Kissinger´s Political Doctrine

“Life is suffering. Birth involves death. Transitoriness is the fate of existence. No civilization has yet been permanent, no longing completely fulfilled. This is necessity, the fatedness of history, the dilemma of mortality.” Henry Kissinger - From the preface of his doctorate thesis at Harvard University.
Kissinger´s Political Doctrine

Beyond being the US Secretary of State in the 1970s, Henry Kissinger was a political figure who influenced almost every country and society in world history in some way. As he passed away last week at the age of 100, his mindset, political tactics, decisions and actions have made a lot of noise in the political world, even before his funeral has been held. Some have stated him to be right, some wrong, and some even against human rights.

Henry Kissinger was one of the two children of the Kissinger family, who fled the Nazi genocide and immigrated from Germany to the USA in 1938. Even though he was a German citizen, he served in the US Army in World War II. Following that, he was a very successful student and faculty at Harvard University, where he laid the seeds for his long political career. At the university, his main subject was to develop a political doctrine on preventing the use of the atomic bomb dropped on Japan by the USA to end the war. He based his entire political plan on deterring the use of nuclear bombs, and on reaching a compromise with his political rivals, provided that the interests of the United States came first.

His thoughts and determined perspective, which came to the fore in various think tanks, would take him to the top of the US administration, and between 1969 and 1977, he would first become President Richard Nixon's, and later Gerald Ford's national security advisor and secretary of state. During this eight-year period, while the world witnessed more scandals than it had ever seen before -Watergate-, hot wars, cold war with Russia and peace agreements, Kissinger would always be at the center of all of these.

What he thought about the most was the Vietnam War, for which he was declared a war criminal by some human rights defenders due to the decisions he made. He would work hard to make peace between the two Vietnams, which are divided into two, one supported by Russia and the other by the West, and to sign a final peace in line with American interests in the region, but his support for the bombing of civilians living on the borders of Cambodia, which provided logistical support to North Vietnam, would be a black page in his political life. What was important to him was to try in every way to achieve stability and peace in the region, in line with the interests of the United States. Peace was a political situation that did not occur spontaneously. In a sense, every way was fair in order to attain peace.

The most important lesson he learned from the world history that he studied closely, was that what provided stability was not 'possible peace', but 'impossible peace'. As history had repeatedly confirmed, 'possible peace' was nothing but a dream. As he wrote in his doctoral thesis, impermanence was the fate of existence. Everything in this life was changing over time. According to him, peace and war would always be with us. At least achieving the impossible peace should be the only goal, even if it lasted only for a while.

The only reason why Alexander the Great went to wars to conquer the whole world, was to achieve ultimate absolute peace. As someone who did not believe in this utopia, Kissinger had perhaps listened to Sigmund Freud in that respect. According to Freud, war would always manifest itself on earth, because when human beings thought they were treated unfairly, their inherent destructive instinct would come into play and eventually war would begin. According to him, peacetime was a recess time between two wars. Thus Kissinger tried to create a political doctrine, where the ultimate goal was to extend this recess time as much as possible.

Two weeks after he was appointed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the 1973 Yom Kippur War broke out. Egypt from the west and Syria from the north, with a well-prepared war plan, caught Israel by surprise on the Day of Atonement. Israel's arch-enemies made major territorial gains in the first days, but the USA and Kissinger came to the aid of Israel, its only ally in the region. He convinced President Nixon to urgently establish an air bridge with Israel and to send weapons.

In fact, Kissinger put his stability doctrine in operation during this war. Kissinger worked on all sides with a subtle diplomacy, visiting all parties. He strived to prevent Israel from losing, he strived to prevent further wear and tear on Egypt and Anwar Sadat. He also put pressure on Israel to stop its counterattack and go all the way to Cairo and Damascus. In the end, he succeeded in bringing a resolution beneficial in some way for all. He was able to give Israel, the USA’s ally, the upper hand against Egypt and Syria, which were supported by the Soviets, he was able to prevent the heavy defeat of Egypt so that it could enter into peace negotiations, he was able to show that the USA is the only party that will bring a solution for the Arabs, and finally he was able to reduce the influence of Russia in the Middle East, while continuing to develop relations with Moscow.

These 'successful' tactics and diplomacy would bear new fruits in the following years, and four years later, a peace agreement would be signed between Egypt and Israel under the supervision of President Carter -but Anwar Sadat would pay the price for this with his life two years later- and the Oslo Accords between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel. The Jordan-Israel peace agreement would be signed during the term of President Bill Clinton.

The reason behind Kissinger's support for the military coups in Argentina and Chile was his concern that the communist system would take over and destabilize the region. Naturally, the priority was the interests of his country, the USA. So much so that, even though he was Jewish, he would even say that the unfavorable condition of the Jews in the Soviets was not an issue that concerned the United States. The aim was not to leave the Soviets, with whom relations had softened, in a difficult situation.

As a matter of fact, he would always strive to keep good relations between his country and the Soviets and China, as long as he remained in active politics. Like the famous scientist Einstein, Kissinger believed that a nuclear war would definitely bring about the end of the world.

Some analysts say that Kissinger's experience of surviving a massacre such as the Holocaust lies in the background of his search for regional and ultimately universal stability despite heavy costs, and that this pushes him to seek a plan to establish a stable and peaceful order under the leadership of the USA in all problematic geographies, especially in the Middle East.

Following his death, China's description of him as 'an old and good friend of the Chinese people' and Russia's description of him as a 'wise and far-sighted statesman' gives an idea of where these countries positioned Kissinger, their rival at the time, in the political arena...

Kissinger must be considered a far more complex figure to be evaluated as either black or white. It may be said that his disregard for human rights for the sake of ultimate peace, constitutes the most indelible stain on his story. While he claimed to have saved the world from nuclear destruction, his aim was perhaps to cleanse these stains.

He was not an ‘intellectual adventurer’, as the famous journalist Oriana Fallaci described him. He was a goal-oriented political figure.

The doctrine he developed for stability and ultimate peace may be criticized, but the only one thing he was absolutely right about, as he wrote in his thesis:

"Life is suffering"...

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