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Henry Kissinger

Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger (;[1] born May 27, 1923) is a German-born American writer, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, he served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. After his term, his opinion was still sought by many subsequent presidents and many world leaders.

A proponent of Realpolitik, Kissinger played a dominant role in United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977. During this period, he pioneered the policy of d tente with the Soviet Union, orchestrated the opening of relations with the People's Republic of China, and negotiated the Paris Peace Accords, ending American involvement in the Vietnam War. Various American policies of that era, including the bombing of Cambodia, remain controversial to many.

Kissinger is still a controversial figure today.[2] He is the founder and chairman of Kissinger Associates, an international consulting firm.


Early life

Kissinger was born Heinz Alfred Kissinger in F rth, Bavaria, Germany in 1923 during the Weimar Republic to a family of German Jews. His father, Louis Kissinger (1887 1982) was a schoolteacher. His mother, Paula (Stern) Kissinger (1901 1998), was a homemaker. Kissinger has a younger brother, Walter Kissinger. The surname Kissinger was adopted in 1817 by his great-great-grandfather Meyer L b, after the Bavarian spa town of Bad Kissingen.[3] As a youth, Heinz enjoyed playing soccer, and even played for the youth side of one of the nation's best teams at the time, SpVgg F rth.[4] In 1938, fleeing Nazi persecution, his family moved to New York.

Kissinger spent his high school years in the Washington Heights section of upper Manhattan as part of the German Jewish immigrant community there. Although Kissinger assimilated quickly into American culture, he never lost his pronounced Frankish accent, due to childhood shyness that made him hesitant to speak.[5][6] Following his first year at George Washington High School, he began attending school at night and worked in a shave brush factory during the day.[5]

Following high school, Kissinger enrolled in the City College of New York, studying accounting. He excelled academically as a part-time student, continuing to work while enrolled. His studies were interrupted in early 1943, when he was drafted into the U.S. Army.[7]

Army experience

Kissinger underwent basic training at Camp Croft in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he was naturalized upon arrival. The Army sent him to study engineering at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania, but the program was cancelled, and Kissinger was reassigned to the 84th Infantry Division. There, he made the acquaintance of Fritz Kraemer, a fellow immigrant from Germany who despite the age difference, noted Kissinger's fluency in German and his intellect, and arranged for him to be assigned to the military intelligence section of the division. Kissinger saw combat with the division, and volunteered for hazardous intelligence duties during the Battle of the Bulge.[8]

During the American advance into Germany, Kissinger, only a private, was put in charge of the administration of the city of Krefeld, owing to a lack of German speakers on the division's intelligence staff. Within eight days he had established a civilian administration.[9] Kissinger was then reassigned to the Counter Intelligence Corps, with the rank of Sergeant. He was given charge of a team in Hanover assigned to tracking down Gestapo officers and other saboteurs, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.[10] In June 1945, Kissinger was made commandant of a CIC detachment in the Bergstrasse district of Hesse, with responsibility for de-Nazification of the district. Although he possessed absolute authority and powers of arrest, Kissinger took care to avoid abuses against the local population by his command.[11]

In 1946, Kissinger was reassigned to teach at the European Command Intelligence School at Camp King, continuing to serve in this role as a civilian employee following his separation from the Army.[12][13]

Academic career

Henry Kissinger received his A.B. degree summa cum laude in political science at Harvard College in 1950, where he lived in Adams House and studied under William Yandell Elliott.[14] He received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard University in 1952 and 1954, respectively. In 1952, while still at Harvard, he served as a consultant to the Director of the Psychological Strategy Board.[15] His doctoral dissertation was titled "Peace, Legitimacy, and the Equilibrium (A Study of the Statesmanship of Castlereagh and Metternich)."

Kissinger remained at Harvard as a member of the faculty in the Department of Government and at the Center for International Affairs. He became Associate Director of the latter in 1957. In 1955, he was a consultant to the National Security Council's Operations Coordinating Board.[15] During 1955 and 1956, he was also Study Director in Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He released his book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy the following year.[16] From 1956 to 1958 he worked for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund as director of its Special Studies Project.[15] He was Director of the Harvard Defense Studies Program between 1958 and 1971. He was also Director of the Harvard International Seminar between 1951 and 1971. Outside of academia, he served as a consultant to several government agencies, including the Operations Research Office, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the Department of State, and the Rand Corporation, a think-tank.[15]

Keen to have a greater influence on US foreign policy, Kissinger became a supporter of, and advisor to, Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York, who sought the Republican nomination for President in 1960, 1964 and 1968.[17] After Richard Nixon won the presidency in 1968, he made Kissinger National Security Advisor.

