Geopolitical scientist and diplomat Henry Kissinger has died at age 100.
His passing was announced Wednesday evening in a statement by his consulting firm, which did not give a cause of death.
Among his many credits, Kissinger served two roles during the Nixon Administration: first as National Security Advisor and then as Secretary of State for both Presidents Nixon and Ford.
In the latter role, Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for “jointly having negotiated a cease fire in Vietnam”—negotiations he spearheaded even as he had at the same time ordered heavy bombing raids carried out through the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi that previous Christmas—one year after a secret memo from Nixon had acknowledged that aerial bombings in Southeast Asia had amounted to “zilch”—sparking protests “all over the world.”
Having studied history and political science, Kissinger earned a Doctorate and was appointed to a chair at Harvard. In addition to teaching, he simultaneously served as a special advisor to both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. He had initially begun preparing peace talks with North Vietnam during the Johnson Administration, then continued on at the White House to become Nixon’s closest foreign policy advisor amid the raging war in Southeast Asia.
His “peace with honor” strategy under Nixon prolonged the war for four years, from 1969-73 (though the final U.S. troops did not withdraw until 1975), during which 22,000 American troops and countless Vietnamese died. Further, he initiated a secret military campaign in Cambodia devastated that country and aided in the genocidal Khmer Rouge taking power.
Kissinger also made two secret trips to the People’s Republic of China, paving the way for Nixon’s historic visit to the Communist country in 1972 that opened relations between the U.S. and China for the first time in decades
While Chinese-U.S. relations would officially normalize in 1979, half-century later as a centenarian, in July of 2023 Kissinger made a surprise visit to China. He met with President Xi Jinping in an attempt to ease recently heightened tensions between the two nations.
The U.S. government stressed at the time that Kissinger was visiting merely in his capacity as a private citizen.
Kissinger’s long geopolitical career also led him to serve as foreign policy advisers to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Of Jewish-German descent, Kissinger’s family emigrated to the U.S. after Hitler came into power, and he became a naturalized citizen in 1943.
Kissinger married philanthropist Nancy Maginnes in 1974. He has two children with his former wife, Ann Fleischer, whom he divorced in 1964.