Nov 30, 2023

Henry Kissinger Dies at 100 Transcript

Henry Kissinger Dies at 100 Transcript
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Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has died at the age of 100. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Now, the former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, has died at the age of 100. Serving under Presidents Nixon and Ford, he led America’s re-engagement with communist China and sought a thawing of relations with the Soviet Union. But he faced criticism for the US bombing of Cambodia, which killed hundreds of thousands. Our diplomatic correspondent, James Landale, looks back at his life.