Outcomes and Lessons of Kissinger’s Realpolitik

He devoted his power to preventing military conflict and constructing a stable international order by devising a balance of power between major nations. He was the late Henry Kissinger, who spearheaded U.S. Cold War diplomacy. He was a strategist capable of dreaming up great visions.

Kissinger’s greatest achievement was rapprochement between the U.S. and China. He visited China in absolute secrecy, not missing the opportunity during the antagonism between China and its fellow socialist state, the Soviet Union. This visit was related to U.S. President Richard Nixon’s shocking visit to China the following year, 1972, and the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1979.

Kissinger, who was a presidential adviser, sent Nixon to China and said, at the time, that he would link arms with China to oppose the Soviet Union; however, in the future, that he might need to link arms with the Soviet Union to oppose an emerging China.

The plan to link with the Soviet Union (then with Russia) fell apart, but last year Kissinger made a suggestion regarding the invasion of Ukraine that should be noted. In a reversal of his stance that Ukraine should not join NATO, he claimed that it should join NATO after an armistice with Russia.

His reasoning was that rather than leaving an unchecked Ukraine, whose military strength has increased remarkably through military support from the West, it would be conducive to European security to restrain it with membership in NATO.

These two anecdotes attest to Kissinger’s preeminently foresighted nature and his thorough realism.

Conversely, Kissinger is dogged by criticism as well as praise.

The other side of a diplomacy that aims for the balance of power between powerful nations is that it sacrifices the benefit of small and medium-sized nations. Nixon’s visit to China proceeded with no consultation with Japan, a bitter lesson for Japan.

Joining hands with opponents who have differing political systems is level-headed realism, but it is undeniable that it makes light of the U.S.’ value system of human rights and democracy.

In the final stages of the Vietnam War, Cambodia was heavily bombarded, killing many civilian victims. Kissinger was also involved in a military coup that overthrew Chile’s leftist government.

As fierce rivalry between powerful nations grows, the rise of emerging and developing nations — referred to as the Global South — is considerable. A new international trend is emerging that is too much for Kissinger’s brand of realpolitik to manage. There are many lessons that we must take from Kissinger’s diplomacy.

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About Dorothy Phoenix 106 Articles
Dorothy is an independent video game developer, software engineer, technical writer, and tutor, with experience teaching students how to program and make games. In addition to programming and video games, Dorothy also enjoys studying Japanese language and culture. One of her goals is to exhibit a game at the Tokyo Game Show someday.

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