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Courtesy Penguin Books

For more than two years, we've been speaking of the threat to the liberal world order, shaken to its core by the rash of new autocratic-minded governments, and, most importantly, a change of heart by its creator and leader — the United States.

But this summer, I realized that I could know a lot more about what the world order actually is. On my bookshelf all this time, unread, was World Order, by Henry Kissinger, secretary of state and national security adviser to presidents Nixon and Ford. Over the last couple of weeks, I've dug in.

It's a rich history, starting in the 17th century. Though published in 2014, it foresees the rise of Trump, or someone like him, linking it to the explosion of social media:

  • "Presidential campaigns are on the verge of turning into media contests between master operators of the Internet."
  • As more and more discourse happens in snippets on social media, "can democracy avoid an evolution toward a demagogic outcome based on emotional mass appeal rather than the reasoned process the Founding Fathers imagined?"

A hyper-troubling thread is Kissinger's description of the bedrock of U.S. power from the beginning, and especially since World War II — its claim of moral high ground. Always, Americans have argued that other countries sought their cold, hard state interests, while the U.S. was foremost about values.

Before America First became the mantra, Kissinger warned against it:

"Calculations of power without a moral dimension will turn every disagreement into a test of strength; ambition will know no resting place; countries will be propelled into unsustainable tours de force of elusive calculations regarding the shifting configuration of power."

Fun fact: In the end notes, we see that, typically, Kissinger has eyes deep in the White House. Schuyler Schouten, his research associate on this book, is special assistant to Trump and associate White House counsel.

Go deeper with the FT: Henry Kissinger — 'We are in a very, very grave period.'

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has been charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

Schumer calls for IG probe into alleged plan by Trump, DOJ lawyer to oust acting AG

Jeffrey Clark speaks next to Deputy US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference in October. Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate an alleged plan by former President Trump and a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general and replace him with someone more willing to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud.

Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."