Are we looking at a crucial turning point in world history – a revolution so deep nobody sees it?
Or is it just a flash in the pan?
On March 8, 2018, U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson visited Vietnam. Please watch the full CNN report here:
Publicly, the United States has portrayed the four-day visit by the Vinson and its contingent of 5,000 sailors and aviators as a historic opportunity to enhance the budding friendship that has emerged between the two former foes.
But it's far from a standard port call.
Analysts say the visit by the 95,000-ton carrier to Vietnam is a clear shot at Beijing, designed to counter China's aggressive island building and militarization in the South China Sea.
"Vietnam has been deeply concerned about China's pugilistic and aggressive moves in the South China Sea," said John Kirby, a retired US Navy rear admiral and CNN military and diplomatic analyst.
"They are worried about where China is going, and they have wanted for years now to have a better relationship with the United States."
We show below how the growing combativeness of China is the fruit of the incompetence and spite of one man:
The overtime-overdrive American agit-prop machine picturing Kissinger as a great international statesman has associated -- almost as an involuntary reflex -- his name with realpolitik.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Realistic, pragmatic: it is easily shown Kissinger was neither.
Rather, I should say is neither ...
To the detriment of world peace, the 93-year-old Kissinger continues to meddle in America´s relations with China.
For their part, the Chinese know a useful idiot when they see one. They continue to build up Kissinger as America´s Go-To Man for Chinese affairs. Chairman Mao gave the watchword: Kissinger is an "old friend of Chinese people."
You might want to wonder why Mao said it.
What follows is a warning not only to Americans but also to Southeast Asia, to India, to China -- in fact, to everyone.
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You want to see what true realpolitik in international relations looks like?
For over 99% of American readers, it will be the first time.
Forget personalities, individuals.
Forget hate, vengeance.
Forget love, misty water-colored memories.
Forget any personal bias or preference.
Realpolitik is the exact opposite of what Kissinger and his coterie in Washington did and are still doing.
The core of realpolitik in international relations is coalition-building. The growing bellicose China-U.S. relations cannot be comprehended apart from it.
To understand coalition building requires a type of logic which is unfamiliar to most Americans. That ignorance is readily understandable; it is the upshot of a two-party political system in which coalitions are rarely up front. Such is not the case in countries with multiple political parties, e.g., Ecuador, Norway, South Korea and Spain.
You will find a basic introduction to coalition building in William Riker, The Theory of Political Coalitions, Yale University Press, 1962. Riker was one of the pioneers in employing game theory.
I seriously doubt Kissinger read Riker´s book. If he did, he obviously didn´t understand it.
Riker´s basic premise: the coalition which wins is the minimal one required to take control.
An illustrative example. Let´s imagine a five-party system after a general election.
The representation of the parties is as follows:
Party A: 5. Party B: 40. Party C: 26. Party D: 25. Party E: 4. Sum: 100 representatives.
51 are needed to form a majority and win control.
There are three possible winning coalitions:
Parties B and C = 66 representatives. Parties B and D = 65 representatives. Parties C and D = 51 representatives.
If we assume that power will be divided according to strength within the coalition, the parties will prefer to have the largest relative size within a coalition. Following that intuitive, self-interest assessment, the coalition of "Party C and D" will be the winning coalition.
The largest party, B, is thus kept from power.
First, I must underline something that is counter intuitive:
In a situation of fragmentation of power, it is not necessarily an advantage to be the biggest, most powerful party. If you occupy that position, as does America in Southeast Asia and President of Spain Mariano Rajoy, you had better know what to do with it ... or else.
I worked for six years as the chief of staff to the Majority Floor Leader in a mean-as-snakes House of Representatives. The chamber was split 36 Republicans and conservative Democrats versus 34 regular Democrats. As you can imagine, each major piece of legislation required a different coalition. The upshot: we formed more coalitions in two months than Kissinger did in his entire life.
I can tell you from hard experience at piecing together coalitions that political realities modify Riker´s premise. Most importantly, the five-party model shown above assumes the parties are impregnable fortresses. In practice, if worked properly, you can usually break off a few members. However, other parties will play the same game, which is why, if you are in the biggest party, when a vote comes up you may be in for a shrewd awakening.
