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Henry Kissinger
56th United States Secretary of State

In office
September 22, 1973 – January 20, 1977
President Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Deputy Kenneth Rush
Robert Ingersoll
Charles Robinson
Preceded by William Rogers
Succeeded by Cyrus Vance
United States National Security Advisor

In office
January 20, 1969 – November 3, 1975
President Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Preceded by Walt Rostow
Succeeded by Brent Scowcroft
Personal details
Born Heinz Alfred Kissinger
May 27, 1923(1923-05-27) (age 99)
Fürth, Bavaria, Germany
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ann Fleischer (1949–1964)
Nancy Maginnes (1974–present)
Alma mater Harvard University
Religion Judaism
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Rank Sergeant
Unit 970th Counter Intelligence Corps

Henry Alfred Kissinger (/ˈkɪsɪnər/;[1] born Heinz Alfred Kissinger [haɪnts alfʁɛt kɪsɪŋɐ]; May 27, 1923) is a German-born American statesman and political scientist. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, he served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. After his term, his opinion was still sought by some subsequent US presidents and other world leaders.

A proponent of Realpolitik, Kissinger played a prominent role in United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977. During this period, he pioneered the policy of détente with the Soviet Union, orchestrated the opening of relations with the People's Republic of China, and negotiated the Paris Peace Accords, ending American involvement in the Vietnam War.

Kissinger is still considered an influential public figure.[2][3] He is the founder and chairman of Kissinger Associates, an international consulting firm.

Early life

Kissinger was born Heinz Alfred Kissinger in Fürth, Bavaria, Germany, in 1923 during the Weimar Republic, to a family of German Jews.[4] His father, Louis Kissinger (1887–1982), was a schoolteacher. His mother, Paula (Stern) Kissinger (1901–1998), was a homemaker. Kissinger has a younger brother, Walter Kissinger. The surname Kissinger was adopted in 1817 by his great-great-grandfather Meyer Löb, after the Bavarian spa town of Bad Kissingen.[5] As a youth, Heinz enjoyed playing soccer, and even played for the youth side of his favorite club and one of the nation's best clubs at the time, SpVgg Greuther Fürth.[6] In 1938, fleeing Nazi persecution, his family moved to London, England, before arriving in New York on September 5.

Kissinger spent his high school years in the Washington Heights section of upper Manhattan as part of the German Jewish immigrant community there. Although Kissinger assimilated quickly into American culture, he never lost his pronounced Frankish accent, due to childhood shyness that made him hesitant to speak.[7][8] Following his first year at George Washington High School, he began attending school at night and worked in a shaving brush factory during the day.[7]

Following high school, Kissinger enrolled in the City College of New York, studying accounting. He excelled academically as a part-time student, continuing to work while enrolled. His studies were interrupted in early 1943, when he was drafted into the U.S. Army.[9]

Army experience

Kissinger underwent basic training at Camp Croft in Spartanburg, South Carolina. On June 19, 1943, while stationed in South Carolina, at the age of 20 years, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen. The army sent him to study engineering at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania, but the program was cancelled, and Kissinger was reassigned to the 84th Infantry Division. There, he made the acquaintance of Fritz Kraemer, a fellow immigrant from Germany who noted Kissinger's fluency in German and his intellect, and arranged for him to be assigned to the military intelligence section of the division. Kissinger saw combat with the division, and volunteered for hazardous intelligence duties during the Battle of the Bulge.[10]

During the American advance into Germany, Kissinger, only a private, was put in charge of the administration of the city of Krefeld, owing to a lack of German speakers on the division's intelligence staff. Within eight days he had established a civilian administration.[11] Kissinger was then reassigned to the Counter Intelligence Corps, with the rank of sergeant. He was given charge of a team in Hanover assigned to tracking down Gestapo officers and other saboteurs, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.[12] In June 1945, Kissinger was made commandant of the Bensheim metro CIC detachment, Bergstrasse district of Hesse, with responsibility for de-Nazification of the district. Although he possessed absolute authority and powers of arrest, Kissinger took care to avoid abuses against the local population by his command.[13]

In 1946, Kissinger was reassigned to teach at the European Command Intelligence School at Camp King, continuing to serve in this role as a civilian employee following his separation from the army.[14][15]

Academic career

Henry Kissinger received his A.B. degree summa cum laude in political science at Harvard College in 1950, where he lived in Adams House and studied under William Yandell Elliott.[16] He received his M.A. and PhD degrees at Harvard University in 1952 and 1954, respectively. In 1952, while still at Harvard, he served as a consultant to the Director of the Psychological Strategy Board.[17] His doctoral dissertation was titled "Peace, Legitimacy, and the Equilibrium (A Study of the Statesmanship of Castlereagh and Metternich)."

Kissinger remained at Harvard as a member of the faculty in the Department of Government and at the Center for International Affairs. He became Associate Director of the latter in 1957. In 1955, he was a consultant to the National Security Council's Operations Coordinating Board.[17] During 1955 and 1956, he was also Study Director in Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He released his book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy the following year.[18] From 1956 to 1958 he worked for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund as director of its Special Studies Project.[17] He was Director of the Harvard Defense Studies Program between 1958 and 1971. He was also Director of the Harvard International Seminar between 1951 and 1971. Outside of academia, he served as a consultant to several government agencies, including the Operations Research Office, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the Department of State, and the Rand Corporation, a think-tank.[17]

Keen to have a greater influence on US foreign policy, Kissinger became a supporter of, and advisor to, Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York, who sought the Republican nomination for president in 1960, 1964 and 1968.[19] After Richard Nixon won the presidency in 1968, he made Kissinger National Security Advisor.

