Thursday, June 16, 2005

Why Can't Kissinger Be Stupid?

Say what you will about Henry Kissinger, but he's not stupid. Evil, yes. Stupid, not as much.

At least, not all the time. But more on that later. Via battlepanda, we see Kissinger actually making a lot of sense in the International Herald Tribune:
It is also unwise to apply to China the policy of military containment of the cold war. The Soviet Union was the heir of an imperialist tradition. The Chinese state in its present dimensions has existed substantially for 2,000 years....

Paradoxically, the best strategy for achieving antihegemonic objectives is to maintain close relations with all the major countries of Asia, including China. In that sense, the rise of Asia will be a test of America's competitiveness in the world now emerging, especially in the countries of Asia...

But from this it does not follow that any damage to China caused by a cold war would benefit America. The United States would have few followers anywhere in Asia. Asian countries would continue trading with China. Whatever happens, China will not disappear. The American interest in cooperative relations with China is for the pursuit of world peace.
Nothing there I would disagree with too much - and this is upsetting to me, because Henry Kissinger is, as per above, evil. Someday, he may have his MacNamara moment and confess his sins, but until then, evil.

And, as a side note, he's totally wrong about the whole "The Chinese state in its present dimensions has existed substantially for 2,000 years" thing, but to learn about that you've got to read the Mutant Frog. Short version: China has had a whole mess of different rulers, and they didn't exactly pass without conflict. While there are a whole bunch of things wrong with Kissinger's statement, it's got to be most galling for it's ignorance about Taiwan - China only really claimed Taiwan in the 1600s, didn't settle it substantially until the 1800s, lost it to Japan in 1905, and hasn't ruled it effectively since then. The United States has had a longer period of self-governance than China has had over Taiwan.

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