Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who influenced many years of US diplomacy, passes away at age 100.

By HENRY Nov 30, 2023
SAUMYA / jagranjosh

Henry Kissinger, the enormously powerful former secretary of state, passed away on Wednesday. Although he was known for his astute diplomacy, he was accused of war crimes and faced worldwide censure for his pivotal role in expanding American influence in Vietnam and bombing Cambodia. He was one hundred years old.

Kissinger passed away at home in Connecticut, according to the announcement made by his consultancy business. There was no explanation provided.

As a Jewish exile from Nazi Germany, Kissinger rose to the top of the American political hierarchy and eventually became a strange household name. He counseled influential figures in both American political parties for decades while serving as secretary of state and national security advisor to two Republican presidents, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Henry Kissinger
In 1971, Kissinger goes on a tour of the Summer Palace in Peking with Wang Hsiao-I, a prominent figure in the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship With Foreign Countries.AP data file

He became recognized as one of the most influential diplomats and thinkers on international relations of the 20th century, a proponent of “realpolitik” who oversaw the thawing of hostilities between the US and the USSR and helped normalize relations with China.

Along with Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam, who declined the prize, Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in mediating the conclusion of the Vietnam War. In the early 1970s, Kissinger assisted in establishing diplomatic ties between the United States and China under the Nixon administration.

Nonetheless, he was also one of the most despised public characters of his day, and his reputation is inexorably linked to violence worldwide. His detractors saw him as the embodiment of American power’s cruelty and responsible for some of the most expensive foreign policy choices in contemporary history.

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Detractors of Kissinger criticized him for his pivotal role in escalating US military participation in Vietnam, introducing a massive bombing campaign into Cambodia, and endorsing despicable governments in Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, and Pakistan. Some of his most vocal opponents demanded that he be charged in The Hague, calling him a war criminal.

According to Mario Del Pero, author of the 2009 book “The Eccentric Realist: Henry Kissinger and the Shaping of American Foreign Policy,” Kissinger attempted to “project the myth of being a no-nonsense, half-European realpolitiker capable of explaining to naive America how to behave on the international stage” both in academia and in politics.

Kissinger during a 1973 press conference.Getty Images via the Bettmann Archive

Kissinger’s worldview was centered on “great power competition,” which holds that national interests, not considerations for other people or even recognized moral standards, are often the driving force behind choices taken by the United States, its allies, and adversaries.

According to Del Pero, an international history professor at SciencesPo, a university in Paris, this “dark narrative” acquires popularity “in the U.S. during times of great crisis and difficulty,” like the 1970s and now, as opposed to during the post-Cold War Western optimism of the 1990s.

Kissinger attained a degree of national prominence uncommon for a Cabinet member of a president. He made appearances on newspaper front pages and magazine covers. Time magazine said that “he enjoys a global spotlight and an influence that most professors only read about in their libraries” after news of his covert talks with North Vietnamese negotiators leaked in the summer of 1971.

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Among the many honors bestowed upon him were the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977), the highest civilian award in the country, and the Medal of Liberty (1986), which was awarded to ten of the most notable foreign-born Americans in terms of culture.

Henry Kissinger ascent

On May 27, 1923, Heinz Alfred Kissinger was born in FΓΌrth, a city in the German state of Bavaria, into a Jewish family. Growing up, he experienced severe antisemitism, and in 1938, his family fled Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany by immigrating to the United States.

with his younger brother Walter, at the age of eleven. Bettmann Archive via Getty Images

On June 19, 1943, Kissinger obtained U.S. citizenship via naturalization. In the same year, he enlisted in the US Army and fought in World War II on the European front as an interpreter and intelligence officer. After that, he enrolled in Harvard University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s in 1950, a master’s in 1952, and a doctorate in 1954.

He became a teacher at Harvard the year he earned his degree. In 1962, he was appointed as a government professor, and from 1959 to 1969, he oversaw the Defense Studies Program at the institution.

Over time, Kissinger became known as a policy expert, and the US administration took use of his security knowledge. Between 1955 and 1968, he provided security advice to a number of federal agencies, working during the administrations of Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Kissinger advocated a more realistic strategy for handling power dynamics and international disputes. He was a major intellectual driving force behind the Kennedy White House’s policy of “flexible response” toward the Soviet Union, which rejected the Eisenhower administration’s plan to respond to any communist aggression with overwhelming nuclear retaliation.

When Kissinger was named national security advisor to President-elect Richard Nixon in 1968, his notoriety skyrocketed. The two men attempted to reshape American foreign policy in accordance with their own geopolitical inclinations and philosophies of power, inheriting foreign policy problems such as the Vietnam War and rising tensions with the Soviet Union.

On a 1974 trip to Belgium, then-President Richard Nixon, from left, listens to then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.White House photo by Ollie Akins via AP file

The pinnacle of his authority

After Nixon nominated Kissinger as the 56th secretary of state in the autumn of 1973, he quickly rose to prominence as one of the administration’s most important figures. In both capacities, Kissinger had a significant impact on US foreign policy and the White House’s relations with both friends and adversaries.However, opinions on his impact abroad are very divided: was he the best diplomat in American history or a harsh realist willing to make difficult decisions during a possible apocalyptic scenario? Or maybe one of the war criminals behind some of the most heinous acts in Washington’s foreign policy?

