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Henry Alfred Kissinger

Henry Alfred Kissinger

Henry Alfred Kissinger (born 1923) was secretary of state during the second Nixon administration and the Ford administration, chief of the National Security Council (1969-1973), professor at Harvard University (1952-1969), and co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (with Le Duc Tho) in 1973.

Henry Kissinger was the chief foreign policy adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford between 1969 and 1974, a tumultuous period for the United States in its dealings in Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The use of secret negotiations (based in large part on a fundamental distrust of bureaucracies—most notably that of the State Department) led to agreements on arms limitations (SALT I), the reopening of relations with the People's Republic of China after more than 20 years of non-recognition following the assumption of power by the Communists in 1949, and "shuttle diplomacy" involving attempts to secure peace among Middle-Eastern nations. Other work involved the secret bombing of Cambodia, a secret war with Cambodia that was ultimately halted by actions of Congress, cessation of hostilities between South and North Vietnam (and ultimately the collapse of the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese government), and the sharing of the Nobel Peace Prize with Le Duc Tho, the North Vietnamese negotiator at the Paris Peace Talks. While Kissinger's memoirs contained his interpretation of the aforementioned events, his critics did not soften their conclusion that Kissinger often made critical mistakes in developing U.S. foreign policy.

Despite his detractors, Kissinger enjoyed a reputation of being an intellectual in the Nixon administration. While often criticized for some of his personal characteristics, he was also praised for his wit and charm. In addition to his distrust of bureaucracies, Kissinger distrusted the media— particularly the press—and was reputed to berate subordinates who leaked information. In his own interactions with the media he worked closely (and off the record) with foreign affairs correspondents so his viewpoint would be presented favorably.

Kissinger's view of the world—dominated by a setting of bi-polarization—both coincided with that of President Nixon's and colored his interactions with others in the conduct of foreign affairs. His view was deemd "European" because he was born and spent his formative years in Germany and because of his attention to important European actors in history (in his senior thesis and doctoral dissertation—both completed at Harvard). It was a worldview that perceived the necessity for maintaining an equilibrium between the two world powers—the United States and the Soviet Union—and of arguing and negotiating from a position of strength. Thus it is possible to see the opening of relations with China for the first time after World War II as related to containment of the Soviet Union— particularly as this transpired when open hostilities between the U.S.S.R. and China were taking place. This was also evident when Kissinger justified secret bombings in Cambodia (on the grounds that there were sanctuaries and transportation routes being used by the North Vietnamese) in an attempt to get the North Vietnamese to negotiate a settlement.

An Expert on International Affairs

Kissinger was born May 27, 1923, in Furth, Germany, with the name Heinz Alfred. His mother, Paula Stern Kissinger, was from Fanconia in southern Germany. His father, Louis, was a teacher who lost his job and career during the Nazi reign and persecution of the Jews in Germany. The family (a younger brother, Walter Bernhard, was born a year after Henry Kissinger) left Nazi Germany in 1938, moving first to England and then several months later to the United States. The family settled in New York City where Kissinger began high school and after a year switched to night school, working days in a factory. During World War II Kissinger joined the military and served in Germany, working ultimately in Army Intelligence. Following the war Kissinger remained in Europe as a civilian instructor at the European Command Intelligence School at Oberammergau, Germany. In 1947 he returned to the United States and enrolled as an undergraduate at Harvard University. He graduated in the class of 1950 (in three years because he entered as a sophomore) summa cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He continued his studies as a graduate student at Harvard, earning his masters degree in 1952 and his Ph.D. in 1954.

Kissinger served in a variety of roles prior to his entrance into the Nixon administration as chief of the National Security Council. Between 1952 and 1969 he directed the Harvard International Seminar, which was held during the summer months. In this capacity, he was visited by many international figures with whom he would later deal as a foreign affairs official. As part of the Council on Foreign Relations he published Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, a book that was widely read and well accepted. For 18 months beginning in 1956 he was director of a Rockefeller Brothers Fund special studies project—a program developed to investigate potential domestic and international problems. In 1957 he became a lecturer at Harvard, ultimately being promoted to full professor in 1962. Kissinger served as a consultant to the National Security Council (until February of 1962, when he left because of policy differences), to the Arms Control Disarmament Agency (until 1967), and to the Rand Corporation (until 1968). From 1962 to 1965 he worked full time at Harvard. In 1965 he became a consultant to the State Department on Vietnam. He visited Vietnam several times between 1965 and 1967. Most of 1968 was spent working on New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller's unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for the presidency. In spite of Rockefeller's defeat by Richard Nixon, it was at Rockefeller's urging that Nixon considered and appointed Kissinger to head the National Security Council.

Kissinger was critical of U.S. foreign policy toward the Soviet Union developed under the preceding Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He considered their stances inconsistent and too conciliatory; it was these criticisms that had led to Kissinger's departure from McGeorge Bundy's National Security Council in the Kennedy administration. Kissinger viewed the Soviet Union as the principal opponent of the United States in international affairs. Nonetheless, Kissinger accepted as legitimate the role of the Soviet Union as one of the super powers. This approach, known as "détente," facilitated the easing of relations between the Soviet Union and the United States.

As a consequence, one of Kissinger's early successes during this period of détente was the completion of negotiations on the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty (SALT) with the Soviet Union. The negotiations, highly technical and conducted in part by sophisticated negotiating teams and in part by Kissinger himself, lasted for nearly three years. They culminated in the signing of an agreement in Moscow by President Nixon and Soviet Communist Party Chief Brezhnev.

Kissinger also was influential in the settlement of the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin (September 3, 1971). A thorn in relations between the East and West for many years, particularly after the Berlin Wall, an agreement was sought to facilitate travel between East and West Berlin. Through regular (official) negotiations, handled by Ambassador Kenneth Rush, and secret negotiations directly involving Kissinger, an easing of relations between the United States and the former Soviet Union was facilitated by the normalization of relations between the four nations that had controlled Berlin since World War II.

China, Vietnam, Middle East

Another of Kissinger's successes (and one that caught the media by surprise) was the organization of Richard Nixon's approach to China. The United States had refused to recognize the Peoples Republic of China following the civil war that left Communists under Mao Tse-Tung in control after World War II. Early in Nixon's first term efforts were made to allow interaction between the Chinese and the United States. Capitalizing on international conditions and secretly moving through the good auspices of Pakistani President Yahya Khan, Kissinger flew to China and met with Chou En-lai, arranging for an invitation for Nixon to make an official state visit. The resultant Shanghai Communique of 1972 provided guidelines for the establishment of U.S.-China relations. During his eight years in the National Security Council and State Department, Kissinger flew to China a total of nine times.

Kissinger perhaps was criticized most and forgiven least for his conduct of the war(s) in southeast Asia. The U.S. involvement in Vietnam had driven Lyndon Johnson from office, and it had been the intention of the Nixon administration to seek "peace with honor." The Kissinger approach was characteristic: negotiate from a position of strength. Thus not only was U.S. direct involvement in Vietnam reflective of this position, but the bombing of Cambodia—the "secret war"—was an attempt to use military strength to force the hands of U.S. opponents to agree to terminate the war. All efforts, of course, were an attempt to keep Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos from becoming controlled by Communist factions. Kissinger successfully negotiated a truce with Le Duc Tho (over the strong protests of the South Vietnam government) in Paris and shared the Nobel Prize in 1973 with him. However, many considered Kissinger's policies excessive attempts to make right with might.

Following his assumption of power as secretary of state in 1973—which he held through the completion of Gerald Ford's administration—Kissinger abandoned his policy of hands-off the Middle East (it was the one area where he had deferred to Secretary of State William Rogers while Kissinger was with the National Security Council). During the three years he was secretary of state, Kissinger conducted what became known as "shuttle diplomacy," where he served as the facilitator of negotiations to restore peace among Middle-Eastern nations. Kissinger would often fly from Egypt to Israel to Syria or elsewhere and back again as he played the middleman role in developing agreements to secure peace. In all, Kissinger made 11 "shuttle" missions, the longest lasting nearly a month.

After his departure from office following the 1976 electoral defeat of Gerald Ford at the hands of Jimmy Carter, Kissinger was self-employed as the director of a consulting firm dealing with international political assessments. In addition to advising a variety of clients on the political climate at any given moment, he produced two books of memoirs to explain the evolution of history while he was in office.

In 1997 former Secretaries of State Kissinger and Alexander Haig caused controversy through their role in facilitating U.S.-China trade. Some say the two stood to profit from contracts with the Chinese and that some of their dealings put the United States in a "vulnerable position."

Further Reading

Henry Kissinger produced two volumes of his memoirs: The White House Years (1979) and Years of Upheaval (1982). One may also read about Kissinger from Marvin and Bernard Kalb in Kissinger (1974). Seymore M. Hersh wrote The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House (1983). There are numerous other books about different aspects of Kissinger's years in office. See also: Timothy W. Maier, "Lion Dancing with Wolves," Insight on the News, vol. 13, no. 14, April 21, 1997. □

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Kissinger, Henry

Henry Kissinger

Born: May 27, 1923
Furth, Germany

German-born American government official

Aleading expert on international relations since the 1950s, Henry Kissinger was secretary of state under Presidents Richard Nixon (19131994) and Gerald Ford (1913). His impressive career also includes becoming the cowinner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973.

Early life and education

Henry Kissinger was born Heinz Alfred Kissinger on May 27, 1923, in Furth, Germany. He was the first of the two sons of Paula Stern Kissinger and Louis Kissinger. His father was a teacher who lost his job and career when the Nazis, carrying out the orders of Adolf Hitler (18891945), began persecuting (causing people to suffer for their beliefs) Jewish people in Germany. (The Nazi party was in control of the government of Germany from 1933 to 1945.) As a boy Kissinger loved sports but was a better student than athlete. When German anti-Semitism (hatred of Jewish people) increased, the family decided to leave Germany in 1938, moving first to England and then several months later to the United States. The family settled in New York City, where Kissinger completed high school and began taking night classes at City College with the intention of becoming an accountant. While attending college he worked at a factory during the day.

During World War II (193945; a war involving the United States and many other countries in the world in which millions of people lost their lives) Kissinger joined the military and served in Germany, working in Army Intelligence. He also became an American citizen during the war. Following the war Kissinger remained in Europe as an instructor at the European Command Intelligence School in Germany. In 1947 he returned to the United States and enrolled at Harvard University. He graduated in the class of 1950 with a degree in government. He continued his studies as a graduate student, earning his master's degree in 1952 and his Ph.D. in 1954, while also teaching at the university.

An expert on international affairs

Between 1952 and 1969 Kissinger directed the Harvard International Seminar, a type of study in which advanced students, led by a professor, conduct research, share their findings, and contribute to discussions. The seminar was held during the summer months. In this position, he was visited by many international figures with whom he would later deal as a foreign-affairs official. As part of the Council on Foreign Relations he published Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, which added to his reputation as a leading expert on international relations and national defense policy. For eighteen months beginning in 1956 he was director of a Rockefeller Brothers Fund special studies projecta program developed to investigate possible domestic and international problems. In 1957 he became a lecturer (public speaker) at Harvard. He was promoted to professor in 1962.

Kissinger served as a consultant (one who gives professional advice) to the National Security Council, to the Arms Control Disarmament Agency, and to the Rand Corporation. From 1962 to 1965 he worked full time at Harvard. In 1965 he became a consultant to the State Department on Vietnam. He visited Vietnam several times between 1965 and 1967. Most of 1968 he spent working on the unsuccessful bid of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller (19081979) for the Republican nomination for the presidency. In spite of Rockefeller's defeat by Richard Nixon, at Rockefeller's urging Nixon considered and appointed Kissinger to head the National Security Council.

Kissinger did not agree with the U.S. foreign policy toward the Soviet Union that had been developed under former presidents. He thought their positions had been inconsistent and too friendly. Kissinger viewed the Soviet Union as the main opponent of the United States in international affairs, but he had respect for the role of the Soviet Union as one of the superpowers. His attempts to ease tensions, known as détente (day-TAHNT), improved relations between the Soviet Union and the United States. As a result, one of Kissinger's early successes during this period of détente was the completion of talks on the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty (SALT). SALT was an agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States to limit the number of nuclear weapons in each country. The discussions lasted for nearly three years and ended with the signing of an agreement in Moscow, Russia, by President Nixon and Soviet Communist Party Chief Leonid Brezhnev (19061982).

Kissinger also played an important part in the settlement of the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin, Germany, in September 1971. Berlin had been the source of problems between the East and West for many years, particularly after the creation of the Berlin Wall by the East German government in 1961 to prevent people from leaving the country. Through official negotiations (giveand-take discussions to settle an issue) handled by Ambassador Kenneth Rush (19101994), and secret negotiations directly involving Kissinger, an agreement was made to make it easier to travel between East and West Berlin. This agreement also improved relations between the United States and the former Soviet Union.

China, Vietnam, Middle East

Another of Kissinger's successes (and one that caught the media by surprise) was the organization of Richard Nixon's approach to China. The United States had refused to recognize the People's Republic of China following the civil war that left Communists under Mao Zedong (18931976). Communists believe in revolution to establish a system in which the means of productionland, factories, mines, and so onare owned by all people in common. Early in Nixon's first term as president, efforts were made to allow interaction between China and the United States. Taking advantage of international conditions and moving secretly with the help of Pakistani President Yahya Khan (19171980), Kissinger flew to China and arranged for an invitation for Nixon to make an official state visit. Nixon's visit to China in 1972 provided guidelines for the establishment of U.S.-China relations. During his eight years in the National Security Council and State Department, Kissinger flew to China a total of nine times.

Kissinger was criticized most and forgiven least for his handling of the fighting in Southeast Asia. The U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War (195575) had driven President Lyndon Johnson (19081973) from office, and it had been the desire of the Nixon administration to seek "peace with honor." The Vietnam War was a war in which the government of South Vietnam, with U.S. assistance, fought against a Communist takeover by North Vietnam. Kissinger's approach was to negotiate from a position of strength. The direct U.S. involvement in Vietnam reflected this position, but the secret bombing of Cambodiareferred to as the "secret war"was criticized as an excessive use of military strength to force U.S. opponents to agree to end the war. All U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia was an attempt to keep Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos from becoming controlled by Communist groups. The secret bombing of Cambodia was eventually stopped by actions of Congress. Kissinger successfully negotiated a truce with his North Vietnamese counterpart Le Duc Tho (19111990) in Paris and shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 with him.

Kissinger had gone along with the wishes of Secretary of State William Rogers (19132001) while on the National Security Council. Following his appointment as secretary of state in 1973, he changed his hands-off policy toward the Middle East. During the three years he was secretary of state, Kissinger conducted what became known as "shuttle" diplomacy (negotiations between nations). He served as the middleman in negotiations to restore peace among Middle Eastern nations. Kissinger would often fly from Egypt to Israel to Syria or elsewhere and back again as he worked to help develop agreements to secure peace. In all, Kissinger made eleven "shuttle" missions, the longest lasting nearly a month.

Out of office

After leaving office following Ford's loss to Jimmy Carter (1924) in the 1976 presidential election, Kissinger was self-employed as the director of a consulting firm dealing with international politics. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest award given to a civilian (nonmember of a military, police, or fire-fighting unit), in 1977. He also received the Medal of Liberty, an award that was given only once, in 1986, to ten foreign-born American leaders.

Kissinger produced two books of memoirs (accounts of his experiences) to explain events that had happened while he was in office. These explanations did not change the views of many critics, who believed that Kissinger had made major mistakes in developing U.S. foreign policy. In 1997 former Secretaries of State Kissinger and Alexander Haig (1924) came under fire for their roles in helping U.S.-China trade. Some said that they stood to profit from contracts with the Chinese and that some of their dealings put the United States in a vulnerable (open to attack or damage) position. In 2001 Kissinger was named chancellor (president) of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

For More Information

Hersh, Seymour M. The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House. New York: Summit Books, 1983.

Isaacson, Walter. Kissinger: A Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.

Kalb, Marvin, and Bernard Kalb. Kissinger. Boston: Little, Brown, 1974.

Kissinger, Henry. The White House Years. Boston: Little, Brown, 1979.

Kissinger, Henry. Years of Upheaval. Boston: Little, Brown, 1982.

Kissinger, Henry. Years of Renewal. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.

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Kissinger, Henry Alfred

KISSINGER, HENRY ALFRED

As a scholar, adviser, and U.S. secretary of state, Henry Alfred Kissinger was an important figure in international affairs in the late twentieth century. The German-born Kissinger became a U.S. citizen in the 1930s; emerged as a leading theorist at Harvard in the 1950s; advised presidents during the 1960s; and defined the course of U.S. foreign policy for much of the 1970s. He won great acclaim for his pragmatic vision of foreign policy as well as for his skills as a peace negotiator. In 1973, he shared the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in securing a cease-fire in the vietnam war. However, criticism followed public revelations about his involvement in secret U.S. military and espionage operations, and he left public office in 1976 with a controversial record.

Born May 27, 1923, in Fürth, Germany, and given the first name Heinz, Kissinger was the son of middle-class Jewish parents who fled Nazi persecution while he was a teenager. The family emigrated to the United States in 1938, and Kissinger became a U.S. citizen in 1943. Service in the U.S. Army took Kissinger back to Europe during world war ii. Following combat and intelligence duty, he served in the post-war U.S. military government in Germany from 1945 to 1946. Decorated with honors and discharged from the service, he earned a bachelor of arts degree summa cum laude in government studies at Harvard College in 1950, then added a master's degree and, in 1956, a doctorate.

While teaching at Harvard in the 1950s, Kissinger came to national attention with his book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (1957). The book was a bold argument against narrow cold war views of military strategy. It took aim at the reigning defense doctrine of the day, which was an all-or-nothing approach holding that the United States should retaliate massively with nuclear weapons against any aggressor. Kissinger proposed a different solution based on the approach of Realpolitik, the German concept of an intensely pragmatic, rather than idealistic, vision of international relations. The United States should deploy nuclear weapons strategically around the world as a deterrent, he argued, while relying on conventional, non-nuclear forces in the event of aggression against it. The idea gradually took hold over the next decade.

"A conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerilla army wins if it does not lose."
—Henry Kissinger

Rising to the top of his field, Kissinger became a driving force behind Harvard's efforts

in the area of foreign policy. He took increasingly higher positions in the school's Center for International Affairs and directed its Defense Studies Program. Kissinger became much sought after by politicians, diplomats, and government defense specialists in the 1960s. He counseled Presidents john f. kennedy and lyndon b. johnson on foreign policy. In 1968, he advised Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, of New York, in Rockefeller's unsuccessful campaign for the republican party nomination for president. After the election, the new president, richard m. nixon, was quick to hire away his opponent's adviser.

The two terms of Nixon's presidency elevated Kissinger's power. Named first to the position of assistant for national security affairs, a high-level post, he soon eclipsed the president's secretary of state, William P. Rogers, in visibility and influence. Indeed, by the end of Nixon's first term, Kissinger was the acknowledged architect of U.S. foreign policy. His rise to preeminence was complete in 1973, when Nixon made him secretary of state.

Under Nixon, Kissinger had a string of historic successes. He arranged Nixon's breakthrough visit to China in 1972, which ended years of hostile relations between the two nations. Also in 1972, at the strategic arms limitations talks (SALT 1), he helped to broker the anti-ballistic-missile treaty, the landmark agreement to limit nuclear proliferation, signed by the United States and the Soviet Union. Traveling widely in what came to be known as "shuttle diplomacy," Kissinger conducted peace negotiations between the United States and Vietnam en route to the signing of a cease-fire in 1973. In recognition of his efforts, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, with the chief North Vietnamese negotiator, Le Duc Tho. Kissinger also engineered cease-fires between Arab states and Israel after their 1973 war, and he persuaded Nixon to ready U.S. forces around the world in order to deter Soviet intervention.

In 1973, Kissinger also came under harsh attack. Throughout the Vietnam conflict, antiwar critics had targeted him. New public revelations about the White House's secret conduct of the war in Southeast Asia led to criticism. It was revealed that in 1969, Kissinger had won Nixon's approval to expand the war into Cambodia, a

neutral country, with bombings and subsequent ground incursions by U.S. troops. Critics eventually blamed Kissinger and Nixon for the destruction of Cambodia after the country fell to Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, whose forces systematically murdered millions of Cambodians. On the political left, some commentators branded the president and his secretary of state war criminals.

When Nixon's 1974 resignation resulted in the succession of gerald r. ford as president, Ford kept Kissinger as both secretary of state and national security adviser. But Kissinger faced mounting criticism in the media and Congress. More revelations came to light: Kissinger had secretly authorized central intelligence agency operations to overthrow the government of Chile and to support rebels in Angola. He was also attacked for having used wiretaps of federal employees in order to stop security leaks. Whereas Congress had listened attentively to Kissinger during the Nixon administration, the allure of his Realpolitik was fading in the more cautious, less interventionist post-Vietnam era. He left office in 1976 with his influence at an all-time low.

Kissinger was awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976 and the Medal of Liberty in 1986. In private life, Kissinger continued to be active in international affairs. He taught, served as a consultant, and often commented in the media on foreign policy, while also writing two popular memoirs: White House Years (1980) and Years of Upheaval (1982). President ronald reagan briefly lured Kissinger back into public life in 1983, appointing him to head a commission to make policy recommendations on Latin America. In 1994, Kissinger published Diplomacy which analyzed modern foreign relations, including the strategies employed during the Vietnam War, and in 2003 he published Ending the Vietnam War: A Personal History of America's Involvement in and Extrication from the Vietnam War.

Kissinger's record of public service continues to be the subject of scrutiny. In 2002, a film called The Trials of Henry Kissinger, based on a similarly-titled book by journalist Christopher Hitchens, used previously unpublished documents to make the argument that Kissinger should be tried as a war criminal for his involvement in the secret bombing of Cambodia by the United States, the overthrow of democratically elected President Salvador Allende in 1973, and the use of U.S.-supplied weapons in the Indonesian massacre of thousands of civilians in East Timor in 1975. In November 2002, Kissinger was appointed by President george w. bush to chair the commission that had been convened to investigate the september 11th attacks. Two weeks later, Kissinger announced his resignation from the commission in order to avoid possible conflicts of interest with persons and organizations that employed his consulting firm, Kissinger Associates.

further readings

Anderson, John. "Kissinger: Peacemaker or War Criminal?" 2002. Newsday (September 23).

Brigham, Robert K. "Siege Mentality." 2003. Washington Post (March 2).

cross-references

Arms Control and Disarmament.

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Kissinger, Henry

Kissinger, Henry 1923-

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Henry Kissinger is a political scientist who served as national security adviser (19691975) and secretary of state (19731977) during the presidencies of Richard M. Nixon (19131994) and Gerald R. Ford (19132006).

Born Heinz Alfred Kissinger on May 27, 1923 in Fürth, Germany, Kissinger and his family escaped Nazi persecution by immigrating to New York City in 1938. Kissinger joined the U.S. army during World War II, and later earned his BA, MA, and PhD in government at Harvard University. After joining the Harvard faculty, in 1955 and 1956 Kissinger served as director of a study group set up by the Council on Foreign Relations to analyze the influence of nuclear arms on international relations. Although he served as a consultant to the Democratic administrations of John F. Kennedy (19171963) and Lyndon B. Johnson (19081973), Kissinger tried but failed to secure a major, influential position under either Kennedy or Johnson. Generally indifferent to party affiliations, Kissinger also served as a foreign and defense policy adviser to Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York (19081979), a liberal Republican with presidential ambitions during the 1960s.

Partly because Kissinger was identified with the Rockefeller faction of the Republican Party, President Richard M. Nixon appointed Kissinger national security adviser in 1969. Kissinger perceived the United States to be experiencing a period of relative decline in its international power during the 1970s. He believed that U.S. foreign policy needed to adapt to this relative decline by practicing power politics, or the politics of realism, by reducing its ideological hostility and distrust of the Soviet Union and mainland China and protecting U.S. interests through the creation and maintenance of a balance of power and spheres of influence among major world powers. Kissinger had studied and developed the ideas of realism in international relations since he was a student at Harvard. His application of realism in Nixons and Fords foreign and defense policies was evident in the gradual U.S. military withdrawal from Vietnam, the negotiation and signing of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) with the Soviet Union in 1972, and Nixons diplomatic visit to Communist China in 1972. For their efforts in negotiating and securing a peace treaty to end the Vietnam War, Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, a North Vietnamese diplomat, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973.

Kissinger, however, found the practice of power politics to be more difficult in the Middle East. Oil-producing nations in the Middle East imposed an embargo on oil exports to the United States, and U.S.-Soviet relations were strained because of U.S. support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Nonetheless, Kissingers diplomacy helped to achieve cease-fire agreements between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Syria. During the 1976 presidential election, Kissingers realism was criticized by Democratic presidential nominee Jimmy Carter (b. 1924) for neglecting human rights and lacking a moral purpose.

After leaving the Ford administration in 1977, Kissinger headed an international consulting firm, lectured, wrote his memoirs, and occasionally advised Presidents Ronald W. Reagan (19112004) and George H. W. Bush (b. 1924) on foreign policy. In 1983 Seymour Hersh, an American journalist, published The Price of Power, in which he implicated Kissinger in several controversial decisions of Nixons foreign policy such as the 1970 invasion of Cambodia, the massive U.S. bombing of North Vietnam in 1972, and the 1973 overthrow of President Salvador Allende of Chile. During the 1990s more national security documents and other government sources pertaining to Kissingers roles as national security adviser and secretary of state were made available to researchers. Using some of these primary sources, Christopher Hitchens, a British journalist, published The Trial of Henry Kissinger (2001), denouncing Kissinger as a war criminal. In particular, Hitchens argued that Kissingers influence on U.S. foreign policy prolonged the Vietnam War, violated human rights and international law, and contributed to politically motivated mass murders in Chile, Cambodia, East Timor, and elsewhere.

Kissinger refused to publicly comment on Hitchenss book. He continued to lecture, write, and manage his consulting firm, Kissinger and Associates. He briefly served as chairman of the 9/11 Commission in 2002, but resigned after Democrats claimed that there were conflicts of interest between his chairmanship and consulting firm.

SEE ALSO Diplomacy; Nixon, Richard M.; Nobel Peace Prize; Realism, Political; Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; Vietnam War

BIBLIOGRAPHY

PRIMARY WORKS

Kissinger, Henry. 1979. White House Years. Boston: Little, Brown.

SECONDARY WORKS

Hanhimaki, Jussi. 2004. The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hersh, Seymour. 1983. The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House. New York: Summit.

Hitchens, Christopher. 2001. The Trial of Henry Kissinger. London: Verso.

Isaacson, Walter. 1982. Kissinger. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Sean J. Savage

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Kissinger, Henry

Kissinger, Henry (1923–), Statesman.Kissinger's family emigrated from Fuerth, Germany, to escape Nazi persecution in 1938. After U.S. Army service during World War II and with the occupation forces in Germany, Kissinger compiled a superlative record as an undergraduate and graduate student at Harvard University. He then became a prominent academic specialist in international relations and nuclear strategy. While a professor of government at Harvard (1955–68), he wrote widely on international relations and nuclear weapons, arguing that the possession of nuclear weapons by the United States and the Soviet Union had not fundamentally altered the balance of power. States still pursued basic interests, nuclear weapons were a tool of influence, and the nuclear powers could manage to contain a destructive arms race.

