Alfred Kissinger (born May 27, 1923 as Heinz Alfred Kissinger) is a
German-born American politician. He is former National Security Advisor
in the Nixon Administration, Secretary of State in the Ford Administration,
and winner of the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. Kissinger played a dominant
role in American foreign affairs between 1969 and 1977.
An admirer of Realpolitik,
Kissinger pioneered the policy of détente, began strategic arms
reduction talks, "opened" China, ended the protracted Vietnam
War, maintained friendly diplomatic relationships with anti-Communist
military governments in the Southern Cone, approved of covert CIA intervention
in Chilean politics, and ended the U.S. doctrine of undifferentiated
containment of the Soviet Union through direct military intervention.
Kissinger's foreign policy record has made him a controversial figure
amongst anti-war liberals and conservative anti-Communist hawks alike.
Some of Kissinger's
critics accuse him of having committed war crimes while in government,
the most prominent of which Christopher Hitchens. Although these allegations
have not yet been proven in a court of law, it is considered legally
dangerous for Kissinger to enter many countries in Europe and South
Kissinger was born in Fürth in Franconia (Bavaria) as Heinz Alfred
Kissinger into a Jewish family. In 1938, fleeing Adolf Hitler's persecution,
his family moved to New York, New York. Kissinger was naturalized a
U.S. citizen on June 19, 1943.
He spent his high
school years in the Washington Heights section of upper Manhattan but
never lost his pronounced German accent. Kissinger attended George Washington
High School at night and worked in a shaving-brush factory during the
day. While attending City College of New York, in 1943, he was drafted
into the army, trained at Clemson College in South Carolina, and became
a German interpreter for the 970th Counter Intelligence Corps.
received his BA degree summa cum laude at Harvard College in 1950. Kissinger
is rumored to be the only person to receive a perfect grade point average
from Harvard, but in fact he received one B in his senior year. He received
his MA and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard University in 1952 and 1954, respectively.
His doctoral dissertation was titled A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh
and the Problems of Peace 1812–22. Kissinger's doctoral dissertation
was a continuation of his undergraduate thesis of mere 383 pages consequently
prompting the "Kissinger rule" or one-third that length.
A liberal Republican
and keen to have a greater influence on American foreign policy, Kissinger
became a supporter of and advisor to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller,
who sought the Republican nomination for President in 1960, 1964 and
1968. After Richard Nixon won the presidency in 1968, he offered Kissinger
the job of national security adviser.
With his first wife,
Ann Fleischer, he had two children, Elizabeth and David. He currently
lives with his second wife, Nancy Maginnes Kissinger, in Kent, Connecticut.
He is the head of Kissinger and Associates, a consulting firm.
Kissinger is well
known as being a New York Yankees fan. He is also a great fan of the
German soccer club Greuther Fürth from his home town.
On October 31, 1973, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmi meets with
Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger about a week after fighting ends in
the Yom Kippur WarKissinger was Nixon's national security advisor (1969-73)
and later his secretary of state (1973-74). He also stayed on as President
Gerald Ford's Secretary of State from 1974-77.
While working for
Nixon, Kissinger established the policy of détente with the Soviet
Union. He also negotiated the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (culminating
in the SALT I treaty) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. In July
and October 1971, Kissinger made two secret trips to the People's Republic
of China to confer with Premier Zhou Enlai and to set the stage for
the groundbreaking 1972 summit between the PRC and the US as well as
the normalization of relations between the two countries. Today, Kissinger
is often called by Chinese leaders "the old friend of the Chinese
people." His talk with Zhou Enlai was highly secretive. Recently
declassified documents show that the talk highly focused on the Taiwan
Kissinger, shown here with Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong, negotiated the
normalization of relations with the People's Republic of China.Kissinger
was awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize along with Le Duc Tho of Vietnam
for their work on the Vietnam peace accords. Kissinger and Nixon had
come to office in 1968 on a promise of a quick end to the Vietnam War,
but the intervening years saw an escalation in conflict as well as the
extension of the US bombing campaign (overseen by Kissinger) in Laos
and Cambodia. Le Duc Tho refused the prize on the grounds that there
was as yet no peace.
