The World This Week

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The World This Week
Henry Kissinger: A profile

  GP Team

The World This Week #241, Vol. 5, No. 45
03 November 2023

Henry Kissinger: A profile
Rishika Yadav

What happened?
On 29 November, Henry Kissinger died at 100. He was known for roles as US Secretary of State and as National Security Adviser under US Presidents, Richard Nixon and Gerald Rudolff Ford Jr.

Former US President George W Bush said:  “The nation had lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs.” Meanwhile, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair praised Kissinger as a diplomatic artist, highlighting his genuine dedication to safeguarding the free world.

Former US President Richard Nixon’s daughters, Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, emphasized Kissinger’s uniquely American life story, describing it as unparalleled. They said: “Henry Kissinger will long be remembered for his many achievements in advancing the cause of peace, but it was his character that we will never forget.”

US President Joe Biden said: “Long after retiring from government, he continued to offer his views and ideas to the most important policy discussion across multiple generations.”

A journey from turbulence to diplomatic eminence
On 27 May 1923, Kissinger was born in Germany. He witnessed the rise of Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler, as a pivotal moment in his youth. In 1938, at 15, his family fled Germany, reaching New York City. Kissinger played down how much this affected his thinking, settling in Manhattan, studying at night while working days at a brush factory. He joined the US Army in 1943, interrupting his studies at City College of New York.

On 19 June, 1943, at the age of 20, Kissinger, at 20, became a naturalized US citizen while training at Camp Croft. The Army shifted his studies to engineering at Lafayette College, later assigning him to the 84th Infantry Division due to the program’s cancellation. There, his fluency in German led him to serve in combat and volunteering for perilous duties in the Battle of the Bulge. Despite being a private, the lowest military rank in the US, he administered Krefeld and led a team in Hanover, earning a Bronze Star. Post-war, he oversaw denazification in Bensheim. Transitioning to civilian employment, he taught at the European Command Intelligence School. He credited his military service for instilling a sense of American identity.

The period of trajectory in career
In 1950, Kissinger began his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College in 1950. He was marked by academic excellence as a Phi Beta Kappa (the oldest academic honour society in the US) graduate. Kissinger’s scholarly pursuits continued with advanced degrees—a Master of Arts and Doctorate from Harvard University in 1951 and 1954, respectively. His doctoral dissertation on peace, legitimacy, and equilibrium introduced the concept of “legitimacy” in international relations.

During his academic tenure, Kissinger won accolades such as the Senator Charles Sumner Prize for his dissertation advocating means to prevent war. His influential work, “A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh, and the Problems of Peace 1812–1822,” published in 1957, showcased his insights into post-Napoleonic Europe’s power dynamics. Beyond academia, he served as a consultant to numerous governmental agencies and he directed projects at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, from 1956 to 1958.

Dual legacy in shaping and dividing US foreign policy narratives
Driven to influence US foreign policy, Kissinger served as a foreign policy advisor for former Vice President of the US, Nelson Rockefeller’s presidential campaigns from 1960 to 1968. However, later he diverted his support for Nixon’s bid. As Nixon assumed office in 1969, Kissinger became National Security Advisor, later serving as Secretary of State under Nixon and Ford. His profound influence in both administrations remained significant. 

Embodying Realpolitik, Kissinger pioneered detente with the Soviet Union, orchestrated the Sino-Soviet split and opened relations with China. His “shuttle diplomacy” in the Middle East ended the Yom Kippur War, and he negotiated the Paris Peace Accords, concluding US involvement in Vietnam and earned the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. Post-government, he founded Kissinger Associates, a global consulting firm, and authored numerous books on diplomacy. He is also lauded for negotiating Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) with the Soviet Union, and curbing nuclear proliferation, earning praise as one of America’s most impactful Secretaries of State.

However, his legacy is deeply divided. His legacy sparks debate; criticized for prioritizing Realpolitik over human rights. While many hail him as a skilled diplomat who navigated complex international relations, others criticize his involvement in covert operations, such as the bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War, and allege that his policies contributed to instability and human rights abuses in countries like Chile and East Timor.

Regional Round-ups
News from around the World

Anu Maria, Dhriti Mukherjee, Femy Francis, Padmashree Anandhan, Rishika Yadav, Rohini Reenum, and Shamini Velayudham

China This Week
China: To upgrade Vietnam’s rail link through rare earths
On 01 December, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed that Vietnam and China are considering improving the railway line that runs through Vietnam's rare earth nucleus. This comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit Hanoi to further the strategic relationship between the two countries. Wang Yi said: “The two sides should … deepen cooperation in trade, connectivity, and key minerals, and jointly build a mutually beneficial, stable, and unimpeded production and supply chain system.” Yi stressed that facing tumultuous times in world politics both countries should remain true to their aspirations. The upgrade in the railway line is at the heartland of rare earth minerals of which China is the biggest refinery, while it is unclear if Vietnam will accept the proposal officially or if this is part of BRI. China is the biggest trading partner of Vietnam but the ongoing South China Sea dispute has strained the relationship.

