Fifty-two years after his historic voyage in 1971, Henry Kissinger returned to China at the age of one hundred, thus completing the last extraordinary gesture of his long and fruitful life. It was also received by President Xi Jinping (who would have turned 18 in 1971), demonstrating China’s strong ability to keep alive a sense of history, a discipline that we Westerners have much to learn from other civilizations. Kissinger returns to Beijing and reiterates the need for a strong relationship between the United States and China, as also an essential element for achieving a peaceful balance in the world.
A few days later, Romano Prodi also intervened in major international issues, with a sharp rebuke of a weak and divided Europe, which had essentially relegated to a position of dependence on the American ally. There is no reason to waste so much time reiterating how to respectfully listen to the words of those with significant international experience, so both Kissinger and Brody are such noble and important voices. However, it must also be bluntly said that they speak with in mind the world they knew more firsthand than the present one, rather disturbed by the powerful and brutal transformations that one cannot help but consider.
The China Kissinger visited in 1971 was a backward country with enormous development problems, unable to compare with the United States in any area other than a ping-pong table. Thus, the openness and dialogue at that time has nothing to do with the current balance, which sees the Beijing government already responsible for the second global military spending budget, and is now able to have a decisive presence on the five continents in all the most important files, from financial activities to real estate, from mining to agricultural production, and from intelligence to cultural structures.
But even the Europe that Prodi speaks of, which he led, has nothing to do with current Europe. Twenty years ago France was entirely German on the popular socialist axis. Conservative parties prevail today, and the continental political landscape is filled with political themes closely associated with the founding leaders. Therefore, it makes no sense to criticize what cannot exist, rather it would be better to admit that the budgetary strictness policy of the Brussels members has already done enough damage, even to cause Brexit, which remains a wound in European history for which the EU power managers also bear responsibility in the first decade of the century. On the other hand, today Europe is doing what it can and doing it with a certain dignity, as evidenced by the management of the epidemic and the great unity in support of Ukraine. As evidence, just try to answer a simple question: Is there anyone among Macron, Schulz, Meloni, Moravicky or Sunak willing to be represented by von der Leyen at international summits or in the White House? Since the answer is no, a thousand times over, we have to deal with a possible Europe, and therefore one in which states exist and have in reality no intention of stepping aside, so much so that issues of national interest are on the agenda everywhere. Looking at international relations requires a great deal of realism.
The globalization frenzy has given us a world full of opportunity but also incapable of relieving inequalities, a world that has severely impoverished European middle classes in favor of Arab or Russian oil and gas oligarchs and low-priced Chinese, Turkish and Indian producers. If Cristiano Ronaldo goes to play in Saudi Arabia and Iran and Turkey are the main producers of drones used in the war in Ukraine, then the world around us has changed. Americans can no longer view China with the attitude of Uncle Sam, richer than it used to be, and Europeans must stop dreaming of a Europe from Ventotene that is not in things, even if it remains a prestige point of view and high political values. Today’s world is deeply immersed in conflicts of all kinds, but that does not mean that it is a world without prospects for growth or peace. But there is no worse way to handle it than by using unexpected classes. This is the 21st century and we can’t help it.
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