Henry A. Kissinger

(Henry Alfred Kissinger)

Henry A. Kissinger
Henry A. Kissinger
  • Born: May 27, 1923
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Statesman

179

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137

Citations

375

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0

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Henry Alfred Kissinger is an American elder statesman, political scientist, diplomat, and geopolitical consultant who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. A Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany with his family in 1938, he became National Security Advisor in 1969 and U.S. Secretary of State in 1973. For his actions negotiating a ceasefire in Vietnam, Kissinger received the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize under controversial circumstances, with two members of the committee resigning in protest. Kissinger later sought, unsuccessfully, to return the prize after the ceasefire failed.

Quotes About
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Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
... American temptation to beleive that foreign policy is a subdivision of psychiatry. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
... fluctuating emotions ... [lead] us to excesses of both intervention and abdication. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
... smart but not wise. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
[Describing Richard Nixon:] ... an unpleasant man.... What I never understood is why he became a politician. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
[Referring to Ronald Reagan:] When you meet the President, you ask yourself, "How did it ever occur to anybody that he should be governor much less President? Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
… assassination of subversives, politicians and prominent figures both within the national borders of certain Southern Cone countries and abroad … would create a most serious moral and political problem. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
… evolution over revolution. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
… we do not suffer in the world from such an excess of friends that we should discourage those who feel they have a special friendship for us. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Achieve great goals in stages, each of which is probably imperfect by absolute standards. Leaders & Leadership
All governments ... sometimes do strange things. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
America has been dominant in the last 200 years, China has been dominant in 1800 of the last 2000 years. Power
America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
America should not play a solitary role with respect either to security or to reform. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Americans must not be given the impression that they have a duty to go to war against every evil leader in the world and against every transgression of the international order. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
An expert is someone who is capable of articulating the interests of people with power. Power
Analysts can choose the problems that they want to study whereas the statesman’s problems are imposed on him. Policy & Policy Making
Any time there is a coup you start with the assumption that the home government missed it …. Why should we know better than the government that’s being overthrown? Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
Be very careful of military action. You will be judged by how it ends—not by how it begins. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
China remains too important for America's national security to risk the relationship on the emotions of the moment.... No government in the world would have tolerated having the main square of its capital occupied by tens of thousands of demonstrators. Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Competing pressures tempt one to believe that an issue deferred is a problem avoided. More often it is a crisis invited. Management & Managing Government ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Convention delegates live the compressed existence of butterflies. For a brief period they are admired, wooed, pressured, flattered, cajoled, endlessly pursued. The day after they have chosen, they return to oblivion. Political Parties & Machines
Corrupt politicians make the other ten percent look bad. Corruption
Covert action should not be confused with missionary work. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations ;Defense & National Security
Diplomacy [is] ... the art of restraining power. Diplomacy & Diplomats
Displacement by technology has probably occurred since the invention of the shovel. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Donald Rumsfeld is the rottenest person I have known in government Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Each success buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem. Policy & Policy Making
Economic reform is impossible without the educated groups. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Even a paranoid can have enemies. Human Nature
Every statesman must attempt to reconcile what is considered just with what is considered possible. Discrimination & Prejudice
For the first time in history, a single worldwide economic system has come into being. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
For the first time we have the technical capacity to free mankind from the scourge of hunger. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Had matters gone as planned—and the [Watergate] tapes trickled out posthumously—[Richard] Nixon would have managed the extraordinary feat of committing suicide after his own death. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
He was calling me about something else, so he just dropped it in. I’m not supposed to tell anyone. He made me promise. Secrecy & Transparency
History is the memory of states. History
I am made uneasy by foreign policies largely shaped by ideologues. For ideologues have a tendency to drive societies as well as international systems beyond their capacities. The alleged dichotomy of pragmatism and morality seems to me a misleading choice. Pragmatism without a moral element leads to random activism, brutality, or stagnation; moral conviction not tempered by a sense of reality leads to self-righteousness, fanaticism, and the erosion of all restraint. We must always be pragmatic about our national security. We cannot abandon national security in pursuit of virtue. But beyond this bedrock of all policy, our challenge is to advance our principles in a way that does not isolate us in the long run. Each generation must discover that sense of proportion for itself. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