Foreign policy

Kissinger being sworn in as Secretary of State by Chief Justice Warren Burger, September 22, 1973. Kissinger's mother, Paula, holds the Bible upon which he was sworn in while President Nixon looks on.

Kissinger served as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon, and continued as Secretary of State under Nixon's successor Gerald Ford.[18]

A proponent of Realpolitik, Kissinger played a dominant role in United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977. In that period, he extended the policy of d tente. This policy led to a significant relaxation in U.S.-Soviet tensions and played a crucial role in 1971 talks with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. The talks concluded with a rapprochement between the United States and the People's Republic of China, and the formation of a new strategic anti-Soviet Sino-American alignment. He was awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for helping to establish a ceasefire and U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam. The ceasefire, however, was not durable.[19] As National Security Advisor, in 1974 Kissinger directed the much-debated National Security Study Memorandum 200.

D tente and the opening to China

As National Security Advisor under Nixon, Kissinger pioneered the policy of d tente with the Soviet Union, seeking a relaxation in tensions between the two superpowers. As a part of this strategy, he negotiated the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (culminating in the SALT I treaty) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party. Negotiations about strategic disarmament were originally supposed to start under the Johnson Administration but were postponed in protest to the invasion by Warsaw Pact troops of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Kissinger, shown here with Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong, negotiated rapprochement with the People's Republic of China Kissinger sought to place diplomatic pressure on the Soviet Union. He made two trips to the People's Republic of China in July and October, 1971 (the first of which was made in secret) to confer with Premier Zhou Enlai, then in charge of Chinese foreign policy. The USC U.S.-China Institute has collected documents relating to the diplomatic efforts between 1969 and 1971 that led to this successful trip.[20] According to Kissinger's book, "The White House Years", the first secret China trip was arranged through Pakistan's diplomatic and Presidential involvement that paved the way to initial vital contact with the Chinese, since the Americans were unable to communicate directly with the Chinese leaders because of earlier cold relations.

This paved the way for the groundbreaking 1972 summit between Nixon, Zhou, and Communist Party of China Chairman Mao Zedong, as well as the formalization of relations between the two countries, ending 23 years of diplomatic isolation and mutual hostility. The result was the formation of a tacit strategic anti-Soviet alliance between China and the United States.

While Kissinger's diplomacy led to economic and cultural exchanges between the two sides and the establishment of Liaison Offices in the Chinese and American capitals, with serious implications for Indochinese matters, full normalization of relations with the People's Republic of China would not occur until 1979, because the Watergate scandal overshadowed the latter years of the Nixon presidency and because the United States continued to recognize the government of Taiwan.

Vietnam War

Kissinger's involvement in Indochina started prior to his appointment as National Security Adviser to Nixon. While still at Harvard, he had worked as a consultant on foreign policy to both the White House and State Department. Kissinger says that "In August 1965... [Henry Cabot Lodge], an old friend serving as Ambassador to Saigon, had asked me to visit Vietnam as his consultant. I toured Vietnam first for two weeks in October and November 1965, again for about ten days in July 1966, and a third time for a few days in October 1966... Lodge gave me a free hand to look into any subject of my choice". He became convinced of the meaninglessness of military victories in Vietnam, "...unless they brought about a political reality that could survive our ultimate withdrawal".[21] In a 1967 peace initiative, he would mediate between Washington and Hanoi.

Kissinger, April 29, 1975 Nixon had been elected in 1968 on the promise of achieving "peace with honor" and ending the Vietnam War. In office, and assisted by Kissinger, Nixon implemented a policy of Vietnamization that aimed to gradually withdraw US troops while expanding the combat role of the enabling South Vietnamese Army so that it would be capable of independently defending its government against the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, a Communist guerrilla organization, and North Vietnamese army (Vietnam People's Army or PAVN). Kissinger played a key role in a secret bombing campaign in Cambodia to disrupt PAVN and Viet Cong units launching raids into South Vietnam from within Cambodia's borders and resupplying their forces by using the Ho Chi Minh trail and other routes, as well as the 1970 Cambodian Incursion and subsequent widespread bombing of Cambodia. The bombing campaign contributed to the chaos of the Cambodian Civil War, which saw the forces of dictator Lon Nol unable to retain foreign support to combat the growing Khmer Rouge insurgency that would overthrow him in 1975.[22][23] Documents uncovered from the Soviet archives after 1991 reveal that the North Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1970 was launched at the explicit request of the Khmer Rouge and negotiated by Pol Pot's then second in command, Nuon Chea.[24] The American bombing of Cambodia killed an estimated 40,000 combatants and civilians.[25] Pol Pot biographer David Chandler argues that the bombing "had the effect the Americans wanted it broke the Communist encirclement of Phnom Penh,"[26] while Christopher Hitchens asserts that the bombing may have increased recruitment for the Khmer Rouge.