Foreign policy

Kissinger being sworn in as Secretary of State by Chief Justice Warren Burger, September 22, 1973. Kissinger's mother, Paula, holds the Bible upon which he was sworn in while President Nixon looks on.

Kissinger served as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon, and continued as Secretary of State under Nixon's successor Gerald Ford.[20]

A proponent of Realpolitik, Kissinger played a dominant role in United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977. In that period, he extended the policy of détente. This policy led to a significant relaxation in U.S.-Soviet tensions and played a crucial role in 1971 talks with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. The talks concluded with a rapprochement between the United States and the People's Republic of China, and the formation of a new strategic anti-Soviet Sino-American alignment. He was awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for helping to establish a ceasefire and U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam. The ceasefire, however, was not durable.[21] As National Security Advisor, in 1974 Kissinger directed the much-debated National Security Study Memorandum 200.

Détente and the opening to China

As National Security Advisor under Nixon, Kissinger pioneered the policy of détente with the Soviet Union, seeking a relaxation in tensions between the two superpowers. As a part of this strategy, he negotiated the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (culminating in the SALT I treaty) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party. Negotiations about strategic disarmament were originally supposed to start under the Johnson Administration but were postponed in protest to the invasion by Warsaw Pact troops of Czechoslovakia in August 1968.

Kissinger, shown here with Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong, negotiated rapprochement with the People's Republic of China.

Kissinger sought to place diplomatic pressure on the Soviet Union. He made two trips to the People's Republic of China in July and October 1971 (the first of which was made in secret) to confer with Premier Zhou Enlai, then in charge of Chinese foreign policy. The USC U.S.-China Institute has collected documents relating to the diplomatic efforts between 1969 and 1971 that led to this successful trip.[22] According to Kissinger's book, "The White House Years", the first secret China trip was arranged through Pakistan's diplomatic and Presidential involvement that paved the way to initial vital contact with the Chinese, since the Americans were unable to communicate directly with the Chinese leaders because of earlier cold relations.

This paved the way for the groundbreaking 1972 summit between Nixon, Zhou, and Communist Party of China Chairman Mao Zedong, as well as the formalization of relations between the two countries, ending 23 years of diplomatic isolation and mutual hostility. The result was the formation of a tacit strategic anti-Soviet alliance between China and the United States.

While Kissinger's diplomacy led to economic and cultural exchanges between the two sides and the establishment of Liaison Offices in the Chinese and American capitals, with serious implications for Indochinese matters, full normalization of relations with the People's Republic of China would not occur until 1979, because the Watergate scandal overshadowed the latter years of the Nixon presidency and because the United States continued to recognize the government of Taiwan.

Vietnam War

Kissinger's involvement in Indochina started prior to his appointment as National Security Adviser to Nixon. While still at Harvard, he had worked as a consultant on foreign policy to both the White House and State Department. Kissinger says that "In August 1965... [Henry Cabot Lodge], an old friend serving as Ambassador to Saigon, had asked me to visit Vietnam as his consultant. I toured Vietnam first for two weeks in October and November 1965, again for about ten days in July 1966, and a third time for a few days in October 1966... Lodge gave me a free hand to look into any subject of my choice". He became convinced of the meaninglessness of military victories in Vietnam, "...unless they brought about a political reality that could survive our ultimate withdrawal".[23] In a 1967 peace initiative, he would mediate between Washington and Hanoi.

Kissinger, April 29, 1975

Nixon had been elected in 1968 on the promise of achieving "peace with honor" and ending the Vietnam War. In office, and assisted by Kissinger, Nixon implemented a policy of Vietnamization that aimed to gradually withdraw US troops while expanding the combat role of the South Vietnamese Army so that it would be capable of independently defending its government against the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, a Communist guerrilla organization, and North Vietnamese army (Vietnam People's Army or PAVN). Kissinger played a key role in secretly bombing Cambodia to disrupt PAVN and Viet Cong units launching raids into South Vietnam from within Cambodia's borders and resupplying their forces by using the Ho Chi Minh trail and other routes, as well as the 1970 Cambodian Incursion and subsequent widespread bombing of suspected Khmer Rouge targets in Cambodia. The bombing campaign contributed to the chaos of the Cambodian Civil War, which saw the forces of US-backed leader Lon Nol unable to retain foreign support to combat the growing Khmer Rouge insurgency that would overthrow him in 1975.[24][25] Documents uncovered from the Soviet archives after 1991 reveal that the North Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1970 was launched at the explicit request of the Khmer Rouge and negotiated by Pol Pot's then second in command, Nuon Chea.[26] The American bombing of Cambodia killed an estimated 40,000 Cambodian combatants and civilians.[27] Pol Pot biographer David Chandler argues that the bombing "had the effect the Americans wanted – it broke the Communist encirclement of Phnom Penh,"[28] while Christopher Hitchens asserts that the bombing may have increased recruitment for the Khmer Rouge.

