By Dr George Venturini
Heinz Alfred ‘Henry’ Kissinger obtained a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1954. His interest was on Castelreagh and Metternich – two empire builders. He devoted his life to sublimate them.
In an incendiary, studiedly defamatory book the late Christopher Hitchens described him as “a mediocre and opportunist academic [intent on] becoming an international potentate. The signature qualities were there from the inaugural moment: the sycophancy and the duplicity; the power worship and the absence of scruple; the empty trading of old non-friends for new non-friends. And the distinctive effects were also present: the uncounted and expendable corpses; the official and unofficial lying about the cost; the heavy and pompous pseudo-indignation when unwelcome questions were asked. Kissinger’s global career started as it meant to go on. It debauched the American republic and American democracy, and it levied a hideous toll of casualties on weaker and more vulnerable societies.”
The story is all here: from the martyrdom of Indochina to becoming the real backchannel to Moscow on behalf of his new client: Donald Trump.
Editor’s note: This outstanding series by Dr Venturini is published bi-weekly (Wednesdays and Saturdays). Today we publish Part Twenty-one. Here is the link to Part Twenty; “The Consultant”.
And now, introducing Frederick William Engdahl. He is an American– German historian, economic researcher and freelance journalist. He grew up in Texas and, after earning a degree in engineering and jurisprudence from Princeton University in 1966 and having pursued graduate study in comparative economics at the University of Stockholm from 1969 to 1970, he worked as an economist and freelance journalist in New York and in Europe. He now lives, and works from, near Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Last January, in a very interesting article, Engdahl came up with a suggestion that he translated into an interesting question: “Is Trump the Back Door Man for Henry A. Kissinger & Co?”
Readers may not be familiar with Willie James Dixon. He was an African-American blues musician – in fact ‘the poet laureate of the blues’ – vocalist, songwriter, arranger and record producer, born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He became famous for many works, including ‘Back door man’.
In Southern American ‘culture’, the words ‘back-door man’ refer to a man having an affair with a married woman, using the back door as an exit before the husband comes home.
“I am, a back door man
I am, a back door man
Well the, men don’t know, but the little girls understand
When everybody’s tryin’ to sleep
I’m somewhere making my, midnight creep
Yes in the morning, when the rooster crow
Something tell me, I got to go … ”
The promiscuous ‘back-door man’ is a theme of many blues songs.
As Engdahl noted, during the Gerald Ford presidency, ‘back-door man’ was applied to ‘Dick’ Cheney as Ford’s White House Chief of Staff and his ‘skills’ at getting what he wanted through opaque means. More and more as Cabinet choices are named, it looks like the entire Trump presidency project is emerging as Kissinger’s ‘back-door man’ in the Cheney meaning of the term.
Engdahl was referring, early this year, to the combination of rich billionaires and narrow-minded extremists, similes really, whom Trump was choosing for his cabinet.
As one would remember, Trump had boasted in October 2016 that “Decades of special interest dealing must come to an end. We have to break the cycle of corruption … It is time to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C. … That is why I am proposing a package of ethics reforms to make our government honest once again.”
Less than three months since Trump’s campaign rhetoric about ‘draining the swamp’ was about to become a long-forgotten affair. Trump’s cabinet was about to come out from the backwoods of American politics and the centres of financial power.
In this miasmatic cabal one could not miss the shadowy role of former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, who was emerging as the unofficial and key foreign policy adviser of the Trump Administration.
On 26 December 2016 the German daily Bild or Bild-Zeitung, literally Picture Newspaper – described as “notorious for its mix of gossip, inflammatory language, and sensationalism” but as having a huge influence on German politicians, similar to a ‘Murdoch-stable product’ – published what it said was a copy of an analysis by members of the Trump Transition Team which revealed that, as President, Trump will seek “constructive cooperation” with the Kremlin. That, if true, would signify a dramatic contrast to Obama confrontation and sanctions policies.
The newspaper went on to discuss the role of the former Secretary of State, Kissinger as Trump’s leading, if unofficial, foreign policy adviser. The report stated that Kissinger is drafting a plan to bring Putin’s Russia and Trump’s Washington to more ‘harmonious’ relations. These would include the United States’ official recognition of Crimea as part of Russia and lifting of American economic sanctions that Obama imposed after the Crimea annexation in 2014, among other steps.
What could be the aim of Kissinger? Simply, Kissinger’s aim is subtly to erode the growing bilateral relationship between China and Russia which threatens America’s global hegemony.