Admirers credit Kissinger for being instrumental in bringing about a dΓ©tente with the Soviet Union that resulted in nuclear nonproliferation accords like the 1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, or SALT 1.Henry Kissinger

Nixon’s momentous journey to China the same year, which supporters consider as the catalyst for the decades-long improvement in Sino-Western ties that reshaped the postwar international order, resulted from his covert discussions.

However, detractors associate his name inexorably with Cambodia, where he approved a covert carpet-bombing operation during the Vietnam War, rather than with China or Russia.Henry Kissinger

He and Nixon both came to the conclusion that the United States could not win the Vietnam War outright and instead pursued what the president famously referred to as “peace with honor,” which would include the withdrawal of American forces in return for a resolution that would appease its allies in South Vietnam.

In order to do this, they precipitously escalated the conflict, launching an unparalleled and ceaseless bombardment of bases situated in neighboring Cambodia.Henry Kissinger

while American bombers dropped bombs close to the capital city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on July 25, 1973, while Kissinger was still National Security Advisor, smoke rose from them. An AP file

Kissinger discreetly passed along Nixon’s directive for “anything that flies” to hit “anything that moves.” The 2.7 million tons of weapons launched on Cambodia as a result exceeded even the amount of weapons dropped by the Allies on the skies during World War II.

Many academics think it pushed Cambodia into a genocide during that decade that claimed the lives of over 1.7 million people, or more than 20% of the nation’s total population.Henry Kissinger

Decades later, in a televised Democratic primary debate with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in February 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., referred to Kissinger as β€œone of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country” because of that behavior.

Demonstrating Kissinger’s persistent polarizing behavior long into his 90s, Clinton faced backlash from progressives during the campaign when she referred to her Nixon-era predecessor as a β€œfriend” and said she had depended on him for political counsel.

Others took their critiques a step further.Henry Kissinger

According to his arguments in the 2001 book “The Trial of Henry Kissinger,” the late author Christopher Hitchens was one among many who thought Kissinger ought to have been held accountable for war crimes. Memorably, Joseph Heller, the author of the scabrous anti-war masterpiece “Catch-22,” called Kissinger “an odious shlump who made war gladly” in a 1979 book.

Kissinger left a violent and chaotic legacy in more than just Cambodia. He is accused of having backed the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975 as well as the military dictatorship in Pakistan during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. Perhaps more well-known is his assistance to Augusto Pinochet, the military dictator of Chile, in toppling Salvador Allende, the democratically elected president of the nation, in 1973.

In a 2013 briefing to Nixon released by the nonprofit research organization National Security Archive, Kissinger expressed his concern that Allende’s β€œsuccessful elected Marxist government” may set a β€œinsidious” precedent that endangered American worldwide dominance.

Beyond Watergate Henry Kissinger

Nixon was re-elected to the White House in 1972 for a second term, but the Watergate crisis quickly destroyed his popularity and the backing of Congress.Henry Kissinger

In response to the possibility of being impeached, Nixon chose to step down in August 1974. It is said that the two men knelt together and prayed for peace the evening before Nixon officially delivered his resignation letter to Kissinger.

In 1974, President Ford was on a train near Vladivostok, Russia, with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.Getty Images via the Bettmann Archive

Nixon’s term ended on August 9, 1974. Gerald Ford, his vice president, replaced him; Kissinger continued to serve as Ford’s principal diplomat. During the Ford years, Kissinger faced increased criticism from all sides of the American political spectrum, and several of his major projects began to backfire, most notably dΓ©tente. Communists took control of South Vietnam in 1975.

Kissinger stayed on until January 1977, when Ford’s tenure came to an end.

After leaving the government, Kissinger established Kissinger Associates, a global consulting firm, and enhanced his standing as a media pundit, scholar, and public intellectual. He authored many books, including ones on strategy, China, diplomacy, and the development of artificial intelligence.Henry Kissinger

In order to improve his personal standing and place in history, Kissinger was charged with embellishing the truth while writing his memoirs. For instance, he claimed that Taiwan “was only mentioned briefly” in his reflections on his first visit to China in 1971, although documents that were made public decades later revealed that he had made significant concessions on the island in an attempt to win China’s support against Vietnam.Henry Kissinger

James Mann, a fellow-in-residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and author of three books on China, said that “it’s not unfair to say that he lied” about the encounter.

Additionally, Mann said that he “blazed the trail” for former US foreign service personnel to become wealthy consultants, as opposed to the previous situation in which they had mostly vanished into scholarly obscurity.

The merits of an opening with China and dΓ©tente with the Soviets against Cambodia, Bangladesh, and other countries would be Mann’s record “if he had merely served as an extremely powerful and in some ways innovative national security adviser and secretary of state for eight years and then left office without personalizing and commercializing his view of foreign policy.” He went on. “However, I believe his post-office behavior leaves a grave stain on his tenure in office.”Henry Kissinger

In interviews conducted around the time of his 100th birthday in May, Kissinger said that if he called a number of international leaders on the spur of the moment, they would probably pick up, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

His two children from his previous marriage to Ann Fleischer, Elizabeth and David, as well as his wife Nancy Maginnes Kissinger, survive him.

Orizinal news : NBC NEWS


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