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Revered and Reviled Former US Diplomat Henry Kissinger Turns 100

Revered and Reviled Former US Diplomat Henry Kissinger Turns 100


Former diplomat and presidential adviser Henry Kissinger celebrates his 100th birthday on Saturday, outliving many of his political contemporaries who guided the United States through one of its most tumultuous times, including the presidency of Richard Nixon and the war from Vietnam.

Kissinger has had multiple heart surgeries, is hard of hearing and blind in one eye. Even so, he told CBS News that he works around 15 hours a day.

Kissinger has been at the forefront of American diplomacy longer than most Americans are alive. Born in Germany on May 27, 1923, Kissinger remains known for his key role in American foreign policy of the 1960s and 1970s, including eventual attempts to withdraw the United States from Vietnam, but not before he became inextricably linked to many of the most disputed acts conflicts.

In recent years, Kissinger has continued to dominate Washington’s power brokers as a former statesman. He has provided advice to Republican and Democratic presidents, including the White House under the Trump administration while maintaining an international consulting business through which he delivers speeches with the German accent he hasn’t lost since fled the Nazi regime with his family when he was a teenager. .

Kissinger has collaborated with two co-authors on a 2021 book, “The Age of AI and Our Human Future,” well beyond an age at which most people are unwilling or unable to learn about the latest technologies.

For eight years as national security adviser and secretary of state, Kissinger was involved in major foreign policy events, including the first example of “shuttle diplomacy” aimed at peace in the Middle East, secret negotiations with China to unfreeze nascent superpower relations and the instigation of the Paris peace talks aimed at ending the Vietnam conflict and the US military presence there.

Kissinger, along with Nixon, also came under the harshest criticism from American allies when communist North Vietnamese forces took Saigon in 1975 as remaining American personnel fled what is now known as Ho Chi Minh City.

Kissinger was further accused of orchestrating the expansion of the conflict in Laos and Cambodia, enabling the rise of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime which killed an estimated 2 million Cambodians.

Among his mentions, Kissinger was credited as a central driving force behind the Period of Detente, a diplomatic effort between the United States and the Soviet Union from 1967 to 1979 to reduce Cold War tensions with trade negotiations and arms, including strategic arms limitation talks. treated.

Kissinger remained one of Nixon’s most trusted advisers throughout his administration from 1969 to 1974, his power only growing thanks to the Watergate affair that brought down the 37th president.

Gerald Ford, who as vice president ascended to the Oval Office after his predecessor resigned, awarded Kissinger the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, saying Kissinger “wielded America’s great power wisely and compassion in the service of peace”.

Others have accused Kissinger of caring more about power than harmony during his tenure in Washington, embracing realpolitik policies favoring American interests while aiding or emboldening repressive regimes in Pakistan, Chile and Indonesia.

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