China: Meta removed thousands of China-based fake accounts
On 30 November, Meta’s quarterly report outlined that they have removed thousands of China-based fake and misleading accounts. The report found that they posed as Americans and spread misinformation and polarising content on the US and the bilateral relations between the US and China. Some of the topics that most misinformation was shared were abortion and the Ukraine war. While there is no direct link with Chinese officials it was found that most were based in China. Beijing stands to be the third largest such network-based country after Russia and Iran. It was estimated that 4,700 such accounts were made with names plagiarized from users around the world.

Taiwan: President Tsai Ing-wen doubts invasion by China in the near future
On 29 November, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen expressed that China is too occupied with its economic and political crisis to invade Taiwan. Tsai stated this while attending The New York Times’ DealBook summit where she said: “My thought is that perhaps this is not a time for them to consider a major invasion of Taiwan.” Regardless, Tsai pointed out that they do face military intimidation, cyber-attacks and their information being manipulated. Tsai also advised the west-based firms that they should move towards Taiwan and away from China as the business environment becomes more volatile and the concerns regarding supply chain reliance increase.

China: US senators demand travel ban to China amid rising respiratory illness
On 01 December, Republican senators from the US issued to US President Joe Biden demanding the administration to ban travel to China owing to the recent spike in respiratory illness cases. The five Republicans issued that: “We should immediately restrict travel between the United States and (China) until we know more about the dangers posed by this new illness.” The World Health Organization also issued an inquiry as reports by the Programme for Monitoring Emerging Diseases found a clustered rise in pneumonia went undiagnosed. Biden’s administration stated that they are closely monitoring the situation, that this is a seasonal trend and that it is nothing out of the ordinary. The Chinese Embassy in Washington’s spokesperson Liu Pengyu said: “The relevant claims are purely ill-intentioned fabrications. China firmly opposes them.”

East Asia and the Pacific This Week
South Korea: Launches first indigenous spy satellite 
On 01 December, the Ministry of Defence announced that South Korea launched its inaugural military spy satellite from a US base in California. It was sent via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The satellite marked Seoul’s stride toward self-reliance in space-based intelligence amidst North Korea’s threats. It succeeded in orbit placement and communication, reinforcing South Korea’s independent satellite ambitions. The move intensified a space arms race following North Korea’s recent satellite launch. South Korea views these reconnaissance satellites as vital components in its defence strategy against potential threats from the North, enhancing early warning capabilities.

North Korea: Attends COP28 climate summit
On 30 November, deputy UN Representative Pang Kwang Hyok represented the country at the COP28 climate summit, in Dubai, despite limited post-pandemic diplomatic activities. It showed that the country is continuing its engagement on climate, evident since COP26 and COP27, despite its isolation since 2020. North Korea prioritizes climate engagement, despite geopolitical seclusion, aligning with global treaties like the Paris Agreement. Analysts linked this pragmatic involvement to North Korea’s focus on science and technology, emphasizing concerns like deforestation and climate issues affecting food production. This move signalled North Korea’s intent on global cooperation for climate challenges while cautiously resuming broader engagement.

Japan: Indian navy ship visits Yokosuka base
On 02 December, the Indian Navy’s Kadmatt antisubmarine ship docked at Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture. Indian Ambassador Sibi George emphasized the strategic significance of defending waters between India and Japan, highlighting readiness to bolster defence ties. Both countries sought to aim to strengthen relations within the “Quad” alliance involving the US and Australia, focusing partly on monitoring China. George stressed the Indo-Pacific’s geopolitical importance, affirming joint efforts with Japan for regional peace. On 28 November, the Kadmatt engaged in joint exercises with Japan’s Towada vessel near Okinawa under a bilateral acquisition agreement. On 02 December, it arrived for resupplying at Yokosuka.

Australia: Defence chiefs of US and UK boost high-tech alliance 
On 01 December, defence leaders from the US, Australia, and Britain convened in California to advance their technological collaboration. It focused on deep space radar, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. The meeting, rooted in the AUKUS partnership, was aimed to fortify Western capabilities amid global threats, particularly from China. British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today, in a much more dangerous world, with Russia waging war in Ukraine, with Hamas wreaking havoc in the Middle East, China undermining the freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific – we’ve never had a greater need for more innovation to be more pioneering.”

