Does America Need a Foreign Policy?: Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century

Does America Need a Foreign Policy?: Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century

In this timely, thoughtful, and important book, at once far-seeing and brilliantly readable, America's most famous diplomatist explains why we urgently need a new and coherent foreign policy and what our foreign policy goals should be in this new millennium. In seven accessible chapters, Does America Need a Foreign Policy? provides a crystalline assessment of how the Unite...

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Title:Does America Need a Foreign Policy?: Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century
Author:Henry Kissinger
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Edition Language:English

Does America Need a Foreign Policy?: Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century Reviews

  • Ali Kabalan

    ورد في الصفحة 212 من النسخة الإنكليزية و 216 من النسخة العربية: إن إنكماشاً إقتصاديا سيحدث عاجلاً أم آجلاً. والتوسع الإقتصادي الأميركي الذي يبدو بدون حدود مع كتابة هذه السطور ربيع 2001 مقيد بالدخول في فترات ركود عاجلاً أم آجلاً والمسألة الوحيدة معرفة توقيته وعمقه ... وسناريو ذلك:

    - هبوط في سوق الأسهم لفترة طويلة

    - خفض إستهلاك الأميركيين الذين يستثمرون مدخراتهم في سوق الأسهم

    إنخفاض معدلات التصدير في الدول الأخرى مما سيؤدي الى ركود في تلك البلاد

    - تلجأ لمصارف الى تخفيض أموال الإقراض

    المسؤولون عن الخزان

    ورد في الصفحة 212 من النسخة الإنكليزية و 216 من النسخة العربية: إن إنكماشاً إقتصاديا سيحدث عاجلاً أم آجلاً. والتوسع الإقتصادي الأميركي الذي يبدو بدون حدود مع كتابة هذه السطور ربيع 2001 مقيد بالدخول في فترات ركود عاجلاً أم آجلاً والمسألة الوحيدة معرفة توقيته وعمقه ... وسناريو ذلك:

    - هبوط في سوق الأسهم لفترة طويلة

    - خفض إستهلاك الأميركيين الذين يستثمرون مدخراتهم في سوق الأسهم

    إنخفاض معدلات التصدير في الدول الأخرى مما سيؤدي الى ركود في تلك البلاد

    - تلجأ لمصارف الى تخفيض أموال الإقراض

    المسؤولون عن الخزانة والمستثمرون الكبار والمصارف لا يشكون في إحتمال حصول النكسة. لكنهم يترددون في التصرف مخافة أن يتسببوا في حدوث ما يسعون الى تأجيل حدوثه الى المستقبل البعيد

    عن الشرق الأوسط:

    إتفاقية أوسلو جمعت بين إنجاز كبير وغموض مفرط ...

    ثمة أمم قليلة في العالم تملك أميركا اسباباً أقل للتشاجر معها أو مصالح أكثر توافقاً مما هو الحال مع إيران. لا يوجد حافز جيوسياسي أميركي للعداء مع إيران، المستمرة في توفير الأسباب التي تبقي أميركا بعيدة عنها...

  • Hadrian

    The title is a rhetorical joke, of course. Of course the US needs a foreign policy.

    This is an overview of the inter-state anarchy of international foreign policy, as viewed by the most calculating of grizzled realists. He cites the need for a more cohesive grand strategy, a few short months before 9/11. I read this book largely as a comparative exercise, to see how these early predictions have held up over the past 12 years.

    The book begins with a cursory introduction of America's switch between

    The title is a rhetorical joke, of course. Of course the US needs a foreign policy.

    This is an overview of the inter-state anarchy of international foreign policy, as viewed by the most calculating of grizzled realists. He cites the need for a more cohesive grand strategy, a few short months before 9/11. I read this book largely as a comparative exercise, to see how these early predictions have held up over the past 12 years.

    The book begins with a cursory introduction of America's switch between idealist internationalism and realism since Roosevelt and Wilson, and then moves on to discuss the role of the United States in foreign policy with regard to these areas.

    -America and Europe

    First meditations upon the future of NATO without a common political enemy. Although there were tensions over the Iraq War, these have largely subsided as the US and NATO have collaborated over limited intervention measures during the Obama administration (Libya, Mali).