In 1973, Kissinger
negotiated the end of the Yom Kippur War, which began with Egypt's invasion
of the Sinai and Syria's invasion of the Golan Heights.
Kissinger may have
played a role in the September 11, 1973, coup by Augusto Pinochet against
the government of Chilean President Salvador Allende. Documentary evidence
shows CIA interest in promoting a coup, but Kissinger says he reversed
his initial position supporting a coup well before it happened.
allegations of underhanded dealings in foreign countries, Kissinger
was largely popular with the public and became one of the better-liked
members of the increasingly unpopular Nixon administration. Kissinger
had little involvement with the Watergate scandal that would eventually
ruin Nixon and many of his closest aides – a fact which greatly
increased Kissinger's reputation as the "clean man" of the
bunch. At the height of his popularity he was even regarded as something
of a sex symbol and was seen dating starlets such as Jill St. John,
Shirley MacLaine, and Candice Bergen.
In December 1975,
Kissinger and Ford met with President Suharto of Indonesia; on that
occasion they gave their approval for his invasion of East Timor, which
led to the death of 200,000 Timorese. Until the release of documents
confirming his foreknowledge of the invasion, Kissinger claimed that
he was unaware of Suharto's intentions when he left Jakarta. Kissinger
still maintains that the nature and influence of his "approval"
of the invasion are presented radically out of context. He argues that
the invasion was already a foregone conclusion planned well in advance,
and was not simply something that he convinced Suharto to do on the
spot. However, Kissinger's apparent strong dislike of discussing the
issue remains a source of controversy (see below).
Kissinger is updated
on the latest situation in South Vietnam on April 29, 1975, one day
before its government falls.Kissinger left office when former Georgia
governor Jimmy Carter defeated Ford at the 1976 elections. He played
a relatively minor role in the Reagan (1981-89) and first Bush (1989-93)
administrations, mainly because the neo-conservative groups which dominated
the Republican Party by 1981 considered Kissinger's detente policy to
have been a form of appeasement of the Soviet Union. He continued to
participate in policy groups such as the Trilateral Commission and to
do political consulting, speaking, and writing.
In 2002, President
George W. Bush appointed Kissinger to chair a committee to investigate
the events of the September 11 attacks. His appointment led to widespread
criticism, generally taken from the position that Kissinger has never
been supportive of the public's right to know, but also because some
vocal groups have alleged that some of his actions undertaken in the
Nixon and Ford administrations were war crimes (see "Accusations
Against Henry Kissinger," below).
In response, Congressional
Democrats insisted that Kissinger file financial disclosures to reveal
any conflicts of interest. Both Bush and Kissinger claimed that Kissinger
did not need to file such forms, since he would not be receiving a salary.
When Congressional Democrats insisted, however, Kissinger resigned from
the commission. On December 13, 2002, he stepped down as chairman, citing
conflict of interest with his clients.
In 2005, Kissinger
offered a public apology for using foul, offensive and uncivilized language
in 1971 to describe Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, and
Indians in general. The transcripts showed that he was eager to ignore
the crisis in East Pakistan and backed President Nixon's support for
an oppressive dictatorship in Pakistan.
In the first years of the new millennium, Kissinger became dogged by
legal problems stemming from actions he took while in government. These
ranged from requests from judges simply wishing to question him about
atrocities which occurred while he was in office to suits charging him
with complicity in human rights violations. There are now many countries
in Europe and South America to where Kissinger avoids travel due to
vulnerability to legal action. He is known to take legal advice before
On 31 May 2001,
French Judge Roger Le Loire had a summons served on Kissinger at the
Ritz Hotel in Paris, where Kissinger was staying. The judge wanted Kissinger
to answer questions about the death of French citizens under the Pinochet
regime and about his knowledge of Operation Condor. Rather than appear
before the magistrate the next day, Kissinger fled Paris that same evening
and directed all inquiries to the US State Department.  
