Dr. Henry Kissinger, a former secretary of state to both Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, likened President Donald Trump’s diplomatic achievements in the Middle East to Nixon’s opening in China in 1972. He also warned that the United States should continue Trump’s tough policy toward Iran.
“I think one of the great successes of the previous administration was that they had lined up, that they had achieved two things in the Middle East. “One to separate the Palestinian problem from all other problems so that it does not veto everything else – and second, to put Sunni states in a real or potential combination against the Shiite states, which is Iran,”
Speaking at the start of a series of foreign affairs talks – the Nixon Seminars – sponsored by the Nixon Foundation, Kissinger called the Trump administration’s Abraham agreements a breakthrough in Arab-Israeli relations. The agreements established diplomatic ties between several Gulf states and Israel, as well as Morocco and Sudan, opening up economic, social and cultural ties between the Arab world and the Jewish state. The ties also strengthen the defense of the Gulf states and Israel against Iran.
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“It was a brilliant concept. We were just at the beginning of it. It was like the beginning of China’s opening. Its evolution was just beginning,” he said.
Participants in the seminar included former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and other officials in the Trump administration. Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, also participated.
Pompeo likened President Trump’s approach to international relations to that of President Nixon as a man willing to consider unorthodox approaches to foreign policy.
“This was a president who dealt with foreign policy issues in a unique way,” he told Trump. “I wanted to make sure that the seniors, at least I brought them into the team, understood the environment in which we would work and how we would effectively deliver President Trump’s foreign policy. So, I wanted to make sure – even though we know Washington is occupied from many people and very big egos – there were people who were willing to make sure they were working as part of the team that President Trump wanted to accomplish in his foreign policy to the American people. ”
Kissinger said Trump’s progress with Israel and the Gulf states should not be blurred by the United States reaching out for early talks with Iran. He indirectly warned the Biden administration of the possibility and said the United States should not offer concessions to Tehran.
“We should not give up the pressure on Iran until we know where they are going,” he warned. “If we take the issue of Iran out of the common problem for the Middle East, we risk losing both achievements, namely separating the Palestinian issue, which removes it as a veto over everything else, and Sunni cooperation with Israel, which is unique in its openness. ”
“Remember, you must make peace with American diplomacy,” he warned. “Then that was our guide.”
He also advised US administrations never to betray an ally.
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“When we talk about Nixon, we had developed a principle, an absolutely key principle was that we would never sell to people who, depending on America, were committed to defending their freedom. We would not sell them at the last minute.”
He added that Nixon’s legacy was his lasting effect in the foreign affairs arena.
“In time, it will be fully understood to what extent he has introduced the principle of geopolitical foreign policy into the operations of our government. And this will be his great contribution, in addition to what he has done on the various specific issues he has addressed.”
The Nixon Workshops will be held on the first Tuesday of each month and are available at: Nixonseminar.com, as part of the Richard M. Nixon Foundation Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, at Nixonfoundation.org.
Ben Evansky contributed to this report