Along with North Vietnamese Politburo Member Le Duc Tho, Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1973, for their work in negotiating the ceasefires contained in the Paris Peace Accords on "Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam," signed the January previous.[19] Tho rejected the award, telling Kissinger that peace had not been really restored in South Vietnam.[27] Kissinger wrote to the Nobel Committee that he accepted the award "with humility."[28][29] The conflict continued until an invasion of the South by the North Vietnamese Army resulted in a North Vietnamese victory in 1975 and the subsequent progression of the Pathet Lao in Laos towards figurehead status.

1971 India-Pakistan War

Aboard Air Force One, Kissinger expresses delight at being named TIME Magazine's "Man of the Year," along with President Richard Nixon, 1972

Under Kissinger's guidance, the United States government supported Pakistan in the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971. Kissinger was particularly concerned about the expansion of Soviet influence in South Asia as a result of a treaty of friendship recently signed by India and the USSR, and sought to demonstrate to the People's Republic of China (Pakistan's ally and an enemy of both India and the USSR) the value of a tacit alliance with the United States.[30]

In recent years, Kissinger has come under fire for private comments he made to Nixon during the Bangladesh-Pakistan War in which he described then-Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as a "bitch" and a "witch". He also said "The Indians are bastards," shortly before the war.[31] Kissinger has since expressed his regret over the comments.[32]

Israeli policy and Soviet Jewry

According to notes taken by H. R. Haldeman, Nixon "ordered his aides to exclude all Jewish-Americans from policy-making on Israel," including Kissinger.[33] One note quotes Nixon as saying get K. [Kissinger] out of the play Haig handle it."[33]

In 1973, Kissinger did not feel that pressing the Soviet Union concerning the plight of Jews being persecuted there was in the interest of US foreign policy. In conversation with Nixon shortly after a meeting with Golda Meir on March 1, 1973, Kissinger stated, The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy, and if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern. [34] Kissinger argued, however:

"That emigration existed at all was due to the actions of "realists" in the White House. Jewish emigration rose from 700 a year in 1969 to near 40,000 in 1972. The total in Nixon's first term was more than 100,000. To maintain this flow by quiet diplomacy, we never used these figures for political purposes....The issue became public because of the success of our Middle East policy when Egypt evicted Soviet advisers. To restore its relations with Cairo, the Soviet Union put a tax on Jewish emigration. There was no Jackson-Vanik Amendment until there was a successful emigration effort. Sen. Henry Jackson, for whom I had, and continue to have, high regard, sought to remove the tax with his amendment. We thought the continuation of our previous approach of quiet diplomacy was the wiser course....Events proved our judgment correct. Jewish emigration fell to about a third of its previous high."[35]

1973 Yom Kippur War

Documents show that former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger delayed telling President Richard Nixon about the start of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 to keep him from interfering. On October 6, 1973, the Israelis informed Kissinger about the attack at 6 a.m.; Kissinger waited about 3 and a half hours before he informed Nixon.[36]

In 1973, Kissinger negotiated the end to the Yom Kippur War, which had begun on October 6, 1973 when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. Kissinger has published lengthy and dramatic telephone transcripts from this period in the 2002 book Crisis. One week later, under Nixon's direction, and against Kissinger's initial opposition,[37] the US military conducted the largest military airlift in history to aid Israel on October 12, 1973. US action contributed to the 1973 oil crisis in the United States and its Western European allies, which ended in March 1974.

On October 31, 1973, Egyptian foreign minister Ismail Fahmi (left) meets with Richard Nixon (middle) and Henry Kissinger (right), about a week after the end of fighting in the Yom Kippur War Israel regained the territory it lost in the early fighting and gained new territories from Syria and Egypt, including land in Syria east of the previously captured Golan Heights, and additionally on the western bank of the Suez Canal, although they did lose some territory on the eastern side of the Suez Canal that had been in Israeli hands since the end of the Six Day War. Kissinger pressured the Israelis to cede some of the newly captured land back to its Arab neighbours, contributing to the first phases of Israeli-Egyptian non-aggression. The move saw a warming in US Egyptian relations, bitter since the 1950s, as the country moved away from its former independent stance and into a close partnership with the United States. The peace was finalized in 1978 when U.S. President Jimmy Carter mediated the Camp David Accords, during which Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for an Egyptian agreement to recognize the state of Israel.

