Александр Пересвет (a_pereswet) wrote,
Александр Пересвет

Сильное интервью Киссинджера - практически политическая программа

World Chaos and World Order: Conver World Chaos and World Order: Conversations With Henry Kissinger

The former secretary of state reflects on war, peace, and the biggest tests facing the next president.

of state reflects on war, peace, and the biggest tests facing the next president.

Конец формы

What follows is an extended transcript of several conversations on foreign policy I had with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which formed the basis of a story in the December issue of The Atlantic. That story, along with an interview on Kissinger’s reaction to the surprise electoral victory of Donald Trump, can be found here. The transcript below has been condensed and edited for clarity.


Goldberg: Can we reset relations with Russia?

Kissinger: “Reset” is not the appropriate word. I prefer “adaptation to the new circumstances of a world in upheaval.” The issue is whether both countries are able to achieve their minimum security objectives and cooperate towards stability in regions within their reach? It is a formidable, but necessary, enterprise.

“To understand Putin, one must read Dostoyevsky, not Mein Kampf. He knows that Russia is far weaker than it once was.”

Goldberg: So why didn’t the reset go well?

Kissinger: Dmitri Medvedev was president during the beginning of the reset, with Putin acting as prime minister in a bow to a Russian constitutional requirement limiting presidents to two consecutive terms. (After an interval of one term, they can stand for reelection.) The White House, in that interval, carefully limited contact with Putin. Some in the administration seemed to hope that Medvedev would dismiss Putin as prime minister—the Russian Constitution permits that—and that the evolution of Russia would be towards a democratic, Western-oriented kind of aspiring NATO member. It was part of the argument in your interview, that history is moving in America’s direction and that Putin will eventually realize it.

When Putin resumed the presidency in 2012, the reset inevitably faltered. To understand Putin, one must read Dostoyevsky, not Mein Kampf. He knows that Russia is far weaker than it once was—indeed far weaker than the United States. He is the head of a state that for centuries defined itself by its imperial greatness, but then lost 300 years of imperial history upon the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia is strategically threatened on each of its borders: by a demographic nightmare on its Chinese border; by an ideological nightmare in the form of radical Islam along its equally long southern border; and to the West, by Europe, which Moscow considers an historic challenge. Russia seeks recognition as a great power, as an equal, and not as a supplicant in an American-designed system.

{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}President Vladimir Putin speaks with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, left, at the Kremlin in 2007. (Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP)

The notion that Russia is organically a kind of NATO state ignores the experience of history. America was built by people with the faith and courage to explore new lands. Russia was built by an elite who transported serfs to distant fields and by Tsars who proclaimed, “This swamp land will be the city of Odessa or the city of St. Petersburg.” They are sustained in part by a sort of mystic relationship with their hardships and their vision. They had survived centuries under the Mongols. Charles XII of Sweden marched into Russia because he thought it would be easy to impose a Swedish ruler in Moscow. What he found were Russian peasants burning their own crops in order to deny food to the invaders. They would starve themselves before they would let him take over their country. He had marched across Europe, but he had never seen this before. His troops were forced to go south into Ukraine just to survive, where they were ultimately defeated.

Geopolitically, Putin governs a country with 11 time zones. Few countries in history have started more wars or caused more turmoil than Russia in its eternal quest for security and status. It is also true, however, that at critical junctures Russia has saved the world’s equilibrium from forces that sought to overwhelm it: from the Mongols in the 16th century, from Sweden in the 18th century, from Napoleon in the 19th century, and from Hitler in the 20th century. In the contemporary period, Russia will be important in overcoming radical Islam, partly because it is home to some 20 million Muslims, particularly in the Caucasus and along Russia’s southern border. Russia will also be a factor in the equilibrium of Asia.

