Wednesday, July 24, 2024 | 19:39 WIB

Has the “fox of American diplomacy” transformed into a dove of peace?

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Jakarta, IO – Henry Kissinger, who was once viewed as an adversary by China, was a “sensible enemy”. He understood the fate of his opponent and approached them with unrivaled political realism and pragmatism. Such a viewpoint calls for a political player to understand the international shifts and the balance of emerging forces, thereby moving away from outdated political approaches. 

Consequently, it is perhaps fitting that the Chinese government refers to Kissinger as a “friend of China”, a diplomatic term that undeniably mirrors Beijing’s respect for this adversary. This is due to Kissinger’s recognition of China’s worth, his acknowledgment of the changing balance of international power, and his understanding of its shift in favor of Beijing. 

Kissinger’s numerous visits to Beijing – over a hundred in total, demonstrate the significance he attributes to the country. The fact that the seasoned American diplomat, now over a century old, has made so many visits certainly speaks volumes. 

Since leaving his official duties, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kissinger has provided business advisory services in China, yielding significant benefits. This bears witness to the effectiveness of Beijing’s sanctions against members of the U.S. administration, many of whom hold considerable economic interests in China. 

Kissinger is not merely a former diplomat or political thinker whose views are respected by numerous leaders, academics, and public affairs professionals. He has, in fact, become a thought stream with his own followers, listeners, and individuals who have adopted his viewpoints. Notably, his wisdom and understanding have only grown with age, and his experience, as a former Secretary of State and US National Security Adviser under the Nixon and Ford administrations, has afforded him a nuanced understanding and shrewdness recognized by his adversaries before his allies. 

During his tenure as the US Secretary of State, Kissinger made a significant impact, notably promoting rapprochement between Washington and Beijing and achieving a ceasefire in Vietnam in 1973 – a major goal of the US at the time. Kissinger adeptly dealt with China by adopting a policy of appeasement, which included a promise to transfer the United Nations’ seat from the Republic of China to the People’s Republic of China. This was in exchange for Beijing’s distancing itself from the Soviet Union and ensuring non-support for Vietnam. 

Today, Kissinger is a unique figure, possessing the ability to articulate his ideas and convince others, based on his logical argumentation, often persuading his listeners to consider both sides of an argument. 

Personal Initiative or Informal Diplomacy 

Interpreting Kissinger’s recent visit to China as a “personal act from an ordinary American citizen” is simplistic and lacks depth and objectivity. Surprisingly, this interpretation was offered by State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, a description that likely failed to convince many. 

Meanwhile, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated: “Administration officials look forward to hearing from Kissinger upon his return to understand what he heard, learned, and observed.” 

A more suitable perspective on this visit would be to see it as an act of informal diplomacy undertaken by Washington towards Beijing. This comes in the wake of unsuccessful attempts to restore official communication channels between the two countries. These channels were closed by Beijing following Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August 2022. 

Following Kissinger’s talks in China, the White House affirmed that the former top diplomat Henry Kissinger had garnered a larger audience in Beijing than some current American officials, expressing their regret at this circumstance. 

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