Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warned on Friday that the United States could be ‘on the edge of war’ with Russia and China, as the Biden administration grapples with its historically low relations with the two autocratic regimes.
Without naming names, the 99-year-old statesman suggested that American leaders have ‘trouble defining a direction’ in today’s political climate, which he believes has contributed to rising global tensions.
‘We are at the edge of war with Russia and China on issues which we partly created,’ Kissinger told the Wall Street Journal.
‘All you can do is not to accelerate the tensions and to create options, and for that you have to have some purpose.’
He described a global order on which rests the balance of moral and geopolitical stability, in which countries acknowledge each other’s sometimes opposing values but keeping them separate from the negotiating table.
But Kissinger told the Journal that US leaders and voters today have trouble separating ‘personal relationships with the adversary’ from maintaining stable diplomatic talks.
Henry Kissinger served as Secretary of State under former President Richard Nixon
‘I think that the current period has a great trouble defining a direction,’ Kissinger said.
‘It’s very responsive to the emotion of the moment.’
He suggested that leaders in today’s American political climate have trouble separating personal relationships from diplomatic links
His warning comes just days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial trip to Taiwan, which was vehemently opposed by China’s government as a violation of the US’s longstanding One China Policy.
Even President Joe Biden and the US military made their hesitations with the trip clear, though it went ahead with very little advanced notice of the Speaker’s arrival in Taipei.
But Kissinger urged the Biden administration to hold steady to the diplomatic status quo, even amid bipartisan calls for the president to get tougher on Beijing.
‘The policy that was carried out by both parties has produced and allowed the progress of Taiwan into an autonomous democratic entity and has preserved peace between China and the U.S. for 50 years,’ Kissinger explained.
‘One should be very careful, therefore, in measures that seem to change the basic structure.’
His warning also came three days before it was reported early on Sunday morning that another Congressional delegation from the US, carrying both Senators and House lawmakers, is en route to Taipei.
Kissinger suggested that rather than seeking to drive a wedge between Russia and China, ‘all you can do is not to accelerate the tensions and to create options, and for that you have to have some purpose’
Washington officials have insisted to Beijing that Congress acts independently from the executive branch, and so the visits have no bearing on US diplomatic policy.
Still, it has not stopped Chinese officials and state media from making dire warnings of consequences if the US continues on its path.
But Kissinger also appeared to shift his stance on Ukraine joining NATO, nearly five months after Russian leader Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of the neighboring Slavic state.
He previously earned criticism for suggesting NATO’s openness to Ukraine joining its defensive pact was to blame for Russia’s brutal and unprovoked attack.
‘I was in favor of the full independence of Ukraine, but I thought its best role was something like Finland,’ Kissinger said in reference to Finland’s deal that includes having no standing military of its own.
‘Now I consider, one way or the other, formally or not, Ukraine has to be treated in the aftermath of this as a member of NATO.’