I say all of this to underscore that it is not possible to bring Russia into the international system by conversion. It requires deal-making, but also understanding. It is a unique and complicated society. Russia must be dealt with by closing its military options but in a way that affords it dignity in terms of its own history. By the same token, Russia must learn a lesson it has so far refused to consider: that the insistence on equivalence goes both ways and that it cannot gain respect by making unilateral demands or demonstrations of power.

Goldberg: How can the next president get out of this mess?

Kissinger: There are at least two schools of thought. One says that Russia has violated international law by annexing Crimea, so it must be taught again the lessons of the Cold War. We must make them restore normal relations with Ukraine by sanctions and isolation, and if they collapse in that process, that’s the price they have to pay and, in a way, an opportunity for world order to reestablish itself. That’s the school of thought held by the left-wing Democrats and neoconservative Republicans. Mine is the minority school of thought: Russia is a vast country undergoing a great domestic trauma of defining what it is. Military transgressions need to be resisted. But Russia needs a sense that it remains significant. We will probably win a new Cold War; but statesmen must comprehend the limits of their definition of interest. A post-Tito-type Yugoslavia wracked by conflict stretching from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok—from Europe across the Middle East to Asia—is not in America’s interest. Russia should not be regarded as an incipient NATO country; such a goal would simply move to the Manchurian border the crises we now face on the Ukrainian one. The goal should be to find a diplomacy to integrate Russia into a world order which leaves scope for cooperation.

Ukraine has in effect become symbolic of the crisis but also of the way to overcome it. We must be determined to defeat any further attempt at a military solution. But we need also to operate from an appropriate definition of security that relates strategy to diplomacy. To fix NATO’s security border on the eastern side of Ukraine places it 300 miles from Moscow—to the Kremlin, a dramatic upheaval of the border’s Cold War position along the Elbe River 1,000 miles west.

At the same time, a Russian security border along the western side of Ukraine fixes it along the perimeters of Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary, countries whose not-so-distant memories of Russian occupation will not abide such placement. Ukraine should be conceived of as a bridge between NATO and Russia rather than an outpost of either side. Russia can contribute to this by forgoing its aspiration to make Ukraine a satellite; the United States and Europe must relinquish their quest to turn Ukraine into an extension of the Western security system. The result would be a Ukraine whose role in the international system resembles that of Austria or Finland, free to conduct its own economic and political relationships, including with both Europe and Russia, but not party to any military or security alliance. Advocates of NATO expansion say that Russia should not be concerned, that NATO has no intention of attacking Moscow. Historical experience obliges Russian leaders to assess the capabilities of their neighbors. To negotiate what I just described would be exceedingly difficult. And it could not be achieved by walking into the Kremlin and declaring, “Here is our plan.” Like all dealings with Moscow, it would require an understanding of the Russian spirit and an appreciation of Russian history, as well as sufficient military power to squelch any temptations.

“Ukraine should be conceived of as a bridge between NATO and Russia rather than an outpost of either side.”

Goldberg: Did we lose credibility with the Russians in Syria?

Kissinger: In the beginning of his presidency in 2001, Putin sought America as a potential strategic partner, primarily against Islamic extremism. But starting with American support for the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, Putin has gradually convinced himself that the U.S. is structurally adversarial. By “structural,” I mean that he may very well believe that America defines its basic interest as weakening Russia, transforming us from a potential ally to another foreign country that he balances with China and others. Even this does not preclude the possibility of better U.S.-Russia relations, but Putin’s motivations for cooperation in the present period will be narrower than they were when he spoke of “strategic partnership” in 2001. The challenge will be whether clashing national interests of the moment can be reevaluated in terms of a larger design.

Goldberg: Would you cede Russia Ukraine in order to get their maximum cooperation in the management of the Middle East?

Kissinger: No. I favor an independent Ukraine that is militarily non-aligned. If you remove the two Donbas regions from eastern Ukraine, you guarantee that Ukraine is permanently hostile to Russia, since it becomes dominated by its Western part, which only joined Russia in the 1940s. The solution, then, is to find a way to give these units a degree of autonomy that gives them a voice in military entanglements, but otherwise keeps them under the governance of Ukraine.

