Trump and Revenge of the ‘Realists’

Henry Kissinger’s potential role as an intermediary between President-elect Trump and Russian President Putin suggests a comeback by the old-line “realists” versus the neocons and liberal interventionists, writes Gilbert Doctorow.

By Gilbert Doctorow

During a holiday getaway to India, I picked up the local newspaper, The Times of India, and encountered an article entitled “From Russia with Love” by Indian political observer Swagato Ganguly with the subtitle: “A rapprochement between Putin and Trump could transform the world in 2017.”

Henry Kissinger, former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State.

The author set this prediction within the broader context of a possible return to the “Westphalian principle of sovereignty, which bars intervention in another state’s domestic affairs.” The article goes on to ask: “What If Trump were to repeat Nixon’s rapprochement in reverse? President Nixon’s handshake with Chairman Mao in 1972 may have decisively tilted the Cold War in America’s favour, as it broke the Chinese away from the Soviet bloc. Today China, rather than Russia is America’s principal strategic rival.”

This Indian international affairs prognosis was based on Henry Kissinger’s identification of the Peace of Westphalia principles as the key to Realpolitik and on implementation of his signature strategy from the past even if Kissinger was not mentioned. Kissinger’s strategy was to ensure that Washington was closer to Beijing and to Moscow than either of the two was to one another, a relevant point again given Kissinger’s reappearance on the political scene in recent days.

The question of Henry Kissinger’s possible designation as a foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump and specifically as intermediary between Trump and Vladimir Putin for normalization of relations arose after the 93-year-old Kissinger gave a series of interviews to the German newspaper Bild and other media in the days before Christmas.

In the less serious media outlets, we heard about Kissinger’s special rapport with Putin with whom, we are told, he has met often. These same gossips tell us that in Moscow Kissinger’s expertise and experience are held in high regard. All of these glib statements are deeply flawed, however. They are more appropriate to society pages or People magazine than to serious discussion of where former Secretary of State Kissinger can and should fit into the evolving foreign policy team that President-elect Trump is assembling, and to what that foreign policy should reasonably resemble.

The superficial comments also ignore the record of Henry Kissinger’s policy recommendations on Russia in the decades since the end of the Cold War, which place him squarely among those responsible for getting us into the confrontation with Russia that reached its climax under Barack Obama. And, these comments miss how the times and the challenges we face today are so very different from the late 1960s and early 1970s when Kissinger and Nixon made their very important changes to the architecture of international relations.

Real Positives

But there are some real positives in Henry Kissinger’s emergence among Trump’s advisers. Kissinger brings an aura of intellectual rigor to the Trump camp as America’s best-known thinker and practitioner of the Realist School of international affairs, meaning a foreign policy based on national interest. That is a more accurate and less aggressive packaging than the “America First” slogan, which Donald Trump used during his electoral campaign, though the intent of both terms is identical.

President-elect Donald J. Trump (Photo credit:

Even Harvard Professor Ernest May, a severe critic of Kissinger over Vietnam War policies, wrote of him in letters published in The New York Times in 1994: “Mr. Kissinger’s scholarly credentials and public stature give his name on the title page the quality of a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.”

At the same time, beginning in the 1990s, Henry Kissinger modified his message of realism to accommodate the then-dominant American school of idealism, or values-based foreign policy. This mixed message resulted from Kissinger’s defending himself from the ridicule of the triumphant neoconservatives who criticized his détente policies of the 1970s for seeking merely to manage relations with the Soviet Union when the overthrow of the “Evil Empire” was entirely possible, as later events had seemingly proven through the uncompromising “promotion of democracy” as practiced by Ronald Reagan.

Thus, the updated Kissinger line was that universal moral principles serve as the ultimate objective of foreign policy, but realism must guide the day-to-day management of international affairs. Lest this seem to be a neat division between tactics and strategy, the two become confused in Kissinger’s public stance given that he always has placed primary emphasis on achieving a “balance of power” in the international community, which alone can keep the peace and safeguard the vital interests of all parties.

Thus, it would be fair to say that Kissinger is a realist who at times uses idealist vocabulary to meet the expectations of and to motivate the general public, which is unmoved by considerations of balance of power and realism.

Finally, in speaking of the gravitas that Kissinger may bring to the Trump team, he is correctly perceived as a champion of the art of diplomacy, which is another word for compromise and deal-making. It is precisely diplomacy that has been sorely lacking in the U.S. government in recent decades. Under both Republican and Democratic presidents, ideology has held sway at the State Department and in the White House.