Along with North Vietnamese Politburo Member Le Duc Tho, Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1973, for their work in negotiating the ceasefires contained in the Paris Peace Accords on "Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam," signed the January previous.[21] Tho rejected the award, telling Kissinger that peace had not been really restored in South Vietnam.[29] Kissinger wrote to the Nobel Committee that he accepted the award "with humility."[30][31] The conflict continued until an invasion of the South by the North Vietnamese Army resulted in a North Vietnamese victory in 1975 and the subsequent progression of the Pathet Lao in Laos towards figurehead status.

1971 India–Pakistan War

File:Kissinger Man of the Year.jpg

Aboard Air Force One, Kissinger expresses delight at being named Time magazine's "Man of the Year", along with President Richard Nixon, in 1972.

Under Kissinger's guidance, the United States government supported Pakistan in the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Kissinger was particularly concerned about the expansion of Soviet influence in South Asia as a result of a treaty of friendship recently signed by India and the USSR, and sought to demonstrate to the People's Republic of China (Pakistan's ally and an enemy of both India and the USSR) the value of a tacit alliance with the United States.[32]

Kissinger later came under fire for private comments he made to Nixon during the Bangladesh–Pakistan War in which he described Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as a "bitch" and a "witch". He also said "The Indians are bastards," shortly before the war.[33] Kissinger has since expressed his regret over the comments.[34]

Israeli policy and Soviet Jewry

According to notes taken by H. R. Haldeman, Nixon "ordered his aides to exclude all Jewish-Americans from policy-making on Israel", including Kissinger.[35] One note quotes Nixon as saying "get K. [Kissinger] out of the play—Haig handle it".[35]

In 1973, Kissinger did not feel that pressing the Soviet Union concerning the plight of Jews being persecuted there was in the interest of US foreign policy. In conversation with Nixon shortly after a meeting with Golda Meir on March 1, 1973, Kissinger stated, "The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy, and if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern."[36] Kissinger argued, however:

That emigration existed at all was due to the actions of "realists" in the White House. Jewish emigration rose from 700 a year in 1969 to near 40,000 in 1972. The total in Nixon's first term was more than 100,000. To maintain this flow by quiet diplomacy, we never used these figures for political purposes. ... The issue became public because of the success of our Middle East policy when Egypt evicted Soviet advisers. To restore its relations with Cairo, the Soviet Union put a tax on Jewish emigration. There was no Jackson–Vanik Amendment until there was a successful emigration effort. Sen. Henry Jackson, for whom I had, and continue to have, high regard, sought to remove the tax with his amendment. We thought the continuation of our previous approach of quiet diplomacy was the wiser course. ... Events proved our judgment correct. Jewish emigration fell to about a third of its previous high.[37]

1973 Yom Kippur War

Documents show that Kissinger delayed telling President Richard Nixon about the start of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 to keep him from interfering. On October 6, 1973, the Israelis informed Kissinger about the attack at 6 am; Kissinger waited nearly 3 and a half hours before he informed Nixon.[38]

According to Kissinger, in an interview in November 2013, he was notified at 6:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. Israel time) that war was imminent, and his urgent calls to the Soviets and Egyptians were ineffective. He says Golda Meir's decision not to preempt was wise and reasonable, balancing the risk of Israel looking like the aggressor and Israel's actual ability to strike within such a brief span of time.[39] The war began on October 6, 1973, when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. Kissinger published lengthy telephone transcripts from this period in the 2002 book Crisis. On October 12, under Nixon's direction, and against Kissinger's initial advice,[40] While Kissinger was on his way to Moscow to discuss conditions for a cease-fire, Nixon sent a message to Brezhnev giving Kissinger full negotiating authority.[39]

On October 31, 1973, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmi (left) meets with Richard Nixon (middle) and Henry Kissinger (right), about a week after the end of fighting in the Yom Kippur War.

Israel regained the territory it lost in the early fighting and gained new territories from Syria and Egypt, including land in Syria east of the previously captured Golan Heights, and additionally on the western bank of the Suez Canal, although they did lose some territory on the eastern side of the Suez Canal that had been in Israeli hands since the end of the Six Day War. Kissinger pressured the Israelis to cede some of the newly captured land back to its Arab neighbors, contributing to the first phases of Israeli-Egyptian non-aggression. The move saw a warming in US–Egyptian relations, bitter since the 1950s, as the country moved away from its former independent stance and into a close partnership with the United States. The peace was finalized in 1978 when U.S. President Jimmy Carter mediated the Camp David Accords, during which Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for an Egyptian peace agreement that included the recognition of the state of Israel.

Latin American policy

Ford and Kissinger conversing on grounds of the White House, August 1974

The United States continued to recognize and maintain relationships with non-left-wing governments, democratic and authoritarian alike. John F. Kennedy's Alliance for Progress was ended in 1973. In 1974, negotiations about new settlement over Panama Canal started. They eventually led to the Torrijos-Carter Treaties and handing the Canal over to Panamanian control.

Kissinger initially supported the normalization of United States-Cuba relations, broken since 1961 (all U.S.–Cuban trade was blocked in February 1962, a few weeks after the exclusion of Cuba from the Organization of American States because of US pressure). However, he quickly changed his mind and followed Kennedy's policy. After the involvement of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces in the liberation struggles in Angola and Mozambique, Kissinger said that unless Cuba withdrew its forces relations would not be normalized. Cuba refused.

