Henry Kissinger redefined the ‘totality of what diplomacy means’, UK security minister says

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, the last surviving member of Richard Nixon’s cabinet, has died at the age of 100.

The diplomat, who served as secretary of state in multiple administrations, “was a respected American scholar and statesman”, according his consulting firm Kissinger Associates, Inc.

“Henry Kissinger will be long remembered for his many achievements in advancing the cause of peace”, former president Nixon’s daughters Tricia Cox Nixon and Julie Nixon Eisenhower have said in a statement.

But the former Harvard University faculty member is also remembered for his role in controversial US actions around the world.

He authorised the bombing of neutral Cambodia in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which killed at least 150,000 civilians.

He also helped sculpt the Nixon administration’s attempt to foment a coup to depose Chile’s democratically elected socialist leader, Salvador Allende, in 1973.

He also directed illegal arms sales to Pakistan as it carried out a crackdown on its Bengali population in 1971.

Reacting to the news, UK security minister Tom Tugendhat said Kissinger “literally redefined the totality of what Foreign Affairs means, what diplomacy means”.

Tugendhat, a former chair of the House of Commons foreign affairs select committee, said Kissinger lived “quite remarkable life that literally redefined the totality of what foreign affairs means, what diplomacy means. I mean, it’s quite an extraordinary achievement. 

“This is a man who was born in Germany, left Germany before the war, went back in order — as a US soldier — to hunt Nazis in 1945/46 and then went into public policy”

“And so his perspective was quite remarkable”

Asked on Times Radio where Kissinger lands on a spectrum of “war criminal” to “hero”, Tugendhat responded: “Well, we’re gonna I’m gonna leave it to historians to judge but, I’ve got to be honest, I think when you look at the span of his life, this is a man who brought peace to the Middle East, alongside many others, of course, but he was very key to bring peace to the Middle East in the 70s”

He added: “He was absolutely instrumental to securing America’s interests and he did exactly what he said he would do, which is to put the American people first and commit to the security of the American world order. 

“Now, you’ve got to respect that he was absolutely clear what he said he would do, and he did it. And that I think is is certainly an example in what diplomacy is for, bluntly — diplomacy is not just about being nice to foreigners, it’s about achieving Britain’s aims and Britain’s interests through influence and partnership”.

Former president George W Bush remembered Henry Kissinger for “his wisdom, his charm, and his humour”.

In a statement, he said: “I have long admired the man who fled the Nazis as a young boy from a Jewish family, then fought them in the United States Army. When he later became Secretary of State, his appointment as a former refugee said as much about his greatness as it did America’s greatness.

“He worked in the Administrations of two Presidents and counselled many more. I am grateful for that service and advice, but I am most grateful for his friendship.”

Foreign secretary Lord Cameron has said he was “most saddened” to hear of the news, sharing a photograph of the two together.

He said: “Only a few months ago, we discussed issues as wide ranging as the war in Ukraine, the threat Iran presents and the fresh challenges posed by Russia and China.

“Even at 100, his wisdom and thoughtfulness shone through.

“He was a great statesman and a deeply respected diplomat who will be greatly missed on the world stage.”

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