Some Negatives

The most severe negative one can say about Kissinger and Russia goes back to the fateful year 1994. In 1993, Boris Yeltsin had made an important visit to Warsaw during which he withdrew all Russian objections to Poland’s joining NATO. The clearly understood quid pro quo, which the Kremlin expected for this major concession to U.S. and Polish wishes, was that Russia be named next in line for membership in the club. Indeed, during 1994, the Clinton Administration was weighing that very possibility. At this point, in Congressional testimony, Henry Kissinger delivered strong objections and played a significant role in the defeat of Russia’s candidacy.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

We get a fairly good idea of Kissinger’s reasoning back then in the passages relating to American policy on Russia in the last chapter of his 1994 master work Diplomacy. A realistic approach to Russia meant America had to look at the respective foreign policy interests and national traditions, and to pay less attention to domestic Russian politics and the personalities of its leaders.

Kissinger said this meant taking into account Russia’s long tradition of expansionism, as evidenced by military bases in the former Soviet republics and interventionism in their “near abroad.” And as if to drive a stake through the heart of unnecessary chumminess with Moscow, Kissinger reminded his readers that Russia had always stood apart from the Western world. It had no democratic traditions or familiarity with modern market economics. In his words, it did not partake of the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Age of Discovery.

Indeed, Kissinger’s thinking about Russian history is so clear one might imagine he knows what he is talking about. The question is of key importance because the Realist School is built upon the assumption that one can accurately appraise the strengths of all players and that one has a solid knowledge of the history and traditions of the players. In this it distinguishes itself from idealism, with its focus on universal values and disinterest in regional knowledge.

From Kissinger’s own academic career in studying European diplomacy in the Nineteenth Century, Russia should have been on his plate, given that the country was one of the three decisive players in the first half of the century (Holy Alliance) and one of the five or six decisive players in the second half of the century. However, that was manifestly not the case.

Kissinger is widely reputed to be a voracious reader. Yet, it is obvious that Russia has never and does not now figure among the topics he reads. In Diplomacy, for his analysis of Russia, he relied on the very dated Nineteenth Century classics of Russian history like Vasily Klyuchevsky that he read in translation during his graduate student days at Harvard.

Klyuchevsky is unquestionably a good starting point for students of Russian history. He was the father of the historiography that came down to Kissinger in the person of Michael Karpovich, the founder of Russian studies at Harvard. But his notion of Russia’s manifest destiny of borders moving out across the Eurasian land mass was part of a Liberal and anti-tsarist historiography. By today’s standards, reading Klyuchevsky has mainly curiosity value. To put the issue in terms closer to an American reader, it is as if Kissinger were using de Tocqueville as the key source for writing about contemporary America.

Among the main Twentieth Century works on Russia cited in Kissinger are those by his comrade in realism, George Kennan. Notwithstanding Kennan’s generally high reputation in Washington, his choice of sources and interpretation of Russia is tendentious in ways that Kissinger was unable to judge, and that is why it is regrettable Kissinger did not read other sources.

Kissinger’s argument in Diplomacy for the separateness of Russian history may be no more than the conventional wisdom of his times. He speaks of Russia as a paradox, an obvious allusion to Winston Churchill’s witticism that Russia was “a riddle wrapped in an enigma.” But then Churchill was not a serious scholar and Kissinger is assumed to be one. The notion of separateness is, in fact, misleading if not fallacious.

Kissinger’s prescription for a policy vis-à-vis Russia after the Cold War assumed that “imperial expansionism” was the country’s defining national tradition. But then the same was true of all the key world powers. Kissinger indulges in tired mystification of Russia drawing on the Nineteenth Century nationalist movement and writers such as Dostoevsky. Such smoke and mirrors writing would be seen as unduly psychological and irrelevant to foreign relations if someone served them up as a description of Germany, for instance. Thus, we read in Kissinger: “The paradox of Russian history lies in the continuing ambivalence between messianic drive and a pervasive sense of insecurity. In its ultimate aberration, this ambivalence generated a fear that, unless the empire expanded, it would implode.”

It is rather sad to consider that one of America’s great scholar-statesmen of the Twentieth Century was taken in by mystical tripe when formulating and implementing the nation’s policies towards its chief nuclear adversary. This puts into question the validity of attention to history and local specifics, which Kissinger says are distinguishing features of realism versus idealism, which operates amid universalistic over-simplifications.

Russian Uniqueness?

Henry Kissinger’s later writings offering foreign policy recommendations for the world at large and specific major countries in particular display the same wrong footing when dealing with Russia. His 2001 opus facetiously entitled Does America Need a Foreign Policy? is a case in point. Kissinger breaks the international community into regional groupings and Russia is placed among the “great powers of Asia.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Russian government photo)

Once again Kissinger tells us “Russia has always been sui generis – especially when compared with its European neighbors” – a fancy way of saying Russia is not like the others. His highlighting the “mystical” Russian Orthodox Church and autocracy suggests a trite approach to this complex nation. We hear again of Russia’s “creeping expansionism” as a returning theme of Russian history.

