Home » Death of Henry Kissinger met with polarised reaction across the world

Death of Henry Kissinger met with polarised reaction across the world

World leaders and other people offered a polarised reaction Thursday to the death of the lionized and vilified former diplomat Henry Kissinger, who managed to hold global attention decades after his service as US secretary of state.

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, a key figure of American diplomacy in the post-World War II era, died. (AFP)

Former President George W Bush struck a tone that many high-level officials, past and present, tried to convey, saying “America has lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices” on foreign affairs.

“I have long admired the man who fled the Nazis as a young boy from a Jewish family, then fought them in the United States Army,” Bush said in a statement. “When he later became Secretary of State, his appointment as a former refugee said as much about his greatness as it did America’s greatness.”

Kissinger served two presidents, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and dominated foreign policy as the United States extricated itself from Vietnam and broke down barriers with China.

Another former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said Kissinger left an indelible mark on America’s history and the world.

“I will always be grateful for his gracious advice and help during my own time as Secretary,” Pompeo tweeted on X. “Always supportive and always informed, his wisdom made me better and more prepared after every one of our conversations.”

Criticism of Kissinger was especially strong on social media, where he was widely referred to as a war criminal.

Kissinger exerted uncommon influence on global affairs long after he left office. He met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing in July, while bilateral relations were at a low point. Xi told him that both sides need to “make new decisions” that could result in stable ties and “joint success and prosperity.” Kissinger is revered in China for having engineered the opening of relations between the ruling Communist Party and Washington under Nixon.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but even now he is associated with the foreign policy he supported.