Endgame in Ukraine: Thoughts on Kissinger’s Imbalance

Obviously, a protracted war is not a desirable outcome for Russia. However, he will not be able to stop the war if America drags him out. FILE PHOTO: AFP


Obviously, a protracted war is not a desirable outcome for Russia. However, he will not be able to stop the war if America drags him out. FILE PHOTO: AFP

Henry Kissinger is not a popular person in Bangladesh. As National Security Advisor to the US government, he opposed the creation of Bangladesh under President Nixon. He later called the country a “bottomless basket”. It was not the first instance where he offended a nation or made a controversial statement. He advocated a prolonged stalemate during the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988) to maintain American influence in the region. Nearly half a million people died. In 2012 he said: “In 10 years there will be no more Israel. His tacit support for the Chinese government’s crackdown to end the student protest in 1989 was not welcomed by democracy advocates. At 99, he remains controversial for his unbiased views.

Recently, he suggested that Ukraine should settle with Russia by giving up its territorial claims on Crimea and granting autonomy to the people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. On August 13, 2022, in an interview with RT, he said: “We are on the brink of war with Russia and China over problems that we have partly created, with no idea how this will end. or what it’s supposed to lead to. to.” Specifically, he was concerned about the current state of the power imbalance between China, Russia and the United States.

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If left unchecked, the current imbalance could lead to World War III. This has been observed by many people, including UN Secretary General António Guterres. On August 1, 2022, at a global meeting on nuclear weapons, he warned that the world was only “one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.” We must resolve this imbalance through peaceful negotiations.

Despite the controversy, Kissinger’s statement about the imbalance should be taken into account. He observes a similar imbalance in the 1970s and participates directly in establishing a new balance by ending the Vietnam War and opening the door to China. Over the years, this balance has broken down for many reasons: the breakup of the Soviet Union; rise of China and emerging nations; globalization; technological and computer revolution; social media; disparity in economic growth; demographic change; and the rise of nationalism.

Kissinger’s views on international relations reveal a doctrine-like pattern. It can be summarized in three Ps: power, purpose and pragmatism. Power dynamics are its heart. He plays the power card by accepting reality. During the peace negotiations in Vietnam, he retained America’s supremacy by sharing power. For him, a war with no “goal” or no end in sight is a meaningless enterprise. This is how he reasoned to end the Vietnam War. He also defends the realpolitik school of thought, which places the practical interests of nations above ideological positions. Reaching out to China was an example of his “pragmatism”.

Obviously, a protracted war is not a desirable outcome for Russia. However, he will not be able to stop the war if America drags him out. To linger in the stalemate to weaken Russia is an untested hypothesis. An uncompromising power game with increasing death and destruction is not justifiable. Inflation, unemployment, food shortages and starvation are not defensible. The world is paying heavily for a senseless war. This is neither pragmatic nor morally acceptable.

How to end this war? Literally, it depends on the “will” of the two superpowers: Russia and the United States. China is not directly involved in Ukraine. However, an American victory in Ukraine is not in its national interest. In the United States, China is perceived as the “rising superpower” – as described by Graham Allison’s term “Thucydides Trap”. Most of the nations of the world are helpless observers and have very little influence on the current war and its consequences.

World leaders should seriously consider ending this war and establishing a new balance. A negotiated outcome in Ukraine could advance a new world order encompassing changes in geopolitics, economy, culture, technology and security. We can achieve this through multilateral negotiations. The end result should a) recognize the power of hegemonies; (b) review the structure of the United Nations for reform; c) relaunch talks on nuclear disarmament; d) establish a multipolar world; and (e) provide lasting peace.

Hopefully we can come to an agreement soon. Otherwise, the world could fall into a different kind of equilibrium after a nuclear holocaust. This is certainly not what we want.

Dr Abu N M Waheeduzzaman is Professor of Marketing and International Business at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, USA.

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