in Latin American studies.
“The Cuba embargo is condemned as a relic of the Cold War. But the root of the matter is the Cuban regime that is itself a relic, an inhuman jackboot left over from the era when people actually professed to believe in workers’ paradises.”
Every dictator around the world must be waiting anxiously for a call or a postcard from Obama. The leader of the free world comes bearing gifts and understanding. He is willing to overlook human-rights abuses. And his idea of burnishing his legacy is to clinch deals with his country’s enemies. Read the rest of this entry »
“The fundamental public statements of the administration have emphasized more what we should not do than what we can achieve. They have implied that a withdrawal of America from certain regions is actually beneficial to these regions.”
Kissinger noted the obvious consequence:
“I think that the fear in the countries that I know — and that’s very many of them — is that the United States is withdrawing.”
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) July 16, 2014
I knew it…it was only a matter of time…only a few days…before the most senior figures from the Zombie Museum of Foreign Policy would pen Op-Eds, weighing in on the current developments in the Ukraine. A few days ago, Zbigniew Brzezinski was re-animated, today, we have none other than Henry Kissinger:
For the The Washington Post, Henry Kissinger writes: Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.
“Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.”
Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.
Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.
President Nixon’s voice-activated taping system captured every word spoken in the Oval Office, Cabinet Room, and other key locations in the White House, and at Camp David — 3,700 hours of recordings between 1971 and 1973. Yet less than 5 percent of those conversations have ever been transcribed and published. Now, thanks to professor Luke Nichter’s massive effort to digitize and transcribe the tapes, the world can finally read an unprecedented account of one of the most important and controversial presidencies in U.S. history.
The Nixon Tapes offers a selection of fascinating scenes from the
year Nixon opened relations with China, negotiated the SALT I arms agreement with the Soviet Union, and won a landslide reelection victory. All the while, the growing shadow of Watergate and Nixon’s political downfall crept ever closer. The Nixon Tapes provides a never-before-seen glimpse into a flawed president’s hubris, paranoia, and political genius.
Nixon could never have imagined that people with home computers and smartphones would someday have instant access to a digitized library of audio and transcripts, representing thousands of hours of his White House recordings. Here’s the introduction from nixontapes.org:
nixontapes.org has the most complete, digital collection of the Nixon tapes in existence, which includes approximately 2,950 hours of the nearly 3,000 hours of tapes currently declassified and released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). In addition, we have transcribed approximately 3,000 pages of conversations on many topics, from conversations dealing with the installation of the taping system in February 1971 to Cabinet Room conversations recorded in July 1973.
The history of the Special relationship, from Churchill to Thatcher and beyond
Henry A. Kissinger writes: The challenge that we have come together to discuss is how America and the Western world can find a sense of direction at a moment when they are confronted by revolutions on many continents. And as they navigate this issue, our public needs to have a sense that its leaders are devoted to peace, and our adversaries have to know that there is a line they cannot cross except at extreme peril: To combine these two is the key challenge.
But before we make a few remarks about that, let me say a few things about Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. I knew both of them for many decades, and I used to brief Reagan for President Nixon every month on international development. I remember during the 1973 war, I told him we had a problem. We wanted to help Israel with resupply, but we wanted to do it on the basis of criteria that were not too provocative to those Arabs that had not yet joined the war. So Reagan said, “I have a suggestion. Tell them you will replace all the planes that the Egyptians had said they have shot down.” That would have tripled the Israeli air force, and the Egyptian air force at that time was renowned for never getting anywhere close to an Israeli target.
I had moderately frequent contact with Reagan when he was President. He was exactly the right man for those times. He knew how to navigate between the two poles that I described: defining the limits beyond which the Soviets would not be permitted to go, but, at the same time, laying down perspectives for peace around which people could rally. It was, after all, Reagan who proposed the abandonment of all nuclear weapons at the Reykjavík Summit, but the one weapon he wouldn’t give up at the Reykjavík Summit was the Strategic Defense Initiative because he wanted to be protected against Soviet violations.