Dr. Henry Kissinger fireside chat with Eric Schmidt | Talks at Google [April 17, 2015]

Dr. Henry Kissinger fireside chat with Eric Schmidt | Talks at Google [April 17, 2015]


[ Applause ]
>>Eric Schmidt: I’d like to — I’d like to begin by introducing Dr. Henry Kissinger.
Let’s roll the video. [music] Your champagne, Mr. Benside. Thank you [music] You’re siting in seat 2A. Wonder who will be sitting next to you in Seat 2B. [music] Your seat, sir. Hey… Thank you. Good evening Good evening! You’re Henry Kissinger. Ready for a good chat. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the real Dr. Kissinger. [Applause] Thank you, thank you, Henry.
If you looked at that ad with me, I’m carrying your book when I get into the elevator.
The — thank you, all, for coming. Dr. Kissinger and I have talked for a long
time about the future of the world. And I would argue that Dr. Kissinger is one of the
foremost experts on the future of the physical world, how the world really works. And, of
course, his contributions to America and the world are without question.
I would also argue that we have a pretty strong role here in the digital world. And it’s the
combination of the physical and the digital that will drive a lot of the future.
So we have agreed to have a conversation about the two together. And Dr. Kissinger just published
an extraordinary book on the structure of the world. I like to think of it as how the
world works. I, of course, wrote how Google works; right?
So perhaps we can start, Dr. Kissinger, by saying how did you want to do this and why
are we here?>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: Well, I was brought
up in the nondigital world. And while I’ve learned some of its instruments, my thinking
is shaped by the period before the interconnected world.
So Eric and I have been meeting at various conferences. And I’ve been fascinated by what
he knows. And I don’t know whether he’s been fascinated by what I know, but it — throughout
the conversation. And my grandchildren are so far ahead of me
in the digital world that it’s embarrassing to me.
So by exchanging ideas, Eric and I have fallen into a rather extensive dialogue. And when
he suggested that we take it here into conversation, I was very interested to do that. That’s why
I’m here.>>Eric Schmidt: The — in your book — Let’s
start by saying, you know, in your book, you talk about the Westphalian system. I didn’t
know what the Westphalian system was. But in your book, you say it’s relatively young
and it maybe is not permanent. How will the nation state evolve in this interconnected
world?>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: Well, I wrote this
book almost by accident. I was having dinner with a friend from Yale, and I was talking
about the nature of leadership and about doing some case histories on leaders. And he said,
why don’t you put that aside and write about something that really bothers you now. And
he said write about what problem bothers you the most.
And so I concluded what bothers me most is — it’s sort of grandiloquently called world
order. It arises the following way, in response to your question, Eric.
What we consider the international system, and what probably most of you consider the
international system is a number of states in relation with each other that serve each
other with diplomats and that balance each other. And there are certain rules. You cannot
cross borders and you can’t intervene in international affairs — in domestic affairs.
So people think that that is the natural order of the universe. It, however, has existed
only in the west, and only in western Europe, and only since about the middle of the 17th
century, when there was a 30 years’ war in Europe that killed a third of the population
with conventional weapons. And then a group of leaders got together in
the Westphalia, in Germany, with the Catholic leaders in one town and the Protestant leaders
in another. Very few names of these leaders have survived. But they constructed the system
that has lasted since then. And it’s based on the idea that a number of sovereign states
are going to balance each other through a balance of power and that the balance of power
is maintained by a certain common system of justice that is — that the system is considered
not perfectly just, but just enough so that nobody wants to overthrow the whole system
and seek a judgment within it. That’s a — in China, that concept never existed. In China,
the idea of order was that China is the center of the universe and every other state that
existed in the world was related to China in some kind of a tributary system. Then you
could never really become Chinese, but you could have closer or less close relationship
with China. Then in the Islamic world, that was whatever
it’s called is the autocratic system that determined the hierarchy. Now for the first
time in history, the various regions of the world are related to each other through technology,
and with instantaneous communication, and so they can affect each other.
The Roman empire and the Chinese empire were not part of the same world order. They didn’t
know of each other. And they didn’t know how to interact with each other. So that’s the
problem I was trying to deal with in this book and that I think is one of the challenges
of our time.>>Eric Schmidt: So all of us are very excited
about globalization and, in particular, the rise of two billion people going from poverty
into middle class, mostly in Asia. And, for example, the vast majority of them will be
connected to the Internet, they’ll be using smartphones, they will join our economic order.