Southeast Asia This Week
The Philippines: Reports Chinese jets near patrol
On 26 November, during joint patrols with Australia in the South China Sea, two Chinese fighter jets circled a Philippine aircraft without causing an incident. Manila and Australia conducted exercises in the region’s exclusive economic zone amid tensions with China. The Philippines asserted rights to counter Chinese “aggressive activities.” The Armed Forces of the Philippines confirmed the incident near Hubo Reef in the West Philippine Sea. 

The Philippines: Commence Joint patrol exercise with Australia 
On 25 November, initiating their inaugural joint sea and air patrols in the South China Sea, the Philippines and Australia echoed recent manoeuvres with the US. It is aimed to counter China’s increasing assertiveness. The exercises, pledged earlier in 2023, emphasize adherence to a rules-based order in the contested waters. Australian officials affirmed commitment to peace and rules, heralding the first joint patrol as a testament to mutual dedication. The patrols operated in the West Philippine Sea, Manila’s zone within the South China Sea’s exclusive economic area. Both countries deployed naval vessels and surveillance aircraft, emphasizing a growing defence alliance.

Indonesia: Intensifies patrols to deter Rohingya refugees
On 25 November, authorities and local fishermen initiated patrols in the country’s westernmost province, Aceh, to block Rohingya refugees from reaching its shores. Over 1,100 Rohingya, fleeing persecution in Myanmar, arrived in November, prompting round-the-clock surveillance along the coastline and in the Malacca Strait. Police in East Aceh and North Aceh have bolstered patrols, responding to sightings of Rohingya boats. Concerns grow that Indonesia might reinforce its borders, aligning with other countries like Malaysia and India. Despite historical sympathy, locals express strain due to resource scarcity and occasional conflicts. Indonesia, not bound by UN refugee conventions, remains hesitant to accept Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.

South Asia This Week
Pakistan: Gohar Khan is the new party chief of PTI
On 02 December, Dawn reported that Barrister Gohar Khan has been elected as the new chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party. He had been nominated by party’s ex-chief Imran Khan. Gohar vowed to fulfil his responsibility as Khan’s representative. It is because of his nomination by Khan that the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) termed it a “selection, not an election”. Moreover, one of the founding members of PTI, Akbar S. Babar, announced that he would approach the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against the manner in which these polls were conducted. The intra party polls were held in the direction of the ECP.

Pakistan: Suicide attack in Bannu district
On 27 November, Dawn reported that a convoy of security forces was the target of a suicide attack in the Bala Khel area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bannu district. The attack which took place on 26 November, resulted in the death of two civilians and wounded ten others out of which three were Pakistan Army soldiers. According to a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relation, the bomber was affiliated with the Pakistani leader of the Taliban faction based in North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur Gul and was later identified as an Afghan national. The statement further revealed: “Sanitisation operation is being carried out to eliminate any other terrorists found in the area. Security forces of Pakistan are determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism and such sacrifices of our brave civilians and soldiers further strengthen our resolve”. It is to be noted that Pakistan has seen an uptick in terror incidents in 2022. 

Afghanistan: ACCI highlights the importance of Wakhan Corridor for trade
On 29 November, Tolo news reported that the Chamber of Commerce and Investment in Afghanistan has stressed the importance of the opening of the Wakhan Corridor. The deputy of the Chamber, Mohammad Yonis Mohamand stated that the Corridor will facilitate trade, especially with China, most of which is now done through Pakistan. It is located in the northeast of Afghanistan and connected to China from the east, Tajikistan from the north and Pakistan from the south and will increase Afghanistan’s connectivity with neighbouring countries and facilitate trade.

Iran: Russia to supply Iran with its Sukhoi su-35 jets and helicopters
On 28 November, Reuters reported that Iran has concluded an arrangement with the Russians regarding the delivery of Sukhoi su-35 fighter jets and helicopters. The news was revealed to Iran’s Tasnim news agency by the country’s deputy defence minister and has not been confirmed by the Russians. Russia and Iran have been trying to forge closer military ties. In fact, last week several media outlets had reported on US allegations that Iran could be supplying Russia with advanced ballistic missiles to be used in the Ukraine war. Ukraine had also reported shooting down a “rare” Iranian drone amid a barrage of attacks overnight.

