Former Secretary of State Dr. Henry A. Kissinger addressed the Brigade of Midshipmen on April 11 in the U.S. Naval Academy’s Alumni Hall.
Kissinger served as the keynote speaker for the 47th annual Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference (NAFAC).
In his address to the Navy and Marine Corps’ future officers, Kissinger compared his experiences as a college professor and a policy maker. He explained that professors can choose their subjects and spend as much time studying those subjects as they wish, while policy makers must deal with the subjects they are dealt, with no control over the timing.
“Politicians, unlike professors, are responsible for not only the best that can happen but for the worst that can happen,” said Kissinger.
The theme for this year’s conference was “Asia at the Crossroads.” During his address to more than 4,000 midshipmen, Kissinger explained that China had no consumer industry, automobiles, significant heavy trade industry or trade with the United States in the early 1970s. He compared the status of that nation’s economy more than 30 years ago to what it is today.
“Now, China has a huge export surplus,” said Kissinger, who also served as sational security advisor from 1969 to 1975. “The rise of China is now inevitable. There is nothing we can do to prevent China from continuing to grow. The outcome of the rise of China depends, in part, on how we handle national affairs.”
Established in 1960, NAFAC provides a venue for future military and civilian leaders to learn about the current pressing issues in foreign affairs. The conference hosted 175 delegates from colleges and universities around the world, including 15 foreign military academies.
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Michael Croft, U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs