Henry Kissinger is out with an essay in the Wall Street Journal “on the Assembly of a New World Order” (HT Ed Steer). Some parts of it are rather difficult to understand or interpret (is it written in code that only the elite can decipher?). I will attempt to go through it line by line (probably not every single line) and see if, by the time I finish, I can make some sense of it.
Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan's young democracy is on the verge of paralysis.
Translated: Pretty much everything touched by the US government in the last ten years has turned into a disaster.
To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination.
Translated: Look, Nixon and I handed China to you on a silver platter; the Soviets crumbled just as Mises said they must (whoops, I let that slip – is it too late to take it back? I meant because Reagan spent the Soviets into bankruptcy). So, basically, pretty much everything touched by the US government in the last ten years has turned into a disaster.
The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis.
Translated: How could the US government screw-up all of the work we have done to consolidate global governance?
Hopefully, my emphasis on this point has properly conveyed that I consider this opening paragraph to offer an important admission by Henry.
The search for world order has long been defined almost exclusively by the concepts of Western societies. In the decades following World War II, the U.S.—strengthened in its economy and national confidence—began to take up the torch of international leadership and added a new dimension.
Translated: The US government was sitting in the cat-bird’s seat coming out of World War Two, virtually unscathed and in control of every meaningful global institution.
A nation founded explicitly on an idea of free and representative governance, the U.S. identified its own rise with the spread of liberty and democracy and credited these forces with an ability to achieve just and lasting peace.
It is interesting that he uses the term “governance” and not government. In any case, here Henry is spitting out the party line that the US spread its influence far and wide only for the benefit of bringing “free and representative governance” to the downtrodden (brown and yellow, usually) people of the world.
The traditional European approach to order had viewed peoples and states as inherently competitive; to constrain the effects of their clashing ambitions, it relied on a balance of power and a concert of enlightened statesmen.
Europe always played it strategically via balance-of-power politics. This, of course, left one side out of Anglo-elite influence. The American approach (not to mention the American military and economic power) broadened the reach of the elite.
The prevalent American view considered people inherently reasonable and inclined toward peaceful compromise and common sense; the spread of democracy was therefore the overarching goal for international order.
Translated: Democracy fooled the Americans into thinking they were free; we thought that it would fool all of those brown and yellow people, too.