Saturday 21 July 2018

Kissinger: Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era

Henry Kissinger makes interesting, though elliptical and "halting" remarks about Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in an interview in the Financial Times, which you might or might not find locked behind the paywall. It opened for me the first time but not when I tried to reread it.

On Donald Trump:

“I think Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretences. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he knows this, or that he is considering any great alternative. It could just be an accident.”

Dr. Kissinger wanted an American-Russian summit but not one like the one that took place this week.

“It was a meeting that had to take place. I have advocated it for several years. It has been submerged by American domestic issues. It is certainly a missed opportunity. But I think one has to come back to something. Look at Syria and Ukraine. It’s a unique characteristic of Russia that upheaval in almost any part of the world affects it, gives it an opportunity and is also perceived by it as a threat. Those upheavals will continue. I fear they will accelerate. 
“The mistake Nato has made is to think that there is a sort of historic evolution that will march across Eurasia and not to understand that somewhere on that march it will encounter something very different to a Westphalian entity. And for Russia this is a challenge to its identity.” 
"Do you mean that we provoked Putin?" 
“I do not think Putin is a character like Hitler. He comes out of Dostoyevsky.”
The FT article links to a "terrifying" piece, entitled 'How the Enlightenment Ends' that Kissinger wrote earlier this year about A.I. for The Atlantic Monthly, in which he compared humanity today to the Incas before the arrival of smallpox and the Spanish.


  1. "It opened for me the first time but not when I tried to reread it."

    Clip to Evernote.


    948 1st Avenue, New York

    Pâté $13.50

    Pea soup $11.00

    Branzini $31.50

    Dover sole $57.00

    Bottle of sparkling water $8.50

    Tea $4.50

    Double espresso $9.00

    Total (inc tax & tip) $176.00

  3. The water was Badoit. Sparkling.

  4. ...from comments:

    ...Not to mention that, right after he says, "We are in a very, very grave period," to someone in power, his next sentence gets to be, "That'll be one hundred thousand dollars."

  5. More comments:

    His brother has an American accent. Asked to explain why Henry had a German accent, he replied "Because he never listens to anybody."

    I'd say it's amazing he still goes out in public, but if Harvard teaches nothing else, it teaches how an air of intellectual arrogance and self-confidence can fool most of the people most of the time.

    'I arrive with a minute or two to spare. Kissinger is already seated.'

    Did you expect that he would be jogging around the block? It's a free lunch. He probably arrived 2 hours early. 
    nwoisbabanwokiki2012cobalt miner
    @Paxo  So do you think, he already had the early bird special?
    Lee Harvey Oswald
    "It's a free lunch. He probably arrived 2 hours early. "
    Do I detect an antisemitic remark?

    ..."forgive me if i dont get up" says Kissinger in his gravelly German accent. wow!. Humility

    Kissinger tends to deal in the broad sweep, a decades-long soft focus.So why waste so much of the interview on the narrow question of Trump specifically?

    I should think of the questions were formulated in generalisations, Kissinger may have been more forthcoming (by his eminent standards at least; I do recognise he makes Greenspan in his ‘90s pomp sound like the town crier.)

    Bit tedious, as I would expect of HK who, as was widely reported back in the Nixon era, only lied 'when his lips moved'

    Luce, you are a pillar at the FT, but this lunch was a waste as it perfectly symbolises the unhealthy fixation of the press with Trump. You lost the plot because you expected Kissinger to confirm everything about Trump the liberals like to believe.

    My humble take from Kissinger’s sailing around the Trump buoys you threw is that it is not as black and white as the media portrays it is. It is far more complex and perhaps Kissinger was trying to tell you subtly that there is no point for him to make an effort explaining his view on things over lunch as the world is too polarised to have a meaningful, emotion free discussion.

    I hope Kissinger was not as disappointed by the lunch as I was from your piece today.

    Trump is not a passing phenomenon as Janan wrote in the FT recently, he is supported by almost half the US population and his line of thought - however crazy it may appear - is here to stay with or without him. It will change the world profoundly.

    It seems to FT journalists, there are two types of geopolitical thinker. Those who get up early in the morning so that they can hate Trump for longer; and those who need to be told off for an entire lunch meeting for failing to hate Trump enough.

    Kiss admires Putin and Trump but cannot say it openly, otherwise no free lunch for him. All EU leaders are worthless and useless. We knew this anyway and we all know what eventually happens to enterprises led by useless leaders. Kiss ventured one guess. Balance of power is about to change dramatically and irrevocably. He does not think it is a bad thing.

    Edward, Henry didn’t eat his fish because he was too busy chewing on all the words you were trying to put in his mouth.

    Yes, I remember the comment about power being an aphrodisiac - and also the canny rejoinder made, I believe, by a woman: “And in the case of Kissinger, it was the only aphrodisiac.”