I believe that I should do what I could to maintain the dignity of American values and to give Americans some pride in the conduct their affairs. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
I don’t see why we have to let a country go Marxist just because its people are irresponsible. Voters, Voting & Elections
I don't believe foreign policy is about altruism. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
I don't see that we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. Voters, Voting & Elections ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
I have yet to meet a Russian who views the Ukraine as a separate state apart from Russia. States. Nations & Nationhood
I saw Sadat as a character out of Aida. He talked a lot but never acted. I didn’t take him seriously. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
I will destroy them. Secrecy & Transparency
I will not have died unfulfilled if it does not occur in my lifetime. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
If any county achieves absolute security, then all the rest of the countries around them have absolute insecurity. Defense & National Security
If Tehran insists on combining the Persian imperial tradition with contemporary Islamic fervor, then a collision with America — and, indeed, with its negotiating partners … — is unavoidable. Iran simply cannot be permitted to fulfill a dream of imperial rule in a region of such importance to the rest of the world. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
If time is not pressing on you, there are more options than otherwise. Policy & Policy Making ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
If you believe that their real intention is to kill you, it isn't unreasonable to believe that they would lie to you. Diplomacy & Diplomats ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
If you operate any kind of major diplomacy, you must run some risk. Diplomacy & Diplomats ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
I'm sort of a workaholic. Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
In crises the most daring course is often safest. Management & Managing Government ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
In our "age of the expert" the expert has his constituency — those who have a vested interest in commonly held opinions; elaborating and defining the consensus at a high level has, after all, made him an expert. Policy & Policy Making ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
In the end, civil wars are about the distribution of power. Power
India survived through the centuries by combining cultural imperviousness with extraordinary psychological skill. States. Nations & Nationhood
Industrialization, by drawing people from the countryside to the cities brings with it the weakening of traditional political and social support systems. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Intellectuals are cynical and cynics have never built a cathedral.. Human Nature
It is a mistake to isolate arms control from other areas of policy.... There is a danger that arms control will be a safety valve for an otherwise overly aggressive foreign policy. Arms Race & Disarmament ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
It is hard for the Chinese to understand that our policies are in great part the result of a number of random actions of different domestic pressure groups and not part of an overall plan. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
It is impossible and incompatible with the dignity of the United States to have its senior official [President Nixon] and to have its Secretary of State under this sort of attack in the face of the dangers we confront and the risks that may have to be run and the opportunities that may have to be seized. Scandals
It is inevitable that Japan will emerge as a major military power in the not too distant future. Military & Veterans
It is something if circumstances were repeated I would not do again. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
It’s not in our interest to drive the Russians into a beleaguered attitude where they have to prove what they can do. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
It's in the nature of the Presidency that most of the people youy meet want something. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
It's too bad that such crowds can't be turned out in the United States. Public Relations & Image
I've always acted alone. Americans like that immensely. Americans like the cowboy who leads the wagon train by riding ahead alone on his horse, the cowboy who rides all alone into the town, the village, with his horse and nothing else. Maybe even without a pistol, since he doesn't shoot. He acts, that's all, by being in the right place at the right time. In short, a Western. … This amazing, romantic character suits me precisely because to be alone has always been part of my style or, if you like, my technique Leaders & Leadership ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Judge countries by their performance …, not by their words Intergovernmental Relations
Maintaining a continuity of foreign policy in the United States is not easy because it means that liberals and conservatives both shoot at you. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Moderation is a virtue only in those who are thought to have an alternative. Humor ;Policy & Policy Making
Moral claims can be asserted as a national prerogative only at the cost of long-term domestic and international support. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Most communist governments are failing sooner or later anyway. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Mr. President, there is no lack of confidence in you whatsoever. The trouble is … some of these Democratic senators … The problem is these bastard traitors we have in this country. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad name. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
No advisor is ever listened to just because he insists on being heard. Miscellaneous
No foreign policy, no matter how ingenious, has any chance of success if it is born in the minds of a few and carried in the hearts of none. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
No great power will allow itself to be strangulated. Power
No person can choose his age or the condition of his time. Leaders & Leadership