Iran: Iran adds a destroyer to its naval fleet in the Caspian
On 27 November, AP News reported that Iran had added Deilaman, a destroyer that is capable of launching cruise missiles to its Caspian Sea fleet. The state-owned news agency Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) highlighted some of its characteristics as – it being 1400 tons, 95 metres long, 11 metres wide and capable of launching torpedoes even when its speed is 30 knots. It is an important strategic addition as it can detect more than 100 targets simultaneously. The chief of the Armed Forces General Staff, Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, had termed  the Caspian a “sea of peace and friendship,” during the inauguration ceremony. He also stated that Iran’s naval power in the region will serve “peace, security of commercial fleets, confronting terrorists and probable incidents in the future.”

Central Asia This Week
Kazakhstan: Murat Nurtleu attends the 30th Meeting of the OSCE Council of Foreign Ministers
On 01 December, as per the press office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Murat Nurtleu, participated in the 30th Ministerial Council meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It was held on 30 November in Skopje, North Macedonia. Nurtleu stressed the significance of maintaining the OSCE as the primary comprehensive security body in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian regions, serving as a unique platform for extensive political dialogue. He reaffirmed Kazakhstan’s dedication to fortifying the OSCE and contributing to conflict resolution efforts. The minister underscored the importance of upholding the principles outlined in the Astana Declaration, adopted during the 2010 OSCE Summit. He articulated Kazakhstan’s perspective on all three pillars of the OSCE, emphasizing the necessity of inclusive discussions and concerted actions to avert the crisis.

Middle East This Week
Israel: The Knesset passed a new law
On 27 November, the Knesset approved legislation that prohibits employers from terminating employees who are unable to work due to being survivors or family members of hostages. Additionally, the law mandates that for the subsequent two years, companies linked to hostages must continue making regular pension payments as required by Israeli labour laws. Initially effective for October, November, and December, this law can potentially extend for an additional nine months. The National Insurance will reimburse employers for their contributions and will also cover self-employed captives. The law safeguards individuals from being laid off, including evacuees from specified towns, parents, and relatives of hostages and their spouses, as well as hostages, missing persons, or parents of children under 14 whose partners are in active service or otherwise engaged in conflict.

United Arab Emirates: WGEO and UCLG Africa signed MoU
On the 29 November, during the World Green Economy Summit 2023 in Dubai, UAE, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was inked between the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO) and the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa). This pivotal agreement was signed by Chairman of WGEO, Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, and Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi. The signing of this MoU signified a significant stride in collaborative efforts aimed at realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined in the 2030 Agenda. Within this important initiative, WGEO and UCLG Africa urge stakeholders to participate in the platform dedicated to achieving Carbon Neutral Cities, a crucial milestone on the path toward achieving Net Zero. Their collective aspiration is to collaborate towards constructing a more sustainable and resilient future for African cities and regions. The MoU underscored their dedication to aligning their endeavours with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with particular emphasis on goal seven, which focuses on ensuring access to sustainable energy for all.

Africa This Week
Sudan: UN terminates mission in Sudan
On 01 December, the UNSC voted to end its mission, UNITMAS, in the war torn Sudan. 14 members voted to end the mission while Russia abstained. The mission comes to an end on 03 December. The Sudan military government stated that the mission failed to reach its objectives. UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, DiCarlo, stated: “The Security Council just voted to close down UNITAMS, but the UN is not abandoning the Sudanese people.” UNITAMS was established in June 2020 to support the country in a 12-month transition towards a civilian government. Its mandate was extended in 2021 and 2022.

West Africa: Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso to create a federation
On 01 December, a two-day meeting was held in Malian capital Bamako, where the foreign ministers of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso met. During the meeting, they proposed establishing a confederation uniting the West African countries. In September, the military leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger established the Alliance of Sahel States, a mutual defence pact. The latest meeting aimed at elaborating the functions of the defence alliance. Africanews quoted foreign ministers of the West African countries stating on the “great potential for peace, stability, diplomatic strength and economic development that a strengthened political alliance offers.”

Europe This Week
Sweden: Parliament approves new nuclear power legislation
On 29 November, the Riksdag endorsed the government’s proposal for additional nuclear power in Sweden. The new legislative changes allowed the construction of reactors in locations beyond Forsmark, Ringhals, and Oskarshamn. Furthermore, the law permitted more than ten reactors to operate simultaneously. The Riksdag agreed with the government’s assessment that nuclear energy, offering fossil-free electricity, remains pivotal in Sweden’s energy mix. The move comes in response to an increasing electricity demand and the imperative to phase out fossil fuels, especially for climate reasons. These amendments will take effect on 01 January 2024. 

