Henry A Kissinger is arguably the greatest geo-strategist of the 20th century. Kissinger may kowtow only to George Kennan, a man Kissinger himself highly regarded and whose insights may have spurred the diplomatic and professorial waters Kissinger forded decades later.
By Samuel D. Tweah, Jr
In high school, I discovered Kissinger through his compellingly pellucid and trenchant cold-war articles in Newsweek in the 1980s. No human alive has argued more for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the safeguarding of Western democracy than Henry Kissinger! As a high school graduate, I could not understand the complex prose of this most gifted of English language prose stylists. I hunkered down to decipher Kissinger with the aid of an old Oxford English Learner’s dictionary from my sister’s (Dr. Patricia Wesley’s) library in Congo Town. Then I became a Ronald Reagan Cold War aficionado!
In addition to his triumphs as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State to President Richard Nixon, Kissinger has left the world a copious body of knowledge on Cold War diplomacy that led to the eventual fall of the Soviet Union; on détente and deterrence as a strategy for averting global nuclear war; on China, as the economic counterpart of the Soviet Union in the new Cold War of economic domination; on the current challenges to the Westphalian international world order that is now teetering at the seams; and more recently on the impact artificial intelligence holds for the economics of the current world order.
Here was a man of articulate letters in the truest since of academics, unrivaled in his purveyance of complex insights distilled into logical certainties, pathways and simplicities. Love him or revile him, he has immensely contributed to a better world both in diplomatic praxis and in academic dissemination.
Kissinger, in his panegyric of Richard Nixon, and paraphrasing Shakespeare, said “Richard Nixon stood on pinnacles that dissolved into precipices.” But Kissinger may have partly been referring to himself. Henry Kissinger too has stood on pinnacles that have largely been misunderstood or controverted. In the end all these have enlarged his standing and cemented his monument in history.
Henry Kissinger inhaled his last breath on November 29, 2023. “Take him for all in all, we shall not look upon his like again.”