Kissinger: US foreign policy ‘very responsive to the emotion of the moment’

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Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in a new interview that modern U.S. diplomacy is “very responsive to the emotion of the moment.”

“I think that the current period has a great trouble defining a direction. It’s very responsive to the emotion of the moment,” Kissinger told The Wall Street Journal.

The 99-year-old Kissinger noted that U.S. leadership is focused on condemning ideas it disagrees with, instead of negotiating and engaging with adversaries’ thinking.

He also cautioned against what he sees as disequilibrium in the international power balance as tensions between the U.S. and fellow world powers Russia and China escalate.

“We are at the edge of war with Russia and China on issues which we partly created, without any concept of how this is going to end or what it’s supposed to lead to,” Kissinger said, adding that the U.S. ought “not to accelerate the tensions and to create options.”

“How to marry our military capacity to our strategic purposes, and how to relate those to our moral purposes—it’s an unsolved problem,” Kissinger said.

His remarks came after China bristled when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) visited Taiwan earlier this month, despite warnings from the Biden administration and threats from Beijing that the trip could worsen U.S.-China tensions.

Beijing maintains that Taiwan is part of the mainland under its “One China” policy while the U.S. has remained strategically ambiguous about its policy toward the self-governing democratic island.

“The policy that was carried out by both parties has produced and allowed the progress of Taiwan into an autonomous democratic entity and has preserved peace between China and the U.S. for 50 years,” Kissinger told the Journal, urging caution “in measures that seem to change the basic structure.”

Kissinger also said that he still anticipates Kyiv to cede territory as part of the solution to the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Earlier this year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky knocked Kissinger for suggesting that Ukraine could accomplish peace by ceding territory to the Russian invaders.

Zelensky said Kissinger’s idea “emerges from the deep past” and that his “calendar is not 2022, but 1938,” a reference to a similar deal between Czechoslovakia and Nazi Germany. U.S. officials later assured the public that it wouldn’t pressure Ukraine to do so.

Kissinger’s new book, “Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy,” analyzes the work of Konrad Adenauer, Charles de Gaulle, Richard Nixon, Anwar Sadat, Lee Kuan-Yew and Margaret Thatcher.

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