In July 2001, the
highest court of Chile granted investigating judge Juan Guzman the right
to question Kissinger about the 1973 killing of the American journalist
Charles Horman, whose execution by forces loyal to General Augusto Pinochet
was dramatized in the 1982 Costa-Gavras film, Missing. The judge’s
questions were relayed to Kissinger via diplomatic routes but went unanswered.
Representative Cynthia McKinney later wrote to Secretary of State Colin
Powell, asking for help in persuading Kissinger to take the stand. The
Chilean courts later announced that if they continued to meet with no
response to their requests for co-operation, they would seek Kissinger's
extradition. Sergio Corvalan, a lawyer involved in the case, said: "Kissinger
has never answered to justice and he had an important role in the coup
in Chile and an influence in the Chilean military government."
In August 2001,
Argentine Judge Rodolfo Canicoba sent a letter rogatory to the US State
Department, in accordance with the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT),
requesting a deposition by Kissinger to aid the judge's investigation
of Operation Condor. 
On 10 September
2001, a civil suit was filed in a Washington, D.C., federal court by
the family of Gen. René Schneider, former Commander-in-Chief
of the Chilean Army, accusing Kissinger of arranging his 1970 murder
for opposing a military coup. The suit asserts that Kissinger gave the
order for the elimination Schneider because he refused to endorse plans
for a military coup. The prosecution case is based solely on U.S. government
declassified documents. Schneider’s two sons are suing Kissinger
and CIA director Richard Helms for $3 million.   
On 11 September
2001, the 28th anniversary of the Pinochet coup, Chilean human rights
lawyers filed a criminal case against Kissinger along with Augusto Pinochet,
former Bolivian dictator Hugo Banzer, former Argentine dictator Jorge
Rafael Videla, former Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, and several
other US, Chilean, and Argentine officials for their role in Operation
Condor. The case was brought on behalf of some fifteen victims of Operation
Condor, ten of whom were Chilean. Several international organizations
also joined the suit as plaintiffs, including the US National Lawyer’s
Guild, the American Association of Jurists, and the Guatemalan Rigoberta
Menchu Foundation. Kissinger and the others were charged with being
intellectual or material authors or accomplices to crimes against humanity,
war crimes, violations of international treaties, conspiracy to commit
murder, kidnapping, and torture.
In late 2001, the
Brazilian government canceled an invitation for Kissinger to speak in
São Paulo because it could no longer guarantee his immunity from
In 2002, during
a brief visit of his to the UK, a petition for Kissinger's arrest was
filed in the High Court in London, citing the destruction of civilian
populations and the environment in Indochina during the years 1969 to
1975. According to media reports, the High Court ruled in such a manner
as to leave room for a further application. At the same time, supported
by judges in France, the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who engaged
in a failed attempt to get Pinochet extradited from the United Kingdom
for questioning, also requested Interpol to detain Kissinger for questioning
during his visit. British authorities refused his request.
Activists from the
East Timor Action Network (ETAN) have repeatedly sought to question
Kissinger during his book tours, accusing him of supporting Indonesia's
1975 bloody occupation of the former Portuguese colony East Timor. A
subsequent human rights commission proposed that the UN itself set up
a war crimes tribunal. ETAN as argued that the tribunal to extend back
to the original invasion and could become a tool to find out what actually
happened, and a mechanism for trying Kissinger. "I believe a criminal
case can be made against him," says John Miller, a spokesman for
the group. "One country invaded another. He aided and abetted genocide.
He provided a political go-ahead and was instrumental in continuing
the flow of U.S. weapons."
