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History As It Happens

May 25, 2023

Henry Kissinger, sage of American diplomats, is celebrating his milestone 100th birthday on May 27. To some, Kissinger is the embodiment of realpolitik whose shrewd diplomatic efforts left an enduring mark on the global order. To others, he's a war criminal. During the Vietnam War, Kissinger was a driving force behind the secret bombing of neutral Cambodia in 1969. He also backed the coup that toppled the democratically-elected leader of Chile. In this episode, historian Thomas Schwartz parses Kissinger's record, as the man has become a symbol of what's right and wrong with U.S. hegemony. Why are views of Kissinger still so polarized decades after he left power? Does your opinion of Kissinger say more about you and your politics than it says about his actual deeds? Are your views of Kissinger an index of your broader worldview concerning U.S. foreign policy – or imperialism?