    Kissinger also lays out a few sketches for the future of European economic cooperation, in attempts to smooth over the vast differences between European economies. These have not been dealt with properly, thus the EU debt crisis. Notes that Germany remains a strong economic power, and the newly chosen Putin is a strong Nationalist.

    -The Western Hemisphere

    Correctly pins Chavez as a nationalist petro-state dictator whose populist facade is fueled by oil prices. Leans towards appearing to be a leftist because that's what wins elections. Notes disappearance of state authority in Colombia. Stronger relations with both Brazil and Argentina.

    [No references to Chile, I see.]

    -Asia: The World of Equilibrium

    North Korea requires an international united front, especially from the Chinese and the Russians. Steady commitment to trade, prevent them from feeling too scared or threatened. (Bush II messed that one up.)

    Maintain status quo with cross-strait relations. Only use military intervention in case of Chinese escalation. (ROC/PRC)

    Form stronger relations w/ India, as shared mutual interests.

    -The Middle East and Africa: Worlds in Transition

    Best detail in the Israeli-Palestinian peace processes, likely from personal intervention and consultation.

    Main focus on Iraq, but does not advocate full intervention unless with international mandate. This is also before tensions with Iran worsened and the government remained relatively moderate.

    -The Politics of Globalization

    Some brief sketches of free trade, international corporations, migration, and humanitarian issues.

    -Peace and Justice

    Against the 'solipsistic' view of foreign intervention. In Vietnam, the US charged in, against the will of its allies and the UN, antagonizing the region, with no concrete goals nor an exit strategy. Of course, this sounds only too familiar, and Kissinger would live to see his advice entirely ignored by another administration.

    Instead of the extreme personal detail of his own memoirs, nor the intense historical analysis of

    , this is a lesser book of his, offering only the broadest principles and guidelines.

  • Luís C.

    These particular chapter talks of the environment as changing of the entire world,and also the challenge America as to confront.

    It talks of the changes of the Atlantic,as also of the European Relationships.The Future of Europe & Atlantic integration & cooperation in his meaning.The European Military Crisis as a strategic doctrine: The missile cases and T

    These particular chapter talks of the environment as changing of the entire world,and also the challenge America as to confront.

    It talks of the changes of the Atlantic,as also of the European Relationships.The Future of Europe & Atlantic integration & cooperation in his meaning.The European Military Crisis as a strategic doctrine: The missile cases and The Atlantic Alliance.The Russian Relations.A New Structure in Atlantic Relations.

    Revolution in this Area.The New Challenges this area traverses.The Colombia Plan.The Promises of this area experiments.NAFTA & MERCOSUR.

    The complexity geopolitical of Asia.Japan & Korean's relations.China Relations:The Historical & Strategic Context.Taiwan & China.India.

    The Arab-Israeli Conflict.America & the Gulf.Iraq.Iran.Whither Africa.The African Environment.The African Policy.

    Economics & Politics.Crisis Management & the International Monetary Fund.Political Evolution & Globalization.

    The American Tradition.Roosevelt & Wilson.The New Interventionism.Humanitarian Intervention & the National Interest: Four Principles.Humanitarian Intervention & the Context of History.Universal Jurisdiction.

    ..............................................................................

  • Trish

    Kissinger wrote this book in the spring of 2001, and in a very short period of time it felt completely out of touch. Kissinger berates the American public in Chapter One for being unable to find other countries on a map, and for being so consumed with ourselves. Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski did the same, in 2008 in

    . They are probably right. The map looks differently in two dimensions, and certainly we can be

    Kissinger wrote this book in the spring of 2001, and in a very short period of time it felt completely out of touch. Kissinger berates the American public in Chapter One for being unable to find other countries on a map, and for being so consumed with ourselves. Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski did the same, in 2008 in

    . They are probably right. The map looks differently in two dimensions, and certainly we can be self-obsessed. One wonders if they would be pleased if we formed opinions on their conduct of foreign policy on our behalf.