As you know, before World War I, an economist named Engel wrote essentially an article that
said that because of trade, there would never be wars again. This book was written in 1909.
We all know what happened after that. So I make the same assumption, that the Westphalian
system plus this growth of modernity and commerce and so forth means a world of less war, less
conflict. Am I wrong?
>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: Yes, you’re probably wrong.
[ Laughter ] You’re not totally — you’re not — It’s complicated.
You are right that, of course, there’s instantaneous communication. And beam know about what is
going on in other parts of the world. But people don’t only disagree with each other
because they disagree as to facts. They more frequently disagree with each other because
they may agree on the facts, but they interpret them differently.
And so that the relevance of facts to a problem is sometimes more important than the facts
or at least as important as the facts themselves. So you take now the Middle East, the conflict
between Shia and Sunni interpretations of Islam. They both accept the Koran. They both
accept the basic theology. The split occurred about the fourth succession after the prophet.
And its bitterness has — if anything, it hasn’t become more in the contemporary period,
but the technical means of bringing it to others has increased.
So one really has to separate — matters that depend on factual conclusions I think it will
be easier to solve or at least be possible to solve. Matters that depend on interpretation
and ideology or religion may become harder to solve because of the means of spreading
the different views and making them clash with each other.
And so I think, actually, the frequency of wars has declined.
>>Eric Schmidt: Declined.>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: I’ve seen a study to
that effect. I think there’s a book out that says that.
But the intensity of the consequences has multiplied.
>>Eric Schmidt: Do you think that in the technological future, where more people are connected, there
will be more conflict because of this ideological fight? It will be easier to fight? The example
I would offer is ISIS, which is a horrific organization who are very effective at using
social media, even though they themselves have shut down the Internet within their part
of Iraq.>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: It’s — I think the
cultural differences, unless they can be diminished, the mere interconnection does not necessarily
avoid conflicts. If you look around the world today, you have
the Middle East crisis or whatever you — which is really three or four different revolutions
occurring simultaneously, some against the existing governments on the usual economic
issues, some on the Shia/Sunni spread, some — which would be the case in Syria — of
ethnic groups, and over it all, a revolution against a state system that was brought into
the area by the west in which the boundaries were drawn in 1920, reflecting no historic
or cultural reality. So all of these revolutions are going on simultaneously.
Each of them, and especially ISIS, is trying to use social media, and doing it extremely
effectively, vis-�-vis us for the purpose of intimidating us and to show how serious
they are, and for the rest of the — part of the Muslim community, to show the ferocity
with which they stand up to the West, which is, in itself, an attraction.
So I would say that the interconnectedness works both ways in this situation, which is
not an argument against interconnectedness; it’s an argument to try to learn from the
consequences of interconnectedness.>>Eric Schmidt: As you know, China has a different
view of the digital world than America. And you famously opened China. Extraordinary achievement.
If I take the view that China has a unique view of itself, right, and I also take the
view that economic growth in China will mean great prosperity for the Chinese, my naive
and optimistic view that that’s positive for the world, all the things that we’ve talked
about, what’s — what happens when China is as strong as America?
>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: One has to understand how China looks at the world in order to — And
you all have to understand, I am not a China scholar. I arrived in China in 1971, essentially,
ignorant of China because President Nixon sent me because I was on his staff and he
could keep an eye on me that way. [ Laughter ]
And anyone else he sent would be harder to control. And I couldn’t tell the bureaucracy
what I was doing. So I had minimal preparation. And that became apparent in the first — out
of my conversation with the Chinese premier, who was Zhou Enlai. And I made a statement,
and I was going along nicely, and I was saying, “So now I find myself here in this land of
mystery.” So he put up his hand and said, “What is so
mysterious about China?” And I said something banal. And he said, think
about the following problem: There is a billion of us, and it’s not mysterious to us. Which
was a very profound — really good point, profound one.
So I tried over the succeeding years and over 100 visits to China since then to try to understand
how they think of themselves. Now, the Chinese — the Chinese do not think
historically of conquering territory by force and colonizing it then and holding it the
way the Europeans have and the way others have.
The Chinese think, as a general rule, that they will influence other societies by the
majesty of their performance, by the magnitude of their efforts, and that they will then
draw them into a pattern of relationships that is based on cultural and psychological
domination, backed up by a military force which will be used in — a phrase I’ve often
heard — to teach a lesson. Not to conquer so much, although indirectly, that may be
a result. So that’s a different way of thinking.
