Kissinger's Wisdom . . . and Advice

An eminent realist reacts to a pre-eminent's vision for 21st-century geopolitics.

Issue: Fall 2001

Henry A. Kissinger, Does America Need A Foreign Policy?: Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), 318 pp., $30.

When Henry Kissinger asks Does America Need A Foreign Policy?, the question is obviously rhetorical. For a global superpower like the United States, the answer is certainly "yes." But Kissinger has a reason for choosing such a title for his newest book. He means to imply that the United States has not had a coherent and effective foreign policy since the Cold War ended, and that it needs one badly as it enters the 21st century. And it will surprise no one to discover that Kissinger thinks he knows what that foreign policy should be.

It behooves us to pay careful attention to Kissinger's views on foreign policy; few are better qualified to write on the subject. Not only was Kissinger, as both National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, the driving force behind U.S. foreign policy during one of the most tumultuous periods in American history (1969-1977), but he is also a deeply learned man who has written extensively and intelligently about international politics for nearly five decades. Indeed, never has there been a statesman with Henry Kissinger's credentials as a scholar, or a scholar with his credentials as a statesman.

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