    Kissinger nowhere mentions the challenges that faced us later in 2001, an indication of how closely

    was paying attention to world events. In a way, this book is a dry run for his later, shorter, more historically distant, and better received

    (2014). While in that later book Kissinger talks about the long history of foreign relations, in this 2001 book he talks about the continuity of U.S. foreign policy after the collapse of the Soviet Union. At one point he suggests that Germany might align its interests with a still-strong Russia, showing how hard it must be for an old cold warrior to lose his traditional enemy and to admit that thinking of the world in large strategic chess pieces may cause us to overlook important details.

    Kissinger does a better job of looking at Latin America and Africa than these types of books usually manage, though the only thing he praises about the “maladroit” handling of foreign affairs by President Clinton is NAFTA, the “fair trade” deal which we are reconsidering now. (Conversely, he praises the “wisdom” of President George W. Bush.)

    He got that right.

    Regarding China, he makes the observation that Deng Xiao Ping “had been perhaps too daring in his economic reforms and surely too cautious in the political reforms his policies made inevitable—ironically, the opposite mistake of his contemporary, Mikhail Gorbachev.” Later he says

    I guess that’s a “no” on tying cooperation to human rights.

    One of Kissinger’s last arguments, disagreement with the

    adopted in 2009, was one which shows how far out of step with the world he was becoming.

    I grudgingly concede he is right about that, which has led me to an in-depth study of foreign policy at this time. If we must lead by reason of our role as the world’s sole superpower, how can we best to do that? Even as I write this, I wonder if there might be some unexpected and enlightened leadership from an unlikely source, not a superpower, considering our domestic disarray and our navel-gazing populace. Whatever we decide will have to include some accommodation with the massive changes that will come when water rises around the globe and the dislocations resulting from that and changing weather patterns. How can we best face those pressures with dignity, grace, and that insistence on human rights?

    At the end of this book is a remarkable polemic on universal jurisdiction, or the concept of submitting international politics to judicial procedures.

    Kissinger sounds horrified that Americans, in particular Americans in leadership, could be judged by such international standards of justice, when they were only pursuing a foreign policy that was for their exclusive benefit. Kissinger tries to explain his role in the CIA overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile and the installation of the notorious Pinochet regime. In any case, he should have known better. When the International Criminal Court later wanted to convict some of the leaders in the former Yugoslavia for “crimes against humanity,” an American judge put in place significant roadblocks which had the effect of raising the burden of proof involved in convicting political leaders. Thus Americans were not indicted for a range of activities that came awfully close to such definitions.

    As usual, what Kissinger

    is more reasonable and palatable than what he

    .

  • Pat

    Kissinger provides a good overview of global political history alongside his opinions regarding that history and possibilities for the future. In particular, his overview of said history from the conclusion of the Cold War to 2001 is insightful, concise, and enjoyable.

    The historical overviews give way to the final two chapters (The Politics of Globalization; Peace and Justice) where the author presents thoughtful assessments on several topics within each chapter’s theme. His ideas regarding hum

    Kissinger provides a good overview of global political history alongside his opinions regarding that history and possibilities for the future. In particular, his overview of said history from the conclusion of the Cold War to 2001 is insightful, concise, and enjoyable.

    The historical overviews give way to the final two chapters (The Politics of Globalization; Peace and Justice) where the author presents thoughtful assessments on several topics within each chapter’s theme. His ideas regarding humanitarian intervention and universal jurisdiction were especially interesting. The “Conclusion” (Information and Knowledge) which was enjoyable seemed disjointed from the rest of the book.

    Overall, Does America Need a Foreign Policy is good. I would recommend it with the caveat that the author’s bias must be acknowledged. Overt at times, subtle at others, but it is there. The bias should not detract from the beneficial overviews or the intelligently crafted insights and arguments that Kissinger makes, but it does need to be acknowledged.

  • Jenn

    This was a tough book to get through for a number of reasons. First, Kissinger's style of writing is casual and a bit stream of consciousness, with enormous words and ridiculously run-on sentences. He writes sentences that should be broken up into 2-4 sentences to be easier to understand instead of diagrammed. For example,

    This was a tough book to get through for a number of reasons. First, Kissinger's style of writing is casual and a bit stream of consciousness, with enormous words and ridiculously run-on sentences. He writes sentences that should be broken up into 2-4 sentences to be easier to understand instead of diagrammed. For example,

    Get out your pencil and your ruler to diagram that one, readers!

