March 5, 2014

Henry A. Kissinger was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977.

Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.

Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.

Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.

The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.

The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.

The Ukrainians are the decisive element. They live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition. The Western part was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939 , when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils. Crimea, 60 percent of whose population is Russian, became part of Ukraine only in 1954 , when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by birth, awarded it as part of the 300th-year celebration of a Russian agreement with the Cossacks. The west is largely Catholic; the east largely Russian Orthodox. The west speaks Ukrainian; the east speaks mostly Russian. Any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other — as has been the pattern — would lead eventually to civil war or break up. To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system.

Ukraine has been independent for only 23 years; it had previously been under some kind of foreign rule since the 14th century. Not surprisingly, its leaders have not learned the art of compromise, even less of historical perspective. The politics of post-independence Ukraine clearly demonstrates that the root of the problem lies in efforts by Ukrainian politicians to impose their will on recalcitrant parts of the country, first by one faction, then by the other. That is the essence of the conflict between Viktor Yanu­kovych and his principal political rival, Yulia Tymo­shenko. They represent the two wings of Ukraine and have not been willing to share power. A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.

Russia and the West, and least of all the various factions in Ukraine, have not acted on this principle. Each has made the situation worse. Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious. For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.

Putin should come to realize that, whatever his grievances, a policy of military impositions would produce another Cold War. For its part, the United States needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington. Putin is a serious strategist — on the premises of Russian history. Understanding U.S. values and psychology are not his strong suits. Nor has understanding Russian history and psychology been a strong point of U.S. policymakers.

Leaders of all sides should return to examining outcomes, not compete in posturing. Here is my notion of an outcome compatible with the values and security interests of all sides:

1. Ukraine should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations, including with Europe.

2. Ukraine should not join NATO, a position I took seven years ago, when it last came up.

3. Ukraine should be free to create any government compatible with the expressed will of its people. Wise Ukrainian leaders would then opt for a policy of reconciliation between the various parts of their country. Internationally, they should pursue a posture comparable to that of Finland. That nation leaves no doubt about its fierce independence and cooperates with the West in most fields but carefully avoids institutional hostility toward Russia.

4. It is incompatible with the rules of the existing world order for Russia to annex Crimea. But it should be possible to put Crimea’s relationship to Ukraine on a less fraught basis. To that end, Russia would recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea. Ukraine should reinforce Crimea’s autonomy in elections held in the presence of international observers. The process would include removing any ambiguities about the status of the Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol.

These are principles, not prescriptions. People familiar with the region will know that not all of them will be palatable to all parties. The test is not absolute satisfaction but balanced dissatisfaction. If some solution based on these or comparable elements is not achieved, the drift toward confrontation will accelerate. The time for that will come soon enough.


Χένρι Κίσινγκερ: Γέφυρα μεταξύ Ανατολής – Δύσης

Χένρι Κίσινγκερ: Γέφυρα μεταξύ Ανατολής – Δύσης

«Στη ζωή μου έχω δει τέσσερις πολέμους, που ξεκίνησαν με μεγάλο ενθουσιασμό και λαϊκή αποδοχή. Στη συνέχεια όμως δεν ξέραμε πώς να τους τελειώσουμε. Σε τρεις από αυτούς αποσυρθήκαμε μονομερώς. Η δοκιμασία για μία πολιτική είναι πώς τελειώνει, όχι πώς αρχίζει», επισημαίνει σε άρθρο του για την Ουκρανία στην εφημερίδα «Ουάσιγκτον Ποστ» ο πρώην ΥΠΕΞ των ΗΠΑ (1973-1977) Χένρι Κίσινγκερ. Κατά τη γνώμη του, υπερβολικά συχνά το ζήτημα της Ουκρανίας παρουσιάζεται σαν ένα δίλημμα· είτε η Ουκρανία συντάσσεται με την Ανατολή είτε με τη Δύση. Αν όμως η Ουκρανία πρόκειται να επιβιώσει και να ανθήσει, δεν πρέπει να αντιμετωπίζεται ως φυλάκιο της μιας πλευράς εναντίον της άλλης, αλλά ως μια γέφυρα μεταξύ τους. Η Ρωσία πρέπει να αποδεχθεί ότι η προσπάθεια να μετατρέψει την Ουκρανία σε δορυφόρο και να μετακινήσει εκ νέου τα σύνορα της Ρωσίας, θα καταδικάσει τη Μόσχα στη γνωστή ιστορία αυτοεκπληρούμενων κύκλων πιέσεων από την Ευρώπη και τις ΗΠΑ, επισημαίνει.

