The Coming Ordealrnby Srdja TrifkovicrnDoes America Need a Foreign Policy?rnhy Henry KissingerrnNew York: Simon & Schuster;rn352 pp., $30.00rnThis latest book b’ the former sccretan’rnof state illustrates the difficult}’rnof separating a piece of writing from itsrncreator (Alan Greenspan on macroeconomics,rnBill Gates on informahon technology’,rnSteven Spielberg on einematograpln).rnWould a similar, slim volumernattract national attention if came from anrnassistant professor at a Midwestern college?rnWould it be considered “important,”rna “tour de force,” even “profound” b’rnso uuin’ rc’iewers? Would it be deemedrnworth of a Chronicles reiew?rnThe answers are yes, no, and yes.rnThere are many books on foreign policyrnaround, few that recognize the forestrnrather than just a few individual trees.rnKissinger’s stature and debonair arrogancerncombining the roles of a one-manrnthink tank and a prophet are arresting,rnbut ccn published under a lesser name,rnDoes America Need a Foreign Policy?rnwould have been noticed for its boldnessrnand readabilitv’. Though Kissinger stepsrnwirii gusto on many liberal toes, the dominantrnhien-pensants are obliged to bernsmilingly polite to him, even when itrnhurts.rnThe reason this book deserves scrutinyrnfrom those of us who advocate a “realistic”rnforeign policy—one based on Americanrnnational interests, pragmatically definedrn— is its deeply dccephve nature. Inrndie opening chapter, Kissinger advancesrna set of guiding principles with which werncan ha’e little quarrel —and proceeds torniolatc them widi concrete policy recommendationsrn(most notably regardingrnmissile defense and NATO) that are fundamentallyrnirrahonal and manifestly determinedrnby his ideological prejudices.rnHis a priori assumptions arc apparent alsornin his failure to tackle die implications ofrndie ongoing niigrator’ deluge of the Westrnand of the looming demographic collajjscrnof F.uropean nations and their overseasrndescendants in the coming century’.rnMore remarkably still, he is either unavrnarc of or indifferent to the deep moralrnand spiritual crisis of the Western world.rnThe fact that a man of Kissinger’s staturernand influence docs not deign to considerrnthe possibility that we are at the edge of arncultural abyss is perhaps the most depressingrnfeature of the book.rnKissinger opens by observing that thernUnited States currently enjoys political,rnmilitary, economic, and cultural preeminencernunrivaled by even the greatest empiresrnof the past. Its behavior occasionallyrnevokes charges of American hegemony,rnvet its policies reflect either rehashedrnmaxims inherited from the Gold War orrndomestic ideological schisms. The leftrnsees America as the ultimate arbiter of domesticrnevolution all over the world. Inrntheir viev’, foreign policy amounts to anrnextension of U.S. social policy on a globalrnscale; for the right, the solution to thernworld’s ills is unabashed American hegemony.rnKissinger rejects both “an attitudernof missioiiar)’ rectitude on one side and arnsense that the accumulation of power isrnsclf-implemenhng on the other.” The realrnchallenge, he says, is to merge the traditionsrnof exceptionalism by which Americanrndemocracy has defined itself and therncircumstances in which they have to bernimplemented, taking into account thernstructural differences between four mainrninternational systems in the world today.rnThe first of those —F.uropc and thernWestern hemisphere —is America’s oyster.rnPeace based on democraey and economicrnprogress rules supreme. “Statesrnare democratic; economies are marketoriented;rnwars are ineoncciyable exceptrnat the peripher}’, where they may be triggeredrnby ethnic conflicts.” On the otherrnhand, the great powers of Asia —larger inrnsize and fiir more populous than the nationsrnof 19th-centur’ Furope—treat onernanother as strategic rivals. Wars invoKingrnIndia, China, Japan, Russia, Korea,rnor Indochina are not imminent, but theyrnare not inconceivable, cither. The conflictsrnin the Middle Fast, by contrast, arernakin to those of 17th-century Furope:rnTheir roots are neither economic norrnstrategic but ideological and religious.rnFinally, there is Africa, which, with itsrnchaotic ethnic conflict, povert}’, and disease,rnhas no precedent in F.uropean histor)’.rnDealing with this varict)’ of systems demandsrna subfletv’ Kissinger does not findrneither in congressional heavy-handcdnessrnor in the “ubiquitous and clamorousrnmedia that are transforming foreign policyrninto a subdivision of public entertainment.”rnHe attributes an additional reasonrnfor America’s difficidh’ in developingrna coherent strateg}’ to several Beltway attitudes.rnGold War aficionados favor hegemonyrnfor its own sake; Vietnam-erarnpeaceniks suffer from a Glintonesquernwooly-hcadedness that precludes coherentrnthinking; and yuppie technocrats believerntiiat a national foreign-policy strateg’rnis not recjuired, since we can count onrnthe pursuit of economic self-interest andrnglobalization to produce global peacernand democracy. So long as the post-GoldrnWar generation of nahonal leaders is embarrassedrnto elaborate an unapologeticrnconcept of enlightened national interest,rnKissinger warns, it will achieve not moralrnelevation but a progrcssi’e paralysis:rnGertainly, to be truly American,rnany concept of nahonal interestrnmust flow from the country’s democraticrntradihon and concernrnwith the vital ih’ of democracyrnaround the world. But the UnitedrnStates must also translate its valuesrninto answers to some hard questions:rnWhat, for our survival, mustrnwe seek to prevent no matter howrnpainful the means? Wliat, to berntrue to ourselves, must we tr’ to accomplishrnno matter how small thernattainable international consensus,rnand, if nccessarv’, enhrely on ourrnown? What wrongs is it essentialrnthat we right? What goals are simplyrnbeyond our capacitv’?rnIn the tension behveen globalist-missionaryrnimpidses (the legacy of WoodrowrnWilson) and hardheaded realism (“Jaeksonianism”),rnKissinger clearly bends towardrnthe second. Wars or intcr’entions,rneither to stop “atrocities” or to spreadrnyVmerican values, should be avoided; arnrealistic attachment to the national interestrn—flic art of the diplomaheally possiblern—has greater potential to realizernmoral purposes. Kissinger illustrates hisrnpoint with the example of the Balkans. InrnKosovo, flic Clinton administration hadrnaggravated a bad situation in the name ofrn”moralit)'” and helped the Albanians’ irredentistrnobjectives, which extend beyondrnSerbia. In Bosnia, the “moral” position—rnthe one tiiat would have minimized sufferingrn—would have allowed ethnic partition,rnrather tiian force three communitiesrnto remain in a quasi-multiethnie polity’rnthat had no precedent in historv and nornconnection to any fundamental Americanrninterests.rnSo far, so good. The problems emergernDECEMBER 2001/29rnrnrn