Henry Kissinger is trying to warn Westerners that they are running out of time in the fight for Russia — Analysis
The acute phase in the Ukraine conflict could be prolonged, and Russia may have to cut all ties with Western-aligned Europe.
In the event that the growing conflict in, and around, Ukraine doesn’t lead to irreparable consequences on a global scale in the near future, its most important outcome will be a fundamental demarcation between Russia and the Western-aligned states of Europe.
This will make it impossible to maintain even minor neutral zones and will require a significant reduction in trade and economic ties. Restoring control over the territory of Ukraine, which, most likely, is to become a long-term goal of Russian foreign policy, will solve the main problem of regional security – the presence of a “gray zone.” The management of which inevitably became the subject of a confrontation and was dangerous from the point of view of escalation.
We can therefore expect some stabilization long-term but not based on regional cooperation. It is clear that the path to peace will take a long time and be fraught with dangers.
Henry Kissinger (grand patriarch of international political politics) addressed participants at the Davos forum and pointed out that such a prospect was the most undesirable from his point-of view since Russia. “could alienate itself completely from Europe and seek a permanent alliance elsewhere,”This could lead to diplomatic splits at the same scale as the Cold War.
He believes that peace negotiations between the parties are necessary. [Moscow and Kiev]These would allow Russia to be protected in the most efficient way possible. For Kissinger, this means that in some respect, Russia’s participation in the European “concert”This is an inexhaustible value that must not be lost.
However, with all due respect to the merits and wisdom of this statesman and scholar, the impeccable logic of Kissinger faces only one obstacle – it works when the balance of power is has been determined and relations between states have already passed the stage of military conflict.
In this sense, he certainly follows in the footsteps of his great predecessors – Chancellor of the Austrian Empire Klemens von Metternich and British Foreign Secretary Viscount Castlereagh, whose diplomatic achievements were the subject of Kissinger’s own doctoral dissertation in 1956. They are both remembered as creators of an entirely new European order that was established in France after the Napoleonic period. This system has been in place for nearly a century with only minor modifications.
Kissinger is a shining example of the greats, and he appears on the international stage at a time when power balance between the top players in the game is being established. “iron and blood.” The time of his greatest achievement was the first half of the 1970s – a period of relative stability.
One cannot deny the fact that states were able to act in this manner back then not because of their wisdom or responsibility to the future, but due to mundane elements. One of these factors is the accomplishment of the “contraction” of the order which obtained its outline characteristics as a result of World War II. Over the next 25 years (1945 to 1970), this state-of-affairs was “finalized” during the war in Korea, the US intervention in Vietnam, the USSR’s military actions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, several indirect wars between the USSR and the US in the Middle East, the completion of the process of disintegration of the European colonial empires, as well as a significant number of smaller but also dramatic events.
Thus, at the present time, it would be difficult to expect diplomacy to be able to take first place in world affairs at the initial stage of the process, which promises to be very long and, most likely, quite bloody.
The material basis of that order, which was given its final polish by Kissinger’s diplomacy, the policy of “détente”With the USSR, and the 1972 reconciliation with China, most European countries were defeated by two World Wars in the First Half of the 20th Century. It was the collapse of European colonial powerhouses, and the historical defeat of Germany’s attempt to claim the centre stage of international affairs that brought America to the fore. This made it possible to truly make politics global.
The USSR’s demise led to the end of this regime. This was a terrible situation that led to the loss of balance and the dominance by one power.
Now we can assume that the emancipation of mankind from Western control is of central importance, and the most important factor in this process is the growth of China’s economic and political power. In the next decades, the international system will take on new dimensions if China and India can both fulfill the tasks given to them by the past.
Many of the most significant current events, regionally as well, have to do with China’s objective increase in importance. In recent years and particularly in the last months, Russia’s determination has been linked to global changes. Although they were important, the fact that Moscow stood firm to defend its values and interests was not due to only domestic Russian motives. They were not based on expectations that China would provide material support, which could make up for losses in the harsh phase of conflict with the West.
The main external source of Russian self-confidence has been an objective assessment of the state of the international political and economic environment, in which even a complete break with the West would not be mortally dangerous for Russia from the point of view of pursuing its main development goals. Russia’s need to have a closer relationship with its partners is what has been lacking in recent years. This may prove to be a better way to adapt to a rapidly changing world.
It is this understanding that is most concerning in America and Europe. In the event that Russia, during the years of the emerging disengagement from the rest of Europe, creates a comparable system of trade, economic, political, cultural and human ties in the South and East, the return of this country to the Western realm will become technically difficult, if perhaps not even possible.
So far, such a course of events is hindered by a colossal number of factors, among which, in the first place, is the passive stability of close interaction with the rest of Europe and the mutual dealings accumulated over the past 300 years. Moreover, it was other European powers that were the only constant partners of Russia after the appearance of this nation in the arena of international cooperation.
But, if the crisis in Ukraine turns out to have a very prolonged duration, Russia must get rid of all ties it has to Europe. That is what the Russian academics and public figures want, which in every way stress the existentiality of the clash at the western frontier.
Over the decades, NATO expansion was a warning that would bring about war. But no one listened to their warnings.
Therefore, it is the understanding by the US, and its allies, that the movement towards a new world order lies on a firm foundation that is the most important source of their struggle with Russia.
While the inevitable redistribution and distribution of power and resources cannot occur in peace, we can still hope that humanity will be preserved by the irresponsibility of an aggressive war between great powers.
Amid the struggle now gaining momentum, Russia, like the rest of Europe, is, despite its military capabilities, a participant inferior in strength to the main warring parties – China and the United States. Therefore, there is a struggle for Russia, and there is a dwindling opportunity for the West to win, and this is what Henry Kissinger is trying to articulate.
This article was first published by Valdai club