Oil is much too important a commodity to be left in the hands of the Arabs. Energy ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
People who challenge the United States and the international order [must] suffer enormous and unacceptable consequences. Power
Political leaders cannot survive as advocates of near-permanent austerity on the basis of directives imposed from abroad. Development & Growth
Political unity should be given great weight, but it also should be related to some sensible program. Policy & Policy Making
Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Power
Presidents cannot be constrained by administrative flowcharts. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
Statesmen are judged by history beyond contemporary debates. History ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Terrorist infiltration should be resisted not at the national level, but at the international policies level. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
That man [Richard M. Nixon] is not fit to be President. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The American political process almost instinctively compensates for excessive concentration. Power
The art of foreign policy is to help guide the inevitable. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The art of government is to deal with threats before they become overwhelming. Defense & National Security ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The best way to avoid hostages being taken in the future is to devalue the hostages that exist. Terrorism
The Cold War was like two heavily armed men feeling their way around a room, each believing himself in mortal peril from the other, whom he assumes to have perfect vision. Each tends to ascribe to the other a consistency, foresight, and coherence that his own experience belies. Intergovernmental Relations
The Communist campaign, finely attuned to prevailing fears, almost imperceptibly shifted the primary concern away from Soviet aggression—the real security problem—to the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, which happened to be the most effective way of resisting it. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerilla wins if he does not lose. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
The current world order was built largely without Chinese participation, and hence China sometimes feels less bound than others by its rules. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The current world order was built largely without Chinese participation, and hence China sometimes feels less bound than others by its rules. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The distinguishing feature of a revolutionary power is not that they feel threatened—such feeling is inherent in the nature of relationships between sovereign states—but that nothing can reassure it—only the complete elimination and/or destruction of that state. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
The duration and scale of the Chinese past allow Chinese leaders to use the mantle of an almost limitless history to evoke a certain modesty in their opposite number. History
The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The fact that television is raising our moral conscience is a good thing. Media, Journalism & The Press
The fulfillment of America’s ideals will have to be sought in the patient accumulations of partial successes. Management & Managing Government ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win. War & Peace
The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer. Miscellaneous
The important thing is to do the right thing. Then credibility will follow. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The Internet drives you to an immediate resolution of symptoms but may make it harder to get to the essence of the problem. It’s easier to know what people are saying, but the question is whether diplomats have time to connect that with its deeper historical context. Diplomacy & Diplomats
The issue of wiretapping raises the issue of the balance between human liberty and the requirements of national security. I would say that the weight should be on the side of human liberty and that if human liberty is ever to be infringed, the demonstration on the national security side must be overwhelming. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
The main aim of any American President is to prevent World War III. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The management of a balance of power is a permanent undertaking, not an exertion that has a foreseeable end. Power ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The mistake we make with many people is that we assume that we have the model. It is a type of condescension. Foreign Aid ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs ;Capitalism
The modern politician is less interested in being a hero than a superstar. Heroes walk alone; stars derive their status from approbation. Public Relations & Image
The political leaders with whom we are familiar generally aspire to be superstars rather than heroes .... Superstars strive for approbation; heroes walk alone. Superstars crave consensus; heroes define themselves by the judgment of the future ... Leaders & Leadership
The pressure of time, is the overwhelming challenge for policymakers who must act on assessments that cannot be proved at the time and whose mistakes are irretrievable. Policy & Policy Making
The statesman must weigh the rewards of success against the penalties of failure. And he is permitted only one guess. Policy & Policy Making
The statesman's duty is to bridge the gap between his nation's experience and his vision. Leaders & Leadership
The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain that there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China …. The United States does not challenge that position. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The word of the president is a national asset not to be trifled with. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
There are many times where national interest is more important than the law. Defense & National Security
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full. Humor ;Management & Managing Government
There has to be a feeling of confidence that the senior officials of the government are not playing with the lives of the public. Leaders & Leadership
There is no use arguing. It is only a matter of time before I get my way. Management & Managing Government ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