Intervention in Chile

Chilean Socialist Party presidential candidate Salvador Allende was elected by a plurality in 1970, causing serious concern in Washington, D.C. due to his openly socialist and pro-Cuban politics. The Nixon administration, with Kissinger's input, authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to encourage a military coup that would prevent Allende's inauguration, but the plan was not successful.[41][42][43]:115[43]:495[44]:177

United States-Chile relations remained frosty during Salvador Allende's tenure, following the complete nationalization of the partially U.S.-owned copper mines and the Chilean subsidiary of the U.S.-based ITT Corporation, as well as other Chilean businesses. The U.S. claimed that the Chilean government had greatly undervalued fair compensation for the nationalization by subtracting what it deemed "excess profits". Therefore, the U.S. implemented economic sanctions against Chile. The CIA also provided funding for the mass anti-government strikes in 1972 and 1973, and extensive black propaganda in the newspaper El Mercurio.[43]:93

The most expeditious way to prevent Allende from assuming office was somehow to convince the Chilean congress to confirm Jorge Alessandri as the winner of the election. Once elected by the congress, Alessandri—a party to the plot through intermediaries—was prepared to resign his presidency within a matter of days so that new elections could be held. This first, nonmilitary, approach to stopping Allende was called the Track I approach.[41] The CIA's second approach, the Track II approach, was designed to encourage a military overthrow.[43]

On September 11, 1973, Allende died during a military coup launched by Army Commander-in-Chief Augusto Pinochet, who became president.[45] A document released by the CIA in 2000 titled "CIA Activities in Chile" revealed that the United States, acting through the CIA, actively supported the military junta after the overthrow of Allende and that it made many of Pinochet's officers into paid contacts of the CIA or US military.[46]

In 1976, Orlando Letelier, a Chilean opponent of the Pinochet regime, was assassinated in Washington, D.C. with a car bomb. Previously, Kissinger had helped secure his release from prison,[47] but had chosen to cancel a letter to Chile warning them against carrying out any political assassinations.[48] The U.S. ambassador to Chile, David H. Popper, said that Pinochet might take as an insult any inference that he was connected with assassination plots.[49]


Kissinger took a similar line as he had toward Chile when the Argentinian military, led by Jorge Videla, toppled the elected government of Isabel Perón in 1976 with a process called the National Reorganization Process by the military, with which they consolidated power, launching brutal reprisals and "disappearances" against political opponents. During a meeting with Argentinian foreign minister César Augusto Guzzetti, Kissinger assured him that the United States was an ally, but urged him to "get back to normal procedures" quickly before the U.S. Congress reconvened and had a chance to consider sanctions.[50]


In September 1976 Kissinger was actively involved in negotiations regarding the Rhodesian Bush War. Kissinger, along with South Africa's Prime Minister John Vorster, pressured Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith to hasten the transition to black majority rule in Rhodesia. With FRELIMO in control of Mozambique and even South Africa withdrawing its support, Rhodesia's isolation was nearly complete. According to Smith's autobiography, Kissinger told Smith of Mrs. Kissinger's admiration for him, but Smith stated that he thought Kissinger was asking him to sign Rhodesia's "death certificate". Kissinger, bringing the weight of the United States, and corralling other relevant parties to put pressure on Rhodesia, hastened the end of minority-rule.[51]

East Timor

The Portuguese decolonization process brought US attention to the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, which lies within the Indonesian archipelago and declared its independence in 1975. Indonesian president Suharto was a strong US ally in Southeast Asia and began to mobilize the Indonesian army, preparing to annex the nascent state, which had become increasingly dominated by the popular leftist FRETILIN party. In December 1975, Suharto discussed the invasion plans during a meeting with Kissinger and President Ford in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. Both Ford and Kissinger made clear that US relations with Indonesia would remain strong and that it would not object to the proposed annexation. They only wanted it done "fast" and proposed to delay the invasion until they had returned to Washington.[52] Accordingly, Suharto delayed the operation for one day. Finally on December 7 Indonesian forces invaded the former Portuguese colony. US arms sales to Indonesia continued, and Suharto went ahead with the annexation plan.

Later roles

Kissinger meeting with President Ronald Reagan in the White House family quarters, 1981

Kissinger left office when a Democrat, former Governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter, defeated Republican Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential elections. Kissinger continued to participate in policy groups, such as the Trilateral Commission, and to maintain political consulting, speaking, and writing engagements.

Shortly after Kissinger left office in 1977, he was offered an endowed chair at Columbia University. There was significant student opposition to the appointment, which eventually became a subject of wide media commentary.[53][54] Columbia cancelled the appointment as a result.

Kissinger was then appointed to Georgetown University's Center for Strategic and International Studies.[55] He taught at Georgetown's Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service for several years in the late 1970s. In 1982, with the help of a loan from the international banking firm of E.M. Warburg, Pincus and Company,[19] Kissinger founded a consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, and is a partner in affiliate Kissinger McLarty Associates with Mack McLarty, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.[56] He also serves on board of directors of Hollinger International, a Chicago-based newspaper group,[57] and as of March 1999, he also serves on the board of directors of Gulfstream Aerospace.[58]

In 1978, Kissinger was named chairman of the North American Soccer League board of directors.[59] From 1995 to 2001, he served on the board of directors for Freeport-McMoRan, a multinational copper and gold producer with significant mining and milling operations in Papua, Indonesia.[60] In February 2000, then-president of Indonesia Abdurrahman Wahid appointed Kissinger as a political advisor. He also serves as an honorary advisor to the United States-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce.

