US must learn, says Kissinger

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 November, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 November, 1995, 12:00am

CANBERRA: The United States had to learn it could no longer be the world's policeman or would pay a 'horrendous price', former US secretary of state Dr Henry Kissinger said yesterday.

Dr Kissinger said the United States had to develop a 'structured' approach to foreign policy and would learn this by insight or 'bitter experience'.

'America has never perceived that it needed to conduct a continuing foreign policy,' he said at a media conference during a visit to Australia. 'Now we are in a world in which really structural arrangements are more important.' He said America's initial opposition to regional security arrangements in Asia such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional forum had been part of a 'learning process'. In the post-Cold War era, the US had to 'navigate' between being an all-or-nothing policeman.

'The United States is now torn between those who don't want us to be policeman at all and those who want us to be the moral judges of humanity,' he said. 'I think that neither is possible.' Earlier, Dr Kissinger said that in 10 to 15 years 'America will have learned that it cannot manage the whole world'.

'This is a sea-change in America's approach to foreign policy,' he said. 'But this is the biggest single challenge we have before our country, that we do not have an operating philosophy right now that is adequate.

'Every American programme in the post-war period has been presented with a kind of terminal date with the idea that after it is carried out the problems will disappear.

'Now we have to think like Europeans in the 19th century, like Asian nations in their area in terms of structure.' Dr Kissinger said he did not believe China had 'activated a military threat'. He said the US should maintain 'co-operative relations' with Beijing.