Germany, US Politics, USA

Too Big? Too Small!

I contend that the United States of America might be not powerful enough. And Henry Kissinger – whatever your personal take regarding his personal moral responsibility for doubtful US foreign policies, he is clearly someone with a certain grasp of international realities – would probably agree with me.

After all, it was he who once claimed that a lot of the problems of the 20th century resulted from the problem that Germany, as a nation state, was originally too big (in all relevant measures) to be just one state among European equals but too small to dominate the continent on its own. Seen from this perspective of geo-strategic Realpolitik the violence of the last century seems like a historical trap, almost inevitable – in order to overcome this disequilibrium of power the only possibility was an attempt to expand and dominate, which, upon failure, led to the second possibility. Much of the opposition to the German reunification in France and the United Kingdom was driven by the fear that Germany might inadvertently fall into that trap again.

While I am sure that geo-strategic prowess is likely to create an expansionary tendency, I do not believe that human history follows such gravity-like rules, even if they have been proposed by Henry Kissinger. However, assuming for a moment that the model he suggested in that quote were correct, what would his theory tell us about the current global situation? It would tell us that, on a global scale, the USA could be the 21st century’s Germany, however benign or not her intentions of global governance under a Pax Americana may be. It seems self-evident to me that –

The USA is too big not to influence every other state on this planet while she is too small to dominate it entirely.

But no one can wish for another Wilhelmine experience on a global scale. So let’s just hope that Henry was not entirely right.