According to former Ambassador Martin Indyk, Henry A. Kissinger had his own style of negotiations between sovereign states.
“He was interested in order. Peace was ephemeral to him,” said Indyk at a gathering at the Ronald Gardenswartz Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque on March 10 to promote his latest book, Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy. “He would try to ameliorate the conflict with order. Peace would come only when the protagonists had exhausted themselves. [Peace] was a step-by-step process, not the end game.” The event was hosted and sponsored by The Jewish Federation of New Mexico (JFNM).
Indyk, who was a student in Israel during the Yom Kippur War in Oct. 1973, became Pres. Clinton’s Asst. Secretary of State for Near East Affairs 20 years later. He worked with Kissinger, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and other leaders on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The Oslo Accords for which Kissinger is famous came out of those negotiations in 1993 and 1995. However, Indyk feels that the 2002 Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in protest of Israel’s occupation of the territory was disastrous to Middle East peace talks.
“It all blew up in our faces and became the immolation of all we’d tried to create,” he said.
Indyk also said that “the role of the U.S. in the peace process helped to run aground any agreement between Israel and Palestine.”
“The mantle of peacemaker has been coveted by every president since the Middle East conflicts began,” he said. “The pursuit of peace with too much enthusiasm leads to its opposite.” As an example, Indyk cited the appeasement of Germany through the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I as being a lead-up to World War II.
When asked if Israel would have a role to play as peacemaker between Russia and the Ukraine in their present war, Indyk said, “A superpower cannot be allowed to go in and take over another sovereign country. BUT Russia is in Syria, Israel’s near neighbor, and controls the airspace. As we all know, ‘If you walk between the raindrops, you get wet.’ Maybe Israel can do that and it would help. I doubt it.”
The Paper. asked Indyk what Kissinger’s next step strategy might be if he were able to intervene in the Russia-Ukraine war. “To achieve a ceasefire,” he said. He also feels that the Russians could be setting the groundwork for Ukraine to become a neutral state like Finland. “But Putin isn’t there yet.”
In a March 5 op. ed. in The Washington Post, Kissinger himself laid out four points pertaining to Ukrainian autonomy which, he said, would at best create a “balanced dissatisfaction” among stakeholder nations. Kissinger also stated that Ukraine could emulate Finland which remains neutral to “maintain its fierce independence.”
As to Palestine and Israel, Indyk said that Palestine would have to establish statehood first and then could begin state-to-state negotiations with Israel as equals. Indyk served twice as U.S. Ambassador to Israel among many other accomplishments in foreign affairs.