Henry Kissinger Blogging

I missed President Bush’s farewell address last evening, as I was otherwise detained at the British ambassador’s residence listening to Dr. Henry Kissinger deliver the Atlantic Council’s annual Makins lecture.  It was, I suspect, a good trade.

I’ve been blogging up a storm about the speech this morning at New Atlanticist.

In “Kissinger: Iran Diplomacy More Than Just Talk,” I bring the sad news that, while sitting down and chatting with our adversaries is a good idea, it’s a bit more difficult than it sounds.

In response to a question from Boston Globe foreign policy reporter Farah Stockman, who asked him for creative solutions to our nuclear standoff with Iran along the lines of the Nixon administration’s opening to China, Kissinger quipped that they didn’t simply hop on an airplane one day and begin talks.   Instead, it was “a three year project” that was “developed slowly and carefully.”   The real breakthrough “did not come at the negotiating table” as a result of his considerable charm and diplomatic brilliance but rather in seeing the strategic opportunity three years earlier presented by the massing of 42 Soviet divisions on the Manchurian border.

In “Kissinger’s Formula: Goal + Capability + Staying Power,” I observe,

If brevity is the soul of wit, perhaps simplicity is the soul of strategy.  A theme that Kissinger returned to over and again during his talk is simultaneously obvious and overlooked.   For every policy issue, the great statesman told us, we must consider three aspects:  Our goal, our capabilities toward acheiving that goal, and our staying power.

This is, of course, International Relations 101.  Yet, if we look at how foreign policy is actually practiced, we will generally see that at least one of these facets is ignored.

Finally (for now, at least), in “Henry Kissinger: Optimist!” we get a surprisingly rosy view of the future to compensate for decidedly dark view of the present,

If we play our cards right, we are about to “enter an extraordinarily creative period.”

For the first time in living memory, we have an international great power consensus on the major goals, albeit with differences in how to go about achieving them.  With respect to the global financial crisis, “no major country believes they benefit from the crisis or deliberately undermining the international system.”   Further, the crisis is in at least one way a blessing: with resources shrinking, “no country believes it can solve its own problems” without international cooperation.   This will force states to align their priorities with others, ultimately leading to necessary restructuring of the global system.

More to follow later in the day.

AP Photo by Charles Dharapak.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    From the title, I was expecting a link to http://www.kissingerpost.com (not a working link), or http://www.dailykiss.com (also not a working link) or some such. I must say, I was rather disappointed.

  2. James Joyner says:

    From the title, I was expecting a link to http://www.kissingerpost.com (not a working link), or http://www.dailykiss.com (also not a working link) or some such.

    Ah, but that would have been “Henry Kissinger, Blogging” or “Henry Kissinger: Blogger.” “Henry Kissinger Blogging” is rather obviously blogging about Henry Kissinger.

  3. Michael says:

    Ah, but that would have been “Henry Kissinger, Blogging” or “Henry Kissinger: Blogger.” “Henry Kissinger Blogging” is rather obviously blogging about Henry Kissinger.

    Obviously.

    But seriously, he should register one or both of those and setup his own blog.

  4. Eric says:

    But seriously, he should register one or both of those and setup his own blog.

    LOL. First post:

    16 Jan 2009, 10:00AM: Get off my lawn you damn kids!

    16 Jan 2009, 10:05AM: Those damn kids are still on my lawn! Get off!

    16 Jan 2009, 10:10AM: Hey, those kids are still on my lawn! I’m calling the police!

    LOL. Sorry, couldn’t resist. That’s the impression I get whenever I think about old people and computers.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    James, do you remember my plaint about priorities last week? The great handicap that the U. S. government has in negotiating is a chronic inability to prioritize. The heart and soul of negotiation is being able to choose one thing as being more important than another. That’s prioritization. We can’t do it.

    Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), our foreign policy agencies are transforming themselves into bureaus (Kissinger himself complained about this not long ago) and the slack is being taken up by private individuals, companies, and other NGO’s.