NewsKissinger, key figure in U.S.-China relations and Vietnam War, dead at 100

Kissinger, key figure in U.S.-China relations and Vietnam War, dead at 100

Henry Kissinger has passed away.
Henry Kissinger has passed away.
Images source: © East News | Li Rui, Xinhua News
ed. BAR
1:57 AM EST, November 30, 2023

Henry Kissinger, who served as the former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor for the United States, has died. His age was 100.

His death was announced by his firm, Kissinger Associates, and he died at his home in Connecticut.

Kissinger was a prominent yet controversial figure in US politics. Born in Germany, he gained significant recognition as the advisor to President Richard Nixon and the facilitator for normalizing relations between Washington and Communist China.

Born as Heinz Alfred Kissinger in 1923 to a Jewish family from Bavaria, Germany, Kissinger arrived in the United States in 1938 as a refugee from Nazi Germany. Upon settling, he pursued his studies and fought in World War II after gaining citizenship at the age of 20, participating in battles such as the Battle of the Ardennes.

Political Involvement Begins in the 1960s

After the war, Kissinger launched his academic career as a political scientist at Harvard University, earning a doctorate degree. He began politically active in the 1960s, which culminated with his appointment as National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State during Richard Nixon's and Gerald Ford's administrations after Nixon won the 1968 presidential elections.

Kissinger was often considered the main architect of US foreign policy, deploying a practice known as "realpolitik". He referred to himself as a "cowboy" who worked independently.

Between 1971 and 1972, Kissinger played an instrumental role in establishing diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China by ending the policy of isolating the communist regime. His aim was to capitalize on the rift between the PRC and the USSR. A year later, he effectively navigated negotiations with communist North Vietnam, resulting in the signing of the Paris Accords, thus ending American involvement in the Vietnam War. His efforts were recognized with the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize, which he shared with North Vietnamese general Le Duc Tho, who rejected it. Kissinger also contributed to the resolution of the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East and promoted détente in relations with the USSR.

An Influential, but Controversial Figure

Despite President Ford's election loss, Kissinger remained an influential figure in international politics and served as an informal advisor to subsequent presidents. Former president George W. Bush hailed him as one of the most solid and characteristic voices in foreign affairs in the United States.

The notable exception was President Joe Biden, who did not invite Kissinger to the White House. However, at his hundredth birthday celebration at the New York Public Library, attendees included current Secretary of State Antony Blinken and many other representatives of political and cultural elite. Kissinger also frequently advised and met with foreign leaders, such as Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, with the most recent meeting with the latter taking place this July in Beijing.

However, his significant influence and successful diplomatic career were not without controversy. Accusations of war crimes followed him, including the devasting bombing campaign in Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War, supporting a coup in Chile, and encouraging the Argentine military junta to engage in bloody repression during the "dirty war".

Kissinger's funeral will be a private ceremony as per the statement from Kissinger Associates. A memorial ceremony will be held in New York at a later date.

Related content