Kissinger rightfully faults American policy to Russia for excessive personalization of relations at the expense of sober reflections on respective interests and institutions to drive and implement any rapprochement. But then he falls prey to personalization himself. He characterizes the then new Russian President Vladimir Putin as a KGB operative whose secret police background presupposed a strong national commitment: “It leads to a foreign policy comparable to that during the tsarist centuries, grounding popular support in a sense of Russian mission and seeking to dominate neighbors where they cannot be subjugated.”

If this argumentation, this jumping to conclusions, were delivered by anyone other than Henry Kissinger, one might dismiss it offhandedly. What we have here is the soft underbelly of Realpolitik: realism can be only as useful as the expertise and judgment of its practitioner.

At the same time, Kissinger’s bark was more fearsome than his bite. In his specific remarks on how America should conduct its foreign policy towards Russia, he urged moderation, continued readiness to assist the country with its transition to democracy and free markets, and attentiveness to Russia’s voice in international forums.

Note especially his comment on prospective NATO expansion into the Baltic States, which Kissinger believed in 2001 would be provocative, saying it would put NATO forces within 30 miles of St Petersburg, one of Russia’s largest population centers. He correctly foresaw that  “Advancing the NATO integrated command this close to key centers of Russia might mortgage the possibilities of relating Russia to the emerging world order as a constructive member.”

But it is curious that in his 2001 book Kissinger was unable to offer any serious incentives for Russia to behave nobly. He derided even the watered down affiliation of Russia with NATO in the NATO-Russia Council. He believed it gave the Russians too much say and was “not the wisest solution.”

Finally, he dropped all pretense at diplomatic niceties, telling his readers that “NATO is basically a military alliance, part of whose purpose is the protection of Europe against a reimperializing Russia. … To couple NATO expansion with even partial Russian membership in NATO was, in a sense, merging two contradictory courses of action … [As] Russia becomes a de facto NATO member, NATO ceases to be an alliance, or becomes a vague collective security instrument.”

Rethinking the Group Think

Having participated actively in keeping Russia out of the security architecture of Europe, Kissinger became alarmed in recent years by the consequences of such exclusion as Russia and the U.S.-led West slid into mutual recriminations and confrontation. From this point on, Henry Kissinger began to play a clearly constructive role in the midst of each successive crisis in relations that threatened war.

NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

The first case was in 2008-09 when bilateral relations hit bottom during and after the Russian-Georgian War. The second has come in 2013 to the present, when in the context of the developments in and around Ukraine, Russia and the U.S. became actively engaged in what is a proxy war, entailing as well economic and information wars.

For instance, in November 2014, Kissinger was one of the few prominent Westerners who dared question the prevailing narrative blaming Putin and Russia almost exclusively for the crisis in Ukraine. Kissinger said, in an interview with the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, that the West was exaggerating the significance of the Crimean annexation given the peninsula’s long historic ties to Russia.

“The annexation of Crimea was not a move toward global conquest,” Kissinger said. “It was not Hitler moving into Czechoslovakia” as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others suggested.

Kissinger noted that prior to the overthrow of Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, Putin had no intention getting involved in a crisis in Ukraine, saying:

“Putin spent tens of billions of dollars on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The theme of the Olympics was that Russia is a progressive state tied to the West through its culture and, therefore, it presumably wants to be part of it. So it doesn’t make any sense that a week after the close of the Olympics, Putin would take Crimea and start a war over Ukraine.”

Instead Kissinger argued that the West with its strategy of pulling Ukraine into the orbit of the European Union was responsible for the crisis by failing to understand Russian sensitivity over Ukraine and making the grave mistake of quickly pushing the confrontation beyond dialogue.

But Kissinger also faulted Putin for his reaction to the crisis. “This does not mean the Russian response was appropriate,” Kissinger said.

Still, Kissinger told Der Spiegel, “a resumption of the Cold War would be a historic tragedy. If a conflict is avoidable, on a basis reflecting morality and security, one should try to avoid it. We have to remember that Russia is an important part of the international system, and therefore useful in solving all sorts of other crises, for example in the agreement on nuclear proliferation with Iran or over Syria. This has to have preference over a tactical escalation in a specific case.”

Kissinger could well bring such a practical perspective to the incoming Trump administration and have the gravitas to force Official Washington to undertake a rethinking of its current Russia-bashing “group think.”

Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator of The American Committee for East West Accord Ltd. His latest book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 20, 2015. © Gilbert Doctorow, 2016


43 comments for “Trump and Revenge of the ‘Realists’

  1. ATM
    January 5, 2017 at 22:18

    Kissinger is not perfect but he has more brains than all the neoconservatives put together. We may not like all his ideas but they have some possibility of success in unsure world.

