Fri, Apr 3, 2015 at 11:45 PM
Subject: Fw: A good read - a great man writing about another great man Kissinger - LKY


Although they were literally on opposite sides of earth, distance
proved no obstacle to a long friendship between these 2 men.

Henry A. Kissinger: The World Will Miss Lee Kuan Yew
March 23 (Washington Post) --

Lee Kuan Yew was a great man.
And he was a close personal friend, a fact that I consider one of
the great blessings of my life.
 A world needing to distill order
from incipient chaos will miss his leadership.
    Lee emerged onto the international stage as the founding
father of the state of Singapore, then a city of about 1 million.
He developed into a world statesman who acted as a kind of
conscience to leaders around the globe.
    Fate initially seemed not to have provided him a canvas on
which to achieve more than modest local success. In the first
phase of decolonization, Singapore emerged as a part of Malaya.
It was cut loose because of tensions between Singapore's largely
Chinese population and the Malay majority and, above all, to
teach the fractious city a lesson of dependency. Malaya
undoubtedly expected that reality would cure Singapore of its
independent spirit.
    But great men become such through visions beyond material
calculations. Lee defied conventional wisdom by opting for
statehood. The choice reflected a deep faith in the virtues of
his people. He asserted that a city located on a sandbar with
nary an economic resource to draw upon, and whose major industry
as a colonial naval base had disappeared, could nevertheless
thrive and achieve international stature by building on 
principal asset: the intelligence, industry and dedication of its
    A great leader takes his or her society from where it is to
where it has never been — indeed, where it as yet cannot imagine
being. By insisting on quality education, by suppressing
corruption and by basing governance on merit
, Lee and his
colleagues raised the annual per capita income of their
population from $500 at the time of independence in 1965 to
roughly $55,000 today
. In a generation, Singapore became an
international financial center, the leading intellectual
metropolis of Southeast Asia, the location of the region's major
hospitals and a favored site for conferences on international
affairs. It did so by adhering to an extraordinary pragmatism: by
opening careers to the best talents and encouraging them to adopt
the best practices from all over the world.
    Superior performance was one component of that achievement.
Superior leadership was even more important. As the decades went
by, it was moving — and inspirational — to see Lee, in material
terms the mayor of a medium-size city, bestride the international
scene as 
a mentor of global strategic orderA visit by Lee to
Washington was a kind of national event
. A presidential
conversation was nearly automatic; eminent members of the Cabinet
and Congress would seek meetings. They did so not to hear of
Singapore's national problems; Lee rarely, if ever, lobbied
policymakers for assistance. His theme was the indispensable U.S.
contribution to the defense and growth of a peaceful world
. His
interlocutors attended not to be petitioned but to learn from one
of the truly profound global thinkers of our time.

    This process started for me when Lee visited Harvard in 1967
shortly after becoming prime minister of an independent
Singapore. Lee began a meeting with the senior faculty of the
School of Public Administration (now the Kennedy School) by
inviting comments on the Vietnam War. The faculty, of which I was
one dissenting member, was divided primarily on the question of
whether President Lyndon Johnson was a war criminal or a
Lee responded, "You make me sick
" — not because he
embraced war in a personal sense but because the independence and
prosperity of his country depended on the fortitude, unity and
resolve of the United States. Singapore was not asking the United
States to do something that Singapore would not undertake to the
maximum of its ability. But U.S. leadership was needed to
supplement and create a framework for order in the world
    Lee elaborated on these themes in the hundreds of encounters
I had with him during international conferences, study groups,
board meetings, face-to-face discussions and visits at each
other's homes over 45 years
. He did not exhort; he was never
emotional; he was not a Cold Warrior; he was a pilgrim in quest
of world order and responsible leadership
. He understood the
relevance of China and its looming potential and often
contributed to the enlightenment of the world on this subject.

But in the end, he insisted that without the United States there
could be no stability.
    Lee's domestic methods fell short of the prescriptions of
current U.S. constitutional theory. But so, in fairness, did the
democracy of Thomas Jefferson's time, with its limited franchise,
property qualifications for voting and slavery. This is not the
occasion to debate what other options were available. Had
Singapore chosen the road of its critics, it might well have
collapsed among its ethnic groups, as the example of Syria
teaches today. Whether the structures essential for the early
decades of Singapore's independent existence were unnecessarily
prolonged can be the subject of another discussion.
    I began this eulogy by mentioning my friendship with Lee. He
was not a man of many sentimental words. And he nearly always
spoke of substantive matters. But one could sense his attachment.
A conversation with Lee, whose life was devoted to service and
who spent so much of his time on joint explorations, was a vote
of confidence that sustained one's sense of purpose.
    The great tragedy of Lee's life was that his beloved wifef
was felled by a stroke that left her a prisoner in her body,
unable to communicate or receive communication. Through all that
time, Lee sat by her bedside in the evening reading to her. He
had faith that she understood despite the evidence to the
    Perhaps this was Lee Kuan Yew's role in his era. He had the
same hope for our world. He fought for its better instincts even
when the evidence was ambiguous. But many of us heard him and
will never forget him.

Mar/23/2015 20:40 GMT