(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Henry Kissinger, the relentlessly ambitious US diplomat whose unapologetic promotion of raw American power helped shape the post-World War II world, died on Wednesday, his consulting firm said. He was 100.
Kissinger, arguably the most identifiable secretary of state of modern times, died at his home in Connecticut, announced geopolitical consulting firm Kissinger Associates, through which the late diplomat grew wealthy helping businesses for decades after his government career.
The statement did not provide a cause of death.
Kissinger was the most powerful US diplomat of the Cold War era, who helped Washington open up to China, forge arms control deals with the Soviet Union and end the Vietnam War but who was reviled by critics over human rights.
Kissinger was at the height of his powers during the 1970s in the middle of the Cold War when he served as national security adviser and secretary of state under Republican President Richard Nixon.
After Nixon's resignation in 1974 amid the Watergate scandal, he remained a diplomatic force as secretary of state under Nixon's successor, President Gerald Ford.
Kissinger was the architect of the US diplomatic opening with China, landmark US-Soviet arms control talks, expanded ties between Israel and its Arab neighbours, and the Paris Peace Accords with North Vietnam.
He won the 1973 Noble Peace Prize for ending US involvement in the Vietnam War, but it was one of the most controversial ever.
Two Nobel committee members resigned over the selection as questions arose about the secret US bombing of Cambodia.
North Vietnamese diplomat Le Duc Tho, selected to share the award, declined it.
As tributes poured in from around the world, Beijing called him a“good old friend of the Chinese people” who made historic contributions to normalising relations between the two countries.
Kissinger“had long been concerned about and supported the development of China-US relations, visiting China more than a hundred times and making historic contributions to promote the normalisation of China-US relations”, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
Fumio Kishida, prime minister of US ally Japan, credited Kissinger for his“significant contributions” to peace and stability in Asia,“including the normalisation of diplomatic ties between the US and China”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Kissinger as a“wise and farsighted statesman” while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his meetings with Kissinger provided“a master class in statesmanship”.
Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abdul Momen, however, recalled Kissinger's role in the bloody 1971 war between West and East Pakistan that led eventually to East Pakistan becoming an independent Bangladesh, telling WION news:“Henry Kissinger has been an iconic diplomat ... but unfortunately, in 1971, he was dead (set) against the people of the then-East Pakistan. ... That is very sad for such a smart man to do such inhumane things. ... He should have apologised to the people of Bangladesh for what he has done.”
Heinz Alfred Kissinger was born in Fuerth, Germany, on May 27, 1923, and moved to the United States with his family in 1938 before the Nazi campaign to exterminate European Jewry.
Anglicising his name to Henry, Kissinger became a naturalised US citizen in 1943, served in the Army in Europe in World War II, and attended Harvard University on a scholarship, where he earned a doctorate in 1954 and stayed on the faculty for the next 17 years.
During much of that time, Kissinger served as a consultant to government agencies, including in 1967 when he acted as an intermediary for the State Department with North Vietnam.
He used his connections with President Lyndon Johnson's Democratic administration to pass on information about peace negotiations to the Nixon camp.
When Nixon's pledge to end the Vietnam War helped him win the 1968 presidential election, he brought in Kissinger as national security adviser.
However, the process of“Vietnamisation” – shifting the burden of the war from US forces to the South Vietnamese – was long and bloody, punctuated by massive US bombing of North Vietnam, the mining of the North's harbours, and the bombing of Cambodia.
In 1973, in addition to his role as national security adviser, Kissinger was named secretary of state – giving him unchallenged authority in foreign affairs.
An intensifying Arab-Israeli conflict launched Kissinger on his first“shuttle” mission, a brand of highly personal, high-pressure diplomacy for which he became famous.
Thirty-two days of shuttling between Jerusalem and Damascus helped Kissinger forge a long-lasting disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
In an effort to diminish Soviet influence, Kissinger reached out to its chief communist rival, China, and made two trips there, including a secret one to meet with Premier Zhou Enlai.
The result was Nixon's historic 1972 summit in Beijing with Chairman Mao Zedong and the eventual formalisation of relations between the two countries.
As secretary of state, Kissinger went with Ford in 1974 to Vladivostok in the Soviet Union, where the president met Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and agreed to a basic framework for a strategic arms pact.
The agreement capped Kissinger's pioneering efforts at detente that led to an easing of US-Soviet tensions.
However, Kissinger's diplomatic skills had their limits.
In 1975, he was blamed for failing to persuade Israel and Egypt to agree to a second-stage disengagement in the Sinai.
And in the India-Pakistan War of 1971, Nixon and Kissinger drew heavy criticism for tilting toward Pakistan.
Like Nixon, he feared the spread of left-wing ideas in the Western Hemisphere, and his actions in response led to deep distrust of Washington by many Latin Americans for years to come.
In 1970, he plotted with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on how best to topple the Marxist, democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende, and in a memo after Argentina's coup in 1976 he said that the military dictators should be encouraged.
When Ford lost to Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, in 1976, Kissinger's days in government were largely over.
The next Republican in the White House, Ronald Reagan, distanced himself from Kissinger, viewing him as out of step with his conservative constituency.
After leaving government, Kissinger set up a consulting firm in New York, which offered advice to the world's corporate elite.
In July this year, he made a surprise visit to Beijing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Divorced from his first wife, Ann Fleischer, in 1964, he married Nancy Maginnes, an aide to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, in 1974.
He had two children by his first wife.
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