Washington: Henry Kissinger, a towering figure in U.S. foreign policy known for shaping Cold War diplomacy, passed away at the age of 100. The news was confirmed by Kissinger Associates Inc. The controversial Nobel Peace Prize laureate had a significant impact on global events during his tenure as Secretary of State in the 1970s.
Kissinger’s contributions included the diplomatic opening of China, landmark arms control talks with the Soviet Union, and the Paris Peace Accords with North Vietnam. Despite facing criticism for his support of anti-communist dictatorships, Kissinger continued to be a diplomatic force even after President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.
In recent years, Kissinger remained active, attending White House meetings, publishing a book on leadership styles, and testifying about the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. His unexpected visit to Beijing in July 2023 to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored his enduring influence.
Born in Germany in 1923, Kissinger fled the Nazi regime, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1943. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and later joined Harvard University as a faculty member for 17 years. Kissinger’s political career took off when he became National Security Advisor under President Nixon in 1969.
While praised for his brilliance and experience, Kissinger faced criticism for his role in the Vietnam War, with “peace is at hand” declarations preceding the Paris Peace Accords. His later efforts included shuttle diplomacy in the Arab-Israeli conflict, outreach to China to diminish Soviet influence, and detente with the Soviet Union.
Kissinger’s legacy is complex. Despite being called a “super secretary of state” by President Gerald Ford, he was criticized for his prickly demeanor and perceived arrogance. The Watergate scandal, which led to Nixon’s resignation, did not significantly tarnish Kissinger’s reputation, but he faced scrutiny for his actions in Latin America and the controversial 1973 Nobel Peace Prize.
Post-government service, Kissinger established a high-powered consulting firm in New York, offering advice to corporate elites and participating in various foreign policy forums. His influence, however, waned in later years, with subsequent administrations taking different diplomatic approaches.
In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush appointed Kissinger to head an investigative committee, but he stepped down due to conflicts of interest with his consulting firm’s clients, following objections from Democrats.
Henry Kissinger’s death marks the end of an era in U.S. diplomacy. His impact, both praised and criticized, shaped a significant chapter in global politics during the Cold War and beyond.