Henry Kissinger 1923-2023

Written by  //  December 1, 2023  //  Geopolitics, Government & Governance, U.S.  //  Comments Off on Henry Kissinger 1923-2023

Henry Kissinger, dominant US diplomat of Cold War era, dies aged 100
(Reuters) – Henry Kissinger, the most powerful U.S. diplomat of the Cold War era, who helped Washington open up to China, forge arms control deals with the Soviet Union and end the Vietnam War, but who was reviled by critics over human rights, has died aged 100.
Kissinger, a German-born Jewish refugee whose career took him from academia to diplomacy and who remained an active voice in foreign policy into his later years, died at his home in Connecticut on Wednesday, his geopolitical consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, said.

Why many of us do not mourn HK
Henry Kissinger, the Hypocrite
By Ben Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser
(NYT) Henry Kissinger, who died on Wednesday, exemplified the gap between the story that America, the superpower, tells and the way that we can act in the world. At turns opportunistic and reactive, his was a foreign policy enamored with the exercise of power and drained of concern for the human beings left in its wake. Precisely because his America was not the airbrushed version of a city on a hill, he never felt irrelevant: Ideas go in and out of style, but power does not.

The People Who Didn’t Matter to Henry Kissinger
Lauded for his strategic insights, the former secretary of state is better remembered for his callousness toward the victims of global conflict.
By Gary J. Bass
(The Atlantic) … Yet for all the praise of Kissinger’s insights into global affairs and his role in establishing relations with Communist China, his policies are noteworthy for his callousness toward the most helpless people in the world. How many of his eulogists will grapple with his full record in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, Chile, Argentina, East Timor, Cyprus, and elsewhere?
Dismissing the arguments of dovish White House staffers, he came to endorse a secret U.S. ground invasion of Cambodia, which began in May 1970. In December, after Nixon complained that American aerial bombardment up to that point had been inadequate, Kissinger passed along an order for “a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia.” Ignoring the distinction between civilian and military targets, Kissinger said, “Anything that flies o[r] anything that moves. You got that?”
Kissinger’s apologists today tend to…[extol] his pursuit of U.S. national interests while overlooking the toll on real human beings. Decades after the South Asia crisis, the bland version of Kissinger that now prevails bears scant relation to the historical record. The uncomfortable question is why much of American polite society was so willing to dote on him, rather than honestly confronting what he did.

Henry Kissinger Is Dead at 100; Shaped the Nation’s Cold War History
The most powerful secretary of state of the postwar era, he was both celebrated and reviled. His complicated legacy still resonates in relations with China, Russia and the Middle East.
David E. Sanger covers the White House and national security. He interviewed Henry Kissinger many times and traveled to Europe, Asia and the Middle East to examine his upbringing and legacy.
(NYT) Few diplomats have been both celebrated and reviled with such passion as Mr. Kissinger. Considered the most powerful secretary of state in the post-World War II era, he was by turns hailed as an ultrarealist who reshaped diplomacy to reflect American interests and denounced as having abandoned American values, particularly in the arena of human rights, if he thought it served the nation’s purposes.
He advised 12 presidents — more than a quarter of those who have held the office — from John F. Kennedy to Joseph R. Biden Jr. With a scholar’s understanding of diplomatic history, a German-Jewish refugee’s drive to succeed in his adopted land, a deep well of insecurity and a lifelong Bavarian accent that sometimes added an indecipherable element to his pronouncements, he transformed almost every global relationship he touched.
Negotiating with Henry Kissinger and his legacy
Evan Solomon
(GZERO media) It is hard to find anyone who has worked seriously on politics or studied foreign affairs who has not had an encounter with or held a view of Henry Kissinger. Statesman. War criminal. Genius. Failure. You name it, the allegations have been thrown at him. Kissinger embodied the possibilities and the perils of power. You will hear the debate over his legacy play out – as it has been playing out for decades – in the days and weeks to come. But the first thing you have to know about him is this: Everything and every moment with Kissinger was a negotiation. Including his legacy.
… It was April 2003, and I was in New York at Dr. Kissinger’s office to interview him for the weekly CBC TV show I hosted at the time, “Hot Type.”
… I pressed him on the illegal bombing of Cambodia, which was a stain he would never erase. How did he justify the bombings? His response is something that has stayed with me ever since. Remember, from 1969 to 1973, Kissinger worked with President Richard Nixon as both national security adviser and secretary of state, and to contain the Vietcong, Kissinger orchestrated the illegal bombing of Cambodia. In those years, the US dropped hundreds of thousands of bombs on Cambodia, causing what scholars have estimated to be 150,000 deaths or more. As the Washington Post wrote today, “The scale of this bombing campaign, internally called Operation Menu, was kept secret from the American public for many decades, though leaked and declassified records have revealed that Kissinger personally ‘approved each of the 3,875 Cambodia bombing raids.’” Not only that, the bombing eventually led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge and the genocide that took place there.
But when I asked Kissinger about it, he simply said, “There were no people in those villages.”
No people?