Goldberg: I don’t see you and Obama being very different on the question of Ukraine.

Kissinger: Not on the objective of preserving an independent Ukraine. Technically, his goal is to compel Russia towards his goal. Mine would be to try to make Russia a partner in a solution.

The Changing Middle East

Goldberg: What would you have U.S. Middle East policy be?

Kissinger: The much-debated red line issue was a tactical aberration. The more profound problem was the absence of a strategic concept. The nature of the conflict between the various groups needs to be recognized. Syria contains Shia and Sunni Muslims, Kurds, Druzes, and Christians. Each is cultivating its own goals and obsessions to the exclusion of the others. The mélange of conflicts within Syria is stirred by outside forces. The millennia-old conflict between Shia and Sunnis provides one kind of grouping for the various sects, but it is not solely responsible for all the battle lines. The Alawites, a form of Shia, are mortal enemies of ISIS, an exponent of Sunni radicalism. But they are also hostile to a democratic outcome.

This explosive mix is further stressed by the intervention of outside powers. Russia’s motivation is threefold: first, to attempt to reverse the result of the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, which expelled Russian strategic influence from the region; two, to preserve their naval base in Latakia; three and above all, to check the growth of non-state terrorist groups that could reach into Russia, especially in the Caucasus, if the Assad regime collapsed in a vacuum. Iran supported Assad in pursuit of Shia solidarity but also because of the vision of the reincarnation of the ancient Persian Empire, which reached from the border of China deep into the Middle East.

The American position has been that, out of these many conflicts, we can distill a coalition government to administer a unified Syria. Yet for Syria’s many ethnic and religious groups, a national election is zero-sum. Only one group can win. For the defeated, the outcome could herald genocide.

Therefore the best way to combine democratic methods and a Syrian state is “cantonization,” or division, of the country into regions that correspond to its component minority groups. The intra-canton elections would reflect the concerns of the groups in each of the various regions. From this, one could move in two directions: 1) A federal constitutional structure for a Syrian state through which a national election with guarantees for minorities could be constructed over time. 2) An off-ramp for Assad, who cannot endure as the leader of unified Syria but could perhaps be given 10 or 12 months to transition first into the Alawite portion of the country, and then out of Syria altogether. In this effort, Russia would likely participate. A workable outcome would be an internal settlement supervised by the now competing outside powers. This, in essence, is what I think Secretary Kerry is trying to achieve.

“ISIS must be defeated, but how and by whom—Sunni or Shia, radical or moderate—is in many ways the issue on which the future of the region will hinge.”

The military campaign against ISIS exhibits the underlying dilemma. It avoids the essential issue of who will govern the territory ISIS presently occupies if the campaign succeeds—and it overlooks that, since the victor is in a position to structure the political evolution, the nature of the forces used will be decisive. In the name of the sovereignty of Iraq, we train the Iraqi army. But since the Iraqi army is largely Shia in composition and the Baghdad government is largely controlled by Tehran, any ISIS area that this Shia army recaptures will in effect contribute to a Shia-dominated belt from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut. This would be a major step towards the Iranian empire that the Sunni world, and especially Saudi Arabia, is determined to prevent. Hence our military goals are not compatible with our long-term strategic objectives. ISIS must be defeated, but how and by whom—Sunni or Shia, radical or moderate—is in many ways the issue on which the future of the region will hinge. It is in America’s interest that a Sunni military defeat ISIS, that a Sunni military balance against Shia domination of the region, specifically that Anbar Province in Iraq be controlled by Sunni forces. But can we identify such a force or sustain it?  That will be a test for the next phase.

Goldberg: Obama has said that our Sunni allies have to find a way to “share” the Middle East with Iran.

