His face was delicate but without depth, his conversation brilliant but without ultimate seriousness. Equally at home in the salon and in the Cabinet, he was the beau-ideal of [ an ] aristocracy which justified itself not by its truth but by its existence. And if he never came to terms with the new age it was not because he failed to understand its seriousness but because he disdained it. With these words, a Harvard thesis-writer named Henry Kissinger introduced Clemens Metternich, Austria's greatest foreign minister. Metternich was a man whom Kissinger emulated, whose diplomatic life he has sought to relive. And the comparison of the two is far from inapt.
Gunboat diplomacy - Wikipedia
W hen Henry Kissinger talks about world order, to some it might seem as if he is living in a previous century. The 17th, perhaps. States would not interfere in the internal affairs of other states, and order would, ideally, be maintained by clever statesmen who focused on national interests and curated a balance of power. Kissinger became an exemplar of the realist, as opposed to idealist, school of diplomacy, someone who believed that a foreign policy that is overly guided by moral impulses and crusading ideals was likely to be dangerous. The atom bomb, they contended, had fundamentally changed global affairs. One snidely suggested he should transfer to the history department.
It is a sweep of the history of international relations and the art of diplomacy that largely concentrates on the 20th century and the Western World. Kissinger also provides critiques of the counter realist diplomatic tactics of collective security , which was developed in the Charter of the League of Nations , and self-determination , which was also a principle of the League. Kissinger also examines the use of the sphere of influence arguments put forth by the Soviet Union in Eastern and Southern Europe after World War II , an argument that has been maintained by contemporary Russian foreign relations with regard to Ukraine , Georgia and other former Soviet satellites in Central Asia. The history begins in Europe in the 17th century but quickly advances up to the World Wars and then the Cold War.
In the late s, a full tilt toward realpolitik seemed highly unlikely. For most Americans, even those in government, the word still stuck in the gullet. For this reason, the new departure in U. It also became popularized, more than ever before, in the public sphere.