The trend of the last several years since Obama’s ill-fated coup d’état in Ukraine in early 2014, threatened to jeopardise Kissinger’s lifetime project, otherwise called David Rockefeller’s “march towards a World Government,” a World Government in which “supranational sovereignty of an intellectual élite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries”, to use Rockefeller’s words to one of his select groups during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. According to the Bild-Zeitung Trump-Kissinger manoeuvre would advance the project of warming up to Russia with a view to offsetting China’s military build-up.
Kissinger is one of the few surviving practitioners of historical British ‘balance of power’ – or ‘divide and rule’ geopolitics. This has been British policy for some eight hundred years and it always involved Britain making an alliance with the weaker of two joined rivals to defeat the stronger and in the process, so as to be able in the end to overcome the remaining power. It helped Prince von Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein in building the Austrian Empire to the end of the first world war, as it had helped Viscount Castelreagh in building the British Empire all the way to the end of the second world war.
This had been the subject of Kissinger’s Ph.D. thesis that he wrote at Harvard in the 1950s, and which became a book in 1957 (H. A. Kissinger, A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-1822, Echo Points Books & Media, Brattleboro, Vermont 1957).
That work was at the foundation of Kissinger’s ‘Machiavellian’ strategies. It won the admiration from, and employ with, the Rockefellers – particularly David. The gist of the main view is totally a-moral: “Diplomacy cannot be divorced from the realities of force and power. But diplomacy should be divorced … from a moralistic and meddlesome concern with the internal policies of other nations,” because “The ultimate test of a statesman, then, is his ability to recognize the real relationship of forces and to make this knowledge serve his ends.”
Kissinger would become the Rockefellers’ core strategist, the aim being a ‘world government above nation states’ – as predicated by David Rockefeller in the early nineties.
That explains Kissinger’s role with the Bilderberg Meetings, with David Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission, and right down to the present. It explains Kissinger’s approach to China in 1971, the weaker of the two adversaries facing the United States.
Now China, the stronger of the two adversaries, stands in the way of the realisation of a World Government as David Rockefeller understood and promoted. Russia is the weaker and next to the two is the emerging power of Iran. Such is the panorama in military and geopolitical terms.
Kissinger has connections and ties with too many of the Trump cabinet not to think of him as the consultant behind the curtains, the personal adviser to nominally Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, formerly ExxonMobil head. ExxonMobil is after all the largest direct descendant of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company, which was at the centre of the Rockefeller family wealth. (It should be remembered that both Tillerson and Kissinger are trustees of the very influential Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies – incidentally, along with such as Zbigniew Brzezinski).
And if ‘the diplomatic game’ were to demand, in a thorough mis-understanding of Machiavelli, a bit of courtier’s sycophancy what would stop Kissinger from saying, as he did on CBS’s Face the Nation on 18 December 2016, that “Donald Trump is a phenomenon that foreign countries haven’t seen,” and seconds later “I believe he has the possibility of going down in history as a very considerable President,” adding that, because of perceptions that Obama weakened America’s influence abroad, “one could imagine that something remarkable and new emerges” out of a Trump administration?
That could become “an extraordinary opportunity.” Kissingerism in its purest form! (Face the Nation Transcript December 18, 2016, CBS News).
In February 2016 Kissinger went to Moscow privately to meet with Putin. More significantly, on 2 December 2016 Kissinger was ‘personally invited’ by China President Xi Jinping to meet in Beijing to discuss the prospects for China of the Trump presidency. (F. William Engdahl, Is Trump the Back Door Man for Henry A. Kissinger & Co?, 9 January 2017).
No doubt he would have had the opportunity to broach his plan: in Moscow officially to recognise Crimea as part of Russia and lift the Obama administration’s economic sanctions.
The plan fits into Kissinger’s overall strategy. But there would be more, much more. The strategy consists in seducing the alleged weaker top ‘threat’ – Russia away from the ‘stronger’ – China, while keeping on antagonising/harassing the third and weakest pole, Iran.
Kissinger is certainly more sophisticated than to attempt to demolish the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, one of elements of the Russia-China strategic partnership. The Organisation has been active for more than ten years. Iran, which is only an observer, will soon become a full member, as will India and Pakistan. Turkey is being courted by Russia.
If Kissinger’s Metternichian approach would include some degree of ‘harmonisation’ with Russia, how will a Trump presidency then manage to contain the powerful ally which is Germany? After all, a key priority for German industrialists, who incidentally do not like sanctions, is to expand business with Russia – and as largely as possible.