Latin American policy

Ford and Kissinger conversing on grounds of the White House, August 1974 The United States continued to recognize and maintain relationships with non-left-wing governments, democratic and authoritarian alike. John F. Kennedy's Alliance for Progress was ended in 1973. In 1974, negotiations about new settlement over Panama Canal started. They eventually led to the Torrijos-Carter Treaties and handing the Canal over to Panamanian control.

Kissinger initially supported the normalization of United States-Cuba relations, broken since 1961 (all U.S. Cuban trade was blocked in February 1962, a few weeks after the exclusion of Cuba from the Organization of American States because of US pressure). However, he quickly changed his mind and followed Kennedy's policy. After the involvement of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces in the liberation struggles in Angola and Mozambique, Kissinger said that unless Cuba withdrew its forces relations would not be normalized. Cuba refused.

Intervention in Chile

Chilean Socialist Party presidential candidate Salvador Allende was elected by a plurality in 1970, causing serious concern in Washington, D.C. due to his openly socialist and pro-Cuban politics. The Nixon administration authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to encourage a military coup that would prevent Allende's inauguration, but the plan was not successful.[38] The extent of Kissinger's involvement in or support of these plans is a subject of controversy.[39]

United States-Chile relations remained frosty during Salvador Allende's tenure, following the complete nationalization of the partially U.S.-owned copper mines and the Chilean subsidiary of the U.S.-based ITT Corporation, as well as other Chilean businesses. The U.S. claimed that the Chilean government had greatly undervalued fair compensation for the nationalization by subtracting what it deemed "excess profits". Therefore, the U.S. considered (but never actually implemented)[40] economic sanctions against Chile. The CIA also provided funding for the mass anti-government strikes in 1972 and 1973.

The CIA, acting under the approval of the 40 committee (which Kissinger chaired), was involved in various covert actions in Chile during this period: It tried to buy off the Chilean Congress to prevent Allende's appointment, worked to sway public opinion against him to prevent his election, and financed protests designed to bring the country to a stand-still and make him resign. The most expeditious way to prevent Allende from assuming office was somehow to convince the Chilean congress to confirm Jorge Alessandri as the winner of the election. Once elected by the congress, Alessandri a party to the plot through intermediaries was prepared to resign his presidency within a matter of days so that new elections could be held. This first, nonmilitary, approach to stopping Allende was called the Track I approach.[38] The CIA's second approach, the Track II approach, was designed to encourage a military overthrow. CIA agents told senior Chilean military officials that "the United States intended to cut military assistance to Chile unless they moved against Allende."[41]

The first attempt to engineer a military overthrow of Allende occurred in 1970. The CIA had been in contact with two groups of coup plotters, one group run by retired General Roberto Viaux and a second by active-duty General Camilo Valenzuela. The CIA attempted to stop Viaux's group from moving forward until it had joined forces with Valenzuela's group. Both groups were attempting to remove Chilean general Ren Schneider, due to his support for military non-intervention in politics, and thus the appointment of Allende. On 15 October 1970, Kissinger told Nixon: "This looks hopeless. I turned it off. Nothing would be worse than an abortive coup." Nixon responded, "Just tell him [Viaux] to do nothing."[42]

Nevertheless, the Church hearings found that the CIA gave weapons to a group of men who it knew had attacked Schneider twice before, ostensibly as a test of loyalty so that the CIA would remain privy to their information, but that the weapons provided and the group thereby armed (Valenzuela's group) were not the ones that actually killed him (Viaux's group). On June 11, 1971, Kissinger and Nixon said the following in a private conversation:

Kissinger: when they did try to assassinate somebody, it took three attempts
Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: and he lived for three weeks afterwards.[43]

There are two possible interpretations of these remarks: a) Kissinger was telling the President that a military coup could not succeed in Chile because there were no officers both willing and able to carry one out; or b) the two men were mocking the CIA's squeamishness about killing Schneider.[43]

Mark Falcoff (author of Modern Chile), quoting from the Nixon Tapes in Commentary, argued that regardless of what Kissinger said to Nixon after the fact, "Kissinger seems to have been unaware of the plot":

Just why the Chilean kidnapping plot went forward after Kissinger issued orders that General Viaux be "turned off" is not clear....[Thomas] Karamassines phoned the National Security Adviser who asked if he "cleared everything in advance with you. He said no, you were too busy." In the same private conversation, Kissinger remarks that, although he did not know about the second plot, he might have approved it. Then he adds: "I thought that after we turned off that one thing [the Viaux plot], nothing more had happened and in fact that other thing [the Schneider kidnapping] had happened."[44]