From 2000 – 2006, Kissinger served as chairman of the board of trustees of Eisenhower Fellowships. In 2006, upon his departure from Eisenhower Fellowships, he received the Dwight D. Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service.[61]

In November 2002, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to chair the newly established National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States to investigate the September 11 attacks.[62] Kissinger stepped down as chairman on December 13, 2002, rather than reveal his business client list, when queried about potential conflicts of interest.[63]

Role in U.S. foreign policy

The Balkans

In several articles of his and interviews that he gave during the Yugoslav wars, he criticized the United States' policies in the Balkans, among other things for the recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign state, which he described as a foolish act.[64] Most importantly he dismissed the notion of Serbs, and Croats for that part, being aggressors or separatist, saying that "they can't be separating from something that has never existed".[65] In addition, he repeatedly warned the West of inserting itself into a conflict that has its roots at least hundreds of years back in time, and said that the West would do better if it allowed the Serbs and Croats to join their respective countries.[65] Kissinger shared similarly critical views on Western involvement in Kosovo. In particular, he held a disparaging view of the Rambouillet Agreement:

The Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing. Rambouillet is not a document that any Serb could have accepted. It was a terrible diplomatic document that should never have been presented in that form.

—Henry Kissinger, Daily Telegraph, June 28, 1999

However, as the Serbs did not accept the Rambouillet text and NATO bombings started, he opted for a continuation of the bombing as NATO's credibility was now at stake, but dismissed the usage of ground forces, claiming that it was not worth it.[66]


Kissinger speaking during Gerald Ford's funeral in January 2007

In 2006, it was reported in the book State of Denial by Bob Woodward that Kissinger was meeting regularly with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to offer advice on the Iraq War.[67] Kissinger confirmed in recorded interviews with Woodward[68] that the advice was the same as he had given in an August 12, 2005 column in The Washington Post: "Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy."[69]

In a November 19, 2006, interview on BBC Sunday AM, Kissinger said, when asked whether there is any hope left for a clear military victory in Iraq, "If you mean by 'military victory' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible... I think we have to redefine the course. But I don't believe that the alternative is between military victory as it had been defined previously, or total withdrawal."[70]

In an April 3, 2008, interview with Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution, Kissinger re-iterated that even though he supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq he thought that the Bush administration rested too much of the case for war on Saddam's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Robinson noted that Kissinger had criticized the administration for invading with too few troops, for disbanding the Iraqi Army, and for mishandling relations with certain allies.[71]


Kissinger said in April 2008 that "India has parallel objectives to the United States" and he called it an ally of the U.S.[71]


Kissinger was present at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympics.[72] He was also in the Chinese capital to attend the inauguration of the new US Embassy complex.[citation needed]

In 2011, Kissinger published On China, chronicling the evolution of Sino-American relations and laying out the challenges to a partnership of 'genuine strategic trust' between the U.S. and China.[73]


Kissinger's position on this issue of U.S.–Iran talks was reported by the Tehran Times to be that "Any direct talks between the U.S. and Iran on issues such as the nuclear dispute would be most likely to succeed if they first involved only diplomatic staff and progressed to the level of secretary of state before the heads of state meet."[74]

Public perception

At the height of Kissinger's prominence, many commented on his wit. In one instance, at the Washington Press Club annual congressional dinner, "Kissinger mocked his reputation as a secret swinger."[75] He was quoted as saying "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac."[76]

Kissinger has shied away from mainstream media and cable talk shows. He granted a rare interview to the producers of a documentary examining the underpinnings of the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt entitled Back Door Channels: The Price of Peace.[77] In the film, a candid Kissinger reveals how close he felt the world was to nuclear war during the 1973 Yom Kippur War launched by Egypt and Syria against Israel.

A feature-length documentary titled Kissinger, by Scottish historian Niall Ferguson and produced by Chimerica Media, was released in 2011 on the National Geographic Channel.

Since he left office, some efforts have been made to hold Kissinger responsible for perceived injustices of American foreign policy during his tenure in government. These charges have at times inconvenienced his travels.[78] Christopher Hitchens, the late British-American journalist and author, was highly critical of Kissinger, authoring The Trial of Henry Kissinger, in which Hitchens called for the prosecution of Kissinger "for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture".[79][80][81]

Family and personal life

Henry and Nancy Kissinger at the Metropolitan Opera opening in 2008

Kissinger first married Ann Fleischer, with whom he had two children, Elizabeth and David. They divorced in 1964. Ten years later, he married Nancy Maginnes.[82] They now live in Kent, Connecticut and New York City. David Kissinger was an executive with NBC Universal before becoming head of Conaco, Conan O'Brien's production company.[83]

Since his childhood, Kissinger has been a fan of his hometown's soccer club, SpVgg Greuther Fürth. Even during his time in office he inquired after the team's results every Monday morning. He is an honorary member[84] with lifetime season tickets.[2]. In September 2012, Kissinger attended a home game in which SpVgg Greuther Fürth lost 0–2 against Schalke after promising years ago he would attend a Greuther Fürth home game if they were promoted to the Bundesliga, the top football league in Germany, from the 2. Bundesliga.[85]

Kissinger described Diplomacy as his favorite game in a 1973 interview.[86]

Awards, honors and associations

Kissinger and Le Duc Tho were jointly awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for their work on the Paris Peace Accords which prompted the withdrawal of American forces from the Vietnam war. (Tho declined to accept because the war itself had not ended.)

