EDITORIAL: If all the praise and scorn showered upon former US national security advisor and secretary of state Henry Kissinger prove one thing, it is that he left a very complicated, deeply divisive legacy despite living to the ripe old age of 100; and remaining politically active right to the end.

The US government and its imperialist ideologues will forever celebrate him as the founding father, of sorts, of Washington’s post-war diplomatic calculus, while those that bore the brunt of that expansionist ideal continue to revile him as a hypocritical broker bent upon entrenching American hegemony throughout the world by any means necessary.

Indeed, even as the Nixon White House was crumbling under the weight of the Watergate scandal, Kissinger’s own arm twisting of FBI executives into taping his staff’s calls went unnoticed.

Instead, the spotlight remained on his secret diplomacy with Beijing that enabled Nixon’s historic meeting with Mao, his efforts to end the Vietnam war (which included merciless carpet bombing of Cambodia which was kept secret from the American public), and his trademark shuttle diplomacy after the Yom Kippur war that ended war in the Middle East, at least for a while. And he walked away with a Nobel peace prize even though countries from Chile to Angola had good reason to resent him for savage human rights violations; some calling him a war criminal.

And even though he was denied formal office after Gerald Ford’s administration made way for the Democrats’ to return to power with Jimmy Carter in 1976, no less than 12 subsequent American presidents retained his services as counsellor, including George W Bush, as he plunged the world’s sole superpower into an illegal war in Iraq in 2003.

For Kissinger, it was no doubt another opportunity to cement American military and diplomatic superiority over the world, when and where it wanted.

In hindsight, though, it’s difficult to celebrate his achievements over the long term. He achieved near celebrity status, and made a lot of money, by “taming” the former Soviet Union, in the words of some of his admirers.

Yet even though the international checks and balances that he engineered ultimately broke Moscow and tore down the iron curtain, Russia eventually emerged as one of the biggest thorns in America’s side. And that too because, some say, he was behind Bill Clinton and George Bush’s decisions to put more teeth in Nato, even as the alliance had diminishing utility in the post-Cold War world, and stretch it right to Russia’s backyard.

He also won much praise, and again made a lot of money writing books and giving lectures, for building the bridge with China and removing Beijing from Moscow’s clutch in one fell swoop. Yet, over time, it exposed China to the free market that it embraced, manipulated, and took over in a way that it now poses nothing less than an existential threat to American imperialism in the 21st century. And, what is more, China and Russia have now declared a “no limits” partnership that is clearly meant to blunt American influence wherever possible, including the financial realm where they are taking the first baby steps on the road to price international oil trade out of the dollar.

And nowhere is this new Moscow-Beijing partnership and its influence more visible than in the Middle East, another area that Kissinger was supposed to have secured for US interests after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and the oil embargo.

It says a lot that in the latest confrontation with Israel, Arab countries, without exception, turned to China and Russia instead of America, a marked shift from what can now be called Kissinger’s time.

From fleeing Nazi Germany to his time at Harvard to weaseling his way into the State Department and then completely taking over and setting a new direction for US foreign and military policy, there’s no doubt that Henry Kissinger’s life was one of the most remarkable of any high profile personality of the last century.

But it’s also true that his blind ambition to make his adopted country the strongest ever in the world, he also set precedents of using the CIA to break governments that didn’t toe the US line, interfere in areas where the US had no business, and sow the seeds for the hatred that much of the world feels for the US today.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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Hujjathullah M.H.Babu Sahib Dec 02, 2023 08:17am
Kissinger, the self-engineered Dean or rather the Don of contemporary US imperialism if not also foreign policy has, centenially alas, kicked his diplomatic bucket. Whether he is seen now as a war-scheming hawk or a peace-nailing pragmatist no one can deny that Kissinger was not just any simple genius but was THE hegemonic GENI(e) in the US. The world now awaits to see if the US could, post-humously, bottle-away this genie for the global good !
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Az_Iz Dec 03, 2023 12:09pm
Very informative article.
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