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Henry Kissinger, the controversial diplomat who was the secretary of state during the Nixon and Ford presidencies, passed away at the age of 100.
On Wednesday, Kissinger Associates, his consulting firm, announced that he died at his residence in Connecticut due to unspecified reasons.
Many people praise Kissinger as the mastermind behind American foreign policy. He held positions as secretary of state and national security adviser under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford from 1969 to 1977.
The diplomat played a key role in ending the US involvement in Vietnam, promoting better relations with China, and facilitating arms control deals with the Soviet Union during the tense Cold War era.
He continued to establish strong connections with the White House for 11 different administrations.
Kissinger leaves behind a complicated legacy, seen at times as a master of global politics and criticised for his orchestration of the secret carpet-bombing of neutral Cambodia during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Kissinger’s wife, Nancy Maginnes Kissinger, two children, and five grandchildren survive him. He will be laid to rest in a private family ceremony, followed by a public memorial in New York City at a later time.
Kissinger participated in World War II.
On May 27, 1923, Kissinger was born into a Jewish family in Furth, Bavaria. Shortly before the Night of Broken Glass, Kissinger, who was 15 years old at the time, and his family left Germany to escape Nazi persecution.
In 1943, while stationed in South Carolina with the Army, the aspiring diplomat became a naturalized citizen of the United States. They had previously settled in New York City.
Kissinger continued to serve during World War II, where he was placed in the military intelligence sector of the 84th division. He willingly took on dangerous tasks during the Battle of the Bulge and was eventually moved to the Counter Intelligence Corps, according to the Warfare History Network.
Kissinger’s journey in politics begins at Harvard University.
After serving in the military, Kissinger pursued a political science education at Harvard. He completed his studies in 1950 and then held a position in the Department of Government at the renowned university. From 1951 to 1971, he also served as the leader of the Harvard International Seminar.
Kissinger has arrived in the capital city of Washington.
Kissinger was appointed as national security adviser when president Nixon took office on 20 January 1969.
In 1973, Kissinger was chosen to serve as secretary of state and held both roles until he was dismissed as national security adviser by President Ford in 1975. He continued to fulfill the role of national security adviser until 1977.
Kissinger endorses the US’s decision to bomb Cambodia.
Kissinger involved himself in undercover actions, such as his backing of the US’s lethal bombing missions in Cambodia, referred to as “Operation Menu” in 1969, which aimed to increase pressure on North Vietnam.
Kissinger supported the ongoing bombing of Cambodia, which became known as Operation Freedom Deal and lasted for three years.
Between 150,000 and 500,000 innocent civilians were reportedly killed due to this policy, which may have ultimately led to the oppressive rule of Pol Pot. The information was not made known to the American public until 1972.
Kissinger has a strong influence on foreign policy through personal interactions and handshakes.
Even though the Watergate scandal led to Nixon’s stepping down in 1974, Kissinger continued to serve as secretary of state during Gerald Ford’s presidency.
The pair continued their efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution with the Soviet Union and China. This led to the signing of the Helsinki Accord in August 1975.
Kissinger’s secret negotiations with North Vietnamese politburo member Le Duc Tho resulted in a ceasefire agreement known as the Paris Peace Accords. After much bitter haggling, the agreement was finally accepted by a reluctant South Vietnam president Nguyen Van Thieu under pressure from Nixon.
As a trade-off for the freedom of prisoners of war in North Vietnam, the US would gradually remove its troops. This resulted in Kissinger being awarded the Nobel Prize that year. However, he later tried to renounce the award after the Fall of Saigon in 1975.
In 1973, Kissinger had a meeting with Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat at Tahira Palace in Cairo to discuss the Middle East crisis on November 7, 1973.
Kissinger stated that after over three hours of discussions, they are progressing towards achieving peace.
In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Kissinger promptly intervened to provide assistance to Israel, a crucial move in the conflict. However, this action led OPEC to impose a trade embargo against the US as a form of retaliation, resulting in an economic crisis within the country.
Kissinger continues to play a crucial role in global politics.
Kissinger remained accessible to each subsequent president.
During the Reagan presidency, he was selected to lead a national committee on Central America in 1983 and was a member of the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy.
Kissinger provided advice to President George W. Bush during his presidency regarding the consequences of 9/11 and the Iraq War. He also backed the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
He provided guidance to Donald Trump and aided in keeping a positive relationship between China and the Biden administration.
Kissinger’s final public appearances prior to passing away.
During the summer, Kissinger had a meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping in Beijing. Kissinger advocated for a peaceful coexistence between the US and China.
Upon learning of Kissinger’s passing on Wednesday, the Chinese president expressed his willingness to collaborate with the United States in continuing to foster friendly relations between the Chinese and American people.
According to PBS, Jinping stated in a message to President Biden that the Chinese people will always remember and mourn Dr. Kissinger.
In his final interview prior to passing away, Kissinger cautioned that the principles of “compromise and understanding” are at great risk in the Western world.