In 1973, Kissinger received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[87]

In 1976, Kissinger became the first honorary member of the Harlem Globetrotters.[citation needed]

On January 13, 1977, Kissinger received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford.[citation needed]

In 1980, Kissinger won the National Book Award in History[lower-alpha 1] for the first volume of his memoirs, The White House Years.[88]

In 1995, he was made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.[89]

In 1998, his hometown of Fürth granted him honorary citizenship.[citation needed]

In 2000, Kissinger was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award at West Point and also became an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee.[citation needed]

In 2005, Kissinger was awarded a gold medal at the annual Queen Sofia Spanish Institute Gold Medal Gala.[citation needed]

In April 2006, he received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the Woodrow Wilson Center of the Smithsonian Institution.[citation needed]

In June 2007, Kissinger received an award from the Hopkins–Nanjing Center for his contributions to reestablishing Sino–American relations.[citation needed]

In September 2007, he was honored as co-Grand Marshal of the German-American Steuben Parade in New York City, celebrated by tens of thousands of spectators on Fifth Avenue. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, meant to share the honor, had to cancel due to health problems and was represented by German Ambassador Klaus Scharioth.[citation needed]

Kissinger was the first recipient of the Munich Conference on Security Policy's Ewald von Kleist Award.[citation needed]

In June 2011, the American Council on Germany gave Kissinger a McCloy Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to transatlantic relations.[citation needed]

On March 1, 2012, Kissinger was awarded Israel's President's Medal.[citation needed]

Kissinger was a member of the Founding Council of the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford.[90]

Kissinger is also known to be a member of the following groups:

  • Aspen Institute[91]
  • Bilderberg Group[92][93]
  • Bohemian Club[94]
  • Council on Foreign Relations[95]
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies[96]

Writings: major books


Public policy

  • 1957. Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. ISBN 0-86531-745-3 (1984 edition)
  • 1961. The Necessity for Choice: Prospects of American Foreign Policy. ISBN 0-06-012410-5
  • 1965. The Troubled Partnership: A Re-Appraisal of the Atlantic Alliance. ISBN 0-07-034895-2
  • 1969. American Foreign Policy: Three essays. ISBN 0-297-17933-0
  • 1973. A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812–22. ISBN 0-395-17229-2
  • 1981. For the Record: Selected Statements 1977–1980. ISBN 0-316-49663-4
  • 1985. Observations: Selected Speeches and Essays 1982–1984. ISBN 0-316-49664-2
  • 1994. Diplomacy. ISBN 0-671-65991-X
  • 1999. Kissinger Transcripts: The Top Secret Talks With Beijing and Moscow (Henry Kissinger, William Burr). ISBN 1-56584-480-7
  • 2001. Does America Need a Foreign Policy?: Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st century. ISBN 0-684-85567-4
  • 2002. Vietnam: A Personal History of America's Involvement in and Extrication from the Vietnam War. ISBN 0-7432-1916-3
  • 2003. Crisis: The Anatomy of Two Major Foreign Policy Crises: Based on the Record of Henry Kissinger's Hitherto Secret Telephone Conversations. ISBN 0-7432-4910-0
  • 2011. On China (New York: Penguin Press, 2011). ISBN 978-1-59420-271-1.


  1. 1.0 1.1 This was the 1980 award for hardcover History. From 1980 to 1983 there were dual hardcover and paperback awards in most categories, and multiple nonfiction subcategories. Most of the paperback award-winners were reprints, including Kissinger's.