The Senate Intelligence Committee, in its investigation of the matter, concluded that since the machine guns supplied to Valenzuela had not actually been employed in the killing, and since General Viaux had been officially discouraged by the CIA a few days before the murder, there was therefore "no evidence of a plan to kill Schneider or that United States officials specifically anticipated that Schneider would be shot during the abduction." This view has been disputed by writer Christopher Hitchens.[45]

A Chilean Supreme Court investigation accused Allende of support of armed groups, torture, illegal arrests, muzzling the press, confiscating private property, and not allowing people to leave the country.[46]

On September 11, 1973, Allende died during a military coup launched by Army Commander-in-Chief Augusto Pinochet, who became President.[47] A document released by the CIA in 2000 titled "CIA Activities in Chile" revealed that the CIA actively supported the military junta after the overthrow of Allende and that it made many of Pinochet's officers into paid contacts of the CIA or US military, even though many were known to be involved in notorious human rights abuses,[48] until Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter defeated President Gerald Ford in 1976.

On September 16, 1973, five days after Pinochet had assumed power, the following exchange about the coup took place between Kissinger and President Nixon:

Nixon: Nothing new of any importance or is there?
Kissinger: Nothing of very great consequence. The Chilean thing is getting consolidated and of course the newspapers are bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown.
Nixon: Isn't that something. Isn't that something.
Kissinger: I mean instead of celebrating in the Eisenhower period we would be heroes.
Nixon: Well we didn't as you know our hand doesn't show on this one though.
Kissinger: We didn't do it. I mean we helped them. [garbled] created the conditions as great as possible.
Nixon: That is right. And that is the way it is going to be played.[49]

In 1976, Kissinger cancelled a letter that was to be sent to Chile warning them against carrying out any political assassinations. Orlando Letelier was then assassinated in Washington, D.C. with a car bomb on September 21, 1976, the day the letter was to be sent.[50] In an Aug. 30, 1976 memo, Shlaudeman discussed the possibility that the U.S. ambassador in Uruguay might be endangered by delivering a warning against assassination. The U.S. ambassador to Chile, David H. Popper, said that Pinochet might take as an insult any inference that he was connected with assassination plots.[51]

Kissinger has evaded legal summons by investigators in France, Spain, Chile and Argentina seeking to question him regarding his role in the disappearances of numerous citizens of the US and other nations, in regard to his involvement to Operation Condor.[52] These included requests in 2001 by Chilean High Court judge Juan Guzm n, and Argentine judge Rodolfo Canicoba, which were both ignored by Kissinger.[53][54] On May 28, 2001, police visited Kissinger at the Ritz Hotel, Paris and handed him a warrant, issued by Judge Roger LeLoire, requesting his testimony in the matter of 5 French citizens who had disappeared in Pinochet's Chile. Kissinger refused, referred the matter to the State Department, and left for Italy the next day, however the summons still stands.[55]

In addition to these summons, two cases against Kissinger were filed and dismissed. On September 10, 2001, the family of General Schneider initiated a civil action in federal court in Washington, DC, by claiming that Kissinger gave the agreement to murder Schneider because he had refused to endorse plans for a military coup against Allende. As part of the suit Schneider's two sons attempted to sue Kissinger and then-CIA director Richard Helms for $3 million. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the case based on sovereign and diplomatic immunity, as well as the political question doctrine.[56] On November 13, 2002, 11 individuals who suffered grave human rights violations following the bloody coup that placed Pinochet in power brought suit against Henry Kissinger, the United States government, and Michael Vernon Townley for crimes against humanity, forced disappearance, torture, arbitrary detention, and wrongful death. The suit alleged that Henry Kissinger knowingly provided practical assistance and encouragement to the Chilean repressive regime before, during, and after the coup, with reckless disregard for the lives and well-being of the victims and their families. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the case based on the same grounds as Schneider vs. Kissinger.[57]

Intervention in Argentina

Kissinger took a similar line as he had toward Chile when the Argentinian military, led by Jorge Videla, toppled the democratic government of Isabel Per n in 1976 with a process named as "National Reorganization Process" by the military, with which they consolidated power, launching brutal reprisals and "disappearances" against political opponents. During a meeting with Argentinian foreign minister C sar Augusto Guzzetti, Kissinger assured him that the United States was an ally, but urged him to "get back to normal procedures" quickly before the U.S. Congress reconvened and had a chance to consider sanctions.[58]


