Few U.S. diplomats have been as globally polarizing as Henry Kissinger, who died on Wednesday aged 100.
The death of the former secretary of state and adviser to several U.S. presidents has drawn both tributes and rebukes from around the world.
Kissinger was synonymous with “realpolitik,” German-language outlet Der Spiegel reported. “Kissinger has often been described as the embodiment of the cool crisis manager who only looks at the interests of foreign policy and considers morality to be overrated,” U.S. reporter Bernhard Zand wrote. The former statesman was widely described as a war criminal by his critics, Zand noted, and while his stance on some issues did change over the years, “he did not appreciate being asked about his mistakes and errors in interviews and made it a point to maintain his version of events well into old age.”
The diplomat, who remained active in politics until his death, won a joint Nobel Peace Prize for his work in ending American involvement in the Vietnam War. Two members of the Nobel committee resigned in protest for the selection. It’s a defining piece of his legacy, as is “his contempt for human rights and efforts to protect US corporate interests at all costs, with opponents across the world casting him as a war criminal,” Martin Pengelly wrote in The Guardian.
Known as “demanding” and “impatient, Kissinger “could be scathing, even contemptuous,” French newspaper Le Monde reported. Polarizing as he was, Kissinger was emblematic of the extraordinary mobility available to immigrants in the U.S.: After fleeing to America from Nazi Germany in the 30s, the diplomat went on to be influential at the highest levels of world politics. “He knew how to charm those he needed, starting with journalists, seduced by his brilliant mind, his sense of repartee and a sharp humor often exercised at his own expense,” journalists Philippe Bernard and Henri Pierre wrote.