Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, the first Africa-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet.
Dr. Henry Kissinger, influential diplomat, controversial strategist, scholar, and geopolitical consultant, died at 100 years old, on Wednesday, November 29, 2023. He was born May 27, 1923 in Germany.
He served, famously, as former Secretary of State of the United States (September 22, 1973 – January 20, 1977) and U.S National Security Adviser (January 20, 1969 – November 3, 1975) during the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
At the very young age of 15, due to the murderous hostility in Nazi Germany, in 1938, he fled with his family as Jewish refugees.
In 1943, he was drafted into the U.S Army intelligence unit on Germany. He was approved the same year as a naturalized citizen of the United States..
His academic and intellectual capacities became increasingly evident in the United States. He was enrolled into Harvard, and graduated with his first degree in 1950; Master of Arts degree in 1951 and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), in 1954.
Kissinger’s recognized as much as he’s criticized for the influential roles and impact of his works and policy advisories ranging from advocating and advancing the accommodationist policy of detente in dealing with the Soviet Union and especially for increasing the scope and level of engagement with the communist People’s Republic of China. For Dr. Kissinger, the issues must center around ‘realpolitik’ and core interests of the United States. Among other things, he saw the market value of the demographics and population of China. For him, the priority, for the United States, should not be the morality of international relationships.
He was equally deeply involved in the strategies and execution of the US policies during the Vietnam War which claimed more than one million American, Vietnamese, Cambodians and other Asian lives, too. Critically, those events form some of the reasons why some people still call him “a war criminal.”
He was actively involved in the Middle East diplomacy across the perennial conflicts between Israel and the Arab countries/Islamic States. His frequent trips to put out flashes of conflicts led to the use of the term “shuttle diplomacy.”
He did not consider the events of the 1960s and early 1970s in Nigeria, Biafra and most of post-colonial Africa as constituting critical parts of America’s fundamental zones of interest. He opposed Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress and supported the apartheid regime in South Africa.
He saw those events and personalities as pawns in the superpower chess game. He was on the wrong side of history as I stated in my forthcoming book, MLK, Mandela & Achebe: Power, Leadership and Identity. mlkmandelaachebe.com
Many leaders and scholars disagreed with his non-sentimental, amoral positions on power. Influential persons such as Kissinger in powerful positions simply define, follow and believe in the rightness of their relentless pursuit of the countries’ core interests as being the most important consideration in international relations! It is also known as the “games nations play.”
There’s an international relations magnum opus with the same name ‘Games Nations Play: Analyzing International Politics.’ It was published in 1972 by John W. Spanier.
I recall my political science and international relations class at my great alma mater, the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) where I was taught that the existential dynamics, strategic and material interests determine, substantially, “the games nations play.“
In his insightful book in 1995, titled ‘Diplomacy’, late Dr. Kissinger provided additional insights into some of his decisions and interpretations of the events of the time he was in government, and after government. He wrote several books and established the financially very successful consulting firm, Kissinger Associates.
The interconnected dynamics of Kissinger’s careers in national security, diplomacy and business remain important but debated benchmarks and lessons for societies and nations around the world. Especially, for beacons of moral conscience in the continuing battle for dominance in the politics among nations, in the battle between authoritarianism and freedoms.
Kissinger was not only influential, he was powerful. He had a curious charisma, a face that seemed unremarkable, and a gravely ethnic baritone. In his play titled ‘As You Like It’, William Shakespeare declared to mankind, prophetically, that:
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts”
Kissinger played many parts, left his imprint and many questions….
•Dr. Chido Nwangwu, author of the forthcoming 2024 book, MLK, Mandela & Achebe: Power, Leadership and Identity, is Founder of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper on the internet, USAfricaonline.com, and established USAfrica in 1992 in Houston. He has appeared as an analyst on CNN, ALJazeera, SKYnews, and served as an adviser on Africa business to Houston’s former Mayor Dr. Lee Brown. Follow him @Chido247