Monday, November 28, 2016

DIPLOMACY - Kissinger on Obama/Trump and China

"What Henry Kissinger thinks about Obama, Trump and China" PBS NewsHour 11/21/2016


SUMMARY:  At 93, Henry Kissinger is still one of the most influential -- and controversial -- foreign policy figures in America, says Jeffrey Goldberg, Atlantic editor-in-chief.  The former secretary of state recently joined Goldberg for a conversation about the Obama legacy, the president-elect and more.  Judy Woodruff reports as part of a collaboration between The Atlantic and the PBS NewsHour.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Earlier this year, we reported on “Atlantic” magazine editor Jeffrey Goldberg's article “The Obama Doctrine.” The lengthy piece gained widespread attention, including that of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who quietly let it be known that he'd like to share some thoughts of his own about President Obama's foreign policy.

So, Jeffrey Goldberg and Kissinger sat down to talk.

This is a report on part of an ongoing partnership between the NewsHour and The Atlantic.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG, The Atlantic:  He's still really the most influential foreign policy thinker in America in a lot of ways.

And so, in my experience with him, there's always something to learn, even at the age of 93, maybe especially at the age of 93.  There's always something to learn from him.  And so we wound up spending hours talking about not just the Obama doctrine.  We talked about the order of the world currently, and we talked a lot about the election.

He, like a lot of people, thought Hillary Clinton was going to win.  We talked about both candidates.  And, well, here we are.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, the news right now is the election of Donald Trump, and we're going to talk about that.

But let's go back to how your conversation with Henry Kissinger came about.  What does he think about the legacy of Barack Obama's foreign policy?

JEFFREY GOLDBERG:  He thinks that the President is too passive in his approach to foreign policy, that the American President has a responsibility to make more order in the world, especially as it relates to the other great powers, Russia and China in particular.

He also thinks that the President is too burdened by the alleged sins of the past — Kissinger would think of them more as alleged sins — of American behavior during the Cold War in various places, including Vietnam and Cambodia.

But, mainly, it has to do with a passivity that he sees in the present, a lack of strategic thinking, a lack of assertion.  And, obviously, the President, when I was interviewing him on these subjects, Kissinger was almost sort of a specter in the room at various points, because the President would talk about the red line in Syria, for instance, and talk about how one of the worst reasons to bomb someone is to prove that you're willing to bomb someone.

And I felt as if he were addressing Henry Kissinger and Kissinger's role in Cambodia, using bombing to enhance American credibility at the negotiating table.

So, I found — it was a totally fascinating process for me, because I was moderating, non-chronologically, an argument between President Obama and the most important and most controversial foreign policy statesman of the modern era.  And so — and so there was that piece.

The other piece is that Obama, in some ways, resembles Henry Kissinger.  Kissinger recognizes this to some degree.  I think the President recognizes it to some degree.  Neither man particularly obsesses about human rights as a key issue in the way America organizes its relationship with other countries.

No comments: