Friday, July 19, 2024

Henry A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state who died this week, was a go-to adviser for many American presidents over his decades in politics.

Here are some thoughts and stories over the years from several of those presidents, expressing awe, exasperation and sharp criticism.

“I’ll never forget the first time I met Dr. Kissinger. I was a young senator, and he was secretary of state — giving a briefing on the state of the world,” the president said in a statement Thursday. “Throughout our careers, we often disagreed. And often strongly. But from that first briefing — his fierce intellect and profound strategic focus was evident.

“Long after retiring from government, he continued to offer his views and ideas to the most important policy discussion across multiple generations. Jill and I send our condolences to his wife Nancy, his children Elizabeth and David, his grandchildren, and all those who loved him.”

According to a Washington Post article in 1999:

The president had a sometimes vexed relationship with Mr. Kissinger, his national security adviser and then his secretary of state. Mr. Nixon complained that Mr. Kissinger was trying to gain control of “everything that comes to me” on foreign policy. “What he does not realize is, I don’t read his goddamn papers. I just skim it.”

Mr. Nixon also praised Mr. Kissinger as “the man that has the greatest influence on me,” but added that “sometimes he is as wrong as hell.”

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