A complex, scholarly critique of Henry Kissinger's foreign policy. Liska, a political science professor, points out that liberal assessment of Kissinger rejects traditional diplomatic balance-of-power concepts while acknowledging Kissinger's mastery of these forms. Liska, on the other hand, affirms the classic diplomatic themes of great-power conflicts and countervailing alliances while questioning Kissinger's understanding and application of them. He compares Nixon-Kissinger policy with the foreign policy systems of Metternich, Bismarck, Machiavelli and Kaunitz, assuming the reader's in-depth knowledge of European history. If anything, Liska comments, Kissinger is both ""idealistic"", and superficial, turning what should be strategic tools--""moral consensus,"" ""legitimacy,"" ""detente""--into ends. High diplomacy is ""the art of constellating and configurating forces, not of contriving formulae of policy compromises or bastions of universal peace and prosperity; the art of bending and aligning basic dispositions rather than bargaining over minutiae in implementing relaxation of political tensions."" Kissinger's stances in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and in U.S. relations with the USSR and China are geared only to short-range needs. While one may not agree with many of Liska's conclusions--his highly abstract approach, is off-putting--students of international relations should find this a provocative book.