World Order

World Order

Henry Kissenger has always been a household name in the US, if not the world at large. His role as the former Secretary of State of President Richard Nixon, subsequently, the National Security Advisor of President Gerald Ford, in the mid 1970s, both cemented his role as the icon of US foreign policy.

More importantly, Henry Kissenger, actually took the pains of planting some of his students and prodigies in and across the political system in US, allowing Henry Kissenger to have regular and constant access to all presidents since the days of President John F Kennedy.

Abroad, Henry Kissenger was closest to the late Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister of Singapore. Not surprisingly, when Henry Kisssenger wrote about the world order, or, even China, it often carries the heavy echo of Singapore. That the US is needed in the region; that some basic norms and rules of the international relations are required; that Asia's 21st century is looking increasingly like the 19th century of Europe; an era marked by the rise of nationalism, only to have the latter inter-mixed with liberalism too.

What makes Kissenger worth listening to, however, especially on topics like "World Order," is his understanding of the limitations at work. Kissenger knows that everything hinges on the balance of power between all great powers. If one of them should turn revisionist, the balance will begin to erode. However, balance of power is a concept that has some eight different definitions and connotations.

Having a balancer in the midst of balance of power is one; a bipolar system is also one shaped by balance of power, though, one maintained by the balance of terror through mutual assured destruction (MAD); and more important it is a balance of power shaped by some semblance of common identity and values too, without which the balance will not result in harmony; some balance of power also involves the use of veto in the UN Security Council; though such a balance of power is invariably one based on the politics of trying to frustrate the plans of one another in order to create a stalemate.

Indeed, Kissenger once asked if "international law" was real ? By that he meant, which super power would actually take the pains to comply to the letter and the spirit of the international law, not unless the legal templates first suit the super power's own interest first.

In "World Order," Henry Kissenger, laments the lack of 'any central principle in global international system'; what realists called it the anarchical international system. More importantly, the world has descended into a collection of more than 200 states after the end of the empires in the mid 1940s.

To the degree the US abjures the need to be an imperial power, which it does in no uncertain degree, only to be thrust back into the vortex of international relations time and again, as when Russia and China are both attempting to reassert their preponderance, the world order has often seen a grand contest of their respective political wills.

"World Order," is unique in one sense, though. Henry Kissenger believes that at the very least the key powers have to either agree to disagree, or, disagree agreeably, without which the nuclear ammunitions which they possess by the tens of thousands, can in a short period of time, obliterate the world. By this token, Henry Kissenger, in his late 80s, has become a realist-constructivist, not merely a structural realist, who believes in equal balancing between all powers, like the Congress of Vienna, that formed the basis of his Ph.D. thesis at Harvard university soon after he returned from World War II.