Book Review

World order by Henry Kissinger

This book consists of a meditation on the roots of international order and disorder. Kissinger, the author, is one of notable diplomats of the modern era. He was the secretary of state for a number of presidents and he spent his life studying foreign policy events.

In this book, Kissinger reveals the challenge of the twenty-first century: how to bring order into a world where perspectives pertaining to international relations are contradictory. He delves into conflicts, technology, and ideologies. At times, the author also sounds like a historian.

He explains in his book the reasons for mounting global tensions: the absence of consensus between world actors.

Recently, I have taken a lot of joy in reviewing a number of books that I qualify as provocative. The reviews are justified by deep interest in policy-making. Unlike Diplomacy, this book seems more accessible and articulate – in my opinion. Yet there are repetitions between both books; those appear to be made on purpose in order to engage the readers.

I am aligned with Kissinger views around how Europe “shaped the world”; and how the first world order was established by Europeans towards the end of the fifteenth century. Remains a question mark on Europe’s ability to contribute constructively in the discussion around the future world order.

The author relates order to four main themes: Europe, Islam, the Chinese system, and the American order. Many have compared Kissinger’s book to the “clash of civilizations” theories by Samuel Huntington and others referred the book to Edward Said’s critique for Orientalism.

One of my favorite passages in this book is when Kissinger compares idealism to realism saying:

 

idealists do not have a monopoly on moral values; realists must recognize that ideals are also part of reality

 

The former is inspired by Theodore Roosevelt; and the latter by Woodrow Wilson.

Unfortunately, Kissinger’s review of the Middle East is not well-informed. A number of reviewers agree with me considering how sections about to the Middle East lack stories and insights. Kissinger appeared to be far from a visionary when speaking about the Middle East from a US foreign policy lens.

Yet what truly impressed me is Kissinger’s ability to analyze technology when he was in his early nineties.

World Order is surely a worthwhile read.

Who should read this book: Those who are looking for a good understanding of foreign policy and international affairs 

Why you should read this book: To understand the roots of world order and disorder

Book genre: Non-fiction, history, political science

Rating by Stylo à Bille

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