Now, what will China do? Well, there are two ways, and it’s of great
importance for our future. If it goes the traditional way, then China
will gradually spread its influence as its power grows. And if the difference between
us gets too great, they will expect that other nations will recognize that fact and act accordingly.
If, however, the difference does not become so great, if it’s sort of an economics analysis
of the capitol, then we and the Chinese have this challenge. If it goes the traditional
way and under normal, historic conflicts, there will be a series of irritations that
go on over a period of time, one of which somewhere along the line will lead to a confrontation.
That’s the history of Europe with World War I. They have had years, decades of confrontations,
each of which was settled, and then one worse than any other suddenly blew up.
So that’s one model. The other model would be that we now decide
at this stage, when Eric can still ask that question as a future prospect, that both — both
countries decide we want to avoid this. And we will try to develop a partnership between
potential adversaries that work together on some common problems. And, actually, at this
moment, both the Chinese and the American presidents are saying they want to do that.
The trouble has been they haven’t yet found a way to do it. And one reason is that we,
the Americans, think every difficulty has a solution. And therefore, we segment the
world into problems. And each problem gets solved with concentrated effort.
The Chinese and the political world don’t think this way. They think every solution
of a problem is an admissions ticket to another set of problems. So you, therefore, have to
think conceptually and in terms of process. But right now, we are actually living through
a moment when the two sides are feeling their way towards each other to bridge that gap.
And I don’t know, one can’t tell whether they’ll succeed.
So when the Chinese president comes here next September, there are going to be a lot of
surface things that are going on. But the underlying issue will be, can they convince
each other that they’re working together or will they leave from each other thinking,
well, we’ll manage the competition better from outside.
>>Eric Schmidt: So there’s a technological question in many of these areas, but the one
that confound me the most is what to do about the spread of nuclear weapons.
You have written extensively on Iran and what’s going to happen in Iran.
And my amateur view of this is it’s very difficult. And as we know, Persia is a very proud, very
old culture, very wealthy and sophisticated culture, very prideful. And the evidence is
that they want nuclear weapons. It seems to me that it’s very difficult to
prevent a country that has the means and really wants them.
Do you agree? Is there a way where we can slow this down? Is there a way that technology
could change this? Is there something that we could do because of the obvious concerns
here?>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: Well, of course, one
question is why do they want nuclear weapons. And this probably has many answers, one of
which is that Iran, as you said, is an old civilization. It’s the one country that was
overrun by the Arabs in — when Islam spread around that part of the world that did not
adopt Arabic as a language, that maintained its own language, maintained its own literature.
And then about a thousand years into that process, adopted the Shiite version of Islam
in order to distinguish itself from the Turkish Ottoman empire, which was at its borders.
So there is this great sense of identity in Iran.
At the same time, they have adopted a Jihadist version of Shia religion, the leadership has,
which is really not — fairly indistinguishable from the ISIS version, except that they don’t
do such brutal demonstrations. But the objective is essentially indistinguishable. So that
is the world in which they live. But let me get to the issue of nuclear weapons.
I’ve been writing on that subject since long before most of you were born. And the fundamental
problem is this: When people ask me, what was the problem that bothered me most when
I was in government, what caused me — nothing caused me sleepless nights. Well, what did
I worry about? It was what would I say if the president says to me, we have come to
the limit of our diplomacy. Now do we go to nuclear weapons?
And the reason it bothered me, as it should, is because the consequences of the use of
nuclear weapons are so horrendous, that you so transform the world, that it’s a serious
question whether any person has the right to take that responsibility to inflict that
level of devastation on mankind in relation to one problem.
So this — as long as the management of these weapons was in the hands of a very few countries
that had similar risks, you could still imagine how the world could manage. But once it spread
into areas in which the conflict between the participants is extremely intense and in which
they may have religious conviction in which the destruction of life may be an advance
towards a better life, and where the technology is not enough elaborated so that you can develop
fail-safe systems and early warning so that preemption gets built into the system, then
you have a really tough problem. And the challenge for me in the Iranian weapon is that it will
almost mathematically produce the same desire in other comparable countries in the region.
And when — and if a weapon is ever used and we wake up and find that 100,000 people have
been killed in five minutes, that will affect human consciousness, must affect human consciousness
around the world, also in relation to their governments.