    • Rob
      January 7, 2017 at 02:09

      “Kissinger is not perfect…” That might be the understatement of the century. He is an odious, repulsive, self serving ogre. Look at the horrors that he brought about with his vaunted intelligence. Only people who think like him (e.g. Hillary Clinton) admire him. To the rest of us, Kissinger is one of history’s great villains.

  2. Michael Kenny
    January 5, 2017 at 11:38

    The positive side of Kissinger is that he understands the centrality of the balance of power to peace in Europe. When the major European powers are in agreement, we get peace. When they are not, we get war. By seeking to revise the post-cold war settlement, Putin has disturbed the balance of power in Europe and, historically, there has always had to be a war to establish a new balance, with the “disturber” usually ending up on the losing side (Napoleon, Hitler). It was clearly a major US blunder not to allow Russia, Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO together, when the European members of the alliance wanted them to join, but what’s done is done and that cannot be used to justify Putin’s actions in Ukraine. Ukraine is in fact the only real problem between Putin and the US, NATO and the EU. Getting Putin out of Ukraine is thus the necessary and sufficient condition for an end to the present confrontation. If Trump can pull that rabbit out of the hat without war, the world will thank him for it. The, essentially American, idea that Russia is somehow “apart” from the rest of Europe thus doesn’t seem to be shared by Russians, and certainly not by Putin himself. Putin has put his whole prestige on the line in Ukraine and any concession, however minor, could discredit him with his elderly Soviet-generation supporters back home, who want the Soviet Union, the whole Soviet Union and nothing but the Soviet Union. He has thus painted himself into a corner and it’s hard to see how any settlement can be reached without Putin’s departure from the political scene. Kissinger’s problem, though, is that he is not liked in Europe. He’s regarded as too arrogant and too Machiavellian. I don’t see anybody trusting him and the fact that nobody now trusts Putin will just make things worse. Odd as this may sound, Hillary Clinton would be a much better choice!

    • Oleg
      January 9, 2017 at 02:39

      “any concession, however minor, could discredit him with his elderly Soviet-generation supporters back home, who want the Soviet Union, the whole Soviet Union and nothing but the Soviet Union. ”

      This is just untrue and a gross misunderstanding of the situation. Sorry to sound personal but this is exactly why Kissinger is still better than most and definitely better than Ms. Clinton. He at least gets his facts right.

      I wrote above what we want. There is nothing about Soviet Union there, but of course, if the facts get in the way of a good theory, to hell with the facts.

      And Putin’s approval rate is some 80%. Do you think that 80% of the Russian population are elderly Soviet generation? In fact, he is more supported by younger people than older generation. I am 51 and I support him too.

  3. Brad Benson
    January 3, 2017 at 07:31

    Kissinger is a mass murderer and WAR CRIMINAL, perhaps one of the greatest in history based upon the results of his machinations. Nothing he says has any value, period. In his time, Adolf Eichmann was an expert on Middle Eastern Issues. If he were alive today, would we value his expertise as a means to achieve peace in the Middle East? To me, Kissinger is no different. He should be relegated to the trash heap of history–or EXECUTED for his WAR CRIMES.

  4. Mark Thomason
    January 2, 2017 at 15:45

    “Kissinger’s strategy was to ensure that Washington was closer to Beijing and to Moscow than either of the two was to one another”

    That is a vital point. Many discussions highlight using China against Russia, with the implication that the US was willing to hold itself away from Russia as an ultimate evil.

    Actually, that would have allowed China to use the US as a balance between itself and Russia.

    Keeping each closer than they are to each other is key. It is also generally not recognized, even among those who claim to favor what Kissinger did.

  5. January 1, 2017 at 18:17

    Whether ‘neocons’ or ‘realists’, all these elite people are interested in one thing: Preserving and if possible extending the American Empire. Another thing they have in common is that, in a truly just world, they would all be tried as war criminals and put away in prison for the rest of their lives after being stripped of their millions to compensate their victims…

    • John
      January 1, 2017 at 20:25

      Now that is what would happen in a just world…….However…….I could elaborate but the information I have may land consortium in the fake news category…….It really isn’t fake…..Its just soon becoming illegal…..PoP goes the weasel……..

      • John
        January 9, 2017 at 21:22

        Consortiumnews was already listed on ProPornOT’s list of non-stenographic news sources.

  6. Junior
    January 1, 2017 at 15:17

    Kissinger was not a great statesman nor scholar. He was Sec of State of the most powerful country in the world and all he did was bring misery to it.

    Kissinger should be the last person to talk about morality. Why would anybody take this shriveled piece of trash seriously?

    That people should accept this only prove how undemocratic the masses are. Capitalism has always been undemocratic.

