Krugman and Kissinger

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Sat Sep 06 2003 - 17:36:49 EDT

The Liberal Oasis asks Paul Krugman about his new book

LO: In the intro of "The Great Unraveling," you mention how you came
across an old book by Henry Kissinger from 1957 that you believe
helps explain what's happening in American politics today. How so?

PK: What Kissinger told me was not so much what the people running
the country are doing, as why it's so difficult for reasonable,
sensible people to face up to what it is in fact dead obvious.

He talked in very generic terms about the difficulty of people who
have been accustomed to a status quo, diplomatically, coping with
what he called a "revolutionary power."

The book is about dealing with revolutionary France, the France of
Robespierre and Napoleon, but he was clearly intending that people
should understand that it related to the failure of diplomacy against
Germany in the 30s.

But I think it's more generic than that. It's actually the story
about how confronted with people with some power, domestic or
foreign, that really doesn't play by the rules, most people just
can't admit to themselves that this is really happening.

They keep on imagining that, "Oh, you know, they have limited goals.
When they make these radical pronouncements that's just tactical and
we can appease them a little bit by giving them some of what they
want. And eventually we'll all be able to sit down like reasonable
men and work it out."

Then at a certain point you realize, "My God, we've given everything
away that makes system work. We've given away everything we counted

And that's basically the story of what's happened with the Right in
the United States. And it's still happening.

You can still see people writing columns and opinion pieces and
making pronouncements on TV who try to be bipartisan and say, "Well,
there are reasonable arguments on both sides." And advising Democrats
not to get angry - that's bad in politics. And just missing the fact
that - my God, we're facing a radical uprising against the system
we've had since Franklin Roosevelt.

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