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Wikipedia Summary for Henry Kissinger

Henry Alfred Kissinger (German: [ˈkɪsɪŋɐ]; born Heinz Alfred Kissinger; May 27, 1923) is an American politician, diplomat, and geopolitical consultant who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. A Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany with his family in 1938, he became National Security Advisor in 1969 and U.S. Secretary of State in 1973. For his actions negotiating a ceasefire in Vietnam, Kissinger received the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize under controversial circumstances, with two members of the committee resigning in protest.

A practitioner of Realpolitik, Kissinger played a prominent role in United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977. During this period, he pioneered the policy of détente with the Soviet Union, orchestrated the opening of relations with China, engaged in what became known as shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East to end the Yom Kippur War, and negotiated the Paris Peace Accords, ending American involvement in the Vietnam War. Kissinger has also been associated with such controversial policies as U.S. involvement in the 1973 Chilean military coup, a "green light" to Argentina's military junta for their Dirty War, and U.S. support for Pakistan during the Bangladesh War despite the genocide being perpetrated by his allies. After leaving government, he formed Kissinger Associates, an international geopolitical consulting firm. Kissinger has written over a dozen books on diplomatic history and international relations.

Kissinger remains a controversial and polarizing figure in U.S. politics, both condemned as an alleged war criminal by many journalists, political activists, and human rights lawyers, and venerated as a highly effective U.S. Secretary of State by many prominent international relations scholars. With the death of centenarian George Shultz in February 2021, Kissinger is the oldest living former U.S. Cabinet member and the last surviving member of Nixon's Cabinet.

Accept everything about yourself I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end no apologies, no regrets.

--Henry Kissinger

People are generally amazed that I would take an interest in any form that would require me to stop talking for three hours.

--Henry Kissinger

An Iranian moderate is one who has run out of ammunition.

--Henry Kissinger

Henceforth the adequacy of any military establishment will be tested by its ability to preserve the peace.

--Henry Kissinger

Where position is felt to be a birthright, generosity is possible (though not guaranteed); flexibility is not inhibited by a commitment to perpetual success.

--Henry Kissinger

Donald Rumsfeld is the most ruthless man I have ever met? and I mean that as a compliment.

--Henry Kissinger

Oil is much too important a commodity to be left in the hands of the Arabs.

--Henry Kissinger

Every civilization that has ever existed has ultimately collapsed.

--Henry Kissinger

We are doomed to coexist.

--Henry Kissinger

I do not criticize people who take a public stand on human rights issues. I express my respect for them. But some people are more influential without a public confrontation.

--Henry Kissinger

Superstars strive for approbation; heroes walk alone. Superstars crave consensus; heroes define themselves by the judgment of a future they see it as their task to bring about. Superstars seek success in a technique for eliciting support; heroes pursue success as the outgrowth of inner values.

--Henry Kissinger

Americans believe that you can alter people by conversion, and that everybody in the world is a potential American. The Chinese also believe that their values are universal, but they do not believe that you can convert to becoming a Chinese unless you are born into it.

--Henry Kissinger

The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities. Demonization is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one. The test is not absolute satisfaction but balanced dissatisfaction.

--Henry Kissinger

In Asia, the nation state still is extremely vital, and of course, then in Africa, a whole new pattern is emerging because the states in Africa reflected the preferences of the colonial powers when they were established.

--Henry Kissinger

Our greatest foreign policy problem is our divisions at home. Our greatest foreign policy need is national cohesion and a return to the awareness that in foreign policy we are all engaged in a common national endeavor.

--Henry Kissinger

In my particular case foreign policy happens to be my hobby, my consuming interest. I had spent decades studying it.

--Henry Kissinger

It is always easy to divide the world into idealists and power-oriented people. The idealists are presumed to be the noble people, and the power-oriented people are the ones that cause all the world's trouble.

--Henry Kissinger

Every civilization that has ever existed has ultimately collapsed. History is a tale of efforts that failed, or aspirations that weren't realized. So, as a historian, one has to live with a sense of the inevitability of tragedy.

--Henry Kissinger

Competing pressures tempt one to believe that an issue deferred is a problem avoided; more often it is a crisis invited.

--Henry Kissinger

Any international system must have two key elements for it to work. One, it has to have a certain equilibrium of power that makes overthrowing the system difficult and costly. Secondly, it has to have a sense of legitimacy.