In 1974 a leftist military coup overthrew the Caetano government in Portugal in the Carnation Revolution. The National Salvation Junta, the new government, quickly granted Portugal's colonies independence. Cuban troops in Angola supported the left-wing Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in its fight against right-wing UNITA and FNLA rebels during the Angolan Civil War (1975 2002). Kissinger supported FNLA, led by Holden Roberto, and UNITA, led by Jonas Savimbi, the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) insurgencies, as well as the CIA-supported intervention into Angola by South African troops in support of UNITA. The FNLA was defeated and UNITA was forced to take its fight into the bush after Cuban intervention on behalf of the MPLA. Only under Reagan's presidency would U.S. support for UNITA return.

In September 1976 Kissinger was actively involved in negotiations regarding the Rhodesian Bush War. Kissinger, along with South Africa's Prime Minister John Vorster, pressured Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith to hasten the transition to black majority rule in Rhodesia. With FRELIMO in control of Mozambique and even South Africa withdrawing its support, Rhodesia's isolation was nearly complete. According to Smith's autobiography, Kissinger told Smith of Mrs. Kissinger's admiration for him, but Smith stated that he thought Kissinger was asking him to sign Rhodesia's "death certificate". Kissinger, bringing the weight of the United States, and corralling other relevant parties to put pressure on Rhodesia, hastened the end of minority-rule.

East Timor

The Portuguese decolonization process brought US attention to the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, which lies within the Indonesian archipelago and declared its independence in 1975. Indonesian president Suharto was a strong US ally in Southeast Asia and began to mobilize the Indonesian army, preparing to annex the nascent state, which had become increasingly dominated by the popular leftist FRETILIN party. In December 1975, the day before the invasion, Suharto discussed the invasion plans during a meeting with Kissinger and President Ford in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. Both Ford and Kissinger made clear that US relations with Indonesia would remain strong and that it would not object to the proposed annexation. US arms sales to Indonesia continued, and Suharto went ahead with the annexation plan.

Later roles

Kissinger meeting with President Ronald Reagan in the White House family quarters, 1981

Shortly after Kissinger left office in 1977, he was offered an endowed chair at Columbia University. There was significant student opposition to the appointment, which eventually became a subject of significant media commentary. [59][60] Columbia cancelled the appointment as a result.

Kissinger was then appointed to Georgetown University's Center for Strategic and International Studies.[61] Kissinger published a dialogue with the Japanese religious leader, Daisaku Ikeda, On Peace, Life and Philosophy.[62] He taught at Georgetown's Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service for several years in the late 1970s. In 1982, with the help of a loan from the international banking firm of E.M. Warburg, Pincus and Company,[17] Kissinger founded a consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, and is a partner in affiliate Kissinger McLarty Associates with Mack McLarty, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.[63] He also serves on board of directors of Hollinger International, a Chicago-based newspaper group,[64] and as of March 1999, he also serves on board of directors of Gulfstream Aerospace.[65]

In 1978, Kissinger was named chairman of the North American Soccer League board of directors.[66] From 1995 to 2001, he served on the board of directors for Freeport-McMoRan, a multinational copper and gold producer with significant mining and milling operations in Papua, Indonesia.[67] In February 2000, then-president of Indonesia Abdurrahman Wahid appointed Kissinger as a political advisor. He also serves as an honorary advisor to the United States-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce.

From 2000 - 2006, Kissinger served as chairman of the board of trustees of Eisenhower Fellowships. In 2006, upon his departure from Eisenhower Fellowships, he received the Dwight D. Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service.[68]

Kissinger at the World Economic Forum's 'India Economic Summit', November, 2008, New Delhi

Role in U.S. foreign policy

Kissinger left office when a Democrat, former Governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter, defeated Republican Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential elections. Kissinger continued to participate in policy groups, such as the Trilateral Commission, and to maintain political consulting, speaking, and writing engagements.

In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Kissinger to chair a committee to investigate the September 11 attacks. Kissinger stepped down as chairman on December 13, 2002 rather than reveal his client list, when queried about potential conflicts of interest.

