If there were any doubts about whether Henry Kissinger, at the age of 91 and having undergone heart surgery in July, has kept his edge, he dispatches them almost as soon as he sinks into a sofa in his high-rise corner office in midtown Manhattan.
News that a second American journalist has been beheaded in Syria has just broken. But the former US secretary of state — who helped to bring the Vietnam War to an end, initiated a rapprochement with China and led the policy of detente with the Soviet Union — is already clear about what should be done.
“There can’t be any debate any more about fighting them.”
Under President Barack Obama, he charges, “we have made ourselves bystanders” in the Middle East until now.
“This could be very substantial — on most known targets — and I would not make any distinction between Syria and Iraq. In my view this should have happened already.”
He adds: “ You can’t go through public agonies over what you will not do or what you will do, whether Syria is part of it, Syria’s not part of it.”
This week Kissinger’s book World Order — his 17th — will be published on both sides of the Atlantic. On most days the statesman who became an unlikely celebrity in Richard Nixon’s White House still goes to his 26th-floor office, which has windowsills crammed with scores of framed photographs of world figures he has met.