Henry A. Kissinger

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Henry A. Kissinger photographed in his office in Washington, D.C. on September 03, 2014. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state and national security adviser who died Wednesday, at age 100, wrote more than 200 op-eds for The Post over time. Here is a selection of his writing, on topics ranging from foreign policy issues to his love of soccer.

How the Ukraine crisis ends (2014)

Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Tesla robot in Shanghai, July 2023. Aly Song / Reuters

This year marks the 78th anniversary of the end of the deadliest war in history and the beginning of the longest period in modern times without great-power war. Because World War I had been followed just two decades later by World War II, the specter of World War III, fought with weapons that had become so destructive they could theoretically threaten all of humankind, hung over the decades of the Cold War that followed. When the United States’ atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki compelled Japan’s immediate unconditional surrender, no one thought it conceivable that the world would see a de facto moratorium on the use of nuclear weapons for the next seven decades.…  Seguir leyendo »

La humanidad nunca ha vivido bajo un orden mundial único y unificado. El orden, cuando se ha mantenido, se ha alcanzado solamente dentro de las fronteras de regiones delimitadas. En la actualidad, los distintos órdenes que gobiernan nuestro mundo colisionan entre sí con más frecuencia y efectos recrudecidos. Los Juegos Olímpicos ejemplifican las posibilidades positivas de la interconexión sin precedentes del mundo moderno. Bajo los auspicios de los Juegos, y a pesar de las diferencias culturales e históricas que definen sus diversos sistemas, las naciones del mundo aprovechan con gusto la oportunidad de confluir en un todo. En esa competición pacífica que son los Juegos Olímpicos, los logros de una nación espolean los esfuerzos de las demás y, de esta manera, las motivan a todas a alcanzar nuevas cotas de excelencia humana.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lee Kuan Yew was a great man. And he was a close personal friend, a fact that I consider one of the great blessings of my life. A world needing to distill order from incipient chaos will miss his leadership.

Lee emerged onto the international stage as the founding father of the state of Singapore, then a city of about 1 million. He developed into a world statesman who acted as a kind of conscience to leaders around the globe.

Fate initially seemed not to have provided him a canvas on which to achieve more than modest local success. In the first phase of decolonization, Singapore emerged as a part of Malaya.…  Seguir leyendo »

Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.

Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.…  Seguir leyendo »

Arik Sharon started as a warrior. He ended his career on the way to being a peacemaker. On that journey from fighting in every one of Israel’s wars to lying comatose for eight years in a Jerusalem hospital, he symbolized the anguish and dilemmas of Israel. A people who had come to their historic homeland had established themselves, surrounded by a culture that never acquiesced in ceding what it considered Islamic patrimony. Even before the proclamation of the Jewish state, Israel found itself in a state of war that has never ended. It has always lacked the essential prerequisite for peaceful coexistence with its neighbors: their recognition of its existence, which everywhere else is the precondition of diplomacy, not its outcome.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the aftermath of an exhausting reelection campaign, the most urgent decision facing the president is how to stop Iran from pursuing a military nuclear program. Presidents of both parties have long declared that “no option is off the table” in securing this goal. In the third presidential debate, the candidates agreed that this was a matter of the American national interest, even as they described the objective alternately as preventing an Iranian “nuclear weapon” or “breakout capacity” (President Obama), or a “nuclear-capable Iran” (Mitt Romney). As Iran continues to elaborate its enrichment capacity and move it underground, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a spring deadline for counteraction.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Arab Spring is often celebrated by reciting the roll call of overthrown autocrats. But revolutions, in the end, will be judged primarily by what they build, not what they destroy. And in this respect, a year of revolution has refashioned exhilaration into paradox.

The United States applauded the demonstrations in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. Blaming itself for too protracted an association with an undemocratic leader, it urged Hosni Mubarak to step down. But once he did so, the original exultant demonstrators have not turned out to be the heirs. Instead, Islamists with no record of democracy and a history of hostility to the West have been elected to a presidencythey had pledged not to seek.…  Seguir leyendo »

Se suele hablar de la Primavera Árabe desde el punto de vista de lo que supone para las perspectivas democráticas. Pero también es muy importante el hecho de que cada vez hay más llamamientos a la intervención exterior para contribuir a un cambio de régimen —el caso más reciente es Siria—, y ese es un fenómeno que trastoca las ideas más generalizadas sobre el orden internacional.

El concepto moderno del orden mundial nació en 1648 con el Tratado de Westfalia, que puso fin a la Guerra de los Treinta Años, un conflicto en el que unas dinastías rivales atravesaban fronteras políticas con sus ejércitos para imponer sus creencias religiosas respectivas.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Arab Spring is generally discussed in terms of the prospects for democracy. Equally significant is the increasing appeal — most recently in Syria — of outside intervention to bring about regime change, overturning prevalent notions of international order.

The modern concept of world order arose in 1648 from the Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War. In that conflict, competing dynasties sent armies across political borders to impose their conflicting religious norms. This 17th-century version of regime change killed perhaps a third of the population of Central Europe.

