Kissinger Skeptical Of The BRICs


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Former Secretary of State and Grand Strategist Par Excellence Henry Kissinger gave an interview to the Christian Science Monitor‘s Nathan Gardels earlier this week in which he provided a mostly positive assessment of President Obama’s foreign policy thus far.
The part of the interview I found most significant was his analysis of the burgeoning political ties among Brazil, Russia, India, and China (known as the BRIC countries), a group which has generated a great deal of interest in recent years as a possible counterweight to American power and American-dominated international institutions.
This article from The Economist, for example, provides a good primer on the bloc’s strengths and weaknesses.
Here are Kissinger’s comments, which I interpret to constitute a dismissal of the BRICs strategic relevance:

Gardels: For the second year in a row, Brazil, Russia, India, and China – the so-called “BRIC” countries – have held a summit of their heads of state to coordinate diplomatic and economic strategies on a global scale. It is almost as if the BRIC leaders see themselves as a “new nonaligned movement” of countries like we saw in the cold war. How do you view the BRIC initiatives? What role will they play globally?
Kissinger: We’ve been through this with the nonaligned movement. The question is whether the BRICs can align their policies into a coherent bloc. China and Russia, and, for that matter Brazil, are not candidates for a group that excludes the United States, much less to confront it. They are different from the nonaligned movement of the 1970s and 1980s because they are not really developing countries anymore.
Also, the nonaligned movement was attempting to place itself between the US and the Soviet Union. Between whom and whom are the BRICs situating themselves?
Gardels: They are defining themselves against the United States and the multilateral institutions it dominates, such as the IMF [International Monetary Fund].
Kissinger: This is true more in rhetoric than practice. The BRICs will attempt to be a player on global economic questions. But I would be surprised if they could achieve a coherent political position on the international scene. In any event, the most hopeful prospect is cooperation between the BRIC states and America, not confrontation.

The full interview can be read here.
— Ben Katcher


8 comments on “Kissinger Skeptical Of The BRICs

  1. JohnH says:

    What’s Kissinger’s agenda? Why deny the obvious. The BRICs are already thwarting US ambitions in Iran.


  2. chumanist says:

    One may hardly accept the Kissingerian thesis of BRICs. Is it not true that the today’s world of emerging neo-transregional politics does reserve the force of some tacit-effects in changing scenario of tomorrow’s power politics?


  3. Jerry says:

    Dr. Kissinger agrees with President Obama in general and thinks he is doing an excellent job. Although, you must remember, Dr. Kissinger is an advisor to President Obama.


  4. Sam Brower says:

    Intellectually incompetent Nadine misses the mark on this mass-murder monster.
    From a reviewer of “The Trial of Henry Kissinger”
    “In this extremely well researched little book, Christopher Hitchens convincingly argues that Henry Kissinger is a war criminal according to published American and International legal standards. Hitchens builds his case not from a moral or political point of view but from a purely legal one based on evidence that Kissinger was responsible for acts of genocide, assassination, and unlawfully interfering with government operations both in the United States and in foreign countries. Hitchens documents how Kissinger’s ignominious resume spans the globe and includes the mass murder of civilians in East Timor, Pakistan, Greece, Cyprus, Chile, Argentina, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
    In places such as Chile and Argentina, according to Hitchens, Kissinger merely supervised the assassination of democratically elected heads of state and the establishment of brutally repressive and murderous military dictatorships. His accomplishments were more significant in East Timor where, with his help, one third of the population was murdered, and in Indochina where he not only colluded in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese but also in Cambodia and Laos where under his guidance, Nixon illegally extended the war and waged it almost purely against the civilian population.
    Conservatives or self-styled realists might refute Hitchens by arguing that Kissinger’s genocidal resume is merely the result of his practicing a brutal but necessary variant of realpolitik. But as Hitchens’ gleefully points out, few Kissinger lovers including Kissinger himself are unwilling to do this for two reasons: first because they are unwilling to face the legal consequences of linking the man to his murders and second because in many cases, while Kissinger’s actions personally benefited him and his patrons, they in no way helped the United States. For example, in 1968 Kissinger helped to sabotage the Johnson administration’s peace plan in order ensure a Nixon presidential victory and his own appointment as Secretary of State. Four years later he successfully brokered THE SAME PLAN only by this time, twenty thousand more American troops had been killed along with hundreds of thousands of civilians in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The only people who benefited from this were Nixon and his top officials including Kissinger.
    It is for these reasons and others, according to Hitchens, that Kissinger has gone to great lengths to cover his tracks, by censoring documents or bequeathing them to the Library of Congress under the condition that they remain sealed until his death. While Kissinger enjoys a sort of morbid celebrity status at home, he is less at ease abroad where at least once he has been legally detained to answer questions about his responsibility for the “disappearance” of foreign nationals.
    The importance of this book lies not so much in its condemnation of Henry Kissinger, but in the lessons it holds for Americans in these troubled times. As of this writing, many Americans are asking themselves why their nation is so hated around the world, and whether its forthcoming invasion of Iraq is based on genuine national security concerns or the self interest of the ruling elite. Sometimes the answers to such questions are found not so much in the present but in the past. Henry Kissinger’s career, as chronicled in this book, provides us with many hints and direct answers to some of our most troubling questions today.”


  5. Salvador Allende says:

    Didn’t you mean “Former Secretary of State and Grand Strategist and War Criminal Par Excellence”?


  6. nadine says:

    Kissinger was complimentary about START, but aside from that, he was pretty negative about Obama’s foreign policy, though he phrased it diplomatically. To paraphrase:
    nuclear posture – too explicit, should be more ambiguous. Basically the same judgment as Tom Barnett’s “strategically stupid with a capital DUH!” just phrased more diplomatically.
    missile defense – we should work with Russia against Iran, which we aren’t, but we need other defenses too — like the ones we ripped out of Poland and the Czech republic in return for nothing? this second part was left unsaid, but was kind of hanging in the air.
    working with China on Iran sanctions – the point is not just to make something you can call sanctions, but to have an effect on Iran — which we have not been having, unless you call making them laugh at us ‘an effect’. Again, second part not said, but a logical conclusion from the first part if you’ve been following the story.


  7. ... says:

    one has to question kissingers motives.. they are always suspect….


  8. JohnH says:

    Kissinger is being disingenuous. He knows full well what the BRICs represent–active, significant, and sometimes coordinated push-back to American policies. Along with push-back from Venezuela, Iran and Israel, it’s obvious the US simply can’t stand astride the world and dictate terms.
    Though the US has not been in a position to dictate terms for some time now, this has not permeated the arrogant, thick skulls of many in the foreign policy establishment, particularly during the Bush administration.
    I’m thinking in particular of the incomparably incompetent Condi, who was known to hector the Russians, “this is what you have to do…”


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