I don’t think the so called “opening to China” by Nixon and Kissinger was any kind of brilliant statesmanship.
The U.S. didn’t need help in deterring the Soviet Union which was then only 18 years away from its collapse. And China did not provide any significant help. The Chinese were never going to invade or attack Russia, and the Chinese never gave the US any help in Vietnam. Indeed, the brilliant thing for Nixon to have done would have been to simply walk away from Vietnam. Had he done that, there would have been no need to try to prevent the Russians from sending help to the North Vietnamese.
What Nixon did was to start the process that made it safe for outsourcing of American manufacturing to China and to lay the groundwork for China’s dominance of Asia and perhaps much of the rest of the world in this century.
Kissinger is certainly a great ego, but he is a rotten statesman. He knew nothing about China. Spoke no Chinese, had no concept of the way of thinking of the Chinese. In his effort to appear to win or at least not lose in Vietnam he led about 40,000 young American boys to their deaths (that’s the number who died after Kissinger became National Security Adviser. The total is 55,000).
Are we better off today, is the world a better place today, because of Nixon’s so called opening to China? I I don’t think so. Nixon and Kissinger were both besotted with the notion that they were some kind of strategic great thinkers, beyond the ken of normal men. Kissinger thought he was Bismarck or Metternich and Nixon – well, I would love to know who Nixon thought he was.
But the truth is that Chou En Lai ran circles around Kissinger and today he makes his living by selling as much of America as he can to the Chinese.