Henry Kissinger, a former secretary of state of the United States who often offers voluntary advice on matters of geo-politics, has suggested that the US and Europe should sustain their direct aggressive engagement in parts of the world they do not belong to and work to restrain other countries.
In a recent article written for CapX, which came to attention days later, Kissinger, a nonagenarian, presented a series of questions about “challenges” faced by “the transatlantic world” — the alliance of Western Europe and the US.
According to Kissinger, the challenges, ones that would have “consequences for the future world order,” involved Russia, China, the Middle East, and the evolving relationship between Western Europe and the US.
He said that since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the world order had been “based on the notion of sovereignty of states secured by a balance of power between a multiplicity of entities.” But he said the world “now confronts concepts of order drawn from different historical and cultural experiences and involving visions of continental or universal religious dimensions.”
On each “challenge,” he thus asked whether “these issues are to be resolved by the maxims of the nation-state or new, more globalised concepts.” And he essentially deferred an answer until the end of his piece.
Russia: Cooperation or coercion?
“The Russian challenge… focuses on Ukraine and Syria,” Kissinger wrote. And his questions were straightforward.
“Is the wisest course to pressure Russia, and if necessary to punish it, until it accepts Western views of its internal and global order? Or is scope left for a political process that overcomes, or at least mitigates, the mutual alienation in pursuit of an agreed concept of world order?”
China’s modern-day Silk Road and implications for the West
On China, Kissinger specifically highlighted Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” which he said “will in effect shift the world’s centre of gravity from the Atlantic to the Eurasian landmass.”
By fulfilling the initiative, Kissinger said, China would be reshaping the international order to make it “compatible with its historical experience, growing power, and strategic vision.”
He then asked how the US and Europe would have to respond to such a remolding of the world order.
Daesh for the Western world
Kissinger then lumped Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen together in making the bizarre claim that they had all “ceased to function as sovereign.”
The four countries, he said, “have become battlegrounds for factions seeking to impose their rule.”
In Iraq and Syria’s case, he seemed to suggest that sovereign territory from the two countries that is currently occupied by Daesh terrorists would be up for grabs once the group is routed.
“Most non-Isis powers — including Shia Iran and the leading Sunni states — agree on the need to destroy it,” he said of Daesh, using an English acronym for it. “But which entity is supposed to inherit its territory? A coalition of Sunnis? Or a sphere of influence dominated by Iran?”
“The answer,” he said, “is elusive.”
But even as the assertion that Daesh-occupied territory in sovereign Iraq and Syria would be free to be “inherited” by anyone is generally viewed as false, the manner in which Kissinger couched his argument has been taken to mean that the West should keep Daesh at least partially in existence to counter other parties.
‘US not leading NATO anymore’
Kissinger said the nature of the relationship between Europe and the US manifested in cooperation within the NATO had also changed.
The US, he claimed, was no more leading the European members of the military alliance as in the days of the Cold War, “and the mindset of too many Europeans is to explore alternatives.”
Recourse to Atlanticism
He concluded the piece by borrowing advice for the tackling of the challenges from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: redefined Atlanticism.
He added, only, that, “We are at an even more fraught juncture today” than in the days of Thatcher.
Kissinger is known to occasionally counsel US President Donald Trump.