WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- Henry Kissinger, a geopolitics colossus who turned 99 on May 27, said the U.S. is “infinitely” more divided today than at the time of the Vietnam War (1955-1975).
The former secretary of state to presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford, whose book, Leadership, is set to come out on July 5, offered his vision of the current state of U.S. internal politics, the Ukraine crisis and U.S. standoff with China in an interview for The Sunday Times.
He deplored the partisan antipathy that has surged in the US over the past several decades. The American National Election Studies surveys and polls have increasingly shown that Democrats and Republicans view members of the other party more as enemies than simply as political opponents.
According to Kissinger, in the early 1970s, there was “still a possibility of bipartisanship” in the U.S., before the “hostility” firmly took root.
“The national interest was a meaningful term, it was not in itself a subject of debate. That has ended. Every administration now faces the unremitting hostility of the opposition and in a way that is built on different premises … The unstated but very real debate in America right now is about whether the basic values of America have been valid,” underscored Kissinger, a Republican since the 1950s.
The “values” in question refer to the sacrosanct status of the American Constitution and the “primacy of individual liberty and equality before the law”.
In the interview, Kissinger deplored the current stance espoused by the “progressive left,” which, according to him, argues that “unless these basic values are overturned, and the principles of (their) execution altered, we have no moral right even to carry out our own domestic policy, much less our foreign policy”.
He warned that this is “not a common view yet, but it is sufficiently virulent to drive everything else in its direction and to prevent unifying policies … (It) is (a view held) by a large group of the intellectual community, probably dominating all universities and many media.”
Kissinger offered a dire warning of what such “unbridgeable divisions” are fraught with.
“Either the society collapses and is no longer capable of carrying out its missions under either leadership, or it transcends them …”
The veteran foreign policy scholar agreed that sometimes an “external shock” or an external enemy” was resorted to bridge this “divide”.
At this point, Kissinger broached the subject of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, where Russia launched its special military operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine on February 24 after the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) appealed for help in defending themselves against shelling from Ukrainian forces.
Kissinger had recently sparked controversy by his brief virtual speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos on May 23. Movement toward peace negotiations