Army, including during the Battle of the Bulge, and been in positions of some responsibility during the American occupation of his native country. While several of his peers at Harvard had also served, few had the first-hand experience of persecution that Kissinger brought with him from his earlier years. The young Jewish man was not just older than many of his fellow graduate students, he had aged in less visible ways, the ways that only a person fleeing for his life might. Additionally, even as he toiled in the Widener Library on his dissertation, the married man was engaged in filling the duties of a reserve officer, an activity that kept one foot firmly outside of the ivory tower.
All told, he struck many of those around him as quite serious and severe Isaacson , When he did graduate, Kissinger was already thirty-one years of age and a good deal more experienced than many donning a cap and gown in the spring of In his view, nuclear weapons and the fear they sowed did not change world politics; instead, these devastating weapons only demonstrated that governments had more to learn about keeping a stable international order, an issue about which the Congress of Vienna spoke directly Isaacson , 74 — 75; Kaplan He ardently believed that by looking back into the past it might be possible to see how historical analogy could be used to help guide policies of the modern age Kissinger , Still, if this is how Kissinger viewed one goal of his dissertation, few shared it.
Additionally, the dissertation was light on primary sources, generally a hallmark of doctoral work expected to break fresh scholarly ground Isaacson , It would ultimately be published and remains to this day on many syllabuses as essential reading.
Indeed this vision of diplomacy is reinforced throughout the book. Such trust only opens one up to unnecessary risk. This relationship between force and diplomacy underpins one of the key observations in Restored. Kissinger is quite clear:. It means no more than an international agreement about the nature of workable arrangements and the permissible aims and methods of foreign policy.
It implies the acceptance of the framework of the international order by all major powers, at least to the extent that no state is so dissatisfied that, like Germany after the Treaty of Versailles [ending World War I], it expresses its dissatisfaction in a revolutionary foreign policy Kissinger , 1. This argument about legitimacy and stability evolved directly from Kissinger studying the Congress of Vienna.
Of the ultimate settlement in Vienna, the Harvard scholar reflected:. He goes on to on to link stability and legitimacy with the use of force and the role of diplomacy:. Their [the diplomats in Vienna] goal was stability, not perfection, and the balance of power is the classic expression of the lesson of history that no order is safe without physical safeguards against aggression… there was created a balance of forces which, because it conferred a relative security, came to be generally accepted, and whose relationships grew increasingly spontaneous as its legitimacy came to be taken for granted Kissinger , — From this perspective, Kissinger was making an important point that would later be associated not just with him, but with the realist movement in international affairs — preserving stability is the paramount goal of the statesman, and it follows from the balance of power and establishment of legitimacy Kaplan A revolutionary power, according to the young scholar, was one that could never be reassured of its security and that consequently sought to guarantee absolute security at the expense of others in the system Kissinger , 2.
Such a state sees the existing international order or legitimization of it as oppressive; it will never have peaceful relations with the powers party to that order Kissinger , 2. While marching through Europe at the tip of a bayonet, France directly threatened stability while also indirectly undermining it by spreading dangerous ideas about nationalism and liberalism that undercut the sovereignty of existing states.
While France was the revolutionary power that spurred diplomatic activity in Vienna, those assembled there were well aware that a future revolutionary state in the form of Russia could pose a dangerous new hazard.
Logically, then, Russia would need to buy into the legitimacy of the new system, and accept an equilibrium of power, if there were to be lasting peace. How this practically played out was most readily apparent in the formation of the Holy Alliance, a topic that will be discussed later in this essay.
A practical feature flowing from this discussion of legitimacy centers on what diplomacy can and cannot achieve under particular circumstances. However, if a revolutionary state is growling at those supporting the present order, diplomacy cannot function with a wolf at the door. It may carry on among the states party to the same mutually agreed upon and legitimate order, but not with states outside of such an order. Yet even among these states there are limits. Like Clausewitz who argued for the matching of military strategies with political goals, Kissinger reminds us that the diplomat may only maneuver within the space outlined by the policies of his or her government and aim to deploy a diplomatic strategy in support of such policies.
These policies may not, however, always be achievable by diplomatic means. These men, in pursuit of a new legitimate world order, successfully established stability in Europe after a period of revolutionary upheaval. Conservatism was about ensuring the status quo, not engaging in revolutionary social movements, regardless of the cause. Freedom was possible because of deference to a legitimate authority and the statesman was duty bound to support this system, not to tear it down.
It is this concept of conservativism that Kissinger carried with him through life. This kind of conservatism was featured at the Congress of Vienna. It is due to understanding and bridging divides that a statesman becomes great. The third and fourth contrarian themes that Ferguson pulls from the pages of Restored both center on history, but in different ways. Foreign policy needs to be executed with the sense that all could go terribly wrong; only then is the proper care and foresight employed.
There are at least two forces at work against which the tragic hero of the statesman struggles. While the making of policy is defined by contingency and flexibility, bureaucracies of government measure success in terms of calculability and safety, characteristics uncommonly associated with the messy process of policymaking Kissinger , — Policy aims at fixing problems while bureaucracy aims to prevent them Kissinger , One is flexible, the other cautiously static, and these are fundamentally opposed orientations.
Additionally, bureaucracies are only capable of carrying out a limited set of actions since they are bound by the fixed values of the societies they serve and are charged with achieving instrumental success rather than social goals Kissinger , These are all hallmarks of a bureaucratic rationality against which a statesman will always struggle.
This comes in two varieties. Different states may hold different notions of justice, and this can make achieving stabilizing policies difficult for the statesman. This is not a conducive setting for diplomacy. Modern political science calls these two varieties of domestic pressure problems of two-level games. Statesmen must meet two sets of demands — those made by the opposing state and those made by domestic audiences.
The domestic experience, meaning the domestic politics and social values of a state, may well prohibit certain policies that would best address the needs of the international system writ large. This is a timeless obstacle facing the would-be statesman, and it only adds to his or her tragic existence. This view of history and diplomacy ultimately brings dark tidings.
If the statesman is always fighting a losing battle against the engrained features of his government and society, disaster ultimately and cyclically strikes. Stability lulled states to sleep. Even the ablest statesmen who refused to rest in their jobs would be unable to move nations who had become accustomed to peace. Gone were the lessons of the Napoleonic age that were acted on by Metternich and Castlereagh and such is the tragedy of history about which Kissinger was so concerned.
In making this claim the young scholar was criticizing modern trends in political science that attempted to discover covering laws for political interaction Ferguson , Nothing was given in world politics; rather, it was the product of an intractably intertwined historical experience.
The practical implications of this last joint theme are clear. There were echoes between the Congress of Vienna and the modern era well worth exploring. The Cold War was certainly tense and the Soviet Union a potential revisionist state, but stability could be achieved if legitimacy and equilibrium could be established.
While the United States must confront the Kremlin, t was possible to promote an international order conducive to stability, if not peace. This would require, however, internalizing the experiences of 19 th century diplomatic wrangling in Vienna. Beyond his four themes, Ferguson eventually makes several closing observations about A World Restored and its author. There are none of the outlines, subtitles, bulleted lists, or two-by-two tables that have come to characterize modern political science.
Its insights into the past and present are wound throughout its chapters and seep from its paragraphs. Indeed, the reader who burrows into Restored will find other themes Ferguson left less thoroughly explored.
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