On Monday 15 June 2015, the Royal United Services Institute presented the 35th Chesney Gold Medal to Dr Henry Kissinger.
At an event at the Tower of London, RUSI Vice-President General (Retd) David H Petraeus presented the 35th Chesney Gold Medal to Dr Henry Kissinger, ‘a man who has had a profoundly positive influence on the United States, the United Kingdom and our world’.
Dr Kissinger was commended for stimulating and enriching ’the national and international dialogue, and whose accomplishments and longevity of the time during which he has achieved them stand as a record to be truly admired and honoured.’
In presenting the medal, General Petraeus described Dr Kissinger as ‘a scholar and a statesman of extraordinary accomplishment, and a man distinguished by a truly brilliant mind. He’s a thinker who continued to contribute to the national and international dialogues of the day, on the major issues in the ensuing for decades after serving in government.’
Accepting the medal, Dr Kissinger said: ‘It is a particular honour to receive this award on the eve of an important anniversary in British, European and world history – the bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo, in which Britain, not for the first time in its history nor the last, battled to preserve the liberties of Europe and of the world. The conclusion of those wars brought about a period of unprecedented instability in Europe.’
Dr Kissinger addressed in his acceptance speech the security issues in the Middle East and in Ukraine, the emergence of China, the Transatlantic Partnership, as well as the overall long-lasting special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.
‘Today, this international order is under attack: it is being tested and redefined in different ways; in every major region, based on different cultural visions of what order represents. The nature of strategy has also shifted, from being defined primarily by objective elements of power, to being expressed in large parts by ideological contest and asymmetric warfare…In our period, peace is often threatened by the disintegrating of power, the collapse of authority into non-governed spaces, spreading violence and disorder beyond borders and regions. Threats are now launched extensively from beyond borders and move into threats carried out in conjunction with domestic networks and non-state groups. In this manner, peace is simultaneously threatened by the disintegration of states and by the gain in power of radical revolutionary forces.’
On the conflict in Russia, Dr Kissinger said ‘I do not believe that it is possible for Ukraine to exist as an outpost of either the West or of Russia. If it is an outpost of the West, its borders are 200 miles from Stalingrad and 300 miles from Moscow, and that will never be accepted. If it is an outpost of Russia, its borders are at the borders of Poland, Romania, Hungary, and that will not be accepted to the West.’
Dr Kissinger also stressed the importance of the special relationship between the UK and the United States. ‘It is very important to have an reliable partner, with whom one can exchange thoughts, on whose trust one can rely, even if there are considerable differences of opinion’.
The medal was awarded by the Royal United Services Institute. Commenting on RUSI’s work, Dr Kissinger said: ‘Before think tanks were imagined, RUSI provided a forum for the elaboration and discussion of strategic military doctrine through two World Wars, the Cold War and beyond. RUSI has encouraged creative thinking on strategy and on the special relationship of our countries.’
Dr Henry Kissinger graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1950 and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University in 1952 and 1954. He was the 56th Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977, served in the Army for three years and received the Noble Peace Prize in 1973.
The Chesney Gold Medal, instigated in 1899, is the highest award in the gift of the Council of the Royal United Services Institute. It was first awarded in 1900 to Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan USN, and has been awarded thirty-four times since, including to Sir Winston Churchill in 1950, Baroness Thatcher in 2000 and General David H Petraeus in 2013. The award marks a life-long distinguished contribution in the defence and international security fields, to the benefit of the United Kingdom and/or the international community.