To prevent a repetition of this carnage, the Treaty of Westphalia separated international from domestic politics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace poco ha entrado en vigor un nuevo tratado START, que restablece el proceso de control del armamento nuclear. Unido a la reducción del gasto de defensa, hará que el número total de armas nucleares en Estados Unidos alcance su nivel más bajo desde los años cincuenta del siglo pasado. Se dice que el Gobierno de Obama está pensando en entablar negociaciones para realizar nuevas reducciones de armamento nuclear, con el fin de hacer descender los máximos hasta las 300 cabezas nucleares. Antes de que esta idea cobre impulso, nos sentimos obligados a subrayar nuestra convicción de que el objetivo de cualquier negociación futura debe ser la estabilidad estratégica y que la disminución del número de armas debe ser consecuencia de un análisis estratégico, no un empeño abstracto y preconcebido.…  Seguir leyendo »

A New START treaty reestablishing the process of nuclear arms control has recently taken effect. Combined with reductions in the U.S. defense budget, this will bring the number of nuclear weapons in the United States to the lowest overall level since the 1950s. The Obama administration is said to be considering negotiations for a new round of nuclear reductions to bring about ceilings as low as 300 warheads. Before momentum builds on that basis, we feel obliged to stress our conviction that the goal of future negotiations should be strategic stability and that lower numbers of weapons should be a consequence of strategic analysis, not an abstract preconceived determination.…  Seguir leyendo »

Uno de los aspectos más importantes de la primavera árabe es la redefinición de los principios que hasta ahora dominaban la política exterior estadounidense. Estados Unidos, al mismo tiempo que está retirando su ejército de Irak y Afganistán, unas campañas iniciadas por razones —controvertidas— de seguridad nacional, está empezando a tener una presencia en otros Estados de la región (aunque de forma incierta) en forma de intervenciones humanitarias. ¿La reconstrucción democrática va a sustituir a los intereses nacionales como estrella polar de la política norteamericana en Oriente Próximo? ¿Esa reconstrucción democrática es lo que representa verdaderamente la primavera árabe? ¿Con qué criterios?…  Seguir leyendo »

The American role in Afghanistan is drawing to a close in a manner paralleling the pattern of three other inconclusive wars since the Allied victory in World War II: a wide consensus in entering them, and growing disillusionment as the war drags on, shading into an intense national search for an exit strategy with the emphasis on exit rather than strategy.

We entered Afghanistan to punish the Taliban for harboring al-Qaeda, which, under Osama bin Laden’s leadership, had carried out the Sept. 11 attacks. After a rapid victory, U.S. forces remained to assist the construction of a post-Taliban state. But nation-building ran up against the irony that the Afghan nation comes into being primarily in opposition to occupying forces.…  Seguir leyendo »

The change sweeping the Arab world has brought to the forefront a controversy dating to the early days of our Republic. Should American military might be used for idealistic reasons or as an expression of a vital national interest? Or both? Having served four U.S. presidents during a variety of international crises, we view the choice between “idealism” and “realism” as a false one. Just as ideals must be applied in concrete circumstances, realism requires context for our nation’s values to be meaningful. To separate them risks building policy on sand.

Like most Americans, we believe that the United States should always support democracy and human rights politically, economically and diplomatically, just as we championed freedom for the captive peoples of the Soviet empire during the Cold War.…  Seguir leyendo »

The upcoming summit between the American and Chinese presidents is to take place while progress is being made in resolving many of the issues before them, and a positive communique is probable. Yet both leaders also face an opinion among elites in their countries emphasizing conflict rather than cooperation.

Most Chinese I encounter outside of government, and some in government, seem convinced that the United States seeks to contain China and to constrict its rise. American strategic thinkers are calling attention to China's increasing global economic reach and the growing capability of its military forces.

Care must be taken lest both sides analyze themselves into self-fulfilling prophecies.…  Seguir leyendo »

For someone who lost in the Holocaust many members of my immediate family and a large proportion of those with whom I grew up, it is hurtful to see an out-of-context remark being taken so contrary to its intentions and to my convictions, which were profoundly shaped by these events. References to gas chambers have no place in political discourse, and I am sorry I made that remark 37 years ago.

In his Dec. 21 column, ['Beyond Kissinger's realism'], Michael Gerson used comments I made during a one-minute conversation with Richard Nixon to draw a contrast between the moral insensitivity of the so-called foreign policy realists and the broader humanistic view of their critics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Republican presidents have long led the crucial fight to protect the United States against nuclear dangers. That is why Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush negotiated the SALT I, START I and START II agreements. It is why President George W. Bush negotiated the Moscow Treaty. All four recognized that reducing the number of nuclear arms in an open, verifiable manner would reduce the risk of nuclear catastrophe and increase the stability of America's relationship with the Soviet Union and, later, the Russian Federation. The world is safer today because of the decades-long effort to reduce its supply of nuclear weapons.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yo apoyé la decisión del presidente Obama de doblar el número de efectivos estadounidenses en Afganistán y sigo respaldando sus objetivos. La cuestión es si la ejecución de la política se basa en premisas que no reflejan las realidades afganas, al menos con el plazo que se ha fijado.

La premisa fundamental es que, en breve, Estados Unidos podrá delegar las responsabilidades de seguridad en un Gobierno afgano y un ejército nacional cuyo mandato se extiende por todo el país. Este traspaso debe empezar el verano próximo. Ni la premisa ni el plazo son realistas. Por un lado, Afganistán nunca ha sido pacificado por fuerzas extranjeras.…  Seguir leyendo »

In a 71-minute State of the Union address, President Obama managed no more than 101 perfunctory words about Iraq. Throughout its term, the administration has recoiled from discussing Iraq's geostrategic significance and especially America's relation to it.

Yet while Iraq is being exorcised from our debate, its reality is bound to obtrude on our consciousness. The U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq will not alter the geostrategic importance of the country even as it alters that context.

Mesopotamia has been the strategic focal point of the region for millennia. Its resources affect countries far away. The dividing line between the Shiite and the Sunni worlds runs through its center -- indeed, through its capital.…  Seguir leyendo »