Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Kissinger on the End of the End of History

In his first Global View column for the Wall Street Journal Walter Russell Mead offers the wisdom of Henry Kissinger. In particular, he quotes Kissinger’s view that those who believe that history ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall are seriously mistaken. Anyone who believes that liberal democracy triumphed in 1989 should reset his mental coordinates.

Without any commentary from me— because none is needed—I offer some excerpts from Mead’s column:

Unlike so many professors, policy makers and pundits on both the left and right, Mr. Kissinger does not believe the arc of history makes house calls. American values may one day prevail around the world, but no leader should base strategic calculations on a hope that Russia, China and Iran will turn into friendly liberal democracies in a relevant time frame. Nor would a wise policy maker assume that other powers share America’s interest in, for example, an end to the North Korean nuclear program—or any initiative aimed at making the international order more stable and secure.

And also:

Historical study and a lifetime of experience have taught Mr. Kissinger the folly of assuming that Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping or Ayatollah Khamenei thinks like American leaders do or wants the same things. Each of these men and their supporters are grounded in cultural and historical imperatives that do not always mesh with ideas about Adam Smith, liberal order and win-win negotiating.

Finally, the end of the end of history:

After the Soviet Union’s collapse, the United States and its Cold War allies sought to spread Western institutions around the world, but that effort has ground to a halt. Support for free trade, free movement of capital, free speech and free government is in retreat in many places, the U.S. not excepted. Geopolitical rivals are trying to roll back American power, and longtime allies like Turkey are moving away from the West. The end of history has ended, and the world is suddenly looking more Kissingerian.


James said...

There are those who trumpet the "end of history" and History just laughs.

patrick said...

History ends when humanity ends.

Jack Fisher said...

The communists said the same thing about history ending with the evolution of the communist state. The communists were sideswiped by liberal reforms in the 19th and early 20th century and the rise of trade unions that found more in common with capitalists than communists.

The West made the inexplicable mistake of believing that Western notions of liberty and self-rule and a government responsible to the voters would be immediately adopted in cultures that had no prior experience in these values.

Sam L. said...

History won't end until human stupidity ends it. And stupidity looks to be neverending.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...
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Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

It’s remarkable to me how people still don’t understand communism and its clear logical implications. It’s a theory that’s been transformed into holy (academic) writ.

Here at the truth on communism: It is a violent, revolutionary philosophy based on an imaginary zero-sum game — entrepreneurs win, workers lose.

That’s the whole #%$&ing thing. All of it.

Economics is mostly the study of how wealth is created. Marx was more interested in eventually becoming a full-time poet than in examining this question. His laziness infects our discourse today.

It’s pathetically stupid. Communism’s adherents base their beliefs on the “communism is nifty, communism is fun” chants, ignoring communism’s human means and logical results.

Communism = Mass Death

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that communist ideology appeals most strongly to those weak in the face of envy (which seems to tempt a fair number of young people.)

It also appeals strongly to those unable to produce a work product of value to other human beings. (often same demographic as above ).

Since life produces an ongoing supply of youth, communist ideology likely will extend (destructively) into our futures.

Andrea Daley Utronebel said...
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