Few people were better students of history. Even fewer people did more to shape history than Henry Kissinger.U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reflecting on the legacy of Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state and national security advisor under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Blinken – the nation’s top diplomat – prefaced his statement by saying Kissinger “set the standard for everyone who followed in this job.”
Why It Matters: Henry Kissinger died on Wednesday at the age of 100. Described as “the most powerful secretary of state in the post-World War II era,” Kissinger received both praise and criticism throughout his decades of work (in which he advised 12 presidents). His decisions changed the course of American history – such as navigating diplomacy that opened communist China to the Western world. Kissinger’s criticism mainly revolves around his human rights decisions in cases where U.S. interests could be served, such as authorizing a Cambodian bombing campaign that killed at estimated 50,000+ civilians.
As a teenager, Kissinger fled Nazi Germany with his family and resettled in New York City. He remained active in political advising until recently, going as far as traveling to China at the age of 100 to meet with President Xi in July. Current Sec. of State Antony Blinken disclosed reaching out to Kissinger about a month ago amidst the Israel-Gaza war, emphasizing the wisdom Kissinger offered.
Henry Kissinger Is Dead at 100; Shaped Nation’s Cold War History (The New York Times)
Fact-check: Blinken begins speaking at 1:00 minute mark with quotes
by Emily Hooker, based in Texas