  1. "Kissinger – Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  2. A press release issued by the 45th Munich Conference on Security Policy on February 8, 2009 declared "[H]is voice continues to bear weight and authority throughout the globe." see [1] Munich Security Conference – February 6, 2009 Press Release
  3. He is listed among the 500 most powerful people in the world by Foreign Policy.
  4. Isaacson, pp 20.
  5. "Die Kissingers in Bad Kissingen" (in German). Bayerischer Rundfunk. June 2, 2005. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-03. 
  6. Uli Hesse (February 17, 2012). "Go Furth and conquer". ESPN Soccernet. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Isaacson, pp 37.
  8. "Bygone Days: Complex Jew. Inside Kissinger's soul". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  9. Isaacson, pp 38
  10. Isaacson, pp 39–48.
  11. Isaacson, pp 48
  12. Isaacson, pp 49
  13. Isaacson, pp 53
  14. Isaacson, pp 55.
  15. "Henry Kissinger at Large, Part One". PBS. January 29, 2004. 
  16. Draper, Theodore (September 6, 1992). "Little Heinz And Big Henry". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-12-30. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 "Henry Kissinger – Biography". Retrieved 2006-12-30. 
  18. Kissinger, Henry (1957). Nuclear weapons and foreign policy. Harper & Brothers. p. 455. ISBN 0-393-00494-5. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 Rothbard, Murray, Why the War? The Kuwait Connection (May 1991)
  20. "History of the National Security Council, 1947–1997". Retrieved 2006-12-30. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 "The Nobel Peace Prize 1973". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2006-12-31. 
  22. Dube, Clayton. "Getting to Beijing: Henry Kissinger's Secret 1971 Trip". USC U.S.-China Institute. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  23. White House Years, pp. 231–32. Henry A. Kissinger. Boston: Little, Brown & co., 1979.
  24. Totten, Samuel; William S. Parsons, Israel W. Charny (2004). Century of genocide: critical essays and eyewitness accounts. Routledge. p. 349. ISBN 978-0-415-94430-4. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  25. Smyth, Marie; Gillian Robinson, INCORE (2001). Researching violently divided societies: ethical and methodological issues. United Nations University Press. p. 93. ISBN 978-92-808-1065-3. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  26. Dmitry Mosyakov, "The Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese Communists: A History of Their Relations as Told in the Soviet Archives", in Susan E. Cook, ed., Genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda (Yale Genocide Studies Program Monograph Series No. 1, 2004), p54ff. Available online at: "In April–May 1970, many North Vietnamese forces entered Cambodia in response to the call for help addressed to Vietnam not by Pol Pot, but by his deputy Nuon Chea. Nguyen Co Thach recalls: "Nuon Chea has asked for help and we have liberated five provinces of Cambodia in ten days."
  27. Marek Sliwinski, Le Génocide Khmer Rouge: Une Analyse Démographique (L’Harmattan, 1995), pp41-8.
  28. Chandler, David 2000, Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot, Revised Edition, Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books, pp. 96–7.
  29. Le Duc Tho to Henry Kissinger, October 27, 1973.
  30. "The Nobel Peace Prize 1973: Presentation Speech by Mrs. Aase Lionaes, Chairman of the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting". The Official Web Site of the Nobel Foundation. December 10, 1973. Retrieved 2007-04-28. "'In his letter of November 2 to the Nobel Committee Henry Kissinger expresses his deep sense of this obligation. In the letter he writes among other things: "I am deeply moved by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize, which I regard as the highest honor one could hope to achieve in the pursuit of peace on this earth. When I consider the list of those who have been so honored before me, I can only accept this award with humility." ... This year Henry Kissinger was appointed Secretary-of-State in the United States. In his letter to the Committee he writes as follows: "I greatly regret that because of the press of business in a world beset by recurrent crisis I shall be unable to come to Oslo on December 10 for the award ceremony. I have accordingly designated Ambassador Byrne to represent me on that occasion."" 
  31. Lundestad, Geir (March 15, 2001). "The Nobel Peace Prize 1901–2000". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2006-12-31. 
  32. "The Tilt: The U.S. and the South Asian Crisis of 1971". National Security Archive. December 16, 2002. Retrieved 2006-12-30. 
  33. "150. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and the President's Chief of Staff (Haldeman), Washington, November 5, 1971, 8:15–9:00 am". U.S. Department of State. 2005. Archived from the original on July 2, 2005. Retrieved December 30, 2006. 
  34. "Kissinger regrets India comments". BBC. July 1, 2005. Retrieved 2006-12-15. 
  35. 35.0 35.1 Chait, Jonathan (December 10, 2010) Nixon Disallowed Jewish Advisors From Discussing Israel Policy, The New Republic
  36. Nagourney, Adam (December 10, 2010). "In Tapes, Nixon Rails About Jews and Blacks". The New York Times. 
  37. Kissinger, Henry. "Putting The Nixon Tape In Context". The Washington Post. December 26, 2010.
  38. "Book says Kissinger delayed telling Nixon about Yom Kippur War". Haaretz. 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  39. 39.0 39.1 Kissinger wants Israel to know: The U.S. saved you during the 1973 war Haaretz
  40. Siniver, Asaf (2008). Nixon, Kissinger, and U.S. Foreign Policy Making; The Machinery of Crisis. New York: Cambridge. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-521-89762-4. 
  41. 41.0 41.1 "Church Report". U.S. Department of State. December 18, 1975. Retrieved 2006-11-20. 
  42. Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders (1975), Church Committee, pages 246–247 and 250–254.
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 43.3 Kornbluh, Peter (2003). The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability. New York: The New Press. ISBN 1-56584-936-1. 
  44. Kinzer, Stephen (2006). Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. New York: Times Books. ISBN 978-0-8050-8240-1. 
  45. Pike, John. "Allende's Leftist Regime". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 2006-11-20. 
  46. Peter Kornbluh, CIA Acknowledges Ties to Pinochet’s Repression Report to Congress Reveals U.S. Accountability in Chile, Chile Documentation Project, National Security Archive, September 19, 2000. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  47. Binder, David (September 22, 1976.). "Opponent of Chilean Junta Slain In Washington by Bomb in His Auto". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
  48. "Cable Ties Kissinger to Chile Scandal". Associated Press in the New York Times. April 10, 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-10. "As secretary of state, Henry Kissinger cancelled a U.S. warning against carrying out international political assassinations that was to have gone to Chile and two neighboring nations just days before a former ambassador was killed by Chilean agents on Washington's Embassy Row in 1976, a newly released State Department cable shows. Letelier was critical of Chilean government." [dead link]
  49. Yost, Pete (April 10, 2010). "Cable ties Kissinger to Chile controversy". The Boston Globe. 
  50. "Kissinger to the Argentine Generals in 1976: 'If There Are Things That Have To Be Done, You Should Do Them Quickly'". Retrieved on 2011-11-25.
  51. Smith, Ian Douglas (2001). "Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal and the Dreadful Aftermath". London: Blake Publishing. ISBN 1-903402-05-0. OCLC 1676807. 
  52. Agence France Press, "US Endorsed Indonesia's East Timor Invasion: Secret Documents", December 6, 2001
  53. "400 sign petition against offering Kissinger faculty post". Columbia Spectator. March 3, 1977. 
  54. "Anthony Lewis of the Times also blasts former Secretary". Columbia Spectator. March 3, 1977. 
  55. "CSIS". CSIS. 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-20. 
  56. "Council of the Americas Member". Council of the Americas. Archived from the original on February 23, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  57. "Sun-Times Media Group Inc · 10-K/A". United States Securities and Exchange Commission. May 1, 2006.$/SEC/Filing.asp?T=svrh.vs8_ffv. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  58. "Gulfstream Aerospace Corp, Form 10-K". United States Securities and Exchange Commission. March 29, 1999. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
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  60. "Freeport McMoran Inc · 10-K". United States Securities and Exchange Commission. March 31, 1994. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
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  63. Cable News Network (December 13, 2002). "Kissinger resigns as head of 9/11 commission". CNN Inside Politics. Time Warner. Retrieved August 7, 2006. 
  64. "Charlie Rose – A panel on the crisis in Bosnia". November 28, 1994. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  65. 65.0 65.1 "Charlie Rose – An interview with Henry Kissinger". September 14, 1995. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  66. "Charlie Rose – An hour with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger". April 12, 1999. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  67. "Bob Woodward: Bush Misleads On Iraq". CBS News. October 1, 2006. Archived from the original on December 3, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  68. Woodward, Bob (October 1, 2006). "Secret Reports Dispute White House Optimism". The Washington Post. pp. A01. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  69. Kissinger, Henry A. (August 12, 2005). "Lessons for an Exit Strategy". The Washington Post. pp. A19. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  70. Marr, Andrew (November 19, 2006). "US Policy on Iraq". Sunday AM. BBC. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  71. 71.0 71.1 Kissinger on War & More. Uncommon Knowledge. Filmed on April 3, 2008. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
  72. Juan Williams (August 12, 2008). "Pioneers Of U.S.-China Relations Attend Olympics". NPR. Retrieved 2012-05-28. "Among the political luminaries attending the Beijing Olympics are Henry Kissinger and former President George H.W. Bush." 
  73. Friedberg, Aaron. "The Unrealistic Realist". The New Republic.,0. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  74. "Kissinger backs direct U.S. negotiations with Iran". The Tehran Times. September 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-27.  (Transcript of a Bloomberg reportinterview.)
  75. "Henry Kissinger Off Duty." Time, February 7, 1972.
  76. "Henry A. Kissinger Quotes". Brainy Quote. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  77. "TV Festival 2009 : Opening Film". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
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  80. "Show us the papers, Hitchens"[dead link] . New Statesman. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  81. Christopher Hitchens: Latest Nixon tape buries Kissinger’s reputation | Full Comment | National Post. Retrieved on 2011-11-25.
  82. "Somebody to Come Home To". Time. April 8, 1974.,9171,908532,00.html. 
  83. "NBC Universal Television Studio Co-President David Kissinger Joins Conaco Productions as New President". NBC Universal Television Studio. May 25, 2005. 
  84. Der berühmteste Fan – Henry A. Kissinger (German) Retrieved February 25, 2012
  85. "Kissinger keeps promise to attend Greuther Fuerth game". 
  86. Games & Puzzles magazine, May 1973.
  88. 88.0 88.1 "National Book Awards – 1980". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  89. Kissinger, Henry Alfred in Who's Who in the Twentieth Century, Oxford University Press, 1999
  90. "Founding Council | The Rothermere American Institute". Rothermere American Institute. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  91. "Lifetime Trustees". The Aspen Institute. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  92. "Western Issues Aired". The Washington Post. April 24, 1978. "The three-day 26th Bilderberg Meeting concluded at a secluded cluster of shingled buildings in what was once a farmer's field. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, Swedish Prime Minister Thorbjorrn Falldin, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and NATO Commander Alexander M. Haig Jr. were among 104 North American and European leaders at the conference." 
  93. "Bilderberg 2011 list of participants". Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  94. "A Guide to the Bohemian Grove". Vanity Fair. April 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  95. "History of CFR – Council on Foreign Relations". Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  96. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". Retrieved 2013-10-04. 