Kissinger’s strategy essentially represents improvements to the early 1970s Trilateral Commission, largely advanced by Zbigniew Brzezinski, according to whom geopolitics is to be managed by North America, Western Europe and Japan.
It is essential to identify the priorities. For Russia, they are N.A.T.O. encroaching on its western borderlands. For China, the priorities are Taiwan; the South China Sea; and those uninhabited and fiercely disputed islands that China calls Diaoyu Islands, Taiwan calls Diaoyutai Islands and Japan calls Senkaku Islands.
But Kissinger’s strategy will run into a solidified Russia-China strategic partnership already manifested in several aspects of their relationship: the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the co-operation within the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa block, the supply of enormous quantities of oil and gas, the exchange of cutting-edge military technology, the reciprocal security agreements, the inevitable interlocking of the New Silk Road – rather, Roads – and the emergence of the Eurasian Economic Union.
When the New Silk Roads reach the next level, by the start of the next decade, the Eurasian heartland, as well as the rimland, will be deeply immersed in a connectivity frenzy.
All of the above points to a very unusual situation: the death of ‘made in China’, replaced by a ‘globalised’ China which exports business as well as job to ‘the West’. Trump will do business and clinch deals with China, and while his Deep State-tinged cabinet barks the usually explosive national security rhetoric, Kissinger will plot a Russia-China split, to which Russia and China will react defensively and quite likely successfully. (Pepe Escobar, Trump, Kissinger and Ma playing on a crowded chessboard, 14 January).
But a serious problem remains: if Kissinger’s “Metternichian approach would include some degree of ‘harmonisation’ with Russia, how will a Trump presidency then manage to contain the re-engineered ally Germany?” one may ask again.
Speaking to the participants in the closing session of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting held in Davos, Switzerland from 17 to 20 January 2017on the theme ‘Responsive and responsible leadership’, Kissinger said:
“President Trump will have to find a definition of the American role that answers the concern in many parts of the world that America is giving up its indispensable leadership role and define what and where America can lead, where it must contribute, and in that process help in the creation of an international order.” He was addressing the Forum as Chairman of Kissinger Associates. And he added: “Trump will need to reshape ties with China and Russia and recast the transatlantic alliance with Europe.”
He praised the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the opening session of the Meeting as “of fundamental significance.”
According to Kissinger, “Xi laid out a concept for globalisation and its challenges. It was an assertion by China of its participation in the construction of a new international order. One of the key problems of our period is that the international order with which we are familiar is disintegrating and new elements from Asia and the developing world are entering.”
Describing the United States transatlantic partnership with Europe, Kissinger stressed: “I don’t think it is obsolete; it is vital. What needs to be re-examined is the relevance of the institutions. A transatlantic partnership needs to be reconstructed, but it is a key element of American and European policy.”
Kissinger and Brzezinski are the two foremost, self-described puppet masters in the geopolitical arena. In opposition to Kissinger, Obama’s foreign policy mentor Brzezinski, true to his Russophobia, proposed a ‘divide and rule’ policy centred on seducing China.
But there are still powerful, and powerfully differing, voices. According to one of them, who wishes to remain anonymous,
“It is important not to attribute too much importance to either Kissinger or Brzezinski as they are merely fronts for those who make the decisions and it is their job to cloak the decisions with a patina of intellectuality. Their input means relatively nothing. I use their names on occasion as I cannot use the names of those who actually make the decisions.”
And he went on: “Trump was elected with the support of the ‘Masters of the Universe’ to tilt towards Russia. The Masters have their tools in the media and Congress maintaining a vilification campaign against Russia, and have their puppet Brzezinski also come out against Russia, stating that America’s global influence depends on cooperation with China. The purpose is to threaten Russia to cooperate and place these chips on the negotiating table for Trump. In a traditional ‘good cop-bad cop’ approach, Trump is portrayed as the good cop wanting good relations with Russia, and Congress, the media and Brzezinski are the bad cops. This is to aid Trump in the negotiations with Russia as Putin sees the ‘precarious’ position of his friend and should be willing to make major concessions as the line goes.”