The line haunts me. Of course, there were people there. What did he mean – that his end-justifies-the-means calculator didn’t count numbers below 150,000? Or worse, that Communist sympathizers were not considered people?

The Bengali blood on Henry Kissinger’s hands
Analysis by Ishaan Tharoor
(WaPo) My colleagues have already charted Kissinger’s direct role in the merciless carpet bombing of Cambodia and indirect enabling of the genocidal rampages of the Khmer Rouge. In his ruthless pursuit of the exigencies of the Cold War, Kissinger tolerated and abetted hideous violence around the world. His hand could be seen, among other places, in the dirty wars of right-wing Latin American juntas, in tacit support for white-supremacist minority governments in Africa, and in greenlighting the Indonesian dictatorship’s 1975 invasion of East Timor, which led to a conflict and famine that left as many as 200,000 people dead on the small island.
Though most Americans have little recollection or awareness of it, Kissinger is remembered keenly in South Asia for the part he and Nixon played during the bloody period that led to the emergence of the independent nation of Bangladesh in 1971.
At the time, the state of Pakistan, carved out by the departing British, existed as a two-winged artificial entity, split in between by a thousand miles of India. The army generals from West Pakistan, mostly ethnic Punjabis, disdained the ethnic Bengalis from the east of the country. After 1970 elections yielded a democratic victory for Bengali nationalists, a crisis ensued that culminated in a vicious crackdown by the Pakistani military on East Pakistanis — a campaign that turned into a mass slaughter of minority Hindus, students, dissidents and anyone else in the crosshairs of the army and collaborator-led death squads.
… When all was said and done, hundreds of thousands — and by some estimates, as many as 3 million — were killed, their bodies left to rot in the rice paddies or flushed into the ocean down the region’s many waterways.
The carnage horrified onlookers, and hastened an Indian intervention. The White House, though, stood on the side of Pakistan’s generals — clear Cold War allies who also helped facilitate Kissinger’s secret mission to China in April that year. Kissinger did not trust the Indians, who leaned toward the Soviet Union, and did not care about the national aspirations of the Bengalis of East Pakistan.

Latin America remembers Kissinger’s ‘profound moral wretchedness’
US statesman’s encouragement of Pinochet’s coup in Chile and his backing for Argentina’s military dictatorship left lasting stain
(The Guardian) Henry Kissinger’s death has brought out some bitter epitaphs from Latin America where the legacy of US intervention helped saddle the region with some of the most brutal military regimes of the 20th century.

Global leaders pay tribute to Henry Kissinger, while some online critics remember him as ‘war criminal’
(AP/PBS) — Global leaders paid tribute to former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Thursday, but there was also sharp criticism of the man who remained an influential figure decades after his official service as one of the most powerful diplomats in American history.
Kissinger, who died Wednesday at 100, drew praise as a skilled defender of U.S. interests. On social media, though, he was widely called a war criminal who left lasting damage throughout the world.
“America has lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices” on foreign affairs, said former President George W. Bush, striking a tone shared by many high-level officials past and present.
“I have long admired the man who fled the Nazis as a young boy from a Jewish family, then fought them in the United States Army,” Bush said in a statement. “When he later became Secretary of State, his appointment as a former refugee said as much about his greatness as it did America’s greatness.”
Kissinger served two presidents, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and dominated foreign policy as the United States withdrew from Vietnam and established ties with China.
China’s President Xi Jinping sent President Joe Biden a message of condolence Thursday.
… Many on social media in China mourned his passing. CCTV shared on social media an old segment showing Kissinger’s first secret visit to China in 1971, when he broached the possibility of establishing U.S.-China relations and met then-Premier Zhou Enlai.

Henry Kissinger: Nobel Prize-winning ‘warmonger’ has died at age 100
An ‘enigmatic realist’ who fled Nazi Germany, Kissinger is remembered for ending the US war in Vietnam, opening China.
(Al Jazeera) Few Nobel Peace Prize winners are called warmongers, but the gravelly-voiced, enigmatic diplomat Henry Kissinger was.
The contradictions of Kissinger…do not end there.