Tradition, distrust, family relations, hurt feelings, opposing economic interests, personality conflicts, long-standing feuds, ethnic/racial prejudices and ideological disputes can prevent party leaders from doing the "rational" thing and uniting for control. We will show in a moment an astonishing example of how one man´s personal malice gravely -- perhaps catastrophically -- jeopardized America´s national self-interest and world peace.
Yet despite all its deficiencies, Riker´s analysis is sound where it counts: it makes you think objectively and creatively.
Which brings us to our main point:
Here is where Kissinger went completely wrong on China:
Indisputably, the two biggest and most powerful players in Southeast Asia are the United States and China. To lay bare the underlying power dynamics at work, we return to the above model:
Let us assume the U.S. and China are Parties B (40 members) and C (26 members) respectively.
Obviously, if they formed a coalition they would dominate the region. However, there would be no rational reason for the United States to form a coalition with China:
(i) A U.S.-China coalition would result in far more power -- 66% -- than the United States needed to take control of the area.
(ii) Because it had a lot to offer, the price which China would, could, and should demand for making a coalition with the U.S. would be high relative to the price demanded by smaller Southeast Asia nations.
In a word: if China had 26% of the power, it would reasonably demand 26% of the action. As we shall see, it actually got a lot more.
(iii) From a realpolitik standpoint, any China/United States coalition could only be temporary.
Assuming China obtained the high price it wanted, it would be advantageous for it to coalesce with America -- but only as a holding action. The reason is that
(iv) even if the United States paid the 26%-price China demanded, China would still, over time, build its own coalition with smaller nations that would ask far less than the 40% the United States commanded. Indeed, with only 25% more, China takes control.
What was said, then, about America coalescing with smaller Asian nations applies equally to China -- perhaps even more so. By uniting with them, Number 2 (China) becomes Number 1.
That has been precisely what has been happening. Unlike America, China has been practicing realpolitik. It hears, speaks, understands the language of political power.
We come to two definitions:
(i) Kissinger´s China Folly is the United States/China coalition that Kissinger so neurotically sought and obtained. A TOP SECRET document recently declassified makes clear he was fully aware of the coalition he was forming. He told Chairman Mao, “As between you and us, even if we sometimes criticize each other, we will co-ordinate our actions with you, and we would never participate in a policy to isolate you.”
(ii) The Kissinger Kicker is the ruinous high price Kissinger made America pay to China for forming that coalition.
Why did Kissinger so desperately want a coalition with China? Why was he willing to pay an ridiculously high price for it? I will provide the answer shortly.
Before continuing, let´s take a closer look at The Kissinger Kicker.
We want this; we want that ... Under Kissinger´s lead, the United States paid the exorbitant 26%-price -- and then some -- China demanded. That the price was indeed exorbitant is seen in the everyday world where Americans live and work. Professor Peter Navarro quantified The Kissinger Kicker´s damage at 57,000 factories gone and 5.5 million jobs lost.
From the standpoint of coalition building, viz., of realpolitik, America should have formed a coalition with Vietnam and other Southeast Asia nations to balance China -- and not with China to balance Vietnam. The historical, political and military foundation was already in place for such a coalition. North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh had been a close American ally in World War II against Japan.
In common and common-sense parlance, Kissinger got it ass-backwards. So, why didn´t Kissinger do the right thing -- protect America and forge a coalition with other South East Asia nations to balance China?
Thanks to the de-classification of top secret State Department memos, we now have the answer:
Kissinger´s impoverished judgment is rooted in his visceral obsession with revenge for having been outmaneuvered and defeated by North Vietnam in the 1968-73 Paris Peace Talks.
Kissinger´s obsession has not gone away. His on-going, obsessive-compulsive trips to China – which China welcomes as helpful for maintaining The Kissinger Kicker -- indicate he still, over 40 years after his defeat by Vietnam, sits around all day and hates.
Drugs and alcoholism; destroyed families; suicides; shuttered stores and disappeared factories; financially-broke cities; unemployment checks running out; cyber snooping; stolen videos; imported goods that fall apart: there is no doubt that America is paying an astronomical price for one man´s petty desire to get even -- but it may be low compared to what is coming.
• "I advise the US not to make a fool out of themselves in trying to be smart,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang lectured America about tensions in the South China Sea.