Following this line of thought one should expect China – as “not too much importance” Kissinger prescribed – to be under incessant scrutiny: “The Masters have decided to re-industrialise the United States and want to take jobs back from China. This is advisable from the Chinese viewpoint; for why should they sell their work to the United States for a dollar that has no intrinsic value and get really nothing back for the work. China should have a car in every Chinese worker’s garage and they will become a larger producer of cars than the European Union, the United States and Japan combined, and their own nation will keep their wealth in their own country.”
So, why should China be preferred to Russia? “Russia in this sense being a natural resource country with a gigantic military industrial complex – the latter being the only reason she is secretly respected – is exempt from any tough trade talk as they hardly export anything but natural resources and military equipment. The Masters want jobs back from Mexico and Asia including Japan, Taiwan, and other countries, and one can see this in Trump’s attack on Japan. The main underlying reason is that the United States has lost control of the seas and cannot secure its military components during a major war. This is all that matters now and this is the giant story behind the scenes.”
In only a few words this views expresses the reversal of an economic cycle: “The Masters made money out of transfer of industry to Asia. (One should consider the rapid rising and development of Bain Capital, the global alternative investment firm based in Boston, Massachusetts. With a rapidly expanding net, moving from Boston to Chicago, Dublin, Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg, Melbourne, Mumbai, Munich, New York, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Tokyo, it specialises in private equity, venture capital and credit products. Bain Capital invests across a range of industry sectors and geographic regions. Two years ago the firm was managing more than US$ 75 billion of investor capital across its various investment platforms). Additionally, Wall Street – the Masters’ Valhalla – made money from the lower interest rates on the recycled dollars from the trade deficits. But now the issue is strategic; and the Masters will make money on the return of industries scaling down their investments in Asia and returning them to the United States as we rebuild production here.”
It seems that at the moment, regardless of whether Kissinger or Brzezinski is/was right – or wrong, President Trump is in deep trouble.
And the next, looming question then is: what can Kissinger teach Trump about surviving an impeachment?
The answer to such question belongs to history professor Greg Grandin of New York University.
Grandin quipped: “It’s all showbiz – that’s how Henry [Kissinger] escaped the Watergate dragnet.”
About two years ago, prof. Grandin published a book: Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman, Metropolitan Books, New York, 2015. In it, Grandin argued that Kissinger is good to think with, by which he meant that his long career – as an early Cold war defence intellectual, a top foreign-policy maker, a consigliere to the world’s élite, and a hawkish pundit – combined with his very self-aware philosophy of history, helps illuminate the contours of post-war militarism, tracing a bright line from the disastrous war in Southeast Asia to the catastrophic one in the Persian Gulf.
Prof. Grandin’s book came out long before Trump appeared a serious possibility, when everyone thought an autumnal Kissinger’s last act would be to bask in the warmth of neoliberal love offered by Democrats such as aspiring Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2013 to 2017. Its conclusion focused on the ways in which President Obama’s pragmatic, managerial militarism echoed Kissinger’s earlier justifications for interventionism and war, and the way Kissinger used Obama’s disregard of national sovereignty, in his reliance on drones and bombing campaigns, as an ex post facto absolution of his own past actions.
When asked about the devastating and illegal bombing of Cambodia and Laos, or his encouragement in the assault by Pinochet on President Allende, Kissinger found a ready rejoinder: Obama does it. He was pointing to President Obama hailing the lifting of the “dark tyranny” over Libya after the new government confirmed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had been killed in Libya in October 2011, and to Obama’s drone programme.
So here was Kissinger invoking today’s open-ended war in a cynical, totally immoral attempt ‘to justify’ what he did in South East Asia and Chile – and in other places, too – nearly half a century ago, even as what he did over forty years ago were to help creating acceptable circumstances for today’s endless wars.
In time Kissinger would portray the 1970 incursion into Cambodia as a symptom of Nixon’s supposed instability. The ‘madman strategy’ might have been used by Nixon, but it was Kissinger’s child, and Kissinger has been writing about someone very much like Trump nearly his whole life.
It turns out Kissinger’s shadow needs an epilogue, for Trump vindicates its argument in a different way. There are materialist explanations for Kissinger’s affinity with Trump. Kissinger has long called on Washington to work closely with Moscow, to create a new axis of global stability. And the portfolio of Kissinger Associates Inc., among the world’s premier neoliberal consulting firms, will benefit from access to the Trump Administration and, were relations to improve, to Russia.
“The West requires nothing so much as men able to create their own reality,” is one of Kissinger’s favourite dicta.