Henry Kissinger was a trusted confidant to President Nixon until the bitter, bizarre end
His power grew during the turmoil of Watergate, when the politically attuned diplomat took on a role akin to co-president to the discredited Nixon. “No doubt my vanity was piqued,” Kissinger later wrote of his expanding influence during Watergate. “But the dominant emotion was a premonition of catastrophe.”
(AP) Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the diplomat who dominated foreign policy as the United States extricated itself from Vietnam and broke down barriers with China, died Wednesday. Kissinger exerted uncommon influence on global affairs under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, earning both vilification and the Nobel Peace Prize. Kissinger ranged across the breadth of major foreign policy issues. He conducted the first “shuttle diplomacy” in the quest for Middle East peace. He used secret channels to pursue ties between the United States and China, ending decades of isolation and mutual hostility.

‘My Mother Told Me Not to Speak Ill of the Dead’: Political Experts on Henry Kissinger’s Legacy
Historians, academics and political thinkers examine the life and legacy of the controversial statesman.
POLITICO Magazine reached out to political thinkers, academics and historians for their thoughts on how we should look back on Kissinger’s life and work. Some focused on his influence over the Vietnam War. One called him “overrated.” And another scholar noted, simply: “My mother told me not to speak ill of the dead, which pretty much precludes me from saying anything at all about Henry Kissinger.” Their answers paint a nuanced portrait of a statesman who — right or wrong, good or evil — left a lasting mark not just on Washington, but the world.
… In a sense, Kissinger always saw himself as akin to adviser to kings and not a diplomat subject to democratic oversight of the people. He would have more properly belonged to the pre-democratic era. In the same vein, he approached diplomacy as a game of great powers with little care for ex-colonial states that were coming to their own in the rapidly decolonizing world of 1960s and 70s, or millions of people whose lives would be affected by the decisions of the ‘great men’ he admired all his life. — Arash Azizi, senior lecturer in history and political science, Clemson University.

Kissinger is dead. Long live his memes
Billy Pickett
(GZERO) There is blood on his hands, and the internet doesn’t want you to forget it. Besides his name, some of the top trending topics on X included Cambodia, Laos, War Criminal, RIP BOZO, and IT FINALLY HAPPENED. The general sentiment shared by many can be best encapsulated by the following:
@yashar: A reminder that Henry Kissinger is owed absolutely zero grace or kindness when he dies … a man responsible for destabilizing countries all over the world. He is an unrepentant monster.
@EmissaryOfNight: “Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands.” – Anthony Bourdain
Oh, and we mustn’t forget the update from the “Is Henry Kissinger Dead Yet?” account, which currently is sitting at 37k followers: YES
When a famous person dies, people often come together on X to share their sorrows and participate in collective mourning. For Kissinger, at times, it felt more like a celebration. …
Kissinger leaves behind a complicated legacy. He will inevitably be remembered for the many people lost as a direct result of his foreign policy decisions. Any accurate retelling of his life story must include a footnote about how uniquely the centenarian was hated by the collective conscience of 2020s social media — that spent years not so patiently awaiting his death.
And I speak for so many when I say, we will all truly, deeply miss … the memes.

Henry Kissinger, War Criminal Beloved by America’s Ruling Class, Finally Dies
The infamy of Nixon’s foreign-policy architect sits, eternally, beside that of history’s worst mass murderers. A deeper shame attaches to the country that celebrates him
(Rolling Stone) The Yale University historian Greg Grandin, author of the biography Kissinger’s Shadow, estimates that Kissinger’s actions from 1969 through 1976, a period of eight brief years when Kissinger made Richard Nixon’s and then Gerald Ford’s foreign policy as national security adviser and secretary of state, meant the end of between three and four million people. That includes “crimes of commission,” he explained, as in Cambodia and Chile, and omission, like greenlighting Indonesia’s bloodshed in East Timor; Pakistan’s bloodshed in Bangladesh; and the inauguration of an American tradition of using and then abandoning the Kurds.

The surprising dating life of Henry Kissinger, a West Wing ‘playboy’
At a time when Kissinger was shaping foreign policy for years, he was also seeing stunning starlets of the era. He even befriended Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, who gifted Kissinger a subscription to the magazine after he learned the diplomat showed up to a party carrying an envelope of classified information and told everybody it was his copy of Playboy. (In reality, it was Nixon’s 1969 “silent majority” speech.)
While some questioned the validity of Kissinger as a sophisticated sex symbol, he publicly embraced the persona.

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