Observers note that
in many cases, Kissinger is not being sought as a defendant; he is wanted
first and foremost as a witness, but his refusal to cooperate, they
claim, suggests he has something to hide. Kissinger's position is complicated
by the fact that documents declassified by the State Department have
contradicted his own statements. A declassified verbatim conversation
between Kissinger and General Suharto on the day of the invasion of
East Timor in 1975 reveals Kissinger giving approval to the proposed
annexation, and also promising to keep a flow of weapons coming to Indonesia.
Declassified records also indicate, for example, that Kissinger had
urged the apartheid regime in South Africa to intervene in Angola before
a single Cuban soldier had landed, which contradicts earlier statements
by him.  
documents obtained by the National Security Archive also show that Kissinger
did not raise objections to the practices of the dictatorial Argentine
military junta; the junta was exercising total authority over combatting
active Marxist guerrilla groups such as the Montoneros and ERP. It is
known to have "disappeared" approximately 10,000 to 30,000
Argentines, many believed to be nonviolent dissidents, and tortured
thousands more at documented secret detention centers. However, the
junta's restrictions on free speech were somewhat relaxed by new Chairman
General Leopoldo Galtieri in 1981.
In a meeting, Secretary
Kissinger told Argentine Foreign Minister Admiral César Augusto
"Let me say,
as a friend, that I have noticed that military governments are not always
the most effective in dealing with these problems. ...So after a while,
many people who don't understand the situation begin to oppose the military
and the problem is compounded. The Chileans, for example, have not succeeded
in getting across their initial problem and are increasingly isolated.
You will have to make an international effort to have your problems
understood. Otherwise, you, too, will come under increasing attack.
If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly.
But you must get back quickly to normal procedures."
He also assured Guzzetti that the U.S. would not cause the junta any
"unnecessary difficulties" and urged them to complete their
mission and get back to normal procedures before Congress reconvened
and had a chance to consider sanctions.
of Christopher Hitchens
The February and March 2001 issues of Harper's Magazine featured a two-part
series of articles by British journalist Christopher Hitchens in which
he charged Kissinger with war crimes (the articles were later published
as a book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, ISBN 1859846319). Hitchens'
charges were extensively reported on and sparked widespread discussion.
In these pieces, Hitchens charged Kissinger with conspiracy to commit
murder and war crimes. He argues that (1) on at least one occasion,
Henry Kissinger conspired to commit murder, and (2) on numerous other
occasions, Kissinger was the primary force behind certain acts that
could quite plausibly be considered war crimes.
charges against Kissinger include:
In illegal talks
with representatives of the South Vietnamese government in 1968, Kissinger
advised them to pull out of the Paris Peace Talks, as they would get
a better deal under an incoming Nixon administration.
As United States National Security Advisor to President Nixon, he directed
the first phase of the illegal and secret U.S. bombings in Cambodia
(1969-1975), and is thus complicit in the resulting 200,000 casualties.
As Nixon's National Security Advisor, he gave support to General Roberto
Viaux's 1970 coup plot in Chile to prevent incoming President Salvador
Allende's inauguration. The coup failed with the botched kidnapping
attempt on constitutionalist Chilean Army Commander-in-Chief General
René Schneider, who ended up dead at the hands of the coup-plotters.
Hitchens thus implicates Kissinger in Schneider's murder.
As Nixon's National
Security Advisor, he did not object to West Pakistan's genocide against
Bengalis in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during the third Indo-Pakistani
War because Pakistan was a Cold War ally.
As Nixon's secretary of state, he supported the Chilean military junta
headed by General Augusto Pinochet following a 1973 coup, despite his
involvement in human rights abuses directed towards suspected Marxists
and political opponents.
As Nixon's Secretary
of State, he was complicit in the anti-Communist Greek military junta's
backing of an attempted Greek Cypriot coup attempt in Cyprus in 1974.
The failed plot provoked Turkey to occupy the northern 40% of the island,
which it still controls to this day. It also led to the downfall of
the Greek junta.
