Behind Kissinger – Deakin

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When Henry Kissinger was alive, he was one of the most highly regarded thinkers and practitioners in international politics. He may not have left such profound traces behind him had he stuck to his writings and drawings, but he left a tremendous legacy that is worth discussing at length with his roles as US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State during prime times. cold War. Considering that he made good use of the opportunity to actually implement what he had formed in his mind, he was able to complete a life of 100 years without losing his mind.

We see that academics do not always achieve such impressive careers when it comes to practice. Our former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister did not like Davutoglu being compared to Kissinger before his credibility was lost due to the Syrian civil war. Davutoglu’s reaction to this parallel must have been due to Kissinger’s purely realistic approach and his reading of world politics through mechanical relations, leaving humanitarian concerns aside. Davutoglu was trying to put politics on a more ethical basis and draw an ideal vision, whether through his writings or his practices. Regardless of whether we share his ideals or not, many people would likely agree that his skill in politics is inadequate for such a comparison when compared to Kissinger.

When you look at Kissinger’s writings and drawings, some of which are widely read, you can see the extent to which he internalized classical realist theory. His belief that only states can be accepted as actors at the international level, and even his belief that the will of major states is decisive among them, can also be observed in his practices as a politician.

Although the United States spent the Cold War years under a strong anti-communist rhetoric, for Kissinger, the second half of the twentieth century was a period of great power struggle, like other periods. He did not pay much attention to the rhetoric of moral superiority that the American administration uses to mobilize society in line with its own goals. In Kissinger’s world, there were actors who tried to protect and, if possible, extend their influence against others. Countries continued this struggle within the limits of the capabilities available to them in the modern world, as happened in previous decades and centuries.

According to him, the heroes of this world were not adventurers keen to shake the system to its roots and establish a new order, like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, or Napoleon. Kissinger praised politicians such as Cardinal Richelieu, Metternich, or Bismarck, who sought and established balance at the global level, even after successful wars. In front of these people is the third who mixed dreams with reality and created space for his rivals because of his diplomatic foolishness. Players like Napoleon would be despised.

As is clear, international politics, as he understood it, was a chess game that could be understood through mechanical relationships based on calculations. Just as there is no moral superiority of whites over blacks at the board, and just as each player uses all the tools at his disposal to defeat the opponent, politics must also be understood within a similar framework.

It is a historical irony that such a politician served first as National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State alongside one of the Cold War’s most ideologically charged leaders. A politician like Richard Nixon, who used anti-communist rhetoric on a large scale and polarized even American politics, might have been understandable under the circumstances of the period. On the other hand, Kissinger’s line, which contradicted the external perception of the Nixon administration and played such an active role in the production of international policy, was quite different.

The biggest headache for the United States in 1969, when Republicans took power, was the Vietnam quagmire, which deepened after the Tet Offensive. The primary goal of Kissinger, Nixon’s national security adviser, was to get the United States out of this problem under favorable conditions. The military escalation in Vietnam, which caused severe protests against the government, and the shift and intensification of bombing to neighboring countries, were measures aimed at ensuring that Hanoi came closer to US terms. Although the loss of life resulting from these policies sparked a reaction in global public opinion, humanitarian concerns were often ignored when states’ interests were at stake. As a result, the war continued for another four years, claiming many lives, but in 1973, the Vietnam War ended with the Paris Agreements, also arranged by Kissinger.

Kissinger was able to retreat from this step, which he considered necessary, because he did not see a world in which there was a battlefield between good and evil, freedom and tyranny. With this heavy defeat, the 1970s could be read as a major decline for the United States, while two heavy counter-blows would be directed against the Soviets, perhaps ending the Cold War, and Kissinger’s mark was in each of them. . First of all, and most importantly, this was an initiative taken against Beijing, whose problems with Moscow have become more apparent, by overcoming all ideological barriers. The talks, initially held at the foreign minister level, would then culminate in a visit by President Nixon to Mao, perhaps the most anti-communist visit the United States had ever seen. Thus, the Beijing administration, which has finally been accepted as the official representative of China, will separate from the opposition bloc and join the caravan of allied countries, albeit with some embarrassment.

Kissinger’s second move on the chessboard will be in the Middle East, which is at the top of the agenda again today. Kissinger, who used the balances disrupted by the Yom Kippur War to consolidate American hegemony in the region, may not have seen the endgame during his tenure, but the fantasy was certainly his own. It is possible that the war, which occurred suddenly at the beginning of 1973, will end in favor of Israel with the support of the United States. Thus, the Americans’ demonstration of their superiority over Soviet weapons would open the door to a process that would enable Egypt to return to the Western camp. The peace reached at Camp David in 1979 guaranteed Israel’s security and enabled Egypt to return to the Sinai Peninsula, which it had lost in the Six-Day War. Cairo could not achieve this success, which it could not achieve militarily, except by withdrawing actual support for the Palestinian cause and cutting its relations with the Soviets.

One of the important events during Kissinger’s tenure as Secretary of State was the Cyprus peace process. His conversations with Prime Minister Ecevit during this period, especially during the collision of our planes with the Kocatepe ship, contain interesting dimensions. There is also an aspect that provides the basis for the Greek side to produce a lot of conspiracy theories.

Of course, it was not Kissinger and his calculated policies that led to the end of the Cold War. The United States, which suffered a huge loss in prestige during the Carter administration after Nixon and Ford, would rise again in the 1980s under the presidency of the hardline leader Reagan. Once again, there would be great power rhetoric that demonized the other side, taking leadership of the free world and opposing communist tyranny everywhere in the world. Finally, Reagan’s power policies brought the Soviets to their knees, which led to their withdrawal from Eastern Europe and the collapse of the bloc that stood against the West.

When we look at it this way, it can be believed that results can only be achieved through an ideal and bold policy, and that showing force rather than negotiations leads to results. On the other hand, it should be taken into account that such an outcome was achieved when the balance of power shifted significantly in favor of the United States in the 1980s. Moscow, which entered into a major financial crisis with the collapse of oil prices and was trying to make its exhausted economy bear the heavy costs of the Afghan quagmire in addition to the burdens of the peoples that were restricting it in Eastern Europe, had no power left.

But perhaps more importantly, it has become increasingly counterproductive for the Russians to try to counterbalance the United States in the Middle East and, more importantly, for the Russians, whose alliance ties with a giant like China have been severed. Whichever way one looks at it, Kissinger made the most important chess moves in the Cold War during his time. Thus he completed a 100-year adventure by making his name among the much-praised masters of international politics.

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