Kissinger on Europe

It is often said that generals fight the last previous war. Similarly, Kissinger has for years espoused a diplomacy which in its mode and goals is informed by "big power" brokering over spheres of influence which emerged from the Congress of Vienna, reached its zenith in Yalta, and debasement at Helsinki. The utter poverty of that modus vivendi is writ large in the millions of deaths, crushing colonialism and cult of technological destruction witnessed over the last two centuries.

It is, therefore, cause for hope that Kissinger now recognizes that our diplomacy should be directed toward a reversal of Yalta (a conclusion driven by stark reality) and, perhaps most essentially, not by means of superpower deal cutting. Certainly, Kissinger realizes that his neat bipolar world view fails to match the reality of rioting Georgians, free-unionized Polish farmers and West Germans reticent to modernize their battlefield nuclear weapons.

Despite this apparent change of heart, Kissinger clings evermore precariously to the Atlantic Alliance and the implicit leading role of the United States in it, all in service to the goal of isolating the Soviet Union and eliminating its influence over the lands to the west--"this new Europe must run from the Polish-Soviet frontier . . . not from the Urals." Thus, Kissinger foresees a "new Europe," presumably free of Soviet involvement, where the United States would remain a major if not leading player (as a counterweight to a united Germany, which appears to be Kissinger's worst nightmare). The Soviet Union would be left to fend for itself as its empire collapses from within and the world relegates the Russians to Third World status as a militarily muscle-bound, technologically deficient sick man. It beggars reason to believe the Soviet Union, despite its myriad troubles, will go quietly into that night.

There must and certainly will be a "new Europe," a powerful third force in the world economy along side North American and the Asian Pacific countries. One by one the Eastern European countries, beginning with Hungary, will be drawn into its community. American influence will be eclipsed by the absence of a perceived threat and the equalization of economic competition. Most crucially, the Soviet Union, a Russian and distinctly European country because that will be all that remains of its empire, must be a part of this community. Any effort to isolate the Russians from Europe is at once both unrealistic and provocative.

Accordingly, in the next score of years the United States should continue to guarantee security to its friends while it engages in a cooperative stewardship with its allies and the Soviet Union toward a new Europe measured from the Atlantic to the Urals. As this process moves forward, the United States should take the lead in enlisting this new community to join in a resolution of regional conflicts, beginning in the Middle East, defining collective security for the 21st Century and addressing global environmental concerns.


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