  7. Rob
    January 1, 2017 at 15:00

    Something is seriously wrong when people look hopefully to Henry Kissinger for wise stewardship of American foreign policy. The man was and remains a cynical monster and an indisputable war criminal. Read Greg Grandin’s “Kissinger’s Shadow” to understand why Henry K is undeserving of the fawning respect contained in this article. Kissinger is not wrong about everything, but he has been wrong about many things and is completely uncaring about the disastrous consequences of his mistakes. Actually, he doesn’t think that he has ever made mistakes. His decisions were always correct even when things didn’t turn out as planned. As for those who ended up dead or disappeared, Kissinger is essentially indifferent to their fate. They were little more than unfortunate casualties of the big power games that he loves to play.

  8. Oleg
    January 1, 2017 at 14:21

    As a Russian, I am really perplexed why Russia’s goals and intentions are so grossly misunderstood over and over again. Even by an obviously smart person as Mr. Kissinger.

    Russia is NOT expansionist. Being by far the biggest country in the world, with a relatively small population, Russia does not need, want, or can in fact stomach any additional territories. What we are going to do with all these peoples and territories, when we have so many underdeveloped places of our own? We are not stupid. We do not want to spend our lives fighting and subjugating all those peoples around us.

    However, there are two additional factors that MAY be misjudged for expansionism. We are the core of a unique civilization and culture, different from the Western, Chinese, Muslim and the others. As such, we are very sensitive to issues regarding the people who belong/are close to our culture. Not territories, but people. Think francophonie, for example. We do not approve and will resist the attempts by the West to disregard the rights of these people and even more so – to convert them into the Western fold. This is the origin of the Crimean crisis. This is the reason for constant tensions with the Baltic states. They do have large Russian-speaking minorities, and the rights of these minorities are not protected at all.

    The solution to this problem is very simple. Again, think francophonie. Look at Canada’s Quebec. Nobody in this day and age (unlike in the past) really wants to change the Quebeckers into Americans or Anglophone Canadians. In fact, diversity is one of the most remarkable features of Canada, the source of its strength. Why the Baltic states, or Ukraine, should be any different? Just respect the rights of all major cultures and languages, like they do in Canada. There will be no Ukrainian, or Moldavian, or Latvian problem.

    The second issue is security. Over the centuries, Russia learned in a hard way that no land border is secure unless the neighbors there are friendly nations that subscribe to the same set of rules and values. You in the US cannot possibly understand this, either from your own experience or that of your British cousins. You and them happen to live on an island or a whole continent and thus are accustomed to invade other nations, not the other way around. In the past, it was possible to deal with the neighbors who refused to respect Russia’s interests using military force. It was always really a last resort solution and very costly to Russian economy and population, so it was done only if there was no other choice. Again Crimea may serve as an example. For centuries Russians tried to reason, negotiate or even bribe the Crimean Tatar khans, but they continued to raid the Russian lands and take millions of Russian people hostages. Therefore, the only solution left was to use the military force and destroy their Khanate once and for all. The problem was solved, but only after centuries of futile attempts to reach peaceful agreement that would respect Russian interests. However, this was long time ago. You would think that in this day and time, peoples and powers can be reasonable and can learn to respect each other interests and seek peaceful, not military, solutions. Most do, but not the US, or so it seems. Then Russia should be ready to protect itself militarily as well. The solution – again simple. Stop pushing for unilateral gains and start to negotiate. In good faith. You will see that the “aggressive Russia” will cease to exist immediately.

    So it is commendable that Mr. Kissinger seems to advocate just that: respect and negotiations and attempts to understand each other. At the very least, this may help to destroy the “aggressive Russia” myth.

    And, by the way, he was right regarding NATO. Russia does not belong to the Western club and thus cannot be a member of NATO. This would severely restrict our national interests and thus was not really possible, despite all good hopes. So Mr. Kissinger was right.

  9. aladdin
    January 1, 2017 at 13:30

    Wow and wow. I didn’t know that has become part of MSM

  10. Nancy
    January 1, 2017 at 12:13

    Gilbert Doctorow: excellent article. Such a brilliant summation of these extremely important foreign policy factors. Surely PEOTUS Trump can do more to secure a better advisory team.

  11. Brian
    January 1, 2017 at 10:03

    Nov 25, 2016 Donald Trump Picks Hawk CFR Henry Kissinger Aid To Cabinet

    Donald Trump’s latest National Security Advisor pick apart of his cabinet K.T. McFarland. We go over who this person really is and what to expect in the future from this major decision.

  12. Fran Macadam
    January 1, 2017 at 07:49

    “Mr. Kissinger’s scholarly credentials and public stature give his name on the title page the quality of a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.”

