Was he a brilliant diplomat who, like a political rock star, manipulated world leaders? Or was he an unscrupulous manipulator who did not shy away from secretly bombing Laos and Cambodia in order to make North Vietnam more accommodating in peace talks?
And he emphasizes: there are many opinions that need to be formed about the American politician and diplomat Henry Kissinger, who is 100 years old today. As National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, he served under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford at the height of the Cold War.
After his service, Kissinger remained active on the world stage. Through his advisory firm, Kissinger Associates, he continues to advise governments and corporations around the world. In addition, he is a frequent guest in the media and at meetings, such as the World Economic Forum.
Last year, for example, he warned in Davos against completely surrounding Russia. He also said he would consider it appropriate to hold peace talks where parts of Ukraine would remain part of Russia. It is only a common message in the West, especially in Ukraine, but it can still be ruled out as a future scenario.
Everyone agrees that the German Jew Heinz Alfred Kissinger was the most powerful and influential American Secretary of State and diplomat of the last century. He was born in 1923 in Fürth, Germany. Fifteen years later, he fled with his parents to the United States, away from Nazism.
Kissinger made history by secretly traveling to China in 1971 to prepare for President Nixon’s visit. He spoke to Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders about strengthening relations and welcoming China to international forums, such as the United Nations.
Seven months later, Nixon traveled to China in front of the world, proving that the communist friendship between China and Russia was less close than expected.
Kissinger always played chess on multiple boards. He remained in close contact with the Russian ambassador in Washington. Unbeknownst to Nixon, he declared that the United States was planning to withdraw from the much-criticized Vietnam War. He also told him that America would be content with the continued presence of the communist Viet Cong in South Vietnam. According to Kissinger, the war has become unsustainable.
Two years later, in early 1973, it was agreed in Paris that the war would be “Vietnamization”. America will withdraw. Nixon said it was an honorable peace to hide the failure. South Vietnam received material support only from America. In 1975 Saigon fell and the world watched the dramatic images of helicopters evacuating the last Americans from the roof of the US Embassy.
The common denominator in Kissinger’s career is what is called realpolitik, or the pragmatic form of politics. Kissinger was – and still is – hated the ideology. Serving American interests as best as possible in a global system characterized by a multipolar balance of power was most important to him. He knew how to play parties against each other like no other.
For example, the US rapprochement with China has not led to a hardening of relations with Moscow, as might have been expected. Shortly after meeting Mao, Nixon also traveled to Moscow to negotiate the first SALT agreement, which provided for the reduction of strategic nuclear weapons. Thus Kissinger was the architect of the “détente” (relaxation) in the Cold War.
In 1973, Kissinger and North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Thu were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. That award was controversial. Kissinger did not receive the award. Donate the money to a charitable organization for the children of fallen Americans. Le Duc Tho refused the award, as there was no peace in Vietnam.
Kissinger’s realpolitik led to great diplomatic success, with laudatory publications and covers in magazines such as Time and Newsweek. But there was also a great dark side. Because although the Cold War led to a détente due to Kissinger’s actions, it remained unstable, especially in South America, Africa and Asia.
For example, in 1973, elected president and socialist Salvador Allende was expelled from Chile and assassinated with American support, only to be succeeded by dictator Pinochet. In addition, Kissinger supported the government of Indonesia in the bloody suppression of the struggle for independence in East Timor, the brutal suppression of the Pakistani army in East Pakistan, and the uprising that led to the independence of Bangladesh at the cost of a million victims.
Kissinger’s support for the bombing of Cambodia, according to his critics, led the population to gradually embrace Khmer Rouge rule, which eventually led to genocide.
Not welcome everywhere
Kissinger continues to make his voice heard on the world stage. For example, he recently warned on various platforms about the dangers of a new arms race with unregulated artificial intelligence.
He was also recently a guest on a CBS news program. When asked, he replied that Chinese President Xi Jinping would likely answer the phone personally if one of Kissinger’s aides called Beijing. “And Putin?” asked the announcer. “probably.”
Watch the excerpt here:
By the way, Kissinger is no longer welcome everywhere. He can no longer travel to countries such as Chile, Argentina and Spain, as judges demand that he be arrested and testify on behalf of relatives of victims of American support for military regimes.
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