Quotes

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Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 537

The war is just when the intention that causes it to be undertaken is just. The will is therefore the principle element that must be considered, not the means. . . . He who intends to kill the guilty sometimes faultlessly sheds the blood of the innocents. . . . In short, the end justifies the means.

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Kissinger comments on the justification of war. This quote indicates that he sees civilian casualties as a necessary price of war.

Empires have no interest in operating within an international system; they aspire to be the international system.

This quote highlights the mindset of heads of government focused on their own interests above all else, their reasons of state.

Both the American and the European approaches to foreign policy were the products of their own unique circumstances. . . . Since America confronted no power in need of being balanced, it could hardly have occupied itself with the challenges of equilibrium even if its leaders had been seized by the bizarre notion of replicating European conditions amidst a people who had turned their backs on Europe.

Kissinger reflects on the environments that birthed American and European approaches to international relations.

In effect, none of the most important countries which must build a new world order have had any experience with the multistate system that is emerging. Never before has a new world order had to be assembled from so many different perceptions, or on so global a scale.

This quote discusses the new world order concept that Kissinger comments on to introduce and close the book. Kissinger highlights that the current political atmosphere is unique in history.

History teaches by analogy, shedding light on the likely consequences of comparable situations.

These words demonstrate what Kissinger sees as the value of looking back at history with the purpose of applying lessons to current situations.

Realpolitik for Bismarck depended on flexibility and on the ability to exploit every available option without the constraint of ideology.

In this quote, Kissinger considers Bismarck’s historical example of realpolitik, political policy determined by the given circumstances. This pragmatic approach contrasts with political decision-making based on values. This conflict between idealism and realism is at the center of this book.

The basic premise of collective security was that all nations would view every threat to security in the same way and be prepared to run the same risks in resisting it. Not only had nothing like it ever actually occurred, nothing like it was destined to occur in the entire history of both the League of Nations and the United Nations. Only when a threat is truly overwhelming and genuinely affects all, or most, societies is such a consensus possible—as it was during the two world wars and, on a regional basis, in the Cold War. But in the vast majority of cases—and in nearly all of the difficult ones—the nations of the world tend to disagree either about the nature of the threat or about the type of sacrifice they are prepared to make to meet it.

This quote reveals Kissinger’s criticisms of the purpose of the League of Nations and the United Nations. Rarely will nations agree on what is important for collective security or how to attain it.

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