Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :
Ghassan Charbel
Editor-in-Chief of Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt newspaper
TT

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Kissinger’s Shadow Chases Blinken

Antony Blinken went to Harvard. In the hallways, he met the shadow of a man who preceded him there by decades. His name was Henry Kissinger. He will meet the same ghost as he passes through the National Security Council as well as the Council on Foreign Relations. The owner of the shadow also loved writing articles and thinking at length about America’s future and its position in the world.

Blinken now sits in the Secretary of State’s office. Kissinger left this office decades ago, but his shadow remained. How difficult it is to live with the presence of a brilliant ancestor! It is as if he was always judging you and testing you! People are tempted by comparisons. Emmanuel Macron understands what it means to occupy the office of a man who left his aura hanging over him. He knows the difficulty of living in Charles de Gaulle’s office.

Time is a judge that does not take into account mitigating factors. He pushes position holders to their fate and monitors the results. There is no place for ordinary employees who rush into oblivion like river water trickles into the sea.

History only preserves the names of those with fingerprints, even if they are sometimes stained by crimes. That is why history has not forgotten those who left their mark at the turning points. Mazarin, Talleyrand, Metternich, and Bismarck. It did not forget Molotov, Xuan-lai, Kissinger, Gromyko, Primakov, and Lavrov, despite the latter’s image falling into the Ukrainian trap.

On the plane that took him to Beijing, he looked at his watch. Time runs out. Biden is threatened with leaving the White House in the upcoming elections. The courts are dealing with a loud man named Donald Trump, and his popularity is not diminishing. If Biden leaves, he will leave with him. He will publish his memoirs and give lectures. But retirement does not tempt him. Then the fingerprint is more important than the details of the diary. It’s a permanent stamp.

How difficult it is to meet with the Emperor of China, the man who holds the keys to the “world factory” and who deigns to sit in the second place in the ranking of the great powers. Vladimir Putin came to his mind. He will not lose the war in Ukraine, but the West will make it long and costly.

The war in Ukraine increased Russia’s need for Mao’s country. It did not occur to the master of the Kremlin that Russia’s real competitor is the human sea residing on its borders, armed with technological progress and a will of steel. Putin escaped from the American fate and fell into the Chinese destiny. The appointment is really difficult. This man, with whom he will shake hands, is not threatened by elections or means of communication, and no one dares to oppose him since the party has established him as a counterpart to Mao Zedong and a bit more.

Kissinger’s shadow haunted him. On July 9, 1971, Kissinger was supposed to be resting in northern Pakistan. But comfort is something that tempts others. He secretly took off for China, bringing with him his knowledge of the country he was visiting and the drivers of its history and present. He also carried with him a complete understanding of the brilliant man he would meet, in addition to his intellectual arsenal, his precise knowledge of the details of complex files, and the skill of gaining the trust of others and suggesting that he was capable of granting and obstructing.

Marathon conversations took place between brilliant people, during which Kissinger asked Chinese Prime Minister Xuanlai to extend an invitation to President Richard Nixon to visit the Chinese continent, which was openly hostile to imperialism and considered it a “paper tiger.” The result was Nixon’s visit to China in February 1972, which constituted a coup in the international balance of power. The Soviet Union had no choice but to take the path of détente with the West, which Kissinger believed would lead to the decline of the Soviet Empire.

In the talks, Blinken confirmed that Xi Jinping is not in a rush to confront America, but he does not want to see Putin lose because his defeat deepens Taiwan’s alienation.

On the plane that took him to the Middle East, Blinken turned to his watch. The current situation is difficult and dangerous. The echoes of the massacres in Gaza reached the heart of American universities. The Biden administration was quick to support Israel in the wake of the Al-Aqsa Flood, but seven months of killing is beyond tolerance. The American machine intercepted Iranian missiles and drones, but some of them reached Israeli territory.

The Netanyahu government responded with a programmed strike also deep inside Iran. Who guarantees the ability to continue pulling the strings? What if the Middle East woke up to a total collapse? America does not hold back anything from Netanyahu, but the man is behaving like a wounded warrior. If he carries out his threat to invade Rafah, the fires are likely to expand.

Once again, Kissinger’s shadow haunts him. He seized the 1973 war. He supported Israel, but practically imposed the option of negotiation as the only way out. He launched his “shuttle diplomacy” and used the arsenal of realism, ingenuity, and moving cards with Anwar Sadat and Hafez al-Assad, and the result was two agreements to resolve the conflict. The Egyptian side’s agreement changed the scene in the Arab-Israeli conflict and later opened the door to Camp David and Egypt’s exit from the military aspect of the war.

Tragic situations require exceptional decisions and men who are skilled at creating destinies at turning points. Can Blinken open the door to a path that leads to an independent Palestinian state? Such a step would bring a major change to the scene in the Middle East.

America will thus compensate for the historical mistake it committed when it allowed successive Israeli governments to assassinate the Oslo Accords and ignore the importance of Yasser Arafat’s involvement in it, as well as disregarding the Arab Peace Initiative.

Half a century after Kissinger’s tour in the Middle East, Blinken’s plane is on the move. Removing the injustice done to the Palestinian people will constitute a major coup that redraws the boundaries of roles, including the roles of Iran, Türkiye, Russia, and China.

A comprehensive peace will give the terrible Middle East a chance to focus on development, combat poverty and terrorism, and address the misery of living in tents. Can Blinken leave his mark on history as Kissinger did in more than one place, including the negotiations to withdraw from Vietnam?