Henry Alfred Kissinger, who fled Nazi Germany to the US as a Jewish refugee in 1938 and went on to become Presidents Richard Nixon’s and Gerald Ford’s powerful Secretary of State, died on Wednesday in his home in Connecticut at age 100.
Kissinger emerged as a pivotal figure in shaping United States foreign policy from 1969 to 1977. During this period, he spearheaded the implementation of détente with the Soviet Union, orchestrated the groundbreaking establishment of diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China, conducted shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East following the Yom Kippur War, and played a crucial role in negotiating the Paris Peace Accords that ended the US involvement in the Vietnam War.
Kissinger was associated with highly controversial moves, such as the US bombing of Cambodia, the 1973 military coup in Chile, Argentina’s military junta’s Dirty War, and supporting the Pakistani government in its genocide in Bangladesh.
In his later years, he was unable to travel to several countries for fear of being prosecuted for war crimes. He was famous for saying, “I will be the first Jew to be accused of antisemitism,” and, “Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union is not a matter for American foreign policy. If they put the Jews in gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it would not be an American problem. Maybe a humanitarian one.”
About two weeks before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, Kissinger assumed the position of Secretary of State, while continuing to serve as Nixon’s National Security Advisor. Kissinger was then the central figure, the supreme authority, and policy maker in foreign affairs and security in the Nixon administration, which was in the process of crumbling under the Watergate scandal.
Kissinger’s critics claim that he abandoned Israel’s security in 1973, by not doing enough to prevent the war, and after it broke out, by deliberately delaying the ammunition supplies to Israel. Some even claimed that he said about Israel’s war effort, “Let them bleed.” Kissinger denied these claims and proclaimed that the US “saved” Israel in 1973.
From 1969 to 1973, Kissinger led ongoing talks in an attempt to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict after the Six-Day War. He held secret talks with Hafez Ismail, who was the chairman of Egypt’s National Security Council and served as the special envoy of President Anwar Sadat to the US. The formula that Kissinger tried to advance was Egyptian sovereignty over the entire Sinai in exchange for Egyptian recognition of Israel’s right to secure its border. He later claimed that he would have been able to prevent the Yom Kippur War, and blamed the Israeli government’s refusal to let go of the Sinai.
Here are four more HK quotes that are still true today:
- The security of Israel is a moral imperative for all free peoples.
- You can’t make war in the Middle East without Egypt and you can’t make peace without Syria.
- The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.
- The high probability is if American forces withdraw from Afghanistan and if no alternative international arrangement is made that then the historic contests between the regions and the sects will reappear, the Taliban will re-emerge, and a very complicated and maybe chaotic situation will develop.