    Twenty-two years have gone by since then, and it’s not clear how having the Good Retirement Home Seal of Approval of a 93 year old can make any more than a symbolic contribution to ratcheting down dangerous tensions between the United States and Russia. Overall, it appears the strongest component of the crisis is driven by economic interests which profit mightily from escalating conflict as close to the precipice of war, even nuclear, as possible. The danger of walking repeatedly so close to the edge, is stumbling into the abyss over unexpected loose stones.

  13. jimbo
    January 1, 2017 at 06:57

    If Kissinger comes aboard the Trump train it might soften Trump’s term to a Hillary Clinton level. I mean anyone who supported Clinton because she was at least better than Trump, smarter than Trump, a better manager than Trump, well, Kissinger is a vestige of what was probably a slightly better presidency than Trumps.

  14. Wm. Boyce
    December 31, 2016 at 22:30

    So the old war criminal is rehabilitated to serve the new imperial president. Mr. Kissinger has to check with his lawyers before traveling abroad, as he’s wanted for war crimes in several countries more enlightened than ours. Like most presidents, he is a mass murderer.

  15. enels
    December 31, 2016 at 22:25

    Inviting Henry K seems a pretty competent move, in line with assembling a body of venerable ol’ retreads, going forward and to offset the problems of acceptability of his upset from both ”sides”. I wonder if the whole initial cabinet isn’t just formate to allay resistance to the real plan. What ever the F that is…! And, hell it’s comforting to hear Henri’s voice again…. that guy can make anything sound like thesis material.

  16. John
    December 31, 2016 at 22:08

    These neocons are 3 steps ahead in this sinister game of thrones with them pushing ahead toward the top…..They are relentless….However…..The Donald will draw them in as everyone dances in the street until He turns against them…..It will be the worst time ever in Israel…….Some will dance while others morn………

  17. backwardsevolution
    December 31, 2016 at 21:13

    Gilbert Doctorow – good article, thank you. You said, “Kissinger said this meant taking into account Russia’s long tradition of expansionism…..”

    This is what is missing in Kissinger. Where is his acknowledgement of the “U.S.’s long tradition of expansionism”? This is not even talked about. If he can add credibility to peace talks between the U.S. and Russia, be a bridge between Trump and the neocons, I say use him. Then get rid of him. Trump doesn’t need these old cold-war relics around him.

    • Bill Bodden
      December 31, 2016 at 21:34

      Where is his acknowledgement of the “U.S.’s long tradition of expansionism”?

      Probably hiding next to U.S. hacking operations while we accuse the Russians of such dastardly behavior. It’s wrong when “they” do it, but it is okay if we do it.

  18. Zachary Smith
    December 31, 2016 at 21:00

    Henry Kissinger? When I saw that name I remembered something I learned at Consortium News fairly recently, and went checking to see if Kissinger was involved.

    In the Price of Power (1983), Seymour Hersh revealed Henry Kissinger—then Johnson’s adviser on Vietnam peace talks—secretly alerted Nixon’s staff that a truce was imminent.

    According to Hersh, Nixon “was able to get a series of messages to the Thieu government [of South Vietnam] making it clear that a Nixon presidency would have different views on peace negotiations.”

    Johnson was livid. He even called the Republican Senate Minority Leader, Everett Dirksen, to complain that “they oughtn’t be doing this. This is treason.”

    “I know,” was Dirksen’s feeble reply.

    Johnson blasted Nixon about this on November 3rd, just prior to the election. As Robert Parry of has written: “when Johnson confronted Nixon with evidence of the peace-talk sabotage, Nixon insisted on his innocence but acknowledged that he knew what was at stake.”

    Said Nixon: “My, I would never do anything to encourage….Saigon not to come to the table….Good God, we’ve got to get them to Paris or you can’t have peace.”

    But South Vietnamese President General Theiu—a notorious drug and gun runner—did boycott Johnson’s Paris peace talks. With the war still raging, Nixon claimed a narrow victory over Humphrey. He then made Kissinger his own national security adviser.

    In the four years between the sabotage and what Kissinger termed “peace at hand” just prior to the 1972 election, more than 20,000 US troops died in Vietnam. More than 100,000 were wounded. More than a million Vietnamese were killed.

    But in 1973, Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the same settlement he helped sabotage in 1968.

    Surely there are other people engaged in the “Reality” type of diplomatic affairs besides the 93-year-old backstabbing monster Henry Kissinger.


    • backwardsevolution
      December 31, 2016 at 21:19

      Zachary Smith – “Surely there are other people….besides the 93-year-old backstabbing monster Henry Kissinger.” YES! I imagine there are many. Heck, get Robert Parry in there. I do not trust Kissinger. His name shouldn’t even be coming up.