Spain: Government commits EUR 1.4 billion to protect Donana National Park
On 27 November, Spain allocated a EUR 1.4 billion investment to safeguard the Donana national park from drying up. Ecological Transition Minister Teresa Ribera said that it was aimed to halt water-intensive crop cultivation by incentivizing farmers around the park. Overexploited aquifers have harmed the wetlands, prompting efforts to alleviate pressure on this unique ecosystem. Financial incentives will encourage farmers to halt cultivation or switch to dry, ecological farming. Plans to expand irrigation near Donana were cancelled to relieve aquifer stress. Donana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hosts vital migratory bird habitats threatened by agricultural impacts, climate change, and drought. 

Europe: EU approves free trade deal with New Zealand
On 27 November, the European Council approved the EU-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. It paved the way for its enactment once New Zealand completes its procedures, potentially in early 2024. Valued at nearly EUR 9.1 billion in 2022, bilateral trade is expected to surge by 30 per cent, with EU exports potentially increasing by EUR 4.5 billion annually. This deal is aimed to eliminate tariffs on key exports, broadening market access for services, and bolster investment. Additionally, it protects renowned EU products and encourages digital trade, sustainability, and gender equality. The agreement also ensures sanctions for severe violations of core labour principles of the Paris Agreement. 

Americas This Week
Panama: Supreme Court rules controversial mining contract as unconstitutional
On 28 November, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled that the controversial new mining contract with Canada’s First Quantum Minerals was unconstitutional. The ruling was viewed as a major success by the country’s environmentalists, as the Cobre Panamá mine pit is located in a biodiverse jungle, and its usage threatened water supplies and destroyed the jungle. Environmentalists, students, and indigenous groups, who had earlier protested against the renewal of the contract, were seen celebrating on the streets after the court ruling. Environmental implications were not the only concerns, as many individuals also felt that the contract favoured Canada and did not grant enough revenue to Panama. The government had wanted to renew the contract, as it reportedly contributed to three per cent of the country’s GDP in 2021, and generated employment. In response to the ruling, President Laurentino Cortizo said that he would “abide by the decision of the Supreme Court,” and a “transition process” would begin in an “orderly and safe” manner.

Venezuela: Government allows banned presidential candidates to challenge the decision
On 30 November, the government and a faction of the opposition reached an agreement on allowing banned aspiring presidential candidates to contest the decision by 15 December. This development comes after the government signed a deal with the US in October 2023, where the former agreed to hold elections constitutionally in exchange for the removal of oil sanctions. President Nicolás Maduro has been accused of using the tool of banning adversaries, in particular the former Deputy of the National Assembly, María Corino Machado, to stay in power. Candidates are supposed to file an appeal with Venezuela’s top court, but are required to not include “offensive or disrespectful concepts against institutions of the State” while doing so.

Argentina: Government officials state that Argentina will not join BRICS
On 30 November, an official in President-elect Javier Milei’s team, stated that Argentina “will not join the BRICS.” This move is part of Milei’s significant shift towards right-wing politics, the implications of which are being reflected in the country’s foreign policy as well. The country had been invited to join the bloc on 01 January 2024, a decision that was regarded as positive by the then President Alberto Fernández. However, country’s incoming Foreign Minister Diana Mondino, had also downplayed the importance of the bloc, saying that it is “more related to political alignment,” and is unnecessary for Argentina, which already has “diplomatic and trade relations with most” of the member countries.

The US: George Santos ousted from US House
On 01 December, the House of Representatives voted 311-114 to expel George Santos, a lawmaker who has been accused of laundering campaign funds and defrauding donors. The Republican, who pleaded not guilty, was accused by a congressional ethics investigation committee of seeking to “fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy.” Many of his own party members, who had initially defended him leading to the failure of two expel attempts, have now described him as a “liar” who “manufactured his entire life.”

The US: Meta shuts 4800 accounts by alleged Chinese campaign to “amplify partisan tensions”
On 30 December, tech giant Meta announced that it had removed roughly 4,800 fake accounts that it claims were a part of a China-based influence campaign to spread polarising content on US politics ahead of the elections. Meta stated that the accounts reshared posts by politicians under fake identities, explaining that “the people behind this activity posted in English about US politics and US-China relations,” while criticising “both sides of the US political spectrum.” However, while putting forth potential aims like amplifying “partisan tensions,” Meta did not attribute this activity to the Chinese government or a particular organisation. This is the fifth Chinese influence campaign that Meta has shut down in 2023. Earlier in September, the Department of Homeland Security put forth a growing concern of people using technology to “undermine trust in our government institutions, social cohesion, and democratic processes.”

About the authors
Anu Maria Joseph, Dhriti Mukherjee, Femy Francis, Padmashree Anandhan, Rishika Yadav and Shamini Velayudham are the Research Assistants at NIAS, Bengaluru.

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