Kissingers World Order: At Times Very Clear and Readable, and at Times Vague and Opaque, Henry Kissinger's Book World Order Explains How to Finish Building World Government

By Scaliger, Charles | The New American, February 2, 2015 | Go to article overview

Kissingers World Order: At Times Very Clear and Readable, and at Times Vague and Opaque, Henry Kissinger's Book World Order Explains How to Finish Building World Government


Scaliger, Charles, The New American


World Order, by Henry Kissinger, New York: Penguin Press, 2014, 420 pages, hardcover.

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The godfather of the New World Order, nonagenarian diplomat Henry Kissinger, has left one important question unanswered in his latest book, World Order. What precisely is meant by the term "world order"? Kissinger's book includes a very readable survey of attempts to conceptualize and implement "world order," from Europe's Peace of Westphalia in 1648 to the rise of modern Islamic theocratic government as embodied by Iran's ayatollahs--but nowhere does the author explain exactly what "order" means. This is, no doubt, because, as Kissinger is surely aware, the word "order" in political contexts has long been synonymous with government--but invoking "world government" is bound to raise red flags for patriotic Americans (and people of other nationalities who might stumble across Kissinger's latest tour de force).

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

World Order is a frustrating book for various reasons, not the least of which is the author's continual skirting of exactly what the title means. It is--somewhat unexpectedly, given the nature of the material and the worldview of its author--a gracefully written, easy-to-read tome with a significant amount of valuable information. Kissinger displays an uncommon level of erudition (and mental acuity, for a 90-year-old) in describing early America as a neutral player in international affairs, in keeping with Washington's famous warning about avoiding "permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world" and her vision of herself as a future world power, thanks to her liberty and her independence from dissipating foreign entanglements. As Kissinger quite properly documents, early Americans saw these policies as having the stamp of divine approval, because they discerned the hand of Providence in the creation and expansion of the United States of America. Opined the United States Magazine and Democratic Review in 1839, "We are the nation of human progress, and who will, what can, set limits on our onward march? Providence is with us, and no earthly power can." The same magazine, six years later, forecast with uncanny accuracy America's role in world affairs one hundred years in the future:

   Though they should cast into the
   opposite scale all the bayonets and
   cannon, not only of France and
   England, but of Europe entire, how
   would it kick the beam against the
   simple, solid weight of the two hundred
   and fifty, or three hundred millions
   --and American millions--
   destined to gather beneath the flutter
   of the stripes and stars, in the fast
   hastening year of the Lord 1945!

Kissinger notes that the original American foreign policy of "detached neutrality ... entirely different from the self-interested policies pursued by older, less enlightened states" persisted into the late 19th century, as articulated by Grover Cleveland--arguably the last U.S. president to honor completely the constitutional limits on executive power--who disavowed

   any departure from that foreign policy
   commended by the history, the
   traditions, and the prosperity of our
   Republic. It is the policy of independence,
   favored by our position and
   defended by our known love of justice
   and by our power. It is the policy
   of peace suitable to our interests. It is
   the policy of neutrality, rejecting any
   share in foreign broils and ambitions
   upon other continents and repelling
   their intrusion here.

World Order also reviews some useful history--Kissinger's treatment of Japan is particularly thought-provoking--and makes the provocative observation that, in modern times, it is actually the countries of Asia (excluding the Middle East and the former Soviet Union) whose foreign policies have most closely embodied the Westphalian ideals of noninterventionism and the sovereign independence of nation-states:

   In Asia the state is treated as the basic
   unit of international and domestic
   politics. … 

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