Former Secretary of State in the Nixon Administration, eminent professor at Harvard University, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Henry Alfred Kissinger is one of the greatest experts on American foreign policy. In his latest book, Does America Need a Foreign Policy? (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), Kissinger stresses the urgent need for the United States to establish a foreign policy appropriate to the new global situation.
Pierre Béhar, whose interest in these matters is unflagging, has chosen to review the book. Indeed, since the psychological blow of 11 September 2001, America is disoriented and needs more than ever a subtle and finely tuned foreign policy.
Béhar highlights several of Kissinger's recommendations, namely: (a) American foreign policy must deal with the whole world, and the globalizing and simplistic attitudes of "Left wing" idealism (whereby the world is moving inexorably towards greater democracy) and "Right wing" realism (whereby the free world will win and American power will expand even further) both make foreign policy impossible. (b) American foreign policy needs to be "reasoned" and must set out, for every region of the world, the moves that the United States must make in order to promote states based on peace and law. What is needed, rather than an imperial system, is an international system that maintains a fine balance among the various forces in the world while ensuring American dominance. (c) To counteract the various regional groupings and rapprochements developing around the world, it is necessary to create systems of political and economic international relations subject to American approval. (d) The economic and legal aspects of globalization must not be allowed to take the place of foreign policy. (e) Finally, the United States must drive and sustain ethical action around the world and foster a more humane moral world order.
All of this strengthens the view that American foreign policy will be the key to future developments, probably in the short as well as in the longer term, especially given that the policies of Russia and China are now merely reactive, while it seems that Europe has none at all.