Regional stability with Iran is analogous to the challenge posed by the Soviet Union after the Second World War, to which we responded with the Kennan containment policy. Iran operates on two levels: as a state entitled to the rights and protections of the international system, and as a non-state entity inspiring jihadist groups around the Middle East in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen. The prerequisite to a political settlement is an end to Iran’s non-state activities. We will never convince the Saudis of sharing the Middle East with Iran so long as the Iranians possess 150,000 rockets in Lebanon and control a large Hezbollah force in Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria. Iran has to be brought to recognize national borders and to abandon its bid for hegemony. When they do, there can be a relatively stable Middle East. But first Iran has to decide whether it is a country or a cause.

The administration seems to think that it can negotiate this gap between the parties, especially the hostility and distrust between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as a psychological enterprise. But the effort has so far created the impression—and the reality—of an American strategic withdrawal from the region. The rise of Iran geographically and American acquiescence to its nuclear threshold status have accelerated the emergence of two blocs: a group based approximately on Westphalian principles of statehood, and groups rejecting the notion of statehood and asserting the vision of caliphate and empire. Iran is active in both. Two-power worlds are inherently precarious and require a balancer. If the United States does not play at least part of that role, others will emerge, and there will be growing instability.

Goldberg: Well, what can an American president do to convince them that they won’t get away with hegemony over the entire Middle East?

“Iran has to decide whether it is a country or a cause.”

Kissinger: First, (s)he has to convince the Iranian leadership that our relationship is strategic, not psychiatric, in nature. Diplomatic relations are not an exercise in goodwill or expiating past sins but rather a way to balance interests. The United States has to say to its counterparts, especially in Iran, something like this: “Improved relations with the United States are incompatible with proxypractically terroristinstitutions in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and now Yemen. You are a significant country; we are willing to deal with you now. But we will judge your actions, not your words.” In due course, the Iranians may change their priorities, but they are far more likely to do so in response to our actions and strategy than to our maxims.

The Saudis are convinced that the United States would, in the end, acquiesce to Iranian domination of the region, or at least that the president would expend no huge military effort to save his allies. As long as they believe this, we cannot have the necessary influence on their strategy. Historic friendship gives us a certain entrée, but no responsible leader would say, “Just because I like this country, I will do things that I don’t really believe are in my interest.”

Goldberg: Do you think the Iran deal is working as a broad concept?

Kissinger: My approach to foreign policy has always been to try to link legitimacy and power. The crisis produced by Iran was the linkage of Iran’s nuclear capability with its imperial and jihadist foreign policy. As a result, by the time the agreement was signed, Iran enjoyed proxy influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. The lifting of sanctions should have depended on more than limiting reactors and centrifuges temporarily; it should have also depended on certain political constraints, particularly on Iran’s support of non-state groups like Hezbollah. I think we should pursue the principle of standing firm against both Iran’s nuclear program and the combination of imperialism and jihadism with which it is attempting to control the Middle East. The assumption that a weapons-specific negotiation would produce a psychological breakthrough in their thinking did not reflect Iran’s 2,000 years of imperial experience.

{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}Henry Kissinger with the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi in 1975 (Dieter Endlicher / AP)

Goldberg: Would you rip up the Iran agreement?

Kissinger: No. For better or worse, it is the one structure that now exists to which everyone has made the adjustments they have needed to make. What would ripping up the agreement achieve? Our most significant concession—lifting sanctions—has already been made. To abandon the agreement now would free Iran from more constraints than it would free the United States. But the agreement has created a two-power world in the Middle East. To balance a two-power world is inherently difficult, particularly when the United States appears to be withdrawing from the region. Down the road, we will have to come to some understanding with Iran, but before we can do that, we face a challenge similar to the one posed by the Soviet Union in 1945: We must contain Iran within its national borders. We must incentivize it to act as a state rather than a cause. We cannot be indifferent to the power vacuum that has created opportunities for them. There must be a phase of containment of Iran, and at the same time, suppression of the caliphate of the Sunnis. And if Iran accepts acting as a country instead of a cause, then cooperation will be possible and should at that point be steady and sustained. Russia must be built into this diplomacy.

