- Henry Alfred Kissinger
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- Kissinger, Henry
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Henry Alfred Kissinger (May 27, 1923 – November 29, 2023) was an American diplomat, political scientist, geopolitical consultant, and politician who served as the United States secretary of state and national security advisor in the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford between 1969 and 1977.
Born in Germany, Kissinger came to the United States in 1938 as a Jewish refugee fleeing Nazi persecution. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and, after the war, was educated at Harvard University, where he excelled academically. He later became a professor of government at the university and earned an international reputation as an expert on nuclear weapons and foreign policy. He frequently acted as a consultant to government agencies, think tanks, and the presidential campaigns of Nelson Rockefeller and Richard Nixon before being appointed national security advisor.
Kissinger pioneered the policy of détente with the Soviet Union, orchestrated an opening of relations with China, engaged in "shuttle diplomacy" in the Middle East to end the Yom Kippur War, and negotiated the Paris Peace Accords, which ended American involvement in the Vietnam War. For his role in negotiating the end of the Vietnam War, he was awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize under controversial circumstances. A practitioner of a pragmatic approach to politics called Realpolitik, he has been widely considered by scholars to have been an effective secretary of state.
Kissinger is also associated with controversial U.S. policies, including its bombing of Cambodia, involvement in the 1973 Chilean coup d'état, support for Argentina's military junta in its Dirty War, support for Indonesia in its invasion of East Timor, and support for Pakistan during the Bangladesh Liberation War and Bangladesh genocide. He was accused of war crimes for the civilian death toll of the policies he pursued, his role in facilitating U.S. support for dictatorial regimes, and willful ignorance towards human rights abuses committed by the United States and its allies.
After leaving government, Kissinger founded Kissinger Associates, an international geopolitical consulting firm. He authored over a dozen books on diplomatic history and international relations. His advice was sought by American presidents of both political parties.
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