If the admiring American coverage of his death is to be believed, the lodestar of George Shultz’s life was one of trust. Shultz lived to be a hundred and, in an essay to mark the occasion of his centenary, Shultz held that ‘trust is the coin of the realm’. When trust was ‘in the room’ he wrote, ‘good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen. Everything else is details’. He died two months later on 6 February 2021.Continue reading
Tag Archives: Richard Nixon
Review – First Man, directed by Damien Chazelle
Space exploration is difficult and dangerous. Its technical demands are profound. Its toll is immense. These things are not communicated – or not communicated well – in our age’s space race; it is a commercial drama, where blood is exchanged for balance sheets and vital, war-like international competition is replaced by the pettier prospect of corporate intrigue. Jeff Bezos receives criticism for spending his money on rockets rather than workers’ rights; Richard Branson applies the same cheap showmanship to aerospace as he does to airlines; Elon Musk smokes cannabis on an MMA commentator’s podcast and tweets about anime. Continue reading
Henry Kissinger: The Idealist?
Review – Kissinger 1923–1968: The Idealist by Niall Ferguson
Henry Kissinger remains one of the world’s most controversial statesmen. He is a man who is, as Niall Ferguson states at the beginning of this new biography, covering the first 45 years of his subject’s life, both revered and reviled in equal measure. Kissinger is held up by some as a kind of seer, an intellectual without parallel in recent times; others declare – just as fiercely – that he has exercised an entirely corrosive influence on world affairs, that he is a war criminal – and, perhaps most oddly, that he is an agent of the shadowy forces which operate behind supposedly democratic nations to control the way the world really works. (The latter position is obviously ridiculous, but it is worth mentioning – not least because the risible imaginings of David Icke and his ilk can sometimes reflect the more vigorous denunciations of Kissinger which exist in significantly more acceptable circles.) There is one thing, however, on which both sides of this particular debate – which seeks to decide whether Kissinger is a hero or villain, a saint or sinner – appear to agree: that Kissinger was a realist, and a realist par excellence. Ferguson, however, takes a dramatically divergent view, one which is contained within his provocative subtitle. For him, Kissinger is (or at least was) an idealist, which represents the exact opposite of much of the popular and scholarly perception of Kissinger’s life and his work. It appears that everyone else has got the man entirely wrong. Continue reading