--Henry Kissinger

The real distinction is between those who adapt their purposes to reality and those who seek to mold reality in the light of their purposes.

--Henry Kissinger

With proper tactics, nuclear war need not be as destructive as it appears.

--Henry Kissinger

The nuclear weapons were not useful for the achievement of political objectives.

--Henry Kissinger

We have to be careful in negotiating with Iran that we don't create the impression among the Arab states and the Sunni states that we are working on a condominium between Iran and the United States, because that will panic them and drive them into making their own arrangement.

--Henry Kissinger

In a diplomatic negotiation, you always meet the same the other side all the time. Even if you should succeed in outsmarting him or in pressuring him, it only sets up a cycle in which he will try to get even.

--Henry Kissinger

A nation riven by factions, in which the minority has no hope of ever becoming a majority, or in which some group knows it is perpetually outcast, will seem oppressive to its members, whatever the legal pretensions.

--Henry Kissinger

Even paranoid people have enemies.

--Henry Kissinger

I do not stand on protocol. If you just call me Excellency, it will be okay.

--Henry Kissinger

I don't stand on protocol. Just call me your Excellency.

--Henry Kissinger

There is no realism without an element of idealism.

--Henry Kissinger

Realism in foreign policy is made up of a clear set of values, since difficult foreign policy decisions are often decided with the narrowest of majorities. Without any sense of what is right and wrong, one would drown in a flood of difficult and pragmatic decisions.

--Henry Kissinger

If you control the food, you control a nation. If you control the energy, you control a region. If you control the money, you control the world.

--Henry Kissinger

To revolutionaries the significant reality is the world which they are fighting to bring about, not the world they are fighting to overcome.

--Henry Kissinger

Revolutionaries are rarely motivated primarily by material considerations-though the illusion that they are persists in the West.

--Henry Kissinger

The public life of every political figure is a continual struggle to rescue an element of choice from the pressure of circumstance.

--Henry Kissinger

When you travel as secretary, one problem you have is that the press comes with you and wants an immediate result because it justifies their trip. And sometimes the best result is that you don't try to get a result but try to get an understanding for the next time you go to them.

--Henry Kissinger

The capacity to admire others is not my most fully developed trait.

--Henry Kissinger

The elderly are useless eaters.

--Henry Kissinger

We believe that peace is at hand.

--Henry Kissinger

I don't consider China a communist state, no. I know that sounds paradoxical, but it's my view.

--Henry Kissinger

The first reactions are often instinctive. So one of the first things we said was that the Chinese had no right to inspect the plane, and that we had a sovereign right to. I don't know what the legal position is, but it was surely psychologically absolutely the unwise thing to do.

--Henry Kissinger

With respect to the relationship between nuclear weapons and the advent of détente, one has to consider two things. One, the nature of nuclear weapons in themselves, and secondly, the advent of nuclear parity.

--Henry Kissinger

For any student of history, change is the law of life. Any attempt to contain it guarantees an explosion down the road; the more rigid the adherence to the status quo, the more violent the ultimate outcome will be.

--Henry Kissinger

I have learned, as I wrote, that history must be discovered, not declared. It's an admission that one grows in life.

--Henry Kissinger

Every success is usually an admission ticket to a new set of decisions.

--Henry Kissinger


American politics are normally a result of pragmatic and not philosophical reasoning. No one in Washington has said we now prefer multilateralism.

--Henry Kissinger

One thing I don't want around me is a military intellectual. I don't have to worry about you on that score.

--Henry Kissinger

Peace depends ultimately not on political arrangements but on the conscience of mankind.

--Henry Kissinger

We cannot give Russia veto over deployment of forces on NATO territory. But we have to understand their particular sensitivities, and, therefore, there should be a dialogue on these issues.

--Henry Kissinger

Over time even two armed blind men in a room can do enormous damage to each other, not to speak of the room.

--Henry Kissinger

I think a resumption of the Cold War would be a historic tragedy. If a conflict is avoidable, on a basis reflecting morality and security, one should try to avoid it.

--Henry Kissinger

Intellectuals are cynical and cynics have never built a cathedral.

--Henry Kissinger

I see the future of China as growth. I think that historically China has often gone through periods of consolidation, and then periods of sort of weakening central authority. They undoubtedly face tremendous challenges.

--Henry Kissinger

In my life, I have almost always been on the side of active foreign policy. But you need to know with whom you are cooperating. You need reliable partners.

--Henry Kissinger

Certainly not a party of the workers and the peasants. In fact, Jiang Zemin in recent weeks has officially said that capitalists and the entrepreneurs should be enrolled in the Communist Party.

--Henry Kissinger

The emergence of a unified Europe is one of the most revolutionary events of our time.

--Henry Kissinger

I wouldn't say it's a split. It's a difference of emphasis. It does exist between, I would say, the State Department and the Defense Department.

--Henry Kissinger

I also do not believe that the United States can let itself be driven into a political role by escalating terrorism, and therefore, the leaders of the Arab world and Arafat should do their utmost to put an end to this and then the United States should do its utmost to produce a political solution.

--Henry Kissinger

Jews were segregated from 1933 on. We could only play against other Jewish teams. This wasn't just social segregation; this was the beginning of the extermination of the Jews. That's why my family left Germany in 1938.

--Henry Kissinger

In the hands of a determined Secretary, the Foreign Service can be a splendid instrument, staffed by knowledgeable, discreet, and energetic individuals. They do require constant vigilance lest the convictions that led them into a penurious career tempt them to preempt decision-making.

--Henry Kissinger

Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.

--Henry Kissinger

I believe in freedom of expression, and I believe that societies thrive when they permit freedom of expression.

--Henry Kissinger

One has to remember that every progress that has been made towards peace in the Middle East has come under American leadership.

--Henry Kissinger

There are only two reasons to sit in the back row of an airplane: Either you have diarrhea, or you're anxious to meet people who do.

--Henry Kissinger

History is not, of course, a cookbook offering pretested recipes. It teaches by analogy, not by maxims. It can illuminate the consequences of actions in comparable situations, yet each generation must discover for itself what situations are in fact comparable.

--Henry Kissinger

A bluff taken seriously is more useful than a serious threat interpreted as a bluff.

--Henry Kissinger

I believe that without Watergate we would have had an extraordinary period of success with a strong Nixon and a still vital Brezhnev in power.

--Henry Kissinger

It is one of history's ironies that Communism, advertised as a classless society, tended to breed a privileged class of feudal proportions.

--Henry Kissinger

The Russian empire under czars and commissars has been hard to deal with for other countries.

--Henry Kissinger

What we in America call terrorists are really groups of people that reject the international system.

--Henry Kissinger



Most high officials leave office with the perceptions and insights with which they entered.

--Henry Kissinger

It is not often that nations learn from the past,even rarer that they draw the correct conclusions from it.

--Henry Kissinger

Does anyone have any questions for my answers?

--Henry Kissinger

Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.

--Henry Kissinger

One theory is that we will make war look so attractive that we undermine the deterrent. That's Never Never Land. What we have now would have been enough to deter Hitler. But we are talking in a different order of reality.

--Henry Kissinger

At any rate, mutually assured destruction was never our policy.

--Henry Kissinger

We must learn to distinguish morality from moralizing.

--Henry Kissinger

How to Achieve The New World Order.

--Henry Kissinger

This country cannot afford to tear itself apart on a partisan basis on issues so vital to our national security.

--Henry Kissinger

The art of good foreign policy is to understand and to take into consideration the values of a society, to realize them at the outer limit of the possible.

--Henry Kissinger

If peace is equated simply with the absence of war, it can become abject pacifism that turns the world over to the most ruthless.

--Henry Kissinger

Every American president, regardless of party, has said that America has an intense interest in a peaceful resolution. And I think it should be left at that.

--Henry Kissinger

History knows no resting places and no plateaus.

--Henry Kissinger

A return to the 1967 lines and the abandonment of the settlements near Jerusalem would be such a psychological trauma for Israel as to endanger its survival.

--Henry Kissinger

America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.

--Henry Kissinger

Clearly security without values is like a ship without a rudder. But values without security are like a rudder without a ship.

--Henry Kissinger

The true conservative is not at home in social struggle. He will attempt to avoid unbridgeable schism, because he knows that a stable social structure thrives not on triumphs but on reconciliations.

--Henry Kissinger

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