With the trump inauguration few days away, Henry Kissinger has been, once again, hitting the headlines across the globe. Few years ago Kissinger’s book ‘On China’ drew flak from western liberrati, and, he was labeled as delusional and compromised. Gordon G Chang, while reviewing Kissinger’s On China in World Affairs magazine, blasted Kissinger for being soft on China and titled his article, ‘Compromised: Henry Kissinger’s China Syndrome’.
Despite the persistent allegations by the liberal media in the West, Henry Kissinger has maintained his stance on a Concordant Policy on China, as it is the best option to keep it engaged positively and use it as a lever for global peace. On China is a detailed treatise by the seasoned nonagenarian and suggests the future contours of US-China relations. Kissinger is of the view that America faces no more important external challenge at either this moment or for the foreseeable future. He notes, “The relationship between China and the United States has become a central element in the quest for world peace and global well-being.”
US foreign policy is due for a makeover in 2017, the challenges confronting President Obama have not gone away, and rather there has been a worsening of overall global peace environment. Middle East has been fractured with old hot spots still simmering and new ones cropping up regularly, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have not stabilised; Eastern Europe remains on the throws of another crises with Ukraine and Baltic States coming under enhanced focus. Syrian War has resulted in badly affecting US position in Middle East, Russian initiative to include Iran and Turkey in the parlays on finding a lasting solution to Syrian crises, without US involvement, this indicates emergence of multi-polarity in international power play.
With Turkey slipping out, Philippines towing the Chinese line in the contested region of South China Sea, some ASEAN members like Malaysia cozying up towards China, and a resentful Pakistan (who was just reminded of her relations with the US through recent sanctions); the Trump administration may have to ponder on a million dollars question, why is US losing strategic allies at this pace, and, isn’t it time to review US foreign policy?
As described by Professor Robert Waters of University of Northern Ohio, Kissinger has come up with the idea of US-Russia-China Concordant; a triangular strategic arrangement that should maintain international order. Trump’s team formation and some of the pre-inauguration statements indicate mixed signals to China and Russia.
China was warned by Trump on many accounts of trade with the US and her policies related to taming North Korea; recently Trump has indicated to review the One China Policy and the future of Taiwan. As reported by The Hill, Trump broke with decades of US protocol after his presidential election win when he accepted a congratulatory call from President Tsai of Taiwan. It was the first conversation between a US president or president-elect with Taiwan’s leader since 1979, when the two countries severed diplomatic ties.
In the same breath Trump nominated Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, a longstanding advocate of good US-China relations, as his ambassador to Beijing. As reported by Sputnik International, Professor Robert Waters believes that Kissinger had been a strong advocate for Trump’s selection of Exxon Mobil President and CEO Rex Tillerson as the new US secretary of state. Tillerson has close personal relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has negotiated major energy deals with Moscow. Professor Waters goes on, “I suspect Kissinger is responsible for much of Trump’s lean toward Russia. Trump has reportedly met or talked with him several times since he won the nomination. Thus, Kissinger’s influence appears to be ongoing… He was reportedly a strong advocate for Tillerson as secretary of state,”
So, what do we make out of Kissinger’s Concordant, there could be interesting inferences:
If Trump follows the Kissinger’s trajectory, he may have to convince the Hawks in GOP as well CIA and Pentagon head honchos on efficacy and practicality of the new policy. With CIA already in doldrums over alleged Russian cyber assault on the credibility of US elections, Trump will have a hard time convincing the champions of Cold War.
What concessions can be offered to President Putin on the issue of Ukraine (considered as a Russian outback by Kremlin) and how far NATO has to pull back her nose from Eastern Europe, are some of the important questions needing answers.
The strategic dimensions of US policy of Asia pivot for containing China, especially of the Asia’s Democracy Security Diamond including India, Japan, Austraila and US, would remain a bone of contention in Kissinger trajectory. How far Kissinger would be able to convince the Trump administration to refrain from Cold War tactics?
The implications of the concordant on Afpak region could be long lasting and may become a harbinger of peace in West Asia and beyond. Does the Russian initiative to resolve the Afghan imbroglio through a tripartite mechanism including China, Russia and Pakistan fit in the schemes of this concordant? Trump has already indicated that he was not comfortable with Wars launched by his predecessors which have created more chaos than addressing the real issues of terrorism.
Iran could also figure out prominently in near future, she has been able to cement her strategic ties with China and Russia and it may become increasingly difficult for Donald Trump to follow his wish list on Iran; similarly the future of Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which has seen fault-line wars imploding at gigantic scale, may see some light at the end of the long tunnel.
With Trump focusing on internal dynamics of a divided American polity and addressing the issues related to immigration, economy and “Making America Great Again”, the Kissinger Concordant may be the silver lining in the sky. Let’s hope the nonagenarian sage on geopolitics, pushes the flamboyant Trump for a tryst with global peace.