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2 Views of President Wilson's Policy

Although it is clear that Henry Kissinger, in his book Diplomacy, does not approve of every foreign policy or attitude of President Woodrow Wilson, it is just as clear that there is much in Wilson and his policy which Kissinger admires. It might be fair to say that Kissinger believed Wilson had the right idea with respect to the role of the United States in the world, but that Wilson simply went too far with it and in too much of a crusader's passion. Kissinger may certainly agree with Frank Ninkovich's assessment that Wilson, despite his excesses, was the first modern leader to see clearly the threat war had for all of civilization, but Kissinger would also likely argue that Wilson's excesses would inevitably get the United States entangled in situations which could provoke such world-threatening war.

Obviously, Kissinger was no peacenik, no dove. Neither was he a saint in foreign affairs; he will not be seen as a Wilsonian idealist concerned with spreading the ideals of America abroad. In fact, Kissinger's influence in history will forever be associated with the brutality of American bombing of Southeast Asia in league with Nixon, and, again with Nixon, with the ouster of the legally elected leader Allende from Chile by CIA-backed forces in that country. It is worthwhile to keep in mind the blood on Kissinger's hands as he uses those hands to write his analysis of Woodrow Wilson and Wilson's idealism and foreign policy.

Kissinger would seem to be disagreeing somewhat with Ninkovich's completely positive view of Wilson, namely, that Wilson was visionary, idealistic and prescient about the global threat of war. There were, for example, very practical aspects to Wilson's policy, in Kissinger's view:

Wilson's idealism stopped short of the belief that his views would prevail in Europe in their inherent merits. He showed himself quite prepared to supplement argument with pressure. . . . [H]e wrote: "When the war is over we c...

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2 Views of President Wilson's Policy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:30, March 20, 2019, from