    Second - it's a fairly old book, so a bit outdated. Unfortunately, the copy I borrowed did not include the afterward following the WTC attack later in the year this was published.

    Third - does Kissinger really need a soapbox to beat up on the Clinton administration? That got old after a while, especially considering all the high-flown recommendations that Kissinger makes about morality -- he's responsible for some of the worst horrors in US foreign relations, such as undermining a democratically elected socialist-leaning government in Chile, or selling the Shah all the military weaponry he wanted and other things to exacerbate the problems in the Middle East. He doesn't even mention the Iran Contra Affair or Dan Quayle in this book. And there's no information about the US involvement in supporting dictators in regimes in Latin America and Africa.

    The regional discussions of nations on a continent by continent basis was charmingly skewed and borderine racist in some regards.

    Since I am a total neophyte in the study of US foreign policy as a whole (vs study of Latin American countries and their interactions with the US) -- I found some of this book useful and will use it as a foundation for additional research as I know there are bound to be better books out there on diplomatic relations.

    The author repeatedly refers to "Wilsonian diplomacy" - and I wasn't really familiar with that term. He did a good job later in the book of detailing Jacksonian vs Wilsonian diplomacy and the impact on US foreign policy. While he's horribly skewed and biased in his reporting of 20th century politics --

    he's pretty good on early US history and politics.

    Overall - he consistently presents how the US policy has largely been based on the "shining city on the hill" concept. "The absence of any realistic alternatives reinforces the trend toward the American model." He cautions against dropping it wholesale on a state as it's not plug-and-play. A state has to grow into it and adjust -- there will be changes as citizens move to cities to take advantage of opportunity, for example, weakening traditional family and cultural support networks. The people will not tolerate long periods of poverty and deprivation to try on economic theories.

    While he briefly mentions the IMF, he talks about the socioeconomic disparities and economic problems in Latin American countries almost as though their issues had no provenance in US or IMF promulgated recommendations or requirements for aid.

    He repeatedly makes references to growing gaps -- socioeconomic and access to technology -- as issues that should be a primary concern of developed nations and developing nations alike. Despite these warnings - he is wildly in support of free trade and globalization, he even lays it on the disadvantaged to suck it up to make it work for everyone:

    He even goes one step further, to point out the risks of growing socioeconomic disparity -- but it's kind of laughble:

    He does mention Karl Marx -- so he's referring to the same ideas and concepts here: Marx said that capitalism depends on building and maintaining a permanent underclass. And, to a certain level - there has always been a permanent underclass in the world (exceptions made for wealthy Scandinavian countries with semi-Socialist public welfare systems).

    Kissinger seems to contradict himself -- where earlier he says that you can't rush a country through the process to adopt the American model, think that "Some of these dangers can be averted by accelerating free trade." but cautions:

    Almost as an aside - he throws out this tidbit:

    What about the converse? Can any political system be maintained without an effective economic base?

    Kissinger also has a bad attitude toward anti-globalization protesters -- but then acknowledges that it may be symptomatic of a coming crisis of legitimacy of an international economic system.

    Finally, the author touches on the difficulty in establishing internationally agreed upon standards and values, noting that this is a recent initiative among developed countries. He talks about the International Criminal Court and the need for the US to:

    PS: Oh, yeah - and Iran - hey, they aren't so bad - even though they held some US citizens hostage, we really have no beef with them and we could totally have a policy of "reciprocal non-hostility" and let them go about their affairs internally however they want. Sort of. As long as it's in line with globalization.

    As an antidote - here are some articles, at least read the first one - it's effective:

    Debacle, Inc.: How Henry Kissinger Helped Disorder the World

    Indefensible Kissinger

    Welcoming War Crimes: The Normalization of Henry Kissinger

  • Humphrey

    The significant obsolescence of this book as in 2018 should humble anyone, pundits or not, who attempts to predict future.