    • Bill Bodden
      December 31, 2016 at 21:30

      As I. F. “Izzy” Stone said, “All governments lie” and Nixon was among the best/worst of liars. However, when it came to treason Lyndon Johnson was in no position to be self-righteous. He was president when the Israelis tried to sink the USS Liberty and murder its crew after which Johnson led the coverup.

    • Junior
      January 1, 2017 at 15:18

      I’m surprised how kindly this article is to Kissinger.

  19. backwardsevolution
    December 31, 2016 at 18:00

    Off topic: journalist Stephen Lendman has been banished from Facebook. He says: “I won’t be censored. I’ll continue telling hard truths to the best of my ability.

    Banishing me is Facebook’s shame – its CEO Mark Zukerberg and minions doing his bidding in cahoots with US dark forces, waging war on humanity at home and abroad.

    Banishment from their site is my badge of honor. I wear it proudly!”

  20. backwardsevolution
    December 31, 2016 at 17:30

    Paul Craig Roberts on “What is Henry Kissinger Up To?”

    “If we take this report at face value, it tells us that Kissinger, an old cold warrior, is working to use Trump’s commitment to better relations with Russia in order to separate Russia from its strategic alliance with China.

    China’s military buildup is a response to US provocations against China and US claims to the South China Sea as an area of US national interests. China does not intend to attack the US and certainly not Russia.

    Kissinger, who was my colleague at the Center for Strategic and International studies for a dozen years, is aware of the pro-American elites inside Russia, and he is at work creating for them a “China threat” that they can use in their effort to lead Russia into the arms of the West. If this effort is successful, Russia’s sovereignty will be eroded exactly as has the sovereignty of every other country allied with the US.”

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 1, 2017 at 03:46

      I lean to that assumption. Think about it, inside the 21st Century China is going to rise (let’s error on the side of caution and consider this a fact) so with a powerful new kid on the block like China, the U.S. could find some benefit to teaming up a rich mineral resources country like Russia. Since we never respect treaties what is there to lose. The hardest part will be for the U.S. to tune down it’s military, and then there is the MIC. Further more there is that small portion of the CIA who won’t be needed as much, and what to do with them. Let’s hope President Donald just wants Henry’s opinion, and then hope our new Commander and Chief calls Professor Brenner, or why not Gilbert Doctorow. Why not get both, or a whole team of foreign policy advisers and experts and develope a whole new plan, which will do the world well for years to come?

      Does anyone know if Trump’s guest book was signed by Zbigniew Brzezinski…if so, now you may worry.

    • John
      January 1, 2017 at 21:06

      Wow……5 stars for the person with a big brain…….BINGO !! Kissinger is a clever strategist whom is a devout Zionist…..never forget his allegiance…….

  21. Bill Bodden
    December 31, 2016 at 17:13

    Thus, the updated Kissinger line was that universal moral principles serve as the ultimate objective of foreign policy, but realism must guide the day-to-day management of international affairs.

    When were moral principles, universal or otherwise, ever factors in Kissinger’s decision-making? If evidence were needed to refute Obama’s mendacity about no one being above the law, Henry Kissinger would be a prime example among more people than we can count.

    • January 1, 2017 at 03:25

      Kissinger is not interested in morality when it comes to politics. Politics is a game wherein people lose their heads if they are not alert. A realist assesses the power relations he(she) sees and finds an advantage (for whatever goal is worthy) therein. American realists believe the U.S., by its very political structure, is the best overall actor in world affairs and ought to be the dominant power in the world. That people like Kissinger believe ought to be the policy. However, where realists differ from neocons and neoliberals, is that they believe in stability and gradual movement towards a goal. The neoconlibs are impatient and want to win quickly with lots of confrontations and fist waving and, yes, blood.

  22. Eddie
    December 31, 2016 at 17:06

    I for one get tired of conservatives coming up with new terms for their same-old tired, regressive policies, repackaging old fish with today’s newspaper/new-jugs-old wine. We’ve had Scalia and his ‘Originalist interpretation’, Milton Friedman and ‘Monetarism’, Kissinger and ‘Realism’, etc, but they (and others) are never even true to their own psuedo-theories (as Doctorow displays here re: Kissinger) and ultimately come off as sycophantic opportunists.

  23. Sally Snyder
    December 31, 2016 at 13:56

    Here is one key part of the recent American report on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election that is getting no media coverage in the United States:

    This entire situation is starting to smell more and more like Cold War-era propaganda.

    • backwardsevolution
      December 31, 2016 at 16:26

      Sally – yes, I can just hear a judge accepting an affidavit with a bit fat “disclaimer” on the top of the document! Where is the God-damn evidence?

