Balance of Power
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Field of Knowledge
Henry Alfred Kissinger (; born Heinz Alfred Kissinger, German: [haɪnts ˈalfʁɛt ˈkɪsɪŋɐ]; May 27, 1923) is an American political scientist, diplomat and geopolitical consultant who served as the 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 United States 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.
A practitioner of Realpolitik, Kissinger played a prominent role in United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977. During this period, he pioneered the policy of détente with the Soviet Union, orchestrated the opening of relations with the People’s Republic of China, and negotiated the Paris Peace Accords, ending American involvement in the Vietnam War. Kissinger has also been associated with such controversial policies as U.S. involvement in a military coup in Chile and U.S. support for Pakistan during the Bangladesh War despite a genocide. After leaving government, he formed Kissinger Associates, an international geopolitical consulting firm. Kissinger has been a prolific author of books on diplomatic history and international relations with over one dozen books authored.
Some journalists, activists, and human rights lawyers have condemned Kissinger as a war criminal. He remains a controversial figure in popular culture. However, in a 2014 survey, many scholars and foreign policy experts ranked Henry Kissinger as the most effective U.S. Secretary of State since 1965.