U. S. foreign policy in the 20th century was characterized by disastrous oscillations between over-commitment and isolation Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Usually the impetus of a revolution is a relatively small group with positive goals but also a larger collection of people with resentments. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
We are all the President's men. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
We are making remarkable progress toward an agreement—and toward a nervous breakdown. It's going to be a race to see which we achieve first. Negotiating & Negotiations
We can deal with Iran if it is a nation but not if it is a cause. Discrimination & Prejudice ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
We can destabilize your government and make a horrible example out of you Diplomacy & Diplomats ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
We cannot always assure the future of our friends Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
We don’t tell others how to run their countries. Foreign Aid ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
We fought a military war; our opponents fought a political one… The North Vietnamese used their armed forces the way a bull-fighter uses his cape — to keep us lunging in areas of marginal political importance. War & Peace
We should be adult enough to understand that major countries are going to be spying on us. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
We should not pretend that we can remake the domestic structures of governments all over the world. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
What is a problem is that you tell the President something that contradicts what he believes. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
Whenever peace—conceived as the avoidance of war—has been the primary objective of a power or group of powers, the international system has been at the mercy of the most ruthless member of the international community. War & Peace ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
Whenever there is a new Soviet leader, our experts speculate about the changes as if one man could change a whole society. In their system, power doesn't come with the office. It takes many years to acquire. Power
A leader does not deserve the name unless he is willing occasionally to stand alone. Leaders & Leadership
A leader who confines his role to his people's experience dooms himself to stagnation; a leader who outstrips his people's experience runs the risk of not being understood.
Accept everything about yourself - I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end - no apologies, no regrets.
Any fact that needs to be disclosed should be put out now or as quickly as possible, because otherwise the bleeding will not end.
Art is man's expression of his joy in labor. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Blessed are the people whose leaders can look destiny in the eye without flinching but also without attempting to play God. Religion & God
Diplomacy: the art of restraining power. Power ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem. Success
For other nations, utopia is a blessed past never to be recovered; for Americans it is just beyond the horizon.
High office teaches decision making, not substance. It consumes intellectual capital; it does not create it. Most high officials leave office with the perceptions and insights with which they entered; they learn how to make decisions but not what decisions to make.
I am being frank about myself in this book. I tell of my first mistake on page 850.
I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.
If eighty percent of your sales come from twenty percent of all of your items, just carry those twenty percent.
If I should ever be captured, I want no negotiation - and if I should request a negotiation from captivity they should consider that a sign of duress.
If it's going to come out eventually, better have it come out immediately.
If you don't know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.
It is, after all, the responsibility of the expert to operate the familiar and that of the leader to transcend it. Leaders & Leadership
It was a Greek tragedy. Nixon was fulfilling his own nature. Once it started it could not end otherwise. Nature ;History
Leaders are responsible not for running public opinion polls but for the consequences of their actions.
Most foreign policies that history has marked highly, in whatever country, have been originated by leaders who were opposed by experts. History
No country can act wisely simultaneously in every part of the globe at every moment of time. Time ;War & Peace
No foreign policy - no matter how ingenious - has any chance of success if it is born in the minds of a few and carried in the hearts of none. Success
No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there's too much fraternizing with the enemy.
People are generally amazed that I would take an interest in any form that would require me to stop talking for three hours.
Power is the great aphrodisiac. Power
The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.
The American foreign policy trauma of the sixties and seventies was caused by applying valid principles to unsuitable conditions.
The American temptation is to believe that foreign policy is a subdivision of psychiatry.
The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.
The essence of Richard Nixon is loneliness.
The longer I am out of office, the more infallible I appear to myself.
The nice thing about being a celebrity is that, if you bore people, they think it's their fault. Fame
The security of Israel is a moral imperative for all free peoples.
The superpowers often behave like two heavily armed blind men feeling their way around a room, each believing himself in mortal peril from the other, whom he assumes to have perfect vision.
The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. Leaders & Leadership
The Vietnam War required us to emphasize the national interest rather than abstract principles. What President Nixon and I tried to do was unnatural. And that is why we didn't make it. War & Peace
To be absolutely certain about something, one must know everything or nothing about it.
University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
We cannot always assure the future of our friends; we have a better chance of assuring our future if we remember who our friends are. Future
Whatever must happen ultimately should happen immediately.
While we should never give up our principles, we must also realize that we cannot maintain our principles unless we survive.
You can't make war in the Middle East without Egypt and you can't make peace without Syria. War & Peace