A dominant and polarizing force in American foreign policy / Henry Kissinger passes away at the age of 100

2023-11-30 07:42:00, Kosova & Bota CNA
A dominant and polarizing force in American foreign policy / Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state and national security adviser who fled Nazi Germany in his youth to become one of the most influential and controversial foreign policy figures in American history, has switched live to be 100 years old.

Kissinger died Wednesday at his home in Connecticut, according to a statement from his consulting firm, Kissinger Associates.

Kissinger was synonymous with American foreign policy in the 1970s. He received a Nobel Peace Prize for helping arrange the end of US military involvement in the Vietnam War and is credited with the secret diplomacy that helped President Richard Nixon crack down on Communist China towards the United States and the West, highlighted by Nixon's visit to the country in 1972.

But he was criticized by many for bombing Cambodia during the Vietnam War that led to the rise of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime and for his support for a coup against a democratic government in Chile.

In the Middle East, Kissinger conducted what became known as "boat diplomacy" to divide Israeli and Arab forces in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. His "detente" approach to US-Soviet relations, which helped ease tensions and led to several arms control agreements, largely guided US posture until the Reagan era.

But many members of Congress objected to the secrecy of the Nixon-Kissinger approach to foreign policy, and human rights activists attacked what they saw as Kissinger's neglect of human rights elsewhere.

No issue complicated Kissinger's legacy more than the Vietnam War. When Nixon took office in 1969, after promising a "secret plan" to end the war, some 30,000 Americans had been killed in Vietnam.

Despite efforts to shift more combat responsibility to the South Vietnamese government, American involvement continued throughout the Nixon administration—critics accused Nixon and Kissinger of unnecessarily expanding the war—and U.S. involvement ultimately ended with the fall of Saigon in 1975 and more than 58,000 American lives were lost.

In a highly controversial decision, Kissinger shared the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize with his North Vietnamese counterpart Le Duc Tho for that year's Paris peace accords; citing the current lack of peace in Vietnam, Tho refused to accept, and two members of the Nobel committee resigned in protest over the award.

Domestic outrage in the U.S. about the war focused on the bombings of Laos and Cambodia, where the brutal Khmer Rouge movement used U.S. bombing as a recruiting tool before coming to power and carrying out one of the worst genocides of the 20th century. to.

"To me, the tragedy of Vietnam was the divisions that occurred in the United States that made it impossible to achieve an outcome that was commensurate with the sacrifices that had been made," Kissinger told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in 2005.

Although his era as a powerful architect of US foreign policy faded with the fall of Nixon in the midst of the Watergate scandal, Kissinger remained an independent mover and tempter whose thoughts on diplomacy always found a ear

"To negotiate, one must understand the perception of the other side of the world. And they must understand our perception. And there has to be a decision on both sides that they will try to reconcile these differences," he told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in 2008.

Kissinger also attracted attention beyond the realm of international diplomacy. He topped Gallup's "Most Admired Man" poll three years in a row in the 1970s and his personal life, public appearances and nights at New York's famed Studio 54 club./ CNA


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