The Balkans

In several articles of his and interviews that he gave during the Yugoslav wars, he criticized the United States' policies in the Balkans, among other things for the recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign state, which he described as a foolish act.[69] Most importantly he dismissed the notion of Serbs, and Croats for that part, being aggressors or separatist, saying that "they can't be separating from something that has never existed".[70] In addition, he repeatedly warned the West of inserting itself into a conflict that has its roots at least hundreds of years back in time, and said that the West would do better if it allowed the Serbs and Croats to join their respective countries.[70]

This Kissinger position and statements provoked a large number of articles and was subjected to criticism in numerous books and studies by prominent authors such as Christopher Hitchens, Andras Riedlmayer, Michael A. Sells, Noel Malcolm, Norman Cigar, Rabia Ali, Lawrence Lifschultz.

Nonetheless, Kissinger shared similarly critical views on Western involvement in Kosovo. In particular, he held a disparaging view of the Rambouillet Agreement:

However, as the Serbs did not accept the Rambouillet text and NATO bombings started, he opted for a continuation of the bombing as NATO's credibility was now at stake, but dismissed the usage of ground forces, claiming that it was not worth it.[71]


Kissinger speaking during Gerald Ford's funeral in January 2007. In 2006, it was reported in the book State of Denial by Bob Woodward that Kissinger was meeting regularly with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to offer advice on the Iraq War.[72] Kissinger confirmed in recorded interviews with Woodward[73] that the advice was the same as he had given in an August 12, 2005 column in The Washington Post: "Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy."[74]

In a November 19, 2006 interview at BBC Sunday AM, Kissinger said, when asked whether there is any hope left for a clear military victory in Iraq, "If you mean by 'military victory' an Iraqi Government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible... I think we have to redefine the course. But I don't believe that the alternative is between military victory as it had been defined previously, or total withdrawal."[75]

In an April 3, 2008 interview by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution, Kissinger re-iterated that even though he supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq he thought that the Bush administration rested too much of the case for war on Saddam's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Robinson noted that Kissinger had criticized the administration for invading with too few troops, for disbanding the Iraqi Army, and for mishandling relations with certain allies.[76]


Kissinger said in April 2008 that "India has parallel objectives to the United States" and he called it an ally of the U.S.[76]


Kissinger was present at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympics.[77] He was also in the Chinese capital to attend the inauguration of the new US Embassy complex.

In 2011, Kissinger published On China, chronicling the evolution of Sino-American relations and laying out the challenges to a partnership of 'genuine strategic trust' between the U.S. and China.[78]


Kissinger's position on this issue of U.S.-Iran talks was reported by the Tehran Times to be that "Any direct talks between the U.S. and Iran on issues such as the nuclear dispute would be most likely to succeed if they first involved only diplomatic staff and progressed to the level of secretary of state before the heads of state meet."[79]

Public perception

At the height of Kissinger's prominence, many commented on his wit. In one instance, at the Washington Press Club annual congressional dinner, Kissinger mocked his reputation as a secret swinger. [80] He was quoted as saying Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. [81]

Kissinger has shied away from mainstream media and cable talk shows. Recently, he granted a rare interview to the producers of a documentary examining the underpinnings of the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt entitled Back Door Channels: The Price of Peace.[82] In the film, a candid Kissinger reveals how close he felt the world was to nuclear war during the 1973 Yom Kippur War launched by Egypt and Syria against Israel.

A feature length documentary titled Kissinger, by British historian Niall Ferguson and produced by Chimerica Media, was released in 2011 on the National Geographic Channel.

Since he left office, some efforts have been made to hold Kissinger responsible for perceived injustices of American foreign policy during his tenure in government. These charges have at times inconvenienced his travels.[83] Christopher Hitchens, the late British-American journalist and author, was highly critical of Kissinger, authoring The Trial of Henry Kissinger, in which Hitchens called for the prosecution of Kissinger for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture. [84][85][86]

Personal life

Henry and Nancy Kissinger at the Metropolitan Opera opening in 2008Kissinger at opening night of the 2009 Metropolitan Opera.

Kissinger first married Ann Fleischer, with whom he had two children, Elizabeth and David. They divorced in 1964. Ten years later, he married Nancy Maginnes.[87] They now live in Kent, Connecticut and New York City. David was an executive with NBC Universal before becoming head of Conaco, Conan O'Brien's production company.[88] Kissinger described Diplomacy as his favorite game in an interview published in a games magazine.[89]

Since his childhood, Kissinger has been a fan of his hometown's football club SpVgg Greuther F rth. Even during his time in office, he always asked to be informed about the team's results every Monday morning. He is an honorary member of the club.[90]

Awards, honors and associations

In 1973, Kissinger and Le Duc Tho were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, "intended to bring about a cease-fire in the Vietnam war and a withdrawal of the American forces," while serving as the United States Secretary of State. Unlike Tho, who refused it because Vietnam was still at war, Kissinger accepted it.

