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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 212

Henry Kissinger’s nonfiction book Diplomacy focuses on the statesman’s guiding political theories. The arguments of his book revolve around these themes.

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Kissinger discusses the importance of considering the principles of balance of power. Several historical examples serve as warnings of the consequences of ignoring issues of balance of power, including the rise of Nazi Germany.

The text opens and closes with a discussion of the idea of new world order. At the conclusion of the work, Kissinger considers America’s journey “along the road to world order.” He does not completely ignore the need for idealism. However, in keeping with the main arguments of the book, he downplays the role of ideology in foreign policy. He says that “idealism must combine with a thoughtful assessment of contemporary realities.” This recommendation demonstrates the core argument of this text. Through historical and modern examples, Kissinger shows how basing policy solely on idealism is ineffective. He argues instead in favor of principles such as realpolitik and raison d’etat. This pragmatic approach considers the circumstances of any given situation, possible options at hand, and what is in the best interests of the state. This practical approach to foreign policy paints Kissinger’s own actions regarding the Vietnam War in a more positive light.

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