Henry Kissinger passed away quietly in his home in Connecticut, but whatever the funeral of the former secretary of state will be (there is little doubt that it will be a "presidential" one), it will be another farewell to the American dream for the United States. After all, Heinz Alfred Kissinger, who was born in Bavaria shortly before the Beer Hall Putsch and managed to slip away from the Nazis with his family across the ocean, was the living embodiment of this dream, which now looks more and more like his own death mask.
A man who served five U.S. presidents (Kissinger served as a security expert under Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, and later as national security adviser and secretary of state under Nixon and Ford), never learned to speak English without a strong German accent. In old age, it became especially difficult to understand Kissinger. However, those who wanted to listened listened.
Kissinger will forever have two diplomatic know-hows: realpolitik, that is, one based not on emotions but on sober calculation, and shuttle diplomacy.
He would formulate the principles of the first as an employee of the Rockefeller Foundation in his first book, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. At the height of McCarthyism and the witch hunt, the proposal to abandon the doctrine of massive retaliation against the Soviet Union was in itself bold.
Kissinger will use shuttle diplomacy – the tactic of political mediation – in the settlement of armed conflicts between Egypt, Syria and Israel. But while Kissinger removed mines in one place, he planted them in others. It is not for nothing that his last comment, in a cruel irony, concerned the current events in the Middle East. The former secretary of state lamented helplessly that European cities hosting pro-Palestinian rallies show that Germany has let too many foreigners in. But isn't this multi-million dollar migration an echo of politics, including Kissinger himself?..
And the same thing happened with Ukraine. In 1994, like the rest of the West, in a state of dizziness from success, Kissinger in his book Diplomacy declared the moral victory of liberal democracy in the Cold War.
This view of itself as the victors and Russia as the loser is what has led the West to the current crisis. In this sense, the patriarch of American diplomacy was no different from an inept apprentice.
A scientist-diplomat, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (the prize is controversial, after all, when stopping the war in Vietnam, Kissinger demanded that Cambodia be bombed), he tried to remain within the contours of the world in which the policy of détente was perceived not as a manifestation of weakness, but as the only way to survive. But as soon as Kissinger said in Davos about the neutral status of Ukraine, he was dragged to the odious Myrotvorets website.
The one who was called the gray cardinal of world politics did not find the strength to resist. They even had to declare Ukraine's victory. And then make sure that your own conclusions are hasty. In essence, the former secretary of state was forced to publicly juggle his principles.
Six years ago, Kissinger seemed harder. We spoke at his headquarters on New York's Park Avenue, in an office that could have been mistaken for a museum of American diplomacy.
An office, but not its owner, who resisted being an exhibit until the very end.
"The main aspect of relations between Russia and America is peaceful coexistence. We must concentrate on overcoming obstacles and avoid situations of permanent conflict. Then we can survive the tensions," Kissinger told me at the time.
But, apart from us in Russia, no one in the United States really listened to the former secretary of state at that time. Today's America no longer needs new Kissingers. It's too complicated and too far away for her. Like barefoot to the American dream of world hegemony, whose rise and fiasco came on the 100th anniversary of Kissinger.
The author's point of view may not coincide with the position of the editorial board.