As Ford's Secretary of State, he supported continued U.S. arms sales
to Indonesia while it was annexing East Timor in 1975, and is thus complicit
in the Army's subsequent mass atrocities against the East Timorese.
Rebuttals to Hitchens' charges include:
that the bombings of Cambodia were not illegal, since Cambodia itself
had been unable to defend its neutrality. North Vietnamese Army and
Viet Cong units were operating out of bases in the area, and ignoring
them would have given them a free advantage in the ongoing conflict.
Further, that to ignore them would make him complicit in all the U.S.
and South Vietnamese deaths caused by NVA activity out of these countries.
Regarding the coup,
Kissinger, as chair of the 40 Committee overseeing foreign operations,
said to Nixon on October 15, "This looks hopeless. I turned it
off. Nothing could be worse than an abortive coup." Viaux's failed
coup took place a full week later without direct CIA support. The Church
Committee (see: Senator Frank Church), normally highly critical of the
Nixon administration's foreign policy, found that the weapons used by
Viaux's subordinates "were, in all probability, not those supplied
by the CIA to the conspirators." 
There was some evidence
 that Kissinger bore direct responsibility in the U.S.'s failure
to condemn Pakistani President Yahya Khan during the crisis as seen
in the Oval House conversations. He also tried to involve China in the
event of a war, to threaten India from involving itself in Pakistan's
internal problems. The reason for the "tilt" was that Pakistan,
a cold war ally maintained friendly relations with China with whom the
US wished to move closer to. Kissinger himself clarified that such policies
and statements were to be viewed from the Cold War era perspective.
There is no evidence
that Kissinger supported the junta's moves in Cyprus. In his book Years
of Renewal, Kissinger says of the elected President of Cyprus, "...Makarios,
the proximate cause of most of Cyprus's tensions, was also the best
hope for a long-term peaceful solution..." Hitchens takes the quote
out of context and says that because Kissinger has described Makarios
as "the proximate cause of Cyprus's tensions" he must have
sought his removal.
The policy toward
Indonesia was consistent with Cold War containment policy at the time,
and Kissinger feared that a FRETILIN-controlled East Timor would be
a destabilizing influence in the Indonesian archipelago. U.S. arms sales
to a Cold War ally were not an endorsement for mass atrocities against
the East Timorese.
in late 2001 regarding East Timor revealed that Kissinger had given
Suharto support for the invasion of East Timor (in which as many as
200,000 people may have died) during a visit to Indonesia in 1975, refuting
his claim in a 1999 interview that he had not discussed the matter in
advance and only found out about it as he was leaving the country. Although
it was illegal for the arms that the US supplied to Indonesia to be
used for offensive purposes, the documents revealed that Kissinger was
unconcerned over the illegality of their use; his primary concern was
over manipulating the public perception of what happened. "We would
be able to influence the reaction in America if whatever happens, happens
after we return", he was quoted as saying.
Kissinger has refused
to respond to Hitchens's charges point by point. In a speech before
the National Press Club he was asked about the charges and his response
is that in the cause of world peace, serious people can have legitimate
disagreements about the means. However, Kissinger claims that in attempting
to create a war crimes charge, Hitchens used selective quotations and
documents without taking into account the context and the situation
in which those documents were written. Further, Kissinger claims that
Hitchens ignores the significant advances in world peace that were taken
under his tenure, such as the Anti-Ballistic Treaty, détente
and arms reduction treaties with the Soviet Union, the opening to China,
and the withdrawal from Vietnam. He adds that Hitchens's charges are
nothing more than the politics of revenge and that they cheapen and
mock the concept of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Moreover,
Kissinger claims that this mockery of the concept of war crimes is an
obstacle to creating the just and peaceful world that Hitchens claims
to wish to create, and thus will not respond to him.
