Henry Kissinger, the man who steered American foreign policy for a generation and was complicit in atrocities across the globe, died Wednesday at age 100.
His death prompted posts of adoration from many prominent lawmakers. Former President George W. Bush called Kissinger “one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs,” saying he had “long admired the man who fled the Nazis as a young boy from a Jewish family, then fought them in the United States Army.”
“He worked in the administrations of two presidents and counseled many more,” Bush said in a statement. “I am grateful for that service and advice, but I am most grateful for his friendship.”
President George W. Bush stands with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 2008. Kissinger, the diplomat with the thick glasses and gravelly voice who dominated foreign policy in the United States from 1969 to 1977, died Wednesday.
Others, including billionaire and former presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, said no one had “exercised more influence over global affairs over a longer period of time” than Kissinger.” He called his death “a loss for our country and the world.”
Nobody in our country exercised more influence over global affairs over a longer period of time than Henry Kissinger, and his death is a loss for our country and the world – and for all of us who were fortunate enough to call him a dear friend and mentor. Henry was incredibly… pic.twitter.com/D7BQpaUcXL
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) November 30, 2023
That influence amounted to a legacy of death and war crimes. While serving under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, he was responsible for the prolonging of the Vietnam War, the then-secret carpet-bombing of Cambodia and Laos and an arms deal with Pakistan that was later linked to hundreds of thousands of deaths.
In Cambodia, Kissinger told the military to bomb “anything that flies or moves.” At least 50,000 civilians were killed there in 1969 and 1970.
He vehemently defended his actions amid criticism of his role in geopolitics and remained a member of the Washington elite throughout his life. He was awarded the Distinguished Public Service Award by the Obama administration in 2016 and was regularly seen with presidents, popes and foreign leaders until his death.
Prominent lawmakers, including many Republicans, memorialized the former secretary of state with messages on social media Wednesday.
Henry Kissinger’s contributions to U.S. foreign policy and global diplomacy are immeasurable.
A refugee of Nazi Germany, WWII veteran, and Nobel recipient—his life was one of a kind. As a confidant to multiple presidents, he was one of the most consequential figures of the 20th…
— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) November 30, 2023
Henry Kissinger was a titan among America’s most consequential statesmen. His ideas, his diplomatic skill, and his sheer force of will in service to our country changed the course of history. My thoughts and prayers are with the Kissinger family.
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) November 30, 2023
A very sad night for American leadership. The loss of Secretary Henry Kissinger leaves a void all around the world. He was a brilliant voice for the indispensable role America must play in the world. He has been a good friend & mentor since baseball opening day 2009. What a gift.
— Chris Christie (@GovChristie) November 30, 2023
We lost an icon today. May Henry Kissinger rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/enrEUkddLe
— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) November 30, 2023
It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of my good friend Henry Kissinger.
What an incredible life - born in Germany and emigrating to the U.S., serving in the U.S. military during WWII, playing a major role on the world stage for decades, and earning respect and…
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) November 30, 2023
A Bronze Star recipient, top diplomat for two U.S. presidents, and strong advocate for the Jewish state and community. Henry Kissinger dedicated his life to this nation and may he rest in peace. https://t.co/RgC8XcDkMM
— Rep. Marc Molinaro (@RepMolinaroNY19) November 30, 2023
My prayers are with Dr. Henry Kissinger’s family and friends tonight. There are few public servants who had such a consequential impact on American foreign policy. While this is an incredible loss for our nation, his legacy will live on for generations to come.
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) November 30, 2023
Henry Kissinger loved our country and leaves behind an undeniable legacy in American foreign policy.
My prayers are with his loved ones.
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) November 30, 2023
Only in America could a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany become one of the nation’s foremost statesmen and civil leaders. Henry Kissinger served as an advisor to Presidents and Secretary of State. My thoughts are with his wife, Nancy, his two children, and grandchildren as they…
— Michael Burgess, MD (@michaelcburgess) November 30, 2023