"There is no good historical example, says former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (99), who "experienced" several Soviet leaders during his political career. Now he says that Russian President Vladimir Putin is both calculating and embittered. And that Russia's future relationship with Europe to become a key geostrategic issue.
When you were born, Lenin was still alive. You were 29 when Stalin died, 39 when Nikita Khrushchev deployed nuclear missiles in Cuba, and 45 when Leonid Brezhnev brought down the Prague Spring. Which of these Kremlin rulers does Vladimir Putin remind you of the most and why?
Kissinger: Not one. Khrushchev wanted recognition. He wanted to affirm the importance of his country and be invited to America. The concept of equality was very important to him. In Putin's case it is even more acute, because he believes that the collapse of Russia's position in Europe from 1989 onwards is a strategic disaster for Russia. It was his obsession. I don't really share the opinion of many people who think he wants to get back every bit of territory that has been lost. But what he can't stand is that the entire territory between Berlin and the Russian border has gone to NATO. And that's what made Ukraine such a key point for him.
Kissinger continues: That there is conflict in the world is not new. What is new is that in our time, for the first time, we have a permanent influence of different cultural regions on each other. For some current conflicts, examples from the book can be helpful. Others may be unique to our time. I haven't written a cookbook for international relations... Statesmen and visionaries are simply two different types of leaders... I think balance of power is a prerequisite for other things, but it's not an end in itself. A balance of power by itself does not guarantee stability, but without a balance of power you cannot have stability... Looking at history I would describe World War I as an example of technology outstripping management capacity. In our era, there is no doubt about that... In any case, it has become very difficult for political leaders to control their own technology, especially in case of war. Now the overriding obligation is to prevent a war in which such high technology could be used. And especially, the war between the two largest high-tech countries, China and the United States. There was never a comparable situation, because one could always imagine that the winner had some benefit. In this kind of war, that is impossible. (Der Spiegel)