Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the diplomat with the thick glasses and gravelly voice, passed away at the age of 100, according to his consulting firm. Known for dominating U.S. foreign policy during the Vietnam War and fostering relations with China, Kissinger's legacy is marked by both acclaim and criticism.
According to a report on AP News, Kissinger's influence grew during the tumult of Watergate, where he played a pivotal role akin to a co-president as Nixon faced challenges. His approach to foreign policy, described as realpolitik, garnered him both vilification and the Nobel Peace Prize. Despite controversies surrounding policies in Southeast Asia and Latin America, Kissinger, a Jew who fled Nazi Germany in his teens, later cultivated the image of a respected statesman.
Over eight years as national security adviser and later as secretary of state, Kissinger navigated major foreign policy issues, conducting the first "shuttle diplomacy" for Middle East peace, initiating ties with China, and negotiating the Paris accords to end the Vietnam War. His pursuit of detente with the Soviet Union resulted in arms control agreements.
Even in his later years, Kissinger remained active, meeting with global leaders and sharing insights. Tributes poured in from prominent figures like former President George W. Bush and ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
According to a report on Reuters, in his explosive book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens argued that Kissinger should have been prosecuted for crimes against humanity and also held responsible for the bloody invasion of Cyprus.
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Kissinger's realpolitik approach, marked by practical diplomacy, drew both support and criticism. Wiretaps on reporters and the bombing of Cambodia fueled public condemnation. Despite this, Kissinger dismissed claims of criminality, emphasizing the pragmatism of his decisions.
Born Heinz Alfred Kissinger in 1923, he fled Nazi Germany and settled in the U.S., changing his name to Henry. His personal life, including marriages and relationships, added layers to his public persona.
As Kissinger turned 100 in May 2023, his son David reflected on his father's enduring impact. The diplomat's views on foreign policy, as divisive as they were, left an indelible mark on U.S. history, sparking ongoing discussions about his complex legacy.
[With information sourced from AP News and Reuters]