After Russia’s behavior in Ukraine, Kissinger changed his mind. “After all that, I now believe that one way or another, formally or not, Ukraine must be treated as a member of NATO,” said the former US secretary of state. He believes that in any settlement of the conflict, Russia will keep the gains from the first incursion in 2014, when it seized Crimea and part of the Donbass. But he himself does not know how such an arrangement would differ from the Minsk agreements, which failed.
At the beginning of the year, Kissinger also caused controversy when he suggested that careless US and NATO policies may have led to the crisis in Ukraine. However, he still sees no other option than to take seriously Russian President Vladimir Putin’s concerns about NATO moving closer to Russia’s borders.
Kissinger is still convinced that it was a mistake for NATO to signal to Ukraine that it could join the Alliance. He saw it as something different from the entry of Eastern European countries: “I thought that Poland, all the traditionally Western countries that were part of the history of the West, were logical members of NATO,” he said.
For Ukraine, which consisted of territories once annexed to Russia, he thought it would be better for stability if it acted as a buffer state between Russia and the West. “I was in favor of full independence for Ukraine, but I thought it would be best for it to be like Finland,” Kissinger said. He doesn’t think that anymore.
However, the author of the article, Laura Secor, is disgusted by the great-power conception of politics to which Kissinger remains faithful: “If avoiding nuclear war is the greatest good, how do we express gratitude to small states whose only role in the global balance is to be acted upon by larger ones?”
However, even Kissinger sees a certain problem in this, admitting: “How to combine our military capacity with our strategic intentions and how they should relate to our moral intentions is an unsolved problem.”
Fear of a crisis in Taiwan
Kissinger would be cautious about Taiwan policy. He fears that the US and China are headed for a crisis: “The policies pursued by both sides created and enabled Taiwan’s progress into an autonomous democratic entity and maintained peace between China and the US for 50 years. One should therefore be very cautious about measures that appear to alter the underlying structure.’
Ninety-nine-year-old Kissinger is troubled by a dangerous imbalance. “We’re on the brink of war with Russia and China over issues that we’ve opened up in part, but without any idea of how it’s going to end or what it’s going to lead to.”
The diplomat, who has just published his nineteenth book, Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy, which examines the political achievements of Konrad Adenauer, Charles DeGaulle, Richard Nixon, Anwar Sadat, Lee Kuang-yew and Margaret Thatcher, said , that similar leaders with a clear vision do not exist today: “I think that today’s period has a big problem in defining a direction,” said the former US Secretary of State.
Master of balancing
And he draws attention to the necessity of compromise, without which balance is not possible, which he considers crucial: “If you are convinced that the end result of your efforts must be the enforcement of your values, then there is no balance.”
However, Kissinger admits that balance alone cannot be the goal, and sometimes balancing is not always possible: “There may be situations where coexistence is morally impossible, for example with Hitler. It was useless to discuss the balance with Hitler, although I sympathize with Chamberlain if he thought he needed to buy time for the reckoning which he believed would be inevitable anyway.’