  24. Jerry
    December 31, 2016 at 13:53

    How much respect for sovereignty has Kissinger shown? Not in Indochina. Not in Chile where he supported the coup against Salvador Allende. If I recall correctly, he wanted to embroil the US in wars in Angola and Mozambique. This is but a sampling. Of course, it was not only sovereignty that he ignored, but the lives of many thousands, perhaps millions, who were killed or wounded in his wars and other machinations.

    Detente would be good. Kissinger is not the only man in America who could pursue such a policy. Do you think that people in this country and other countries would really trust Kissinger? Is he not also damaged goods due to his friendship with the neocon warmonger Hillary Clinton?

    • backwardsevolution
      December 31, 2016 at 17:02

      Jerry – my first impression too when I heard that Kissinger had reared his ugly head. Kissinger, Soros, Clinton, McCain – time for the pasture, people! Retire already.

      Kissinger is aligned with Clinton. I would not trust him. I didn’t hear him shouting from the rooftops when Gaddafi was murdered, when they went after Assad. Where was his indignation? So the U.S. tears up the world, overthrows anything that breathes, lies through their teeth, and then presto – pulls out the old detente dinosaur to smooth it all over. Nothing gets undone; the damage remains. It’s just smoothed over. Russia gets smeared, surrounded in U.S. bases, but now comes the genie to fix it all?

      Why aren’t we hearing Kissinger screaming for the U.S. to remove their bases? Why isn’t he yelling that the U.S. need to get out of Syria and stop funding, arming and abetting the terrorists? I don’t hear you, Kissinger!

      This is how it’s done. You crush the other guy and leave him for dead, take what is near and dear to him, and then you call for peace when you’ve got everything you want. Of course, when the other side points out what’s happened to him and starts asking why things shouldn’t be reversed, he’s told, “Now, now, done is done. Let’s have peace now.”

      Kissinger is the cleaner who comes in at the end, sweeps things up. Meanwhile, you’ve gotten what you want.

      This man is not to be trusted. No good can come. “Something wicked this way comes.”

      • Ralph
        January 5, 2017 at 12:41

        In your list of people Kissinger associates with (Clinton, Soros, McCain,) you didn’t include Rockefeller. When you put Rockefeller, Kissinger and Brzezinski together, you have globalist agenda. The relationships between Kissinger and Putin, and Kissinger and Trump is the biggest question mark I have regarding the true nature of relations the US and Russia.

  25. Gregory Herr
    December 31, 2016 at 13:49

    Among many gems to be found in this piece:
    “…realism can be only as useful as the expertise and judgment of its practitioner.”

    I’ve often thought the so-called self-named “Realists” arrogated to themselves too much credit for their interpretations of reality.

    It is perplexing indeed to see that our foreign policy establishment has positioned itself to the point that Kissinger can come up with a few breaths of fresh air. I like how Kissinger ridiculed the hubabaloo over Crimea, but he still didn’t muster much truth-telling. As far as Russia and China are concerned, guys like Kissinger or Obama or Kerry or anyone else representing the U.S. don’t operate in good faith and won’t be able to make either of them a “third wheel”.

    • Sam F
      January 1, 2017 at 02:18

      Yes, his “realism” consists of getting deals for Israel. We have had enough of that fifty times over. Anyone with that baggage cannot be sold on his mere belated realization of the obvious in a few areas. Kissinger was a disaster for humanity.

  26. Bob Van Noy
    December 31, 2016 at 12:57

    ”It is rather sad to consider that one of America’s great scholar-statesmen of the Twentieth Century was taken in by mystical tripe when formulating and implementing the nation’s policies towards its chief nuclear adversary. This puts into question the validity of attention to history and local specifics, which Kissinger says are distinguishing features of realism versus idealism, which operates amid universalistic over-simplifications.”

    MAN, I’ll say, Sad. Think of the Cost in lives… Kissinger got Vietnam wrong, got most everything wrong. Literally thousands died. It is truly beyond irony that he now sees Russia acting in its own self interest, And, suggests that America operate in its self interest. And that that should be a breakthrough observation! Now if America can learn to operate in its own self interest and not Israel’s…

    • Fabio S.
      January 1, 2017 at 08:22

      Henry Kissinger should but might not stand a trial as war criminal before the International Criminal Court (ICC). 124 states have ratified or acceded the Rome Statute but not USA, China , Russia, North Korea and some other democratic countries.. and the ICC’s jurisdiction, though universal, will not be retrospective 2002.

    • Terence Riley
      January 1, 2017 at 13:01

      Kissinger got a lot wrong. But so did the neoliberals and neocons. If you count only American lives as worthwhile lives, it would be an error to view this artificial dichotomy as significant. Also if you count all lives, as I do, but the cost has been equally enormous, even far worse, since 1980.

      So I suggest that YOU think of the cost in lives.

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