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Russia honours American icon on US election eve

The ultimate recognition in Russia comes from membership of the Academy of Sciences. It is a hallowed pantheon dating back to Peter the Great. Inevitably, like all major decisions and most minor decisions in Russia, Kremlin thoughtfully chooses the membership of the Academy of Sciences.
Thus, Joseph Stiglitz is a member, but Milton Friedman and George Stigler were not. Arthur Schlesinger, the ‘court historian’ in President John Kennedy’s Camelot was; while George Kennan, author of the historic Long Telegram, was not. Without doubt, therefore, the news from Moscow about the election of Henry Kissinger underscores something the Kremlin wishes to convey.
Tass news agency reported: Kissinger, 93, is one of the authors of the policy of ‘d·tente” in the US-Soviet relations. In 1973, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating and reaching the Paris Peace Accord intended to end the war in Vietnam. Upon resigning from big politics, Kissinger focused on writing memoirs, articles and books on foreign policy and diplomacy.
His most famous works include “Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy”; “The White House Years” and “Does America Need a Foreign Policy?” Kissinger has many US state awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian decoration, awarded to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Why Kissinger? Why not Noam Chomsky?
Evidently, Kremlin has a selective memory about Kissinger, who is linked to the assassination of Slavadore Allende and several other attempts at overthrow of established governments in Latin America, who is held singularly responsible for the destruction of Cambodia and Laos, and, whose decisions led to deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
Why did President Vladimir Putin approve this decision? In one word it can be explained opportunism. The timing is extremely significant on the eve of a momentous transition in Washington. Putin has projected to the US foreign-policy establishment that he is a pragmatist who is not unduly weighed down by convictions or moral scruples or ideology.
The high probability of a Hillary Clinton presidency makes the Kremlin nervous. Quintessentially, Clinton is also an ‘interventionist’ like Putin. She has made no bones about her visceral dislike toward Putin and if she seeks a showdown, Syria presents itself as a splendid theatre. Prima facie, Russia holds the upper hand in Syria as of now. But it may become irrelevant if Hillary deploys the ‘smart power’ she always espoused selective acts of intervention in a war of attrition that ultimately bleeds Russia. Putin is skating on thin ice.
Kissinger has always been a go-between for Putin. Kissinger advocates that Russia is not an existential foe of the United States and it is possible to create a sustainable balance of power. He interprets Russia’s (and Putin’s) swagger as a quest for American respect rather than an agenda of strategic defiance.
Kissinger puts Russia’s swagger in perspective. Technologically, US and Europe are far superior, and China is rapidly overtaking Russia. The economies of US, EU and China are each five to six times the size of Russia’s. Plainly put, in historical terms, Russia is no longer the dynamic core of Eurasia. Clearly, therefore, American narrative of Russia being a burgeoning menace is a flawed one, and a ‘containment strategy’ is unwarranted.
On the other hand, Kissinger sees Russia as a significant global player still, and cooperation is useful to advance American national interests. Through a deft admixture of ‘carrot and stick’, Russian actions can be influenced. Most important, Russia may be willing to be a significant actor in a coalition for modulating the rise of China in a direction that suits American interests.
Succinctly put, Kissinger harps on the need of a concert of powers similar to what existed (for a while) in nineteenth century Europe until the world fell apart. (I still enjoy reading his A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace 1812-1822 as a classic work in the history of diplomacy.)
Of course, the above paradigm call it coercive, amoral or Machiavellian which the eminent doctor prescribes, is not very different from what the patient also desires to project. Donald Trump may warm up to it. The big question is: Will Hillary want to?

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