Monday, September 29, 2014

We Found a Book by a Thinking Republican

Henry Kissinger. World Order. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Press, 2014.

Kissinger observes that President Harry Truman was proud both of the U.S. victories as well as its conciliations that brought defeated nations back into the “community of nations.”

The U.S. favors nations that have liberal economic systems, do not seek to conquer others, respect other nation’s sovereignties, and have a participatory democratic system. Yet modern rules confuse this favoring system. There are non-Western countries that do not adhere by the expectations that the U.S. has although they indicate they are willing to move towards these goals. The 21st century challenges of weapons of mass destruction, global environmental concerns, genocide, and technological changes present new challenges. The vast changes in global communications present new ramifications.

There has never been a global “world order” The 17th century saw one fourth of Central Europe’s population die from war, starvation, or disease during the Thirty Years’ War.
The Westphalian peace sought to keep countries from attacking each other by creating a power equilibrium and agreement to respect other countries’ sovereignty.

Islam arose between Europe and Chia with a belief that Islam would spread through “realm of war”. The Ottoman Empire claimed to be the legitimate governance of Islam. It believe it should become world’’s one ermpire with Islam as the world’s one religion,

The United States began advocating for a world order that embraced peace through a balance and having democratic principles. The U.S. now struggles with using its power to update balances of powers and its principles. It does so recognizing the the concept of freedom cannot be spread through coercion.

As Kissinger notes, “Order without freedom, even if sustained by momentary exaltation, eventually creates its own counterpoise; yet freedom cannot be secured or sustained without a framework of order to keep the peace.” Order and freedom are interdependent.

China with its Emperors and Islam with its Caliphs have histories of fallen dynasties replaced by new dynasties seeking to repair the fallen ones. Europe has a history fo divided governments and never had a unified identity. Charlemagne sought to become an Emperor protecting Christianity.  Civil wars broke apart that dynasty within a century after Charlemagne’s passing.

Europeans sought to influence world affairs by saving souls as well as increasing their wealth from other countries. The Protestant Reform split Christianity in two.

The balance of power shifted as Britain emerged as a sea power France sought dominance as well. Napoleon sought to unify Europe. Russia appeared as a dominant power. Germany has a history of either being too weak and thus prone to invasion or too strong and thus it became an invader. The European concept of creating a world order guided by its nationality disappeared after World War II. There is a serious effort to bring Russia into this unity.

Islam and the Middle East present a disorder to European and American order. The rapid spread of Islam convinced its faithful that Islam could bring peaceful unity to the world, They could make peace with non-Islams, yet this should be done only to give Islam the strength to regroup for future incursions.

The Islamic Ottoman Empire did not accept the legitimacy of the European order, The Ottoman Empire was larger and militarily stronger. Thus the 1526 alliance between the Holy Roman Empire, whose Habsburg government feared France, and the Ottoman Empire was a strange one on religious grounds. Later Habsburg and France created an alliance with Shia Persia creating tensions with the Sunni Ottoman Empire.

Islam split into two factions. The Sunnis believe the Prophet Ali was the true trustee of the religion. The Shias believed the Sunni claimed authority. While there are today internal divisions between the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, the Shia Khomeini revolution and Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and Hamas, there are unified “in their commitment to dismantle the existing regional order and rebuild it as a divinely inspired region.”

Sayyid Quitb declared in his 1964 “Milestones” that all non-Isamic governments and societies are “illegal”. This created for his followers a purity in the Islamic concept of creating a world order that is Islamic.

The Arab Spring movement was mostly guided by a younger generation of Islamics. Democracy, an American value, was a stated goal. This created a conflict for some Americans who saw allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which are un-democratic, challenged by anti-American democratic reformers. Should the United States stick to its values of spreading democracy and liberal reforms or does it stick by its political allies? Kissinger advises “Western tradition requires support fro democratic institutions and free elections” yet warns that the one time use of democracy to elect a religious dominated military regime destroys the progress towards democracy. The U.S. needs to encourage  permanent democracy while considering the security risks to the U.S. this could entail.

In Syria, the U.S. sought, through the United Nations, a coalition government. The United Nations resisted responding. ISIL, a jihadist group considered too extreme by al-Qaeda, militarily gained much ground in Syria and in western Iraq.

Many Arabs for generations now believe that Irael illegally took Muslim land.

Saudi Arabia is targeted by al-Qaeda and Iran. This has created a country torn in its support for Islamic radicalism while maintaining Western ties. Saudi Arabia attempted to please radical Islamics abroad while opposing those within its own country. They nurture Wahhabist schools throughout the world to show their support for the growth of Islam with in turn creates more jihadists that threaten Saudi Arabia and its Western allies.

The Sunni states of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and to some degree Egypt and Turkey are in opposition to a Shia block of Iran, Bashar al-Assad’s part of Syria, Nuri al-Maliki’s parts of Iray, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Iran seeks to dominate the region. The Sunnis supports uprisings against Maliki in Iraq and Assad in Syria. Russia seeks to protect the Muslim part of its country against Syrian and Iraqi jihadists. The United States denounces the brutality of Assad yet recognizes that Assad’s opponents are al-Qaeda and ISIL.

Kissinger notes “it is tempting to let these upheavals run their course and concentrate on dealing with the successor states. But several of the potential successors have declared America and the Westphalian world order as principal enemies.”

Kissinger notes “revolutionary Islam has not, up to now, manifested itself as a quet for international cooperation as the West understands the term.” Kissinger does recommend the U.S. and the West be open to “fostering cooperative relations with Iran” in hopes the Iranian people seek “a genuine reconciliation.”

In 1905, Japan became the first modern Asian country to defeat a Western country in itw war with russia. Kissinger views that modern Japan understands security realities and that it will base its relations with the U.S. on how they view U.S. credibility towards it rather than depending upon U.S. assurances.

Chin had historically not acted, for centuries, to impose its political system onto other countries. It was upset when the West imposed its values on them. During the Cultural Revolution of Mao it had just four ambassadors worldwide. Mao began relaxing Chinese interventions with other countries in the 1960s. Kissinger notes the U.S. is allied with Japan and a partner with China.

At the end of World War II, the U.S. created 60% of the world’s Gross National Product. The U.S. was drawn to a draw in the Korean War. This destroyed the U.S. image of invincibility. China feared the U.S. was using Korea as a pretext to invade it.China lost some geopolitical ground as the war made U.S. committed to keeping China from gaining Taiwan.

The Internet create so much information that it is difficult to use it all, Kissinger notes. He fear that historical information that cold be useful in foreign relations is often never seen by decision makers.

The international order faces militias that do not consider sovereignties or borders, areas that are ungovernable or have failed governments, nations whose economic systems are at odds with their political systems which all creates strong challenges to all nations in a world that is more connected than ever before, according to Kissinger.


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