Fareed speaks with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about the current global order and the concept of American exceptionalism. Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.
In reading your book, what is striking is you describe a world order, really the Westphalian world order, created after the religious wars in Europe that was conceived of and articulated and implemented by the West using Western values. And you point out that there is no such agreement now. The Chinese have their own conception of world order. The Islamic world has its own conception of the world order. Even the Indians have a very different conception.
So I read that part and I thought, my God, it’s going to be impossible to imagine any conceivable global world order, no matter how smart and engaged the U.S. president is or this is a structural shift that's taken place that is overwhelming.
No, it will be very difficult, but it has to begin by understanding what the differences are. And therefore, in stating one's objectives, one has a dual task and it's somewhat contradictory.
One has to be motivated by the values of our own society. And they are very inseparable from exceptionalism. But one has to understand that these are not self-evident somewhere else. And one has, therefore, to fit specific policies into a framework. That's very difficult. It's never…
Believe in yourself, but recognize the other guy believes in himself just as much?
At least to begin by understanding what he thinks and then to see whether one can find some common basis. Now, in the current world, there’s some common basis, at least for established government. One is the fear of nuclear war. The major powers, really, haven’t engaged in war against each other. There are questions of environment, of climate and of the structure of our societies. And one has to find a way of focusing attentions on some of the global problems and not be obsessed by the geopolitical balances that grow out of the Westphalian system. But the Westphalian system had at least this advantage, that non-interference in domestic affairs of others was one of its basic principles.
And we don't have that.
No, the opposite is being practiced.
Do you think the United States should stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries?
The United States should make this distinction. Other countries should know that our conduct will be affected by the relationship to our values. But they should not feel that we are blackmailing them. So it's another one of these passages one has to find.
When you talk about the exceptionalism, it made me think about the criticism Obama got for saying I believe that America is exceptional, but I can imagine that the British believe they're exceptional, too, or the Greeks, I think he said, believe they're exceptional, too.
No, I think as a statement that is historically not inaccurate. But there is a difference to American exceptionalism in the sense that the basis of our society has always been that we, by our conduct, represent values that are of global significance. The British haven't thought that. Greeks haven't thought that. Because the people who came to this country lived in a continent which was separated from the rest of the world, so that they thought their performance was exemplary for the rest of the world. And in many ways, it was.
So American exceptionalism has a more missionary quality, which inherently, it's part of our foreign policy. But we cannot use it as a geopolitical weapon.