    However it is equally important not to be arrogant and take satisfaction when one is judging from hindsight, subconsciously or consciously.

    Principles discussed in this book are forever true. The different are applications and contexts, as for every field.

    Thus I emphasize, Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.

  • Nathan Oliver

    I have many reservations about Dr. Kissinger's roll in American history, but did find myself enjoying this book. Kissinger is probably one of the smartest people to ever hold high office in the US and it shows in his writing and analysis. I was surprised to find him skeptical about neoliberal economic intervention in the developing world, and his candidness regarding the pitfalls of direct military intervention.

    This book was written before 9/11 attacks. I am interested in reading something more

    I have many reservations about Dr. Kissinger's roll in American history, but did find myself enjoying this book. Kissinger is probably one of the smartest people to ever hold high office in the US and it shows in his writing and analysis. I was surprised to find him skeptical about neoliberal economic intervention in the developing world, and his candidness regarding the pitfalls of direct military intervention.

    This book was written before 9/11 attacks. I am interested in reading something more recent from him to see how those events have altered his perspective.

  • Rodrigo

    It was very, well, weak.

    The parallels he established between 17th century Europe, the Middle East, 19th century Europe and the Far East, respectively, were simply impeccable. It illustrated the nature of each conflict very well, and brought to light solutions that were actually pretty obvious, but no one would have thought of if it wasn't for the comparisons he made. An egg of Columbus kinda thing.

    But that's about all I found remarkable about it. That's quite a weighty statement, I know, but I w

    It was very, well, weak.

    The parallels he established between 17th century Europe, the Middle East, 19th century Europe and the Far East, respectively, were simply impeccable. It illustrated the nature of each conflict very well, and brought to light solutions that were actually pretty obvious, but no one would have thought of if it wasn't for the comparisons he made. An egg of Columbus kinda thing.

    But that's about all I found remarkable about it. That's quite a weighty statement, I know, but I was seriously surprised at how short-sighted he proved to be on other matters, such as the potential development of a stronger EU-US relation, or how to deal with the new Russia. And the course of action he recommended on Irak? Invasion! How inefficient is that? Pitting Irak against Iran would be much more effective, and far less costly. I know it seems hard, but I'm convinced it was doable (there is a precedent, after all).

    Not that I think they SHOULD have done that, all I am saying it that, from a purely amoral point of view, that would have been considerably more efficient.

    I've always liked his completely amoral approach to diplomacy, and I, well, I admire the man. I believe he's the Metternich, the Castleborough, the Bismarck of our era. So it was very shocking for me to see that his mind-set is, apparently, still stuck in the 20th century. National interests are irrelevant, or at least viable to be considered secondary, in an era of commonwealths. The time of the countries, even the super-countries, is over. Inter-connectivity is much more important than it was before, and that should be taken into account when defining the overall diplomatic strategy you're going to follow. Kissinger mentions the Internet, of course, but he passively dismisses its impact.

    Aaaah, I got carried away. Point is, it is a good book, if you're looking for a brilliant, if a little obsolete, view of the diplomatic situation of the world today.

  • Owlseyes inside Notre Dame, it's so strange a 15-hour blaze and...30-minutes wait to call the firemen...and

    My guess is that this book will never become a textbook, or guide, to Donald Trump.

    I'll be back on it.

    Kissinger's thought is past.

    UPDATE:

    My guess is that this book will never become a textbook, or guide, to Donald Trump.

    I'll be back on it.

    Kissinger's thought is past.

    UPDATE:

    19th December 2016

    Yeah, I said I would be back, because Kissinger is making some believe, ...something.

    "VERMITTLUNGEN ZWISCHEN WASHINGTON UND MOSKAU

    Kissinger soll neuen Kalten Krieg verhindern" [‘Kissinger to prevent new Cold War’]

    in:

    and: "A flurry of reports suggest the 93-year-old diplomat is positioning himself as a intermediary between Vladimir Putin and President-elect Donald Trump."

    in:

    28th December 2016

    ----

    *in:

    ** in:

    Trumpism: The Ideology

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