So my concern with the discussions now is — they’re an extremely complicated technical
stuff that will be debated. But the key issue to me is the propensity of the achievement
by Iran of nuclear capability, military capability triggering the same thing in Saudi Arabia,
Egypt, Turkey. And then these countries face each other. And then here we sit. We’re trying
to produce stability. And I haven’t even mentioned Israel, which is a potential target for all
of them. So that’s what one should concern oneself
with in this Iranian negotiation. Could one keep them from doing it? You know,
if this were a seminar, you can say you can theoretically do it by getting them into a
value system in which they don’t want it, which is unlikely, or by threatening them
with consequences that they don’t want to face. That opportunity, if it ever existed,
is past. So in this world, we will now have to see — we’ll have to give it a chance for
the follow-on negotiations to succeed. But at the end of it will be the question,
if Iran winds up with nuclear weapons, so will other countries. And then what will we
do?>>Eric Schmidt: If the point is past where
we can prevent it, then does it necessarily have to happen?
>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: You know, I weighed — because I don’t think — I think probably
yes. Because in most bureaucratic organizations, at least most governmental bureaucratic organizations,
while you like to think of the long term, you must deal with the short term. And all
the pressures of the short term will be to continue, while breaking with it would be
a major decision. I would think that probably — we are probably
beyond the point where that program can be stopped by — stopped by American efforts,
probably. But I would respect the administration for trying to stop it.
>>Eric Schmidt: We need a better solution. Maybe we can think of some technological solutions,
better detection, other ways of monitoring and so forth. Maybe we can invent —
>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: But the technological solution will help you only if you have already
decided to do it. You — The reason — The Iranians started this program around 2000.
They stopped it temporarily when we invaded Iraq, because they were afraid they were next
on the list. They resumed it when they realized we were stuck in Iraq.
And every time they continue, they create another interest group that is concerned with
continuing it. And so their basic argument — I would think that it would take really
overwhelming force to convince them that the cause would be too great.
>>Eric Schmidt: In this context, let’s talk about Russia. We — if we go back to the Westphalian
system and order, the invasion of Crimea is clearly a violation of a whole bunch of agreements.
The Russians are behaving in a way different from the contract, if you will, the European
contract, as China are. We face, right, the technological industry
faces very significant restrictions in Russia now for the Internet use. Twitter has been
under great attack. There are new laws that are blocking certain technological solutions
in Russia. Russia itself is largely dependent on oil and gas revenue, which is, in fact,
in trouble. If China is a different structure than America
and Europe, what’s Russia?>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: Well, Russia has never
in its mind been fully part of the Westphalian system, because it has had a totally different
history. And it’s also a different animal. The Westphalian system was based on states
with a — with fairly homogeneous populations in relatively small areas, the European states,
with a very comparable culture. When the enlightenment started in Europe,
Russia was governed by Mongols. When America was discovered, it was still governed by Mongols.
When the Westphalian treaty was negotiated, it was about the time that the present Russian
state emerged as a state. It had nothing to do with Europe. It didn’t enter Europe until
another hundred years later. And it’s a territory with nine time zones, so no European state
has had this geographic extent of Russia. So it is a country on an open plain under
threat of attack from both east and — and west. It has caused more wars, but it — than
more countries. It has prevented, on the other hand, the domination of the world by Mongols,
by Swedes, by French, by Germans. So it’s a country that is obsessed with its security
and with its identity, which is culturally European, geographically divided between continents.
So the perception of the current crisis in Russia is totally different from our perception.
And Putin has 80% of public support. And I’ve just been told of a poll that was taken in
February in which that percentage has remained fairly constant, and where even 50% of the
opposition groups agree with him. Plus all the others.
So one has to understand these realities. Crimea became part of Ukraine in 1954 only
— when Ukraine was part of Russia because Khrushchev assigned it to the Ukraine as part
of a power struggle inside the communist party. But that’s not to justify what Russia did.
But it grew out of a — this whole sequence grew out of a crisis over how to perceive
the future of the Ukraine, which by Russians is considered part of their patrimony, which
by Europeans, it’s considered just another state, and over the issue of what arrangements
for its security should be made. I will mention my own (indiscernible) view
of a (indiscernible) issue. If one looks at the Ukraine as a strategic asset to one side
or the other, the following situation arises: The — If the eastern border of NATO is put
at the eastern border of Ukraine, it is within 200 miles of Stalingrad and 300 miles of Moscow,
and that — given the historic experience of Russia, it’s hard to take. If the security
border of Russia is put at the western border of Ukraine, it is along the border of Poland,
Hungary, Romania, and that’s hard to take for the West.
