Uncommon Decency

55. Henry Kissinger, European with Gérard Araud & Jérémie Gallon

"A country that demands moral perfection in its foreign policy”, wrote Henry Kissinger, "will achieve neither perfection nor security". In an era where few countries have the means to back their moral postures on foreign policy, the statesman’s comments should not fall on deaf ears. Kissinger knows a thing or two about the inefficiency of empty posturing. Born in 1923 in Weimar Germany, he left his country of birth in 1938 for the United States. Months later, the Allies were trounced by the might of the Nazi war-machine. Young Kissinger brought with him many things from old Europe—a German accent, a long-lasting love for his local football club, but more substantially, a realist worldview that had been incarnated in the past by Bismarck and Metternich. The German immigrant fought in World War II with the US Army before becoming one of the most brilliant academic minds in the US, and soon one of the most famous statesmen of the century, serving as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford—a true American success story, this young European. Always attempting to see the world as it is and not how it should be, the 98-year-old Kissinger remains one of the world’s most respected voices on foreign policy. In this episode, we are lucky to have with us Ambassador Gérard Araud and Jérémie Gallon, each of whom has recently published a book on Kissinger’s relationship to diplomacy, Europe and realism. In the current geopolitical turmoil, this episode turned into a fascinating conversation on Europe’s and America’s relationship to realism and morality in foreign policy.

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