For admirers and critics alike, Henry Kissinger is more than just a former U.S. Secretary of State and former national security adviser. He is also an authoritative author. His new book World Order: Reflections on the Character of Nations and the Course of History, like his previous works, is a valuable contribution to the modern historical canon. His first book A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace 1812-1822 was submitted as a doctoral thesis in 1954 before making it into print in 1957. His second, Diplomacy, was published in 1994. The title of his third and perhaps final offering, World Order, might seem ironically titled, for if there was one thing the world yearned for in 2014, it was order to drive growth and peace. In 2014, in the Middle East, the Syrian civil war had already killed hundreds of thousands and allowed jihadist groups to threaten the stability of the entire region. In Asia, China had grown more assertive, stoking anxiety among its neighbors.
In West Africa, civil wars and the Ebola pandemic had nearly shut down several states. AndI even Europe, the most rule-bound and institutionalised part of the world, had showed its political weakness under direct assault, as Russian President Vladimir Putin reclaimed military aggression as an instrument of state policy.Today, following long, costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States and other Western powers are suffering from intervention fatigue, preferring instead to focus on domestic concerns. And the rising powers have so far proved either unwilling or unable to safeguard international stability. In this latest work, Kissinger who is seen by some as a diehard practitioner of realpolitik hanging on to yesterday’s world, has also changed over time. He has less faith in historical precedents, and believes that stability in a post-Western world will depend on accommodating value systems as much as on power politics.