Goldberg: What is the right way to make peace between the Israelis and the Arabs?

Kissinger: The conflict in and around Syria has complicated the prospect of a two-state solution. How could another small state survive in a region in which Syria and Iraq have collapsed and cannot govern themselves, let alone safeguard regional security? How can it be done when Jordan is under pressure from every side and in every direction? And how could a negotiation between a single Palestinian group and Israel guarantee general peace? If you call a peace agreement “final,” you create all kinds of problems, one of which is its designation as “final.”

If a so-called final agreement were negotiated with Israel—and Netanyahu pressured to accept it—as conventional wisdom urges, which Arab state could afford to defend it? Would the King of Saudi Arabia rejoice at the prospect of being able to say, “We’ve ceded this Arab territory forever?” From which Arab quarter do you hear demands for an overall settlement?         

Netanyahu would be well-advised to establish unilaterally a government on the West Bank and clothe it with the attributes of maximum Palestinian sovereignty. The Israelis should make their presence less obtrusive. But issues like Jerusalem and the symbolic return of refugees should be part of a separate negotiation. I expect Obama will put forward a comprehensive plan before he leaves office.

Goldberg: Which the Israeli government might not listen to.

Kissinger: They never have a majority of more than two or three in parliament, and the survival of any government is always precarious. They have to go through a searing process of proving that they got the last drop of blood out of the stone. I learned these lessons negotiating with Golda Meir.

Goldberg: She was tough?

Kissinger: Oh, my God!  And she made you defenseless because she looked like everyone’s favorite grandmother. When she went on television, you couldn’t win.

Goldberg: Do you think the two-state paradigm is relevant?

Kissinger: The creation of a Palestinian state is at the core of the so-called two-state solution. It is designed to end the threat of a permanent guerrilla war in the part of Palestine occupied by Israel. It assumes a “final” negotiated outcome between Israel and Palestinian leaders to be supported by the UN Security Council and the Middle Eastern states. I agree with the concept, but it has up to now encountered insuperable obstacles. The subject is inherently difficult. The borders have been essentially delineated, but the remaining issues—such as the return of refugees; the disposition of some settlements; the status of Jerusalem—go to the core of each side’s conviction and thus inhibit flexibility.

Israel’s long-term strategic problem is that all the countries around them will sooner or later become technologically adept enough to threaten their survival. Hence, the Israelis negotiate so fiercely to prove to themselves that they have taken account of their premonitions. The Arab side is ambivalent about the very term “final” agreement.

After a final peace agreement, radical Arabs are certain to accuse the Arab signatories of betraying the cause of defending Arab territory. That is the inherent weakness of an agreement sponsored by outside powers. But I’ve had another thought. Is it conceivable that Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, now cooperating against ISIS, extend this cooperation into new efforts?  Could they come to an agreement to improve the lives of Palestinians to the greatest extent possible, perhaps including quasi-sovereignty, as their own initiative? It would not be a final agreement, but it would remove obstacles to movement and other measures to improve the lives of Palestinians—that is, de facto autonomy without a legalistic superstructure. I don’t think it’s impossible that they could be persuaded to do this. The times seem propitious for such an initiative. Look at the disengagement agreement that was negotiated in Syria in 1974 that is still in force. They continue to observe those lines. They never cross the border.

“Netanyahu would be well-advised to establish unilaterally a government on the West Bank and clothe it with the attributes of maximum Palestinian sovereignty.”

Goldberg: I was just up there, at Quneitra—

Kissinger: At one point—when I was conducting negotiations 40 years ago—I knew more about Quneitra than any living person. The Israelis have developed a way to make deterrence work without verbal threats. They have managed to come up with reactions of a magnitude that discourage hostile initiatives.


Tags: Очерки текущей войны, Политическая диалектика, Политическая философия, Украинская война
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