In 1976, Henry Kissinger was officially named to be the first honorary member of the Harlem Globetrotters.

On January 13, 1977, Kissinger was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Gerald Ford.

In 1980, Kissinger won the National Book Award in History[91] for the first volume of his memoirs, The White House Years.[92]

In 1995, he was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.[93]

In 1998, Kissinger became an honorary citizen of F rth, Germany, his hometown. He has been a life-long supporter of the Spielvereinigung Greuther F rth football club and is now an honorary member and has lifetime season tickets He served as Chancellor of the College of William and Mary from February 10, 2001 to the summer of 2005.

In 2000, Kissinger was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY.

In 2005, Kissinger was awarded a Gold Medal at the annual Queen Sofia Spanish Institute Gold Medal Gala.

In April 2006, Kissinger received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the Woodrow Wilson Center of the Smithsonian Institution.

In June 2007, Kissinger received the Hopkins-Nanjing Award for his contributions to reestablishing Sino American relations. This award was presented by the presidents of Nanjing University, Chen Jun, and of Johns Hopkins University, William Brody, during the 20th anniversary celebration of the Johns Hopkins University Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies also known as the Hopkins Nanjing Center.

In September 2007, Kissinger was honored as Grand Marshal of the German-American Steuben Parade in New York City. He was celebrated by tens of thousands of spectators on Fifth Avenue. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was supposed to be a co-Grand Marshal, but had to cancel due to health problems. Kohl was represented by Klaus Scharioth, German Ambassador in Washington, who led the Steuben Parade with Kissinger.

He was honored as the first recipient of the Ewald von Kleist Award of the Munich Conference on Security Policy.

In June 2011, Kissinger was honored by the American Council on Germany with a McCloy Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to transatlantic relations.

The 1st of March of 2012 he was awarded the President's Medal (Israel) the highest award of the State of Israel.

Kissinger is known to be a member of the following groups:

Writings: Major Books


Public policy

  • 1957. Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. ISBN 0-86531-745-3 (1984 edition)
  • 1961. The Necessity for Choice: Prospects of American Foreign Policy. ISBN 0-06-012410-5
  • 1965. The Troubled Partnership: A Re-Appraisal of the Atlantic Alliance. ISBN 0-07-034895-2
  • 1969. American Foreign Policy: Three essays. ISBN 0-297-17933-0
  • 1973. A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22. ISBN 0-395-17229-2
  • 1981. For the Record: Selected Statements 1977-1980. ISBN 0-316-49663-4
  • 1985 Observations: Selected Speeches and Essays 1982-1984. ISBN 0-316-49664-2
  • 1994. Diplomacy. ISBN 0-671-65991-X
  • 1999. Kissinger Transcripts: The Top Secret Talks With Beijing and Moscow (Henry Kissinger, William Burr). ISBN 1-56584-480-7
  • 2001. Does America Need a Foreign Policy?: Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century. ISBN 0-684-85567-4
  • 2002. Vietnam: A Personal History of America's Involvement in and Extrication from the Vietnam War. ISBN 0-7432-1916-3
  • 2003. Crisis: The Anatomy of Two Major Foreign Policy Crises: Based on the Record of Henry Kissinger's Hitherto Secret Telephone Conversations. ISBN 0-7432-4910-0
  • 2011. On China (New York: Penguin Press, 2011). ISBN 978-1-59420-271-1.



Further reading


  • 1973. Graubard, Stephen Richards, Kissinger: Portrait of a Mind. ISBN 0-393-05481-0
  • 1974. Kalb, Marvin L. and Kalb, Bernard, Kissinger, ISBN 0-316-48221-8
  • 1974. Schlafly, Phyllis, Kissinger on the Couch. Arlington House Publishers. ISBN 0-87000-216-3
  • 1983. Hersh, Seymour, The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House, Summit Books. ISBN 0-671-50688-9. (Awards: National Book Critics Circle, General Non-Fiction Award. Best Book of the Year: New York Times Book Review; Newsweek; San Francisco Chronicle)
  • 1992. Isaacson, Walter. Kissinger: A Biography. New York. Simon & Schuster (updated, 2005). ISBN 0-671-66323-2
  • 2004. Hanhim ki, Jussi. The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy. ISBN 0-19-517221-3
  • 2007. Kurz, Evi. Die Kissinger-Saga. ISBN 978-3-940405-70-8
  • 2009. Kurz, Evi. The Kissinger-Saga - Walter and Henry Kissinger. Two Brothers from Fuerth, Germany. London. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-85675-7.


External links

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