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Former US Secretary of State, Dr Henry Kissinge
Former US Secretary of State, Dr Henry Kissinge
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW:
HENRY KISSINGER NOVEMBER 4TH, 2001

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST:
Now the war against terrorism is not just being fought militarily or economically, it's being fought on the diplomatic front as well. But the 20th century's probably most famous diplomat, Henry Kissinger thinks America has tended to ignore foreign affairs over the years and he's just written a book called Does America Need a Foreign Policy, in which he tries to redress the balance. I caught up with him a little earlier this week at his hotel here in London where we talked about the war, about American attitudes to the rest of the world, and how they've changed in the last two months.

HENRY KISSINGER:
This book was written, America was rather self-satisfied and thought maybe foreign policy had ended and everything now was economics or social theory but events have shown the connection with the rest of the world since then.

DAVID FROST:
You say in the book for instance that, Israel and the Palestinians are not ready yet to make peace, a wide-ranging peace and it's a mistake to try and seek that?

HENRY KISSINGER:
They're not ready to make what they have to call a final peace.

DAVID FROST:
Yes.

HENRY KISSINGER:
Because when they call it final then each side has to face the radicals in its own camp while if they made a de facto arrangement of coexistence and if that lasted for some time it could, it would probably be a more useful way to approach. On the Golan Heights they have an agreement that was called a ceasefire agreement, or disengagement agreement that last for 30 years, has lasted for 30 years and is still in force without being called final.

DAVID FROST:
And in terms of the UK for instance, when you, when you talk about Europe and UK becoming a part of Europe, that would mean if we went all the way, of course, that we wouldn't be able to be shoulder-to-shoulder with America without the agreement of our partners. How do you view that thought?

HENRY KISSINGER:
I believe that the role that Britain has played in the events of September 11th has been extraordinarily helpful to the overall cause and to US-European relations and no European nation that tried to, to develop its policies through the existing institutions could have done it at a, as, as a unit. In addition of course Britain has a very special attitude towards the United States in the sense that its history, the dangers to Britain have usually come from the continent and the security has come from across the oceans.

DAVID FROST:
Do you foresee there being any possibility of what, what's going on at the moment, ever becoming a world war or because all the potential protagonists are on the same side is that, is there no danger of that?

HENRY KISSINGER:
I don't see it spreading into a world war but it can break out in different parts of the globe by a relatively small groups causing an enormous amount of damage and an enormous amount of psych

ological dislocation. DAVID FROST:
Would you hope that military efforts are confined to Afghanistan or do you think inevitably we must prepare ourselves for more than that?

HENRY KISSINGER:
I think the Afghan, there has to be a second phase after Afghanistan and, in which we cannot preclude military means but there's a new problem that is arising as a result of this biological attack in the United States, wherever it may come from, it raises the question in the case of the attacks on New York City, we in effect waited in the period previously, until something had happened and then we would make an investigation. That is really not tolerable when biological warfare is being conducted on any successful scale because you could have tens of thousands of casualties once an epidemic takes hold. So I think consideration will have to be given to countries that have concentrated on biological warfare and that would raise a question about Iraq.

DAVID FROST:
Do you feel that the West has been lax in terms of Saddam Hussein over the last ten years, don't you?

HENRY KISSINGER:
No that, I think the West made a mistake in not finishing the job at the end of, of the Gulf War. Finishing the job would have meant overthrowing Saddam Hussein as a demonstration that this sort of challenge has serious penalities.

DAVID FROST:
Bin Laden is quoted as thinking that the United States is not prepared to take casualties and see this thing through, he's wrong about that, isn't he?

HENRY KISSINGER:
On this issue he's wrong, at the time of the Kosovo war there was a desire, a willingness to fight a war but not a willingness to suffer casualties. I have not seen such unity in America and such defiant unity as after the attack on the Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Also we have no real choice, if we were to quit without having accomplished some fundamental objectives terrorism would run free.

DAVID FROST:
In terms of the changing world, do you think, as Condoleezza Rice was saying, that this, this period has been a unique period for bringing us closer to Russia and Russia even coming round to missile defence shields, but to Russia and China, have those been constructive outcomes of this tragedy?

HENRY KISSINGER:
Yes to, what the tragedy has done is to illustrate a community of interests between Russia and China and Western nations, in fact to create a global community of interests except for the radical groups that are engaging in, in terrorism and that is something that could be a basis for a new global approach.

DAVID FROST:
James Wolsey, former head of the CIA said that Churchill's decision to stand up to the Germans and not accommodate them was the hinge of the 20th century. It's early in the 21st century but do you think this conflict is a hinge as vital as that?

HENRY KISSINGER:
Yet if we were going to lose it, because let's say if the Taliban, there's some point in time, I don't know when that is, but at some point the Taliban if it survives, survive but beyond that point becomes a mythic force that has stood up to the industrialised West and has vindicated the relative safety of attacks on the way of life and the economic structure of the West. And so for those reasons it's not happening, must be concluded successfully.

DAVID FROST:
Would you say if people write about isolationism and that tendency but would you say that what we've been talking about, the current crisis, the events that began on September the 11th have made isolationism less likely in America rather than more likely?

HENRY KISSINGER:
Almost, almost impossible, I would say isolationism is now almost out of the question because there has developed a level of concern of what the outside world might do to us that one never heard before. I've been at dinner parties in New York before the Anthrax scare, after the bombing but before the Anthrax scare where people were discussing how many bottles of antibiotics¿they should store and you'd never hear discussions like that at dinner in New York.

DAVID FROST:
What if, Henry, what if back in 1976 that the American people had elected you as a permanent Secretary of State, how would the world be different today?

HENRY KISSINGER:
That takes more megalomania than even I can manage to imagine it. I think we would have tried, I would have tried to avoid oscillations between extreme missionary spirit and extremes of withdrawal and I would have tried to define, hopefully a benign definition of the American national interest, but something that the American people could understand without engaging in crusades, so there might have been fewer swings in, in our attitudes but on the other hand if you take the whole 20 year period and not the ups and downs American foreign policy tends to be over the long period remarkably consistent, it goes through more gyrations than others but it usually winds up in a, in a, if you connect the dots at the end it's a fairly straight line.

DAVID FROST:
That was Henry Kissinger of course, could it be anyone else with that incredibly recognisable voice.

END


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