• Beijing´s state media branded Trump is "as ignorant as a child ... "
Kissinger´s China Folly and The Kissinger Kicker are fueling an implacable Chinese contempt for America. No surprise there. Contempt is as predictable as it is deserved when you don´t know what you are doing but obstinately keep doing it anyway.
To repeat, the origin of that obstinacy is Kissinger´s humiliating defeat at the hands of the North Vietnamese.
Oh really? you say: prove it.
Glad to. According to a declassified, top secret State Department memo, here is what Kissinger told the Government of Thailand in a reunion in 1975:
"We don´t mind Chinese influence in Cambodia to balance North Vietnam. As I told the Chinese when we last met when we were discussing the Vietnamese victory in Indochina, it is possible to have an ideological victory which is a geopolitical defeat. The Chinese did not disagree with me."
(i) Kissinger obviously believes that if Vietnam were isolated geopolitically, his 1973 defeat would be magically transformed into victory. He is obsessively searching, in league with China, an alchemical solution. The Chinese – whose economic development is spurred on by The Kissinger Kicker -- are only too willing to look on benevolently. Yes, Henry, you´re so right; yes, Henry, you´re a great man… Yes, Henry …
(ii) A word in Kissinger´s above quote may have caught your eye: Cambodia.
In 1975-79, the genocidal madman Pol Pot ruled the country. To show the astonishing lengths to which Kissinger was prepared to go to punish Vietnam for winning the war with the United States, he told the Thailand Government:
“I am personally embarrassed by the Vietnam war [sic]. I believe that if you go to war, you go to win and not lose with moderation.
We are aware that the biggest threat in Southeast Asia at the present time is North Vietnam [sic]. Our strategy is to get the Chinese into Laos and Cambodia as a barrier to the Vietnamese… You [the Thailand Government] should also tell the Cambodians that we will be friends with them. They are murderous thugs, but we won´t let that stand in our way. We are prepared to improve relations with them.”
To counter Vietnam, Kissinger wanted to be friends with the “murderous thug” Pol Pot. If Kissinger is ever tried for war crimes, look for the quote you just read to be Exhibit 1.
(iii) The Chinese did not disagree with me. Here you see the end product of Kissinger´s hatred of Hanoi. Lacking inner substance, he unwittingly sets up the Chinese Government as the ultimate judge and jury of who is right, who is wrong; of who is good, who is bad. That is a perfect example of what psychoanalyst Carl Jung called a sacrificium intellectus. No translation needed.
Underneath it all, a personal feeling -- not a realpolitik analysis of facts and objective circumstances -- lay behind Kissinger´s China Folly.
As for what that feeling was ...
Mao "radiates authority and deep wisdom" Kissinger gushed in a top secret document to President Nixon. We have all seen such awe of the Orient before, many times: -"Kung Fu," Zen Buddhism, "The Karate Kid," I Ching, Taoism, "Charlie Chan."
What is wrong with Kissinger´s fawning over Mao is what lurks beneath the surface:
Any extreme always indicates the presence nearby of its opposite, usually in latent form. That presence is what makes the first extreme an extreme -- gives it its energy -- in the first place.
Radiates authority and deep wisdom is obviously an over-compensation.
Over-compensation for what?
You, dear reader, already know.
Scratch the surface and you will find the same old, gut-wrenching, xenophobic Yellow Peril panic.
We have seen that unconscious frenzy before, many times. Example: Europe´s idealized Dream Woman of the Middle Ages gave way to the burning of real women as witches. Chinese readers: take note.
Tragically, the story does not end with Kissinger´s puerile longings to avenge himself on North Vietnam for outsmarting him.
If World War III between America and China breaks out, Kissinger´s China Folly will finally be recognized for what it is and consigned where it belongs: infamy.
I am not saying that war with China is inevitable. I am saying that as a consequence of one man´s ignorance of basic power relationships combined with his petty vindictiveness, with every passing day the evitability is less.
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Did Washington just wake up? Is sending the aircraft carrier to Vietnam the beginning of what must be done: form an American alliance with Vietnam and other South East Asia nations to balance China? Or is it simply a one-off to gain leverage against China for some isolated event, e.g., up-coming trade talks?
Time will tell.
As for now: who woke up? Was it the Pentagon? CIA? State Department? NSA? Somebody in the White House?
We may never know who advised and who consented to send the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to Vietnam.
Whoever you are, you got it right. Definitely.