History Wars

Henry Kissinger, war criminal or beloved diplomat depending on who you ask, dead at 100

Influential policymaker Dr. Henry Kissinger is dead at 100 years old. Some people loved Dr. K, some really, really hated that guy. Here's why.
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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 05: Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger speaks during a National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) conference November 5, 2019 in Washington, DC. The commission held a conference on "Strength Through Innovation: The Future of A.I. and U.S. National Security." Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Henry Kissinger made a lot of waves in his 100 years.

Heralded as a policy genius, the Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany served as a trusted adviser to countless leaders throughout his life, most notably serving as Secretary of State and National Security Adviser under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Kissinger was beloved, almost revered, by many.

President Vladimir Putin met with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The Kremlin via Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

And then there are those who were “less fond,” to put it mildly.

Rolling Stone author Spencer Ackerman called Kissinger a war criminal and drew parallels of Kissinger to the Oklahoma City Bomber, Timothy McVeigh, stating, “The infamy of Nixon’s foreign-policy architect sits, eternally, beside that of history’s worst mass murderers. A deeper shame attaches to the country that celebrates him… McVeigh, who in his own psychotic way thought he was saving America, never remotely killed on the scale of Kissinger, the most revered American grand strategist of the second half of the 20th century.” In the 2016 presidential debate, Senator Bernie Sanders described Kissinger as “one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country,” while referring to the secret carpet bombing Kissinger orchestrated of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

Photograph of President Gerald Ford, Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, and Henry Kissinger at the Conclusion of the Vladivostok Summit 

A well-known world traveler, the late Anthony Bourdain had this to say in his 2001 book “A Cook’s Tour,” about Kissinger:

“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking. Witness what Henry did in Cambodia – the fruits of his genius for statesmanship – and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milošević.”

Love him or hate him, Kissinger had a profound effect on our national policy and security, advising 12 different presidents ranging from JFK to President Biden.

President Donald Trump meets with former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

According to a press release issued by Kissinger Associated, Inc:

Dr. Henry Kissinger, a respected American scholar and statesman, died today at his home in Connecticut.

Henry Kissinger was born in southern Germany in 1923, where his father was a teacher. His family fled Nazi Germany and came to America in 1938. After he became an American citizen in 1943, Dr. Kissinger served in the 84th Army Division from 1943 to 1946. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his “meritorious service.” Dr. Kissinger subsequently served in the Counter Intelligence Corps in occupied Germany. He was in the U.S. Army Reserves until 1959.

Dr. Kissinger earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees at Harvard University, where he taught international relations for almost 20 years. In 1969, President Nixon appointed him National Security Advisor. He subsequently served as Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, in which capacities Dr. Kissinger played central roles in the opening to China, negotiating the end of the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East, and helping to bring America’s role in the Vietnam War to a close. He worked to set the former Rhodesia on the path to representative government and negotiated key arms control agreements with the Soviet Union.

Dr. Kissinger has written 21 books on national security matters. Considered one of America’s great statesmen, Dr. Kissinger was regularly consulted by American presidents of both political parties and scores of foreign leaders after he finished government service in 1977. In May of 2023, he celebrated his 100th birthday and remained active well into his 100th year. Most recently, Dr. Kissinger focused his attention on the implications of artificial intelligence. He was a frequent guest with media and on panel discussions, writing, and traveling abroad. Additional biographical information about Dr. Kissinger and his writings can be found at www.henryakissinger.com.

Dr. Kissinger is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, Nancy Maginnes Kissinger, two children by his first marriage, David and Elizabeth, and five grandchildren.

He will be interred at a private family service. At a later date, there will be a memorial service in New York City. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests considering donations to: Animal Medical Center, Development Office, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065 or Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036.