Give Trump chance to develop positive objectives, says Kissinger

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger © Darren Ornitz
Henry Kissinger says the public shouldn’t just write off Donald Trump, calling him the “most unique” presidential figure in his lifetime. He said “one should not insist on nailing him into positions that he had taken in the campaign.”

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, aired Sunday, the famed strategist and Nixon-era secretary of state said he believes something good may come out of a Trump presidency.

He says the president-elect is currently undergoing “the transition from being a campaigner to being a national strategist.”

Nobody knows what to expect from someone with “no baggage,” Kissinger said. Trump gained victory on the strength of his own platform, but also, crucially, on his own terms, independent of either major party strategy.

“He has no obligation to any particular group because he has become president on the basis of his own strategy,” he said.

The former secretary of state points to the pervading view among the public that Trump is unpredictable because of his flip-flopping on key campaign issues. But he emphasizes that some changes in this regard should be welcomed.

“I think we should give him an opportunity to develop the positive objectives that he may have – and to discuss those,” he told Zakaria. “And we’ve gone through too many decades of tearing incumbent administrations apart. And it may happen again, but it shouldn’t begin that way.”

Trump and Kissinger met up Thursday to talk foreign policy. The two had previously met in May.

Trump has so far shown himself to be an unpredictable figure. The president-elect, who promised to ban Muslims from entering the US and coerce Mexico into building a border wall, has taken some surprising stances since his election victory. As Trump prepares to be sworn into office early next year, he has tried to bank on the optimism some have for that unpredictability, and believes many share the view that the new United States could only benefit from such a “flexibility".

To date, he’s taken eight fresh policy positions since the election, according to CNBC’s count. This includes everything from gay marriage to accepting President Barack Obama’s advice and cutting NATO partners some slack by honoring the US commitment and being more lenient.

On the question of mass deportations – one of the most divisive issues of the campaign – Trump now says he’ll start with criminals and think of the rest later. And of course, the sudden reversal in deciding to keep parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, stunned everyone when Trump was asked point blank during CBS’ ’60 Minutes’ if he would scrap the entire healthcare program the way he’d promised he would.