So my maybe simple-minded idea is Ukraine should be treated like Austria or Finland,
not part of a strategic system, but as a meeting place, as a place where the two sides can
cooperate. And if they can’t cooperate, at least not confront each other. That is the
underlying issue. How to get to a solution of it, you can’t
— If one looks at it entirely from the rules of the Westphalian system, it’s not a Putin
problem, it’s a Russia problem.>>Eric Schmidt: Right.
>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: How does Juan conceive Russia? And even if one disagrees with my
particular interpretation of it, one has to start with analysis of what Russia represents,
and then what we represent. Then we can see what can be done.
>>Eric Schmidt: So the reason I asked about Russia was that one way to deal with Iran
is for Russia to put pressure on Iran. Another — as an example, one way to deal with North
Korea is to have China put pressure on North Korea.
So in a multi-party world, could we see a situation where the problems of North Korea
are resolved by pressure from China, and the problems in Iran, which would negatively affect
Russia, are solved by pressure from Russia? In other words, why don’t they police the
terrible behaviors near their borders?>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: Well, it’s partly a
question of attitude. If we say we know what all the problems of
the world are and we are going to hand out assignments, like school assignments, —
>>Eric Schmidt: Right.>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: — and you, Russia,
will take care of Iran, and you, China, take care of North Korea, it won’t work.
And we have a tendency in that direction. But if we ask ourselves, from — what would
be an interest over Russia towards nuclear weapons on its borders, or China, from their
point of view, we would probably find that on this point, what you described earlier,
the factual conclusions would be very close to each other. That they don’t want them,
for their reasons. So then it depends what our overall relationship is with these countries.
With Russia now in the middle of a conflict over Ukraine, cooperation with America is
not a great motive to do anything. So their willingness to help vis-�-vis Iran is what
affected. Although no matter what we do, they cannot want a nuclear — The same is true
of China and North Korea. If we can develop together some concept of how we deal with
the emergence of nuclear weapons in the world, because whatever our differences are, we should
be together on not having nuclear weapons become conventional weapons for strategy.
>>Eric Schmidt: The math –>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: That’s an opportunity,
actually.>>Eric Schmidt: The math on nuclear weapons
is so horrific for the environment, pollution, economics, human life, even in the areas that
are not part of the conflict zone, that it would be a very, very tragic thing for the
world.>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: I completely agree
with that. And it’s — The challenge for political leaders
is how you get from the recognition of a problem to its solution.
>>Eric Schmidt: So I wanted to finish by talking about leadership and also technology a little
bit, and then have some questions from — that have been submitted by our audience.
When I listen to the political leadership in the world, they don’t speak with this level
of understanding of world order, negotiation, and so forth. They speak from the standpoint
of their doctrine. So the Chinese speak from, “We’re right and you’re wrong.” The Americans
says, “We’re right and you’re wrong,” the Europeans say, “We’re right and you’re wrong.”
You’ve said before and you write in your book about the importance of leadership and the
importance of negotiation. Why don’t we have such strong leaders today?
Is technology making those leaders harder to find or easier to find? In other words,
why don’t we have more — I know you admire President de Gaulle. I know you admire Lee
Kuan Yew, a number of people like that who you view as great statesmen.
Why don’t we have more leaders who can have this discussion at this level and drive the
world to a safer place?>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: There are many — obviously,
there are many reasons. It’s not necessarily true that strong leaders
drive the world to a safer place, because strong leaders may also produce visions that
unsettle the world. To achieve what you are talking about, you
need strong leaders that recognize the same problem. They don’t have to come up with the
same solutions at first. Then the issue is also what is a strong leader.
I think a strong leader, it’s got to be somebody who recognizes a vision and is — and implements
it, even when the facts do not at first make it obvious.
That’s how Google was created. So that’s what happens here in the Valley.
That quality is harder to come by now, partly because of the technology that you have created.
When I started being concerned with or getting involved in the periphery of politics, I was
working with Nelson Rockefeller. He suffered from the illusion that you become president
by having the best program. So he spent a lot of time on substance. And I had never
heard of focus groups. But now the technology has developed to a point in which the — how
to achieve immediate impact has become so refined that you don’t have time to concentrate
as much as you should on where you’re going to go. And you become so emotionally dependent
on confirmation by these groups and by the social networks that you really don’t know
what you can do as an effort beyond the consensus. And I think that’s one of the reasons why
leaders now, candidates now have spent a lot of their effort on things that are different
from what they have to do when they get into office.
>>Eric Schmidt: The –>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: Now, there must be
a limit to my tactlessness. [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: At Google, we like to hear. My final question, and then we’ll come to
audience questions, is, when you look forward and you understand technology from the people
around you and what you see, and you worry, what do you want the technology industry to
do to make things better? We would answer, right, so our answer is roughly the following:
We’re going to get everyone connected. We’re going to give everyone an Internet connection
and a smartphone, hopefully Android. And they’re going to have all this information. Their
education system is going to be much stronger. They’re going to be able to have better commerce,
have better globalization. We believe as an industry that we are in a global movement
to get everyone connected and everyone empowered so they can each — each and every one of
them can be much better, much happier, much better educated, happier, safer, et cetera.
What would you say to that challenge? What would you like us to do more of?
>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: You know, you’re an important teacher to me of this technology,
because I don’t get exposed to it in my normal — and that’s what — and you’ve been kind
enough to invite me here on a number of occasions, which has been an eye-opener to me.
What I would — So when I criticize it, it’s not the effort that is being done, it’s the
implications of having such vast power. I’m — interconnectedness is, of course — I
think it’s highly desirable. But your theory seems to be that everybody draws the same
conclusion from facts. And I think it’s the interpretation of facts and the definition
of their relevance that creates the really differences. So a level of — right now, nothing
like the ability that you have created, to punch a button and to get information, has
ever existed. That’s a fantastic development. It gives you a power, though, for altering
it, which is bound to get challenged. That’s inherent in the process.
But I’ll put that issue aside. But when you create a humanity that is used
to this, for whom it becomes common, you could say it develops a certain laziness about conceptions,
because you can always find out the facts, and you don’t have to worry about their interconnectedness.
And it’s in the interconnectedness of facts. So what I would like to see you do is to go
from the level that you are now covering to, okay, what does it mean? And with what other
set of facts and in relation to what objective is relevant? And build the debate thing into
this. Obviously, if I knew how to do it, I’d be a very wealthy man.
>>Eric Schmidt: You’d work here at Google. [ Laughter ]
>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: But that is what we need.
There’s no point in complaining about the existence of the search engines. They perform
this function of interconnecting us. Of course, when I look at the order of things you display
about me, I would order it differently.>>Eric Schmidt: Yes. There are many people
on that list, Dr. Kissinger.>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: But that’s a minor
— that’s — This is what I would — this is what I would
look for. This is what we need. And then it — we should try to create — profound thinking
has occurred when people took a body of facts and challenged it and developed other theories
about it. And the danger is that when you are so good at collecting facts, that you
(indiscernible) things.>>Eric Schmidt: So the answer is, go up to
a higher level of understanding and meaning?>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: Yes. But what does
one really mean by that, one really ought to discuss that. I can just tell you what
I think the issue is.>>Eric Schmidt: I think we should — we have
another ten minutes or so. Why don’t we take some audience questions.
We have an internal system where people have contributed questions. And let me read some
of the highest-rated ones. The first one, in your excellent world order
book, you seem to portray nationalism as an invented concept, which outlived its usefulness.
Would you agree with this assessment? If so, do you — what would replace nationalism,
in your view?>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: I don’t know that.
That’s what many of these crises are about. And you see in Europe that nationalism declines
for the system, but it still exists within the countries.
>>Eric Schmidt: Right.>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: For their internal.
So what I think will happen in the Middle East is that sometime in this process, some
units will emerge that represent a political consensus. They may not be nations at all
in our old sense. And in a way, that’s what’s happening around the world. And it’s one of
the — I don’t know the answer to that question.>>Eric Schmidt: Another question. This comes
to this question of sort of principle versus negotiation.
How can the United States normalize relationship with enemies, such as Iran, while not alienating
long-term allies, such as Israel and the Saudis?>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: Well, when you normalize
relations, it must be because you have said to yourself that conflict has run into a dead-end
and we want to open a new avenue, a new direction. You don’t necessarily have to know where the
direction will take you. I had the good fortune of being able to open
relations with China. I say good fortune because these events — the constellation that made
that possible was not created by Nixon or me. We recognized it
at once.