Kissinger has been writing about someone very much like Trump nearly his whole life. Great statesmen, he said in the 1950s, need to be “agile”, and must learn to thrive on “perpetual creation, on a constant redefinition of goals.” And how appropriate such thought to an ignorant, narcissistic psychopath such as Trump!
Great statesmen, ‘men of Providence’, great minds such as the Führer, god-sent such as the Caudillo need to avoid the paralysis generated by thinking too much about the consequences of policy, about the “pre-vision of catastrophes” which often beset diplomats and regional specialists, and Great Leaders, too. “There are two kinds of realists.” Kissinger wrote in 1963, “those who manipulate facts and those who create them. The West requires nothing so much as men able to create their own reality.” That requirement has been met with Donald Trump, whom in the weeks leading up to his inauguration Kissinger enthusiastically embraced. Kissinger defined Trump as a “phenomenon” saying that “something remarkable and new” might emerge out of his presidency. Trump would have the “opportunity of going down in history as a very considerable president.”
Will Kissinger, one may just wonder, help Trump broker one of his famous ‘deals’ with Putin? As if by describing sheer magic the already mentioned Bild-Zeitung wondered whether “Kissinger soll neuen Kalten Krieg verhindern” – Kissinger is designed to prevent a new cold war. Magic! Miraculous!
At every single one of America’s post-second-world-war turning points, moments of crisis when other policy and opinion makers of his stature – people such as George Kennan or Arthur Schlesinger – began to express doubts about American power, Kissinger never showed any doubt about his policies, programmes, counselling skills – and results.
Switching – quite adroitly, he might have thought – from right-wing Nelson A. Rockefeller to Richard M. Nixon, by way of Hubert H. Humphrey, he moved to Ronald W. Reagan, and later to George W. Bush. That they all rose to power by attacking him, did not bother Kissinger. And that he thought of the first ‘shallow’, of the second ‘unhinged’, of the third ‘unworthy’, of the fourth ‘hollow’, and of the last ‘a man in contact with god’ did not faze Kissinger.
He was convinced that victory belongs to him. Immer, ohne Zweifel! – always without doubt! With Teutonic thoroughness.
Why, had he not written in his 1954 doctoral dissertation: “Those statesmen who have achieved final greatness did not do so through resignation, however well founded ”? For “It was given to them not only to maintain the perfection of order but to have the strength to contemplate chaos, there to find material for fresh creation.”
And so now Kissinger moved to Trump, who is always looking for new material. How perfectly timed that Kissinger should see Trump – officially anyway, he might have been there before – on a day when everybody was talking about Watergate, possible impeachment, things like that.
Offering consultations to Nixon, Reagan or Bush Junior might have been easier than tackling any problem with Trump. The incumbent president of the United States remains a real estate developer with connections as described by Sidney Blumenthal, in A short history of the Trump family (London Review of Books, Vol. 39 No. 4, 16 February 2017): a brutal father, a life of boasting, a Jewish anti-Semitic gay adviser-lawyer – later to be disbarred, victim of an unrelenting homophobia and who died of Aids, a fortune made through bankruptcies, surrounded by gangsters and a fairly ‘tempestuous’ life with the other sex, whom he formally joined three times – and the rest.
At the time of ‘Watergate’ – which really started about the White House engulfed in lying over the ‘secret bombing’ of Cambodia and Laos – Kissinger survived very well. It does not matter that he should have followed J. Dean, J. Ehrlichman, H.R. Haldeman, J. N. Mitchell and R. M. Nixon.
Trump may be showbiz – although not to everyone’s taste. Kissinger deserves recognition for many talents – so long as it has nothing to do with the Nobel Peace Prize. (Greg Grandin, ‘What Kissinger Can Teach Trump about Surviving an Impeachment, It’s all showbiz – that’s how Henry escaped the Watergate dragnet’, 11 May 2017, What Kissinger Can Teach Trump about Surviving an Impeachment).
Kissinger was previously a secret national security consultant to President George W. Bush, and under Obama was directly involved in the US National Security Council’s chain-of-command. He also frequently advised Hillary Clinton during her term as Secretary of State.
His influence in the Trump Administration is also visible through his former acolyte, K.T. McFarland, who is now Trump’s deputy national security advisor, and who previously served under Kissinger in the 1970s in his National Security Council.
Next installment Saturday: The strategies of a madman.
Dr. Venturino Giorgio (George) Venturini, formerly an avvocato at the Court of Appeal of Bologna, devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reach at George.Venturini@bigpond.com.au.