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Henry A. Kissinger: “Avoiding a U.S.-China cold war”

About a week ago, Henry Kissinger wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post, entitled, “Avoiding a U.S.-China cold war“. He was concerned elites within the U.S. and China pulling for confrontation. Speaking of the Hu-Obama summit, he said, “both leaders also face an opinion among elites in their countries emphasizing conflict rather than cooperation.”

If you have watched the Russia Today segment (my recent prior post), the elites on the American side favoring conflict would in fact be the military industrial complex. Back in 1961, during his famous farewell speech, former U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower warned about the military industrial complex’s “potential disastrous rise of misplaced power”:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Remember, besides being president, Eisenhower was also a 5-star general in the U.S. Army. He knew what he was talking about.

Kissinger further warns us of the U.S.-China relationship:

Care must be taken lest both sides analyze themselves into self-fulfilling prophecies. The nature of globalization and the reach of modern technology oblige the United States and China to interact around the world. A Cold War between them would bring about an international choosing of sides, spreading disputes into internal politics of every region at a time when issues such as nuclear proliferation, the environment, energy and climate require a comprehensive global solution.

For this reason, I am personally against the Western media in how they narrate the relationship between the U.S. and China. It is the nature of capitalistic and “free” media to heighten conflict. It is also the nature of the military industrial complex to heighten tension. I sincerely hope there is some decency in both industries to heed what Kissinger is saying today and what Eisenhower said 50 years ago.

Kissinger went on to say:

Sino-U.S. relations need not take such a turn. On most contemporary issues, the two countries cooperate adequately; what the two countries lack is an overarching concept for their interaction. During the Cold War, a common adversary supplied the bond. Common concepts have not yet emerged from the multiplicity of new tasks facing a globalized world undergoing political, economic and technological upheaval.

That is not a simple matter. For it implies subordinating national aspirations to a vision of a global order.

Neither the United States nor China has experience in such a task. Each assumes its national values to be both unique and of a kind to which other peoples naturally aspire. Reconciling the two versions of exceptionalism is the deepest challenge of the Sino-American relationship.

The emphasis above is mine. Reconciling that exceptionalism Kissinger talks about should not be further complicated by mobs of citizens ready for war.

With 450million Chinese citizens online, the hostilities they see from the Western media will have an impact.

  1. Charles Liu
    January 25th, 2011 at 21:15 | #1

    Military-Industrial-MEDIA-Complex is probably more appropriate for today’s scenario.

  2. silentvoice
    January 26th, 2011 at 23:17 | #2

    It’s ironic because if we read Kissinger’s books, he’s totally a hardliner…the “neo-con” of the 60s and 70. Now, he’s being outdone by the younger generation and comes off as a dove.

  3. January 26th, 2011 at 23:32 | #3

    I think Kissinger was battling a Cold War back then. He wants to prevent another Cold War now.

  4. r v
    January 27th, 2011 at 17:07 | #4

    Kissinger’s mistake was the same mistake that every generation of Extreme Interventionists makes: Projecting irrational fear as reality.

    Looking back now, how could any rational human being think that USSR could have ever taken over the world to fulfill the prediction of the “Domino Theory”?

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