Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger
(16 November 2008)
Born: 27 May 1923, Fürth, Bavaria, Germany
Kissinger's family fled Nazi persecution in Germany, coming to the US in 1938. His first name had changed from Heinz to Henry by the time he became a citizen in 1943 while in Army training. He served as a German translator for Army counter-intelligence. He spent a fair stretch at Harvard, getting his BA, MA, and PhD degrees (1950, '52, and '54) before joining the faculty. With his teaching he also consulted for the National Security Council and several other US government agencies. He was an advisor to Nelson Rockefeller during his three presidential campaigns, then was chosen by Nixon first as National Security Adviser and then as Secretary of State. Throughout he championed Realpolitik, making him effective enough to win the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize (which he first accepted and later tried to return) and very unpopular with those who wanted to see a moral or idealogical stance taken by the US.
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Henry Kissinger quotes:
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- A leader does not deserve the name unless he is willing occasionally to stand alone. permalink
- A leader who confines his role to his people's experience dooms himself to stagnation; a leader who outstrips his people's experience runs the risk of not being understood. permalink
- A statesmans duty is to bridge the gap between his vision and his nation's experience. If his vision gets too far out ahead of his nation's experience, he will lose his mandate. But if he hews too close to the conventional, he will lose control over events. permalink
Years of Upheaval (1982)
- Any fact that needs to be disclosed should be put out now or as quickly as possible, because otherwise ... the bleeding will not end. permalink
- Art is man's expression of his joy in labor. permalink
- Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, "The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer." permalink
memo on cutting aid to Cyprus, declassified State Department cable (10 March 1975)
- Blessed are the people whose leaders can look destiny in the eye without flinching but also without attempting to play God. permalink
- Clearly, security without values is like a ship without a rudder. But values without security are like a rudder without a ship. permalink
- Committees are consumers and sometimes sterilizers of ideas, rarely creators of them. permalink
The Necessity for Choice (1961)
- Competing pressures tempt one to believe that an issue deferred is a problem avoided; more often it is a crisis invited. permalink
- Diplomacy: the art of restraining power. permalink
- Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem. permalink
- Every civilization that has ever existed has ultimately collapsed. permalink
- Every success is usually an admission ticket to a new set of decisions. permalink
Years of Renewal (1999)
- For other nations, utopia is a blessed past never to be recovered; for Americans it is just beyond the horizon. permalink
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