Η Δύση πρέπει να κατανοήσει ότι για τη Ρωσία η Ουκρανία δεν μπορεί να γίνει ξένη χώρα. Η ρωσική ιστορία ξεκίνησε στο Ρους και η ρωσική θρησκεία διαδόθηκε από εκεί. Η Ουκρανία αποτέλεσε κομμάτι της Ρωσίας για αιώνες και οι ιστορίες τους αλληλοσυμπληρώνονταν και πριν από αυτήν την περίοδο. Ορισμένες από τις σημαντικότερες μάχες της Ρωσίας για ελευθερία, ξεκινώντας από τη μάχη της Πολτάβα το 1709, δόθηκαν σε ουκρανικά εδάφη. Ο στόλος της Μαύρης Θάλασσας έχει έδρα τη Σεβαστούπολη της Κριμαίας. Ακόμη και διάσημοι αντιφρονούντες όπως ο Αλεξάντρ Σολζενίτσιν και ο Τζόζεφ Μπρόντσκι επέμεναν πως η Ουκρανία είναι αναπόσπαστο κομμάτι της ρωσικής ιστορίας και της ίδιας της Ρωσίας, θυμίζει ο Κίσινγκερ. Από την πλευρά της, η Ε.Ε. πρέπει να αναγνωρίσει ότι η γραφειοκρατική κωλυσιεργία και η υποταγή του στρατηγικού στοιχείου στην εσωτερική πολιτική σκηνή κατά τη διαπραγμάτευση της σχέσης της Ουκρανίας με την Ευρώπη είχε ως αποτέλεσμα η διαπραγμάτευση να διολισθήσει σε κρίση. Η εξωτερική πολιτική είναι η τέχνη να θέτεις προτεραιότητες, τονίζει ο πρώην Αμερικανός ΥΠΕΞ.

Ο Πούτιν πρέπει να συνειδητοποιήσει ότι μια πολιτική στρατιωτικών απειλών θα παραγάγει έναν νέο Ψυχρό Πόλεμο· και οι ΗΠΑ να σταματήσουν να αντιμετωπίζουν τη Ρωσία ως απόκληρο, στον οποίο θα πρέπει να μάθουν κανόνες συμπεριφοράς, που έχουν οριστεί από την Ουάσιγκτον. Κατά τη γνώμη του Κίσινγκερ, η αποδεκτή λύση από όλες τις πλευρές θα προέβλεπε:

1. Η Ουκρανία να έχει το δικαίωμα να επιλέξει ελεύθερα τις οικονομικές και πολιτικές της σχέσεις, συμπεριλαμβανομένων αυτών με την Ευρώπη. 2. Η Ουκρανία να μην ενταχθεί στο ΝΑΤΟ. 3. Η Ουκρανία να είναι ελεύθερη να συγκροτήσει μια κυβέρνηση συμβατή με τη βούληση του λαού της. Διεθνώς θα έπρεπε να διεκδικήσει μία θέση ανάλογη με αυτήν της Φινλανδίας, η οποία δεν αφήνει αμφιβολίες για την ανεξαρτησία της, συνεργάζεται με τη Δύση στα περισσότερα πεδία, αλλά αποφεύγει να έρχεται σε σύγκρουση με τη Ρωσία.
4. Δεν συνάδει με τους κανόνες της παγκόσμιας τάξης η προσάρτηση της Κριμαίας από τη Ρωσία. Ωστόσο, η Ουκρανία θα έπρεπε να ενισχύσει την αυτονομία της Κριμαίας, σε εκλογές που θα διεξαχθούν παρουσία διεθνών παρατηρητών. Η διαδικασία θα έπρεπε να διαλύει οποιαδήποτε αμφισημία για το καθεστώς του στόλου της Μαύρης Θάλασσας στη Σεβαστούπολη.

«Αυτά είναι αρχές, όχι συνταγές. Οσοι γνωρίζουν την περιοχή, θα ξέρουν ότι δεν είναι όλα αποδεκτά από όλα τα μέρη. Το τεστ δεν είναι η απόλυτη ικανοποίηση, αλλά η ισορροπημένη δυσαρέσκεια», καταλήγει το άρθρο του Κίσινγκερ στην «Ουάσιγκτον Ποστ».

‘We are now living in a totally new era’ — Henry Kissinger

This is the edited transcript of a discussion between Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state and national security adviser, and Edward Luce, Financial Times US national editor, which took place on May 7 in Washington.

