As a result, “it’s inevitable that a rising China will impinge on the Unites States,” Kissinger noted. He called a conflict between the two “a disaster for both countries” where “it would be impossible to describe what a victory would look like.”
It was in that context that Kissinger said, “In each country [the U.S. and China] there are domestic pressures that emphasize disagreements that might arise. We see that in our political campaign in which both candidates are using language about China which I think is extremely deplorable.”
Asked about his endorsement of Romney, who has talked about labeling China a currency manipulator, Kissinger replied, “The Romney campaign does not check it, you know, with me. I have stated my general view.”
Kissinger pointed out that stirring things up on the Chinese side were “their strategic centers [military and civilian think tanks], in which their strategic analysts are pushing a very nationalistic line.”
He continued, “When great countries deal with each other there is a balancing element involved, but the balance should be sought in non-military terms to the greatest extent possible.”
That is why Kissinger said he believes there should be consultations about not just grievances, but about objectives on things upon which they can agree. He pointed out that while differences in how Washington should deal with China have arisen in the past, only two presidents tried to reinvent policy. “The maximum period of time it lasted was two years, and then they reversed it because they recognized from experience the necessities of our future,” Kissinger said.
He warned about an American attitude “that we know the answers to all the questions and that it is our mission to make the world exactly over in the American image.” China, he said, “managed to stagger through 3,800 years . . . without assistance from the United States.”
“As a country we have to learn that when you conduct foreign policy, you have to deal with interests as well as values, and you have to reconcile the concerns of other countries with your own concerns. . . . That is a national challenge for the United States, no matter which party is in office,” Kissinger said.
Obama and Romney should take that to heart.