  • 1973. Graubard, Stephen Richards, Kissinger: Portrait of a Mind. ISBN 0-393-05481-0
  • 1974. Kalb, Marvin L. and Kalb, Bernard, Kissinger, ISBN 0-316-48221-8
  • 1974. Schlafly, Phyllis, Kissinger on the Couch. Arlington House Publishers. ISBN 0-87000-216-3
  • 1983. Hersh, Seymour, The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House, Summit Books. ISBN 0-671-50688-9. (Awards: National Book Critics Circle, General Non-Fiction Award. Best Book of the Year: New York Times Book Review; Newsweek; San Francisco Chronicle)
  • 1992. Isaacson, Walter. Kissinger: A Biography. New York. Simon & Schuster (updated, 2005). ISBN 0-671-66323-2
  • 2004. Hanhimäki, Jussi. The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy. ISBN 0-19-517221-3
  • 2007. Kurz, Evi. Die Kissinger-Saga. ISBN 978-3-940405-70-8
  • 2009. Kurz, Evi. The Kissinger-Saga – Walter and Henry Kissinger. Two Brothers from Fuerth, Germany. London. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-85675-7.


External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Walt Rostow
United States National Security Advisor
Succeeded by
Brent Scowcroft
Preceded by
William Rogers
United States Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Cyrus Vance

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