Foreign Policy Giant Turns 100

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Henry Kissinger, the former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under Richard Nixon, has turned 100 this weekend, CBS News reports. Kissinger remains a powerful and influential figure in the Foreign Policy Establishment, giving counsel to Republican and Democratic administrations. His record remains disputed, as he both deepened American involvement in war zones while at the same seeking to establish a peaceful balance of power in many regions of the world such as the Middle East and East Asia.

Originally from Germany, Kissinger escaped the Nazis with his family. During his time in Foreign Policy, he oversaw Vietnamization, the reduction of American combat troops in Vietnam following the disastrous Tet Offensive. At the same time, he helped broaden the war to Laos and Cambodia which had the effect of the genocidal Khmer Rouges murdering some 2 million people. His post-Vietnam record remained effective at containing Communism, which included supporting dictatorial regimes in Latin America, and oversaw a ceasefire in the Middle East between Israel and Arab states.

His most relevant legacy for today however, was his policy towards China. By organizing Nixon’s trip to China, he set in motion the normalization of diplomatic ties to balance against the Soviet Union. While this helped defeat the Soviet Union in 1991, it also helped propel China from a pariah state with little industrial power to a manufacturing and trade superpower a few decades later. However, Kissinger remains fatalistic about what can be done about China.


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