Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state and a giant figure of the international political scene in the late 20th century, has died, aged 100. In this reflection on his life, Lester Munson of the United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney, writes:
Whether he was advising Nixon on Vietnam war policy to set up plausible peace negotiations, or arranging the details of the opening to China to put the Soviet Union in checkmate, Kissinger’s eye was always on preserving and advancing the liberal humanitarian values of the West – and against the forces of totalitarianism and hatred.
Of course, his political legacy is already fiercely contested. And Sophal Ear, of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University, writes a powerful analysis, infused with personal perspective:
I’m a scholar of the political economy of Cambodia who, as a child, escaped the brutal Khmer Rouge regime with four siblings, thanks in large part to the cunning and determination of my mother. In both a professional and personal sense, I am aware of the near 50-year impact Kissinger’s policies during the Vietnam War have had on the country of my birth.
The rise of the murderous regime that forced my family to leave was, in part, encouraged by Kissinger’s policies.
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