Henry Kissinger, the peacemaker who fueled many wars, is gone

Kissinger is synonymous with Washington adventurism - EPA Photo, Jim Lo Scalzo

Kissinger avoided direct confrontation with America's greatest enemy in the Cold War, but he did everything, igniting and pacifying wars, just to limit Moscow's room for maneuver.

Henry Kissinger, the American diplomatic veteran who in his tumultuous and long career earned the Nobel Peace Prize, but also massive criticism and scorn, died last night exactly six months after he turned XNUMX years old.

Born into a Jewish family in Firth, in the dawn of Nazi Germany, Kissinger felt the cruelty of Hitler's regime as a boy. He and his younger brother were beaten at school and then expelled. When their father lost his job as a teacher, in 1938 they immigrated to New York.

Throughout his career, Kissinger found solutions to various world crises, but he rarely answered questions about his past as a refugee from the pogrom. In an interview, he warned reporters not to draw any psychoanalytic parallels between his boyish suffering and mature attitudes. For him, however, many have said that his personal encounter with Nazism instilled in him pessimism about world trends and an aversion to revolutionary change.

Kissinger (left) with Vice President Rockefeller and President Ford in 1975 – EPA Photo, Gerald Ford Library

The Great War brought him back to his native land to witness the collapse of Nazism. He was drafted in 1943 and as an American soldier he was an occupier in the first months after the war. He received a Bronze Star for apprehending escaped Gestapo officers and saboteurs from Hanover.

Rise to Washington

His life path stopped for half a century at Harvard University, where he studied, graduated and received his doctorate, published papers and books. As a specialist in the power of nuclear weapons, he attracted the attention of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who attracted him to the political scene and also satisfied his ambitions for spreading political influence.

Rockefeller's presidential ambitions did not materialize, but that did not stop the rise of Kissinger, who became a sought-after consultant for various agencies and departments, all the way up to President Dwight Eisenhower's Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Security Council. President Richard Nixon appointed him national security adviser, an office Kissinger upgraded into the most powerful room in the White House after the Oval Office.

Instead of being an ordinary official, Kissinger used his influence to suppress then-Secretary of State William Rogers and won the position of deciding on the biggest crises of the time - the Vietnam War, the clashes with the Soviet Union and Communist China, even the troubled Middle East. In Nixon's second term, Kissinger was already officially the chief creator of Washington's foreign policy as Secretary of State. In just a few years, he stood out as the most influential of all those who previously, and many after him, led American diplomacy.

Kissinger with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006 – Photo EPA

Kissinger avoided direct confrontation with America's greatest enemy in the Cold War, but did everything, instigating and appeasing wars, just to limit Moscow's room for maneuver.

The most controversial Nobel laureate

In 1972, Kissinger visited Beijing and met with Mao Zedong, and the following year he led the negotiations for the end of the Vietnam War and the withdrawal of American troops, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Le Duc Tho.

It was the Nobel Prize that was the culmination and turning point in Kissinger's career. The chief Vietnamese negotiator refused to receive her, and the American was criticized after it was revealed that during the Vietnam War he had supported Kissinger's decision for a secret 14-month bombing of targets in neighboring and neutral Cambodia. It was not until four years later that it was revealed that Washington had been falsely reporting that targets in Vietnam were being bombed, and Kissinger had personally requested that not even the pilots of the B-52s be told that they were dropping bombs on Cambodia. In that secret campaign, 700.000 people were killed, and more than 2 million were left without homes. The bombings allowed pro-American General Lon Knoll to overthrow Prince Norodom Sihanouk, which in turn sparked a popular uprising and paved the way for Khmer Rouge partisans to seize power by force and impose a brutal dictatorship, in which they died of starvation and bullets. millions of people.

Kissinger also used the war as a means to achieve peace. During the peace negotiations in Paris, the Americans intensified the bombing of North Vietnam in order to convince the pro-American authorities in South Vietnam that the United States would defend the peace with all the weapons at its disposal. And in fact, the real goal was to get any kind of peace agreement, however bad, to make room for the withdrawal of American troops and to calm the protests in America. That was the harsh foreign policy of the Nobel laureate Kissinger.

After the fragile Vietnam peace did not last three years, when Viet Cong forces captured Saigon in 1975 and prompted the humiliating escape of American diplomats by helicopter from the Sardis embassy, ​​Kissinger shifted the blame to Congress, claiming that it had undermined the peace by blocking military action. aid to Vietnamese allies. That was Kissinger's harsh domestic policy.

A shuttle diplomat with a carrot and a stick

For the Middle East, however, Kissinger "patented" shuttle diplomacy – as his 1973 mission was called. The Secretary of State traveled repeatedly from Jerusalem to Cairo and back to broker a truce after Israeli forces crossed the Suez Canal and arrived on the doorstep of the Egyptian capital. With similar intensive flights between Jerusalem and Damascus, the Secretary of State also contributed to the Israelis returning to Syria part of the Golan Heights to avoid war. The real purpose of the shuttle diplomacy was to soften Israel's hardline militant policy and to convince Egypt and Syria that they would more easily win concessions through America than through their main ally Moscow.

With Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015 - EPA photo, Jason Lee

Mao's visit to Beijing, on the other hand, was directed against the Soviet Union in order to drive a wedge of doubt in the Kremlin that an American-Chinese alliance was possible. The real focus was again thousands of kilometers to the side – Vietnam. Kissinger estimated that fears would sway Moscow to support communist forces in North Vietnam.
And this success was a gateway to even greater failure. Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat decided to side with the United States and expelled thousands of Russian diplomats, but when he did not receive the expected military aid, he ordered an attack on Israel, starting the Yom Kippur War.

Kissinger is also considered the creator of the "carrot and stick" strategy, which Washington uses even now, with partial success. He told the countries of the "third world" how they would benefit from an alliance with America, and what punishments they could expect if they went with Russia. With such a threat, but also with a much more real influence, the socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, was overthrown.

The skillful Kissinger managed to get out of the scandal that sank his boss unscathed. While a humiliated Nixon stepped down after the Watergate affair, Kissinger remained secretary of state in the administration of Gerald Ford, who became president without much experience in international relations. Kissinger moved on to Africa, involving the CIA in the Angolan civil war, but that was his last adventure. With Jimmy Carter's victory in the 1976 election, he went into "consulting retirement," which he remained in when he was called to join the Ronald Reagan administration four years later.

Secretaries of State with Shovels - Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger and John Kerry - EPA Photo, Michael Reynolds

Europe, the continent of his birth, was never the only thing on his agenda.

At the age of 99, when asked if he wished he could take back any of his decisions, Kissinger answered decisively: "I've been thinking about these problems all my life. It is both my profession and hobby. All the recommendations I gave were the best at that moment."

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