Henry Kissinger, whose very name is synonymous with US diplomacy, turns 100 Saturday feted by the American elite as others seethe that the ruthless Cold Warrior has never faced accountability.
From opening the door to communist China to plotting an endgame to the Vietnam War to unapologetically backing dictators who were anti-Soviet, Kissinger wielded influence like few before or after him, serving as both top diplomat and security advisor to presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
Instantly recognizable for his bookishly thick glasses and a sharp-witted monotone that never lost a touch of his native German, Kissinger was first an academic and his intellectual gifts are acknowledged begrudgingly even by some of his harshest critics.
Since leaving office in 1977, Kissinger’s brand of realpolitik — the coldly cynical championing of power and national interests — has largely fallen out of favor as his successors preached moralism, but Kissinger himself has if anything enjoyed greater repute.
Ahead of his centennial, Kissinger blew candles on a cake at a celebratory luncheon at the Economic Club of New York, the city where he grew up after his Jewish family fled Nazi Germany.
Showing his worldview has not changed at the century mark, Kissinger cautioned for the United States to stay within the bounds of “vital interests,” telling the guests, “We need to be always strong enough to resist any pressures.”
Bucking the view of most US policymakers, Kissinger called for diplomacy with Russia on a ceasefire in Ukraine, arguing that Moscow has already suffered a strategic defeat.
– ‘He has gotten away with it’ –
An unlikely playboy in 1970s Washington, Kissinger lives in a tony apartment on New York’s Park Avenue. He has grown wealthy consulting businesses through his relationships in China — and has warned the United States against treating Beijing as a new Cold War-style adversary.
Long despised by the left, Kissinger has come into the good graces of the mainstream of the Democratic Party.
Hillary Clinton after serving as secretary of state called Kissinger “a friend” and said she “relied on his counsel,” while the incumbent, Antony Blinken, teased Kissinger about his stylishness when the elder statesman attended a State Department luncheon last year.
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