Kissinger advised New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, Republican presidents, and their senior foreign policy subordinates. During the 1960s, he tried to fashion NATO's nuclear strategy in light of France's withdrawal, urging understanding of French and German pride. As the Vietnam War intensified after 1965, Kissinger was drawn deeply into efforts to end it. He undertook an important diplomatic mission for President Lyndon B. Johnson (1967), but his attempt to arrange a cease‐fire faltered when the U.S. government refused to promise an unconditional halt to bombing of all North Vietnam.

President Richard M. Nixon named him national security adviser in 1969; in September 1973, Kissinger was also confirmed as secretary of state, a position he held concurrently until November 1975, when President Gerald R. Ford appointed Brent Scowcroft national security adviser; Kissinger remained secretary of state until the end of Ford's administration.

During these eight years, Kissinger helped craft the policy of detente with the Soviet Union and to end U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Under his direction, the United States and the Soviet Union made significant progress toward arms control, with the Interim Agreement of Limitations of Strategic Armaments (SALT I, 1972), the Anti‐Ballistic Missile Treaty (1972), and the Vladivostok Agreement (1974). These efforts provoked opposition from conservatives both Democratic and Republican who incorrectly accused Kissinger of drafting agreements that gave the Soviet Union a military advantage over the United States.

Kissinger worked with Nixon to reduce U.S. involvement in Vietnam, concluding the Paris Peace Agreements establishing a cease‐fire in January 1973. The peace proved remarkably short‐lived: both North and South Vietnam repeatedly violated the cease‐fire. Kissinger argued strenuously for additional aid to South Vietnam, but by 1975 U.S. public opinion had turned sharply against any additional involvement.

Kissinger's accomplishments before 1974 won him wide public praise; he earned the Nobel Peace Prize for arranging the cease‐fire in Vietnam. After 1975, however, his reputation diminished. His diplomatic triumphs often were based on illusion and manipulation. Believing that only power mattered in international affairs, both Kissinger and Nixon often expressed contempt for the democratic processes of foreign policy. Further, Kissinger appeared arrogant and showed little desire to promote traditional U.S. standards of human rights in other countries.
[See also SALT Treaties.]

Bibliography

Henry Kissinger , Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, 1958.
Robert D. Schulzinger , Henry Kissinger: Doctor of Diplomacy, 1989.
Walter Isaacson , Kissinger: A Biography, 1992.
Henry Kissinger , Diplomacy, 1994.

Robert D. Schulzinger

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"Kissinger, Henry." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Kissinger, Henry Alfred

Henry Alfred Kissinger (kĬs´ənjər), 1923–, American political scientist and U.S. secretary of state (1973–77), b. Germany. He emigrated to the United States in 1938. A leading expert on international relations and nuclear defense policy, Kissinger taught (1957–69) at Harvard and served as a consultant to government agencies and private foundations. As President Nixon's assistant for national security affairs (1969–73) and then secretary of state, he played a major role in formulating U.S. foreign policy. Kissinger helped initiate (1969) the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) with the Soviet Union and arranged President Nixon's 1972 visit to the People's Republic of China. He supported U.S. disengagement from Vietnam and won (1973) the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the cease-fire with North Vietnam. He also negotiated a cease-fire between Israel and Egypt and the disengagement of their troops after the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. Kissinger continued in office after Gerald R. Ford succeeded (1974) to the presidency. Since 1977 he has lectured and served as a consultant on international affairs. His writings include Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (1957), The Necessity for Choice (1961), The Troubled Partnership (1965), Diplomacy (1994), Does America Need a Foreign Policy? (2001), Ending the Vietnam War (2003), Crisis (2003), On China (2011), and World Order (2014).

See his memoirs, The White House Years (1979), Years of Upheaval (1982), and Years of Renewal (1999); biographies by S. R. Graubard (1973) and W. Isaacson (1992); studies by B. and M. Kalb (1974), D. Caldwell, ed. (1983), S. Hersh (1983), R. D. Schulzinger (1989), G. A. Andrianopoulos (1991), L. Berman (2001), C. Hitchins (2001), J. Hanhimaki (2004), R. Dallek (2007), and M. Del Pero (2009).

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