Other critics of
the war crimes charges similarly dismiss the allegations as overtly
partisan, and poorly researched. Conservative commentator David Horowitz
described Kissinger as a "political deus ex machina" whom
members of the political Left increasingly use to explain the cause
of any foreign conflict, violence, or coup during the 1970s. Supporters
of Kissinger point out that Kissinger himself has detailed his own versions
of the events in question in his memoirs and writings, and has fully
justified his past actions.
inspired a feature-length documentary, "The Trials of Henry Kissinger",
directed by Eugene Jarecki, which also highlighted the charges against
On a more bizarre
note, in 1999 the British conspiracy theorist (and former sports personality)
David Icke accused Kissinger of being a rapist, a murderer, a paedophile
and a shape-shifting lizard.
and public service
He has his own consulting company Kissinger and Associates, and also
Kissinger McLarty Associates with Mack McLarty, former Chief of Staff
to President Clinton. He also serves on various boards of directors
including Hollinger International.
In 1998 Kissinger
became a Citizen of Honour of his hometown Fürth. During his whole
life he has been a supporter of the football club Spielvereinigung Fürth.
In 2004, he visited his hometown again.
He has served as
Chancellor of the College of William and Mary since February 10, 2001.
he served on the board of directors for Freeport-McMoRan (commonly referred
to as Freeport,) a U.S. company that owns a mine in western New Guinea,
Henry Alfred Kissinger
was the 56th Secretary of State of the United States from 1973 to 1977,
continuing to hold the position of Assistant to the President for National
Security Affairs which he first assumed in 1969 until 1975. After leaving
government service, he founded Kissinger Associates, an international
consulting firm, of which he is chairman.
Dr. Kissinger was born in Fuerth, Germany, on May 27, 1923, came to
the United States in 1938, and was naturalised a United States citizen
on June 19, 1943. He received the BA Degree Summa Cum Laude at Harvard
College in 1950 and the MA and PhD Degrees at Harvard University in
1952 and 1954 respectively.
From 1954 until 1971 he was a member of the Faculty of Harvard University,
both in the Department of Government and at the Center for International
Affairs. He was Associate Director of the Center from 1957 to 1960.
He served as Study Director, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, for
the Council of Foreign Relations from 1955 to 1956; Director of the
Special Studies Project for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund from 1956
to 1958; Director of the Harvard International Seminar from 1951 to
1971, and Director of the Harvard Defense Studies Program from 1958
to 1971. (He was on leave of absence from Harvard from January 1969
to January 1971).
has written many books and articles on United States foreign policy,
international affairs, and diplomatic history. Among the awards he has
received are the Guggenheim Fellowship (1965-66), the Woodrow Wilson
Prize for the best book in the fields of government, politics and international
affairs (1958), the American Institute for Public Service Award (1973),
the International Platform Association Theodore Roosevelt Award (1973),
the Veterans of Foreign Wars Dwight D. Eisenhower Distinguished Service
Medal (1973), the Hope Award for International Understanding (1973),
the Presidentia1 Medal of Freedom (1977) and the Medal of Liberty (1986).
He has served as a consultant to the Department of State (1965-68),
United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (1961-68), Rand Corporation
(1961-68), National Security Council (1961-62), Weapons Systems Evaluation
Group of the joint Chiefs of Staff (1959-60), Operations Coordinating
Board (1955), Director of the Psychological Strategy Board (1952), Operations
Research Office (1951), and Chairman of the National Bipartisan Commission
on Central America (1983-84).
From 1943 to 1946 Dr. Kissinger served in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence
Corps and from 1946 to 1949 was a captain in the Military Intelligence
He married Ann Fleischer in 1949 and was divorced in 1964. There were
two children, Elizabeth and David. In 1974 he married Nancy Maginnes.
