Kissinger’s Cold War strategy unsuitable today

By Su Tan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/29 22:43:40

In the wake of the summit between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on July 16 in Helsinki, the Daily Beast recently revealed that it is Henry Kissinger that advised Trump to work with Russia to contain a rising China, citing sources familiar with the issue. "It was a meeting that had to take place. I have advocated it for several years," Kissinger was quoted as saying.

According to the article, the former US secretary of state - who engineered the tactic of Washington reaching out to Beijing in the 1970s to isolate the Soviet Union - now pitched the inverse to Trump, suggesting closer US-Russia relations to "box in China's growing power and influence." And officials from the State Department, the Pentagon and the National Security Council proposed a similar strategy to Trump, the outlet said.

A legendary statesman, a practitioner of realpolitik and an advocate of the balance of power, Kissinger was ranked the most effective US Secretary of State in the past 50 years in a Foreign Policy magazine poll. He had an in-depth and accurate assessment of China and its importance over four decades ago. But his advice on current US-Russia relations indicates a resembling, or rather a continuation, of the Cold-War mentality that underscores the competition between powers.

Since dramatic changes have taken place in the international landscape, one will make mistakes if simply adopting the same logic. Above all, Kissinger's strategic thinking, molded during the lengthy Cold War, may not prove effective in dealing with China's rise. China has been firmly reforming itself and opening up to the outside for 40 years and will continue doing so. The country has got so deeply involved in the international economic and political system that it will not be encircled or isolated by anyone.

The trilateral relations of China, the US and Russia are no longer the geostrategic triangle of the 1970s. The high economic interdependence between China and the US and China's extensive links with other countries mean that pulling closer to Russia won't necessarily achieve the isolation of China. Neither will Russia be willing to be a counterweight to China for Trump. It's no longer a one-or-the-other relationship.

Moreover, given China's economic might and international influence, no country, including the US, can revamp the world order without China. It is instead possible that countries are contemplating a new world without the US as Trump has led his country in walking away from the rest of the world. This cannot be eased by cozying up to Russia.

There hasn't been a clear paradigm for what the new world order will be like. But despite all the twists and turns in recent years, the world is bound to see a multi-polar landscape and continued globalization, with higher interdependence.

In such circumstances, a Cold-War mindset is uncalled for and isolation won't work.

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