The former US Secretary of State argues that the west is struggling to advance its causesby Bronwen Maddox / September 18, 2014 / Leave a comment
Published in October 2014 issue of Prospect Magazine
“I’m very concerned about how the Ukrainian situation is evolving because I think it has some of the attributes of the July 1914 situation,” says Henry Kissinger, staring out through the drizzle at the landscaped grounds of his Connecticut farmhouse home. “Everybody’s country is doing things that are perfectly reasonable within their framework, and [they] don’t find the strength or the vision to do what should be done.”
He adds: “I have urged since the beginning of the crisis a diplomatic effort based on the recognition that what is at stake is the future of international order.”
That is the theme of Kissinger’s latest book, called simply World Order. We have met to discuss it at his house high in the Connecticut hills, a place he describes as two and a half hours from New York City (where he goes a couple of times a week for work), but is easily four. A mile up an unpaved road, a large sign reads “Please Stop;” a security guard emerges from a house in a clearing to deliver the same message. The drive finally opens out onto a vision of parkland, a small lake on each side of a low, white clapboard farmhouse, surrounded by neatly converted farm buildings.
Kissinger, now 91, had heart surgery just three weeks earlier, although he seems unaffected by it. Smiling and burly, he has a quality priceless in world affairs that photographers recognise well; no matter where pictured, even in cable-knit sweater and slacks on his lawn, he always looks exactly like Henry Kissinger. The house is humming with preparations for his book launch and with extended family life; he has two children and five grandchildren, some of whom are about to visit (and Samantha Power, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, is due for lunch the next day, his staff say); their black labrador, Abigail, is running around.
For all the informal tone, and a wit and charm that is much commented on (and of which he is clearly aware), he approaches an interview with a conviction that the course of history can turn on individual words and a desire to control the stagecraft worthy of arms negotiations. There seemed at one point the risk of losing much of the 90-minute conversation in talks about talks.