Henry A. Kissinger (b. May 27, 1923)
An unlikely celebrity
who drew fire from across the political spectrum, Henry Kissinger is
widely recognized as one of the great American statesmen of the twentieth
century. According to biographer Robert Schulzinger, "Kissinger
seizes the imagination because he engineered the most significant turning
point in United States foreign policy since the beginning of the cold
Born in 1923 in
Fürth, Germany, to devout Jewish middle-class parents, the young
Kissinger was forced to flee Hitler’s anti-Semitic regime, settling
with his family in New York City in 1938. After studying at City College,
he joined the U.S. Army in 1943, serving as an interpreter and intelligence
officer in Europe. Kissinger returned home in 1947 to a brilliant academic
career at Harvard University, where he became a professor of government
and international affairs in 1957.
A prominent interpreter
of U.S. foreign policy, Kissinger chided Americans for their moralism,
arguing for a more pragmatic approach to foreign affairs. Kissinger
served as a part-time foreign policy adviser to the Kennedy and Johnson
administrations, and was the main intellectual force behind JFK’s
"flexible response" strategy, which advocated maintaining
both conventional and nuclear forces to respond to Communist aggression,
rather than resorting to threats of massive nuclear retaliation.
In 1968 president-elect
Richard Nixon appointed Kissinger as his national security adviser,
in what Time magazine described as an "improbable partnership"
between a "secretive, aloof… old-fashioned politician, given
over to over-simplified rhetoric" and "a Harvard professor
of urbane intelligence." Working closely together, the two set
out to re-shape the style and substance of U.S. foreign affairs. Kissinger
rejected a moralistic approach to the Soviet Union based on anti-Communist
ideology. A realist, he recognized Russia as a rival superpower, and
sought to achieve a global balance of power by pursuing areas of cooperation
with Moscow, a policy known as "détente."
approval, Kissinger concentrated foreign policy-making power within
the White House under the National Security Council, circumventing the
established foreign affairs bureaucracy and effectively curtailing the
authority of Secretary of State William Rogers. Nixon and Kissinger
both favored "back-channel" communications and used secret
negotiations to lay the groundwork for détente with the Soviet
Union and open a new dialogue with Communist China. Similarly, Kissinger
began secret talks with North Vietnam in 1969 in the hopes of reaching
a settlement to the Vietnam War. At the same time, though, he counseled
Nixon to increase bombing of North Vietnam and to expand the war into
Cambodia and Laos.
With the July 1971
announcement of his secret meetings with Chou En-lai, Kissinger emerged
into the limelight, achieving unprecedented international celebrity.
The formerly obscure presidential adviser was now everywhere: on the
covers of Time and Newsweek, profiled on the network news shows, and
featured on the front pages of newspapers across the country. "[A]t
the height of a brilliant career," wrote Time, "he enjoys
a global spotlight and an influence that most professors only read about
in their libraries."
In 1973 Kissinger
shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Le Duc Tho for secretly negotiating
an end to the Vietnam War. The same year, he replaced William Rogers
as secretary of state, while remaining as national security adviser.
Instrumental in brokering an end to hostilities in the 1973 Yom Kippur
War between Israel, Egypt and Syria, Kissinger then embarked on an intensive
"shuttle diplomacy" effort to help mediate the long-standing
When Nixon resigned
in August 1974 and Gerald Ford took office, Kissinger retained his position
and his unprecedented influence on foreign affairs. While he continued
to pursue détente with Russia, the policy grew increasingly unpopular.
Conservatives charged that détente allowed the Soviet Union to
build up its military arsenal at America’s expense, while liberals
accused Kissinger of pursuing the policy while ignoring human rights
within the Communist bloc. During his last years in government, Kissinger
frequently came under attack from Congress, the media, and the Republican
Party, and saw some of his greatest initiatives reversed, as détente
ultimately failed, and South Vietnam fell to Communist forces in 1975.
Kissinger left office
with the Ford Administration in 1977. He has since taught at Georgetown
University and formed a highly successful international consulting group,
Kissinger Associates, which represents companies that deal with China.
He has appeared frequently as a media commentator on international affairs.