And so — and I had other negotiations with adversaries, I think the first thing one needs
to know is the adversary’s perception of the world. And so because what one is trying to
reconcile is perceptions that were different enough to produce the previous conflict. And
so at a minimum, you want to reduce that conflict to a proportion so that you can work together,
or if it goes well, to develop objectives which you can pursue together.
So there are different ways of doing this. Some people think that the way to do this
is to take very tiny little steps and — so get used to it. And I used to call it the
salami tactic of negotiation. You slice it very thin.
My own view — but this is — is, I like — I would usually tell my opposite number, quite
accurately, what my objective was. Because my reasoning would be that there are a lot
of little things that happen all the time, but if you want to achieve a consensus in
a direction, you should try to achieve a parallel interpretation, or at a minimum, the other
side should understand what you’re trying to do and not waste too much time analyzing
you.>>Eric Schmidt: So, in other words, tell them
your world view and what you’re trying to achieve?
>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: Tell them, I am here to achieve this.
>>Eric Schmidt: Okay.>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: And here is why I think
this might be desirable. And you must have experienced this more than
I. When you enter a negotiation, you often know what your bottom line is. And some people
will say just get there very slowly, because maybe you don’t ever have to reach it. I usually
offered my bottom line right away.>>Eric Schmidt: Right up-front. Just right
up-front. You say, “This is what I want.”>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: Well, maybe 5%.
[ Laughter ] To have a little margin so that it doesn’t
look like an ultimatum.>>Eric Schmidt: (indiscernible) country, too.
>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: But there must be lawyers in this group who will tell me the exact opposite.
But that would be my approach.>>Eric Schmidt: Another question from our
audience. Where do you see the USA-Cuba relationship
in five years, and 25 years?>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: They will be (indiscernible).
I don’t have a — the answer would have to be, but where we will be in 25 years.
>>Eric Schmidt: With Cuba.>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: In two years.
>>Eric Schmidt: 25 years with Cuba.>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: With Cuba.
I don’t think Cuba is a big problem. [ Laughter ]
I really don’t. It’s a — the problem which we have talked ourselves into. But most of
the rest of the world doesn’t care what our relation with Cuba is.
I think we will — But I would expect that Cuba will not be a revolutionary state, that
we will have a normal relationship with Cuba. But Cuba is not a factor in world politics.
And it has some impact in Latin America, which disappears once our relations are normalized.
It will be an advanced Caribbean state.>>Eric Schmidt: Let’s have our final audience
question. The — This is about domestic policy in America.
And as you know, there has been a great deal of discussion about the role of the presidency
and the Congress. Domestic policy — politics in the U.S. is
becoming increasingly polarized. How does this affect our relations and affect the rest
of the world?>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: I think the polarization
is very bad for the relations with the rest of the world. Partly symbolically, and partly
actually. Symbolically, because for the rest of the
world, America always has represented a certain elemental force which may do a lot of things
that are weird, but in the end, comes together on great objectives.
And in a way, it does. When I was in government, we were going crazy about the energy problem.
And a lot of projects were started then in the ’70s that everybody said, well, it can
never work. And it didn’t work then. But 30 years later, it did work. And the energy revolution
is a huge event in our time which we take sort of for granted.
But we now have a deadline in government. When I first entered government in the Nixon
administration, I thought life was horrible, because we had the Vietnam protests. But still,
there were a certain number of senators to whom any president could go and say, “The
country needs this,” and no matter what the party was, you could count on them to try
to shape it. Now, all the leading — all the leaders are sort of wrapped up in their own
constituencies and the constant need for re-election, that this safety net for the government is
— it’s disappearing. Partly because so many people now think that you can become president
without serving any time in the Congress, so that that’s just a stepping-stone for them
to greater things. That’s a problem we have to overcome. And I have to tell you right
away, I — it’s one thing to say there’s a problem. That doesn’t mean that one necessarily
knows all the answers to it, or any of the answers to?
>>Eric Schmidt: Well, perhaps we’ll end up with some Chinese views, that some problems
can be solved now, and some problems will be solved in the future.
I think you all know why this is an extraordinary man and an extraordinary leader. And it’s
extraordinary to me — using “extraordinary” a lot — to have you here for a third time.
Thank you for your advice, your suggestions. And I can assure you that Googlers will be
working on working on meaning. So thank you very much, Dr. Kissinger.
>>Dr. Henry Kissinger: Thank you very much. [ Applause ]

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