Kissinger Stephane de Sakutin/Getty Images

How Dr. Strangelove Learned to Love Trump

An alliance between Henry Kissinger and US President-elect Donald Trump may seem unnatural at first blush, but it makes sense as a marriage of convenience. Kissinger wants validation that he is still relevant, which Trump has done by playing on his vanity; and Trump needs the foreign-policy gravitas that Kissinger brings in spades.

PARIS – At first glance, former United States National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and President-elect Donald Trump would seem to have nothing in common. In one corner stands the experienced, sophisticated grand old man of US diplomacy; in the other hulks the crude, braying archetypal man of Twitter.

And yet, in a recent appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation, Kissinger lavished praise on Trump, calling him a “phenomenon.” That is an intriguing word choice: a “phenomenon” usually describes a savant, artist, world-class athlete, or rock star.

Sixty years ago, the young Kissinger was keen on introducing the US to Europe’s complex history and arcane style of diplomacy. He wanted American leaders to resemble such sophisticates as Klemens von Metternich and Otto von Bismarck. But, as the Nobel laureate Bob Dylan famously put it, “The times, they are a-changin’,” and today Kissinger wants to explain Trump’s uniquely “American style” to the world – a reversal that may reflect his disappointment at having failed in his original venture.