Financial Times: Earlier this year, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Nixon visit to China, the Shanghai communique. You, of course, were the organiser, the orchestrator of this Sino-US agreement. And it was a major shift in the cold war: you split China from Russia. It feels like we’ve gone 180 degrees. And now Russia and China are back in a very tight relationship. My opening question to you is: are we in a new cold war with China?
Henry Kissinger: At the time we opened to China, Russia was the principal enemy — but our relations with China were about as bad as they could be. Our view in opening to China was that it was unwise, when you have two enemies, to treat them exactly alike. What produced the opening were tensions that developed autonomously between Russia and China. [Former Soviet Union head of state Leonid] Brezhnev could not conceive that China and the United States could get together. But Mao, despite all his ideological hostility, was ready to begin conversations. In principle, the [Sino-Russian] alliance is against vested interests, it’s now established. But it does not look to me as if it is an intrinsically permanent relationship.
FT: I take it that it would be in America’s geopolitical interest to encourage more distance between Russia and China. Is this wrong?
HK: The geopolitical situation globally will undergo significant changes after the Ukraine war is over. And it is not natural for China and Russia to have identical interests on all foreseeable problems. I don’t think we can generate possible disagreements but I think circumstances will. After the Ukraine war, Russia will have to reassess its relationship to Europe at a minimum and its general attitude towards NATO. I think it is unwise to take an adversarial position to two adversaries in a way that drives them together, and once we take aboard this principle in our relationships with Europe and in our internal discussions, I think history will provide opportunities in which we can apply the differential approach. That doesn’t mean that either of them will become intimate friends of the west, it only means that on specific issues as they arise we leave open the option of having a different approach. In the period ahead of us, we should not lump Russia and China together as an integral element.
FT: The Biden administration is framing its grand geopolitical challenge as being democracy versus autocracy. I’m picking up an implicit hint that it’s the wrong framing?
HK: We have to be conscious of the differences of ideology and of interpretation that exists. We should use this consciousness to apply it in our own analysis of the importance of issues as they arise, rather than make it the principal issue of confrontation unless we are prepared to make regime change the principal goal of our policy. I think given the evolution of technology, and the enormous destructiveness of weapons that now exist, [seeking regime change] may be imposed on us by the hostility of others, but we should avoid generating it with our own attitudes.
FT: You have probably more experience than any person alive of how to manage a stand-off between two nuclear-armed superpowers. But today’s nuclear language, which is coming thick and fast from [Russian president Vladimir] Putin, from people around him, where do you put that in terms of the threat we are facing today?
HK: We are now [faced with] with technologies where the rapidity of exchange, the subtlety of the inventions, can produce levels of catastrophe that were not even imaginable. And the strange aspect of the present situation is that the weapons are multiplying on both sides and their sophistication is increasing every year. But there’s almost no discussion internationally about what would happen if the weapons actually became used. My appeal in general, on whatever side you are, is to understand that we are now living in a totally new era, and we have gotten away with neglecting that aspect. But as technology spreads around the world, as it does inherently, diplomacy and war will need a different content and that will be a challenge.
FT: You’ve met Putin 20 to 25 times. The Russian military nuclear doctrine is they will respond with nuclear weapons if they feel that the regime is under existential threat. Where do you think Putin’s red line is in this situation?
HK: I have met Putin as a student of international affairs about once a year for a period of maybe 15 years for purely academic strategic discussions. I thought his basic convictions were a kind of mystic faith in Russian history . . . and that he felt offended, in that sense, not by anything we did particularly at first, but by this huge gap that opened up with Europe and the east. He was offended and threatened because Russia was threatened by the absorption of this whole area into Nato. This does not excuse and I would not have predicted an attack of the magnitude of taking over a recognised country. I think he miscalculated the situation he faced internationally and he obviously miscalculated Russia’s capabilities to sustain such a major enterprise — and when the time for settlement comes all need to take that into consideration, that we are not going back to the previous relationship but to a position for Russia that will be different because of this — and not because we demand it but because they produced it.
FT: Do you think Putin’s getting good information and if he isn’t what further miscalculations should we be preparing for?
HK: In all these crises, one has to try to understand what the inner red line is for the opposite number . . . The obvious question is how long will this escalation continue and how much scope is there for further escalation? Or has he reached the limit of his capability, and he has to decide at what point escalating the war will strain his society to a point that will limit its fitness to conduct international policy as a great power in the future. I have no judgment when he comes to that point. When that point is reached will he escalate by moving into a category of weapons that in 70 years of their existence have never been used? If that line is crossed, that will be an extraordinarily significant event. Because we have not gone through globally what the next dividing lines would be. One thing we could not do in my opinion is just accept it.
FT: You’ve met [Chinese president] Xi Jinping many times and his predecessors — you know China well. What lessons is China drawing from this?
HK: I would suspect that any Chinese leader now would be reflecting on how to avoid getting into the situation in which Putin got himself into, and how to be in a position where in any crisis that might arise, they would not have a major part of the world turned against them.



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