realism part 1 - Suri, Jeremi. "Henry Kissinger and...

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Suri, Jeremi. "Henry Kissinger and the Limits of Realism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego, California, USA , Mar 22, 2006 <Not Available>. 2009- 02-05 <> Scholars and pundits routinely point to Henry Kissinger as a policy-maker who epitomized realist theory in action. His triangular diplomacy with the Soviet Union and the People?s Republic of China, as well as the general conduct of détente, appear to confirm this judgment. Kissinger?s writings have also furthered this perception through his constant invocation of concepts like the balance of power, raison d?état, and linkage. Both Kissinger?s critics and his acolytes focus on his alleged attention to material power and his aversion to ideological prejudices. Drawing on a close reading archival sources from more than eight countries, this paper will argue that Kissinger?s motives and actions departed significantly from the realist model. He consistently acted from an axiomatic belief, born of his own personal history, that democratic societies were weak and required strong leaders. Distrustful of the balance of power as a bulwark for international stability, Kissinger sought to destabilize the status quo to American advantage. In this context, he elaborated a ?madman theory? of leadership that sought to keep adversaries off-balance through an intentional image of irrationality. Kissinger repeatedly cited Charles de Gaulle as his model for this mode of behavior.This historical reassessment of Henry Kissinger has important implications for international relations theory. If one of the most cited exponents of realism was not a realist, is any policy-maker a true practitioner of realism? Kissinger?s departure from realist practice raises questions about whether realism could ever guide policy. This paper will propose a path out of this dilemma through a refinement of realist theory to include more attention to the work of historians, especially with regard to the influence of personality, ideas, and institutions on the policy-making process. Henry Kissinger's first book, on the Napoleonic Wars, explains Kissinger's foreign policy better than any of his memoirs, and is striking as an early display of brilliance and authority by Robert D. Kaplan ( The online version of this article appears in two parts. Click here to
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View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon go to part two. ) IME changes reputations. The current favorable reconsideration of Henry Kissinger may have less to do with the recent publication of his final volume of memoirs than with the lackluster quality of his successors at the State Department. Cyrus Vance, Edmund Muskie, Alexander Haig, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Warren Christopher are footnotes to history. George Shultz and James Baker were more substantial presences, but their substance had much more to do with their common
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realism part 1 - Suri, Jeremi. &quot;Henry Kissinger and...

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