Henry Kissinger is a very famous, respected and renowned name when it comes to politics. He is a German-born American political scientist, diplomat and bureaucrat who served America as National Security Advisor and later as secretary of State for both Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He also won Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. He won Nobel Peace Prize for his joint efforts with Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the Vietnam War. He played a significant role in United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977.
He was born in the Bavaria region of Germany on May 27, 1923. As a child he encountered anti-Semitism daily. He defied laws banning Jews from professional sporting events to attend matches as a passionate soccer fan, receiving several beating at the hands of the stadium guards. He and his friends were also abused regularly by local gangs of Nazi Youth. In German nationalism of Nazism many Germans increasingly treated Germany’s Jewish population as scapegoats and outsiders for their misfortunes. These experiences without a doubt made an enduring impression in Henry’s mind. One of his friends at that time said, “You can’t grow up like we did and be untouched. Every day there were slurs in the streets, anti-Semitic remarks, calling you filthy names.”
He set sail for New York City by way of London on August 20, 1938. His family was extremely poor upon arrival on the US and thus Henry instantly went to work in a shaving brush factory to support his family. He became a neutralized American citizen and later on he was drafted into the army to fight in World War II. Five years later he left and came back to Germany, fighting up the very same Nazi regime he once suffered. Finally in 1954, he received his doctorate and accepted an offer to stay at Harvard as a member of the faculty in the Department of Government. From 1954-69 he served as a member of Harvard faculty. From 1961-68 he also served as a special advisor on matters of foreign policy to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
Later in 1969, he was appointed by President Richard Nixon to serve as his national security Advisor. He served as National Security Advisor from 1969-75 and then from 1973-77 he served as a Secretary of State. In 1969 he became National Security Advisor and by that time the Vietnam War had become enormously costly, unpopular and deadly. The great foreign policy trail of Henry’s career was this War. In order to achieve “Peace with Honor” He combined troop withdrawals and diplomatic initiatives with devastating bombing campaigns on North Vietnam designed to maintain American credibility with its international enemies and allies and to enhance the American bargaining position.
Henry and his North Vietnamese negotiating partner Le Duc Tho finally signed a ceasefire agreement on 27 January 1973, to end direct American involvement in the conflict. They both were honored with Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. In addition to ending the Vietnaam war he also accomplished a host of other foreign policy achievements. In 1971, Henry made two secret trips to the People’s Republic of China, to pave the way historic visit of President Nixon in 1972 and the normalization of Chinese-American relations in 1979. Henry was also active in bringing about the early 1970s détente between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1972, he negotiated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I), helping to ease tensions between the two Cold War superpowers. When détente was threatened by the October 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel, an American ally, and Egypt, a Soviet ally, Kissinger proved crucial in leading diplomatic efforts to prevent the war from escalating into a global confrontation. Kissinger stepped down as secretary of state at the conclusion of the Ford administration in 1977.
As Henry continued to play an important role in American foreign policy the President Ronald Reagan also appointed him to chair the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America in 1983. He served on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1984-90 under Presidents Regan as well as Bush. Later, in 1982 he founded the international consulting firm Kissinger Associates and he serves as a trustee and board member to number of companies and foundations. He has also written number of books and innumerable articles on American foreign policy and diplomatic history.
Henry once said, “Only rarely in history do statesmen find an environment in which all factors are so malleable; before us, I thought, was the chance to shape events, to build a new world, harnessing the energy and dreams of the American people and mankind’s hopes.” Henry stands out as the dominant foreign policy maker and American Statesman of the late 20th century. With his skillful, tough negotiating styles and intellectual competence he ended Vietnam War and immensely improved American relations with its two major cold war enemies, Soviet Union and China.