Kissinger is clever enough to know that nobody’s going to take his latest peace proposal seriously, but that’s the point. He’s only concerned with legacy-building and isn’t sincere about politically resolving the Ukrainian Conflict.
Former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger unveiled his latest peace proposal for the Ukrainian Conflict in an article that he published at The Spectator. He compared this ongoing proxy war to World War I and lamented that the latter didn’t end through diplomatic means in mid-1916 when there was a chance to return to a modified status quo ante. With that lost opportunity in mind, he tabled a proposal similar in spirit in order to supposedly prevent any more Ukrainian deaths.
According to Kissinger, “A peace process should link Ukraine to Nato, however expressed…Russia would disgorge its conquests thence, but not the territory it occupied nearly a decade ago, including Crimea. That territory could be the subject of a negotiation after a ceasefire. If the pre-war dividing line between Ukraine and Russia cannot be achieved by combat or by negotiation, recourse to the principle of self-determination could be explored.”
In his mind, this sequence of events is required since “Ukraine has become a major state in Central Europe for the first time in modern history. Aided by its allies and inspired by its President, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine has stymied the Russian conventional forces which have been overhanging Europe since the second world war.” Furthermore, any outcome that would “render” Russia “impotent” would be unacceptable, Kissinger says, since it would radically alter the balance of power in Eurasia.
He predicts that “the dissolution of Russia or destroying its ability for strategic policy could turn its territory encompassing 11 time zones into a contested vacuum. Its competing societies might decide to settle their disputes by violence. Other countries might seek to expand their claims by force.” Of similar importance, Kissinger believes that his peace proposal must be immediately implemented in order to avert the scenario whereby AI inevitably takes control of the conflict.
In his estimation, “Once the line into this realm is crossed and hi-tech becomes standard weaponry – and computers become the principal executors of strategy – the world will find itself in a condition for which as yet it has no established concept…Overcoming the disjunction between advanced technology and the concept of strategies for controlling it, or even understanding its full implications, is as important an issue today as climate change”.
Kissinger concluded his latest piece by writing that “The quest for peace and order has two components that are sometimes treated as contradictory: the pursuit of elements of security and the requirement for acts of reconciliation. If we cannot achieve both, we will not be able to reach either. The road of diplomacy may appear complicated and frustrating. But progress to it requires both the vision and the courage to undertake the journey.”
For as well-intended as he portrays his latest peace proposal as being, it’s flawed by several fallacies that should already be obvious to objective observers. First, while Ukraine’s enduring relationship with NATO is already a fait accompli and unlikely to be reversed absent a black swan, it’s not “a major state in Central Europe” in the sense that he described it as. Rather, it’s simply one of the US’ largest proxies in history. This means that it doesn’t have the independent agency that he implies.
That leads to the second fallacy wherein he implies that the conflict will inevitably lead to Russia’s “Balkanization”, which is nothing but a neoconservative political fantasy. Ukraine isn’t an independent actor capable of achieving that outcome, nor can its patron advance that scenario even if it was since Russia has proven resilient in the face of unprecedented pressure. Nevertheless, that scenario serves as one of the two bases upon which Kissinger imbued his latest peace proposal with a sense of urgency.
The second such scenario segues into the third fallacy, which is that accelerated advances in AI will supposedly lead to computers soon taking control of the conflict and thus risking the end of humanity if they plunge it into a nuclear apocalypse by miscalculation. Kissinger is correct in warning about the challenges connected with this trend, but he’s off the mark in predicting that it’ll manifest itself very soon unless stakeholders accept his latest proposal for politically resolving the Ukrainian Conflict.
About those, they contain the last two fallacies inherent in his piece, namely that Russia cannot legally relinquish its claims to those former Ukrainian regions that reunified with it in late September and it wouldn’t trust the international community to supervise any subsequent referenda even if it did. The first is due to the constitutional prohibition on ceding Russian land while the latter is related to former German Chancellor Merkel admitting that she exploited the Minsk Accords as a ruse for duping Putin.
The former means that no Russian leader can legally reverse Novorossiya’s reunification with their country, which would also be political suicide even if they attempted to do so unilaterally in spite of the constitution, while the latter made it impossible for Moscow to ever trust the West again. Taken together, Kissinger’s latest peace proposal is stillborn and won’t find any reception in the Kremlin, nor in Kiev for that matter either since its hyper-nationalist leadership won’t relinquish their claims to Crimea.
No one should doubt that one of the most brilliant diplomatic minds in a century is also aware of this as well, which prompts the question of why he’d publicly table his latest peace proposal in the first place. Considering that he’s less than six months shy of turning 100, he was probably motivated by the desire to secure his legacy, to which end he seemingly thought that it was worth making a so-called “moonshot” so that his suggestions can be appreciated in hindsight.
To explain, he most likely knows that neither side will listen to him and thus probably expects the conflict to continue, but that’s precisely why he wrote what he did. Kissinger wants his prediction of innumerably more casualties to come to pass alongside the one about AI risking Armageddon so that future generations can appreciate the prescience of his proposal. In other words, it’s all about ego and legacy-building, which is the only logical explanation behind his unrealistic suggestions.
If Kissinger was really serious about politically resolving the Ukrainian Conflict, then he’d call for freezing everything along the present Line of Control (LOC) as the first step to that end, after which he’d propose Russian-American talks for working out a “new normal” between those nuclear superpowers. Instead, he sought to play to Western public opinion by presenting Ukraine as “a major state in Central Europe” with the independent agency that this implies and demanding that Russia renounce Novorossiya.
As the icing on the cake, he warned that Russia was supposedly on the brink of seemingly inevitable “Balkanization” that’s bound to break out unless it voluntarily withdraws to the LOC that preceded its special operation. In a halfhearted attempt to convince American decisionmakers into de-escalating their proxy war despite teasing them with the aforementioned reward for continuing it, he fearmongered about the scenario of AI taking control of the conflict and risking Armageddon.
Kissinger is clever enough to know that nobody’s going to take his latest peace proposal seriously, but that’s the point. He’s only concerned with legacy-building and isn’t sincere about politically resolving the Ukrainian Conflict. This diplomatic mastermind expects the New Cold War’s top proxy war to continue raging across the coming year and killing countless more people, after which he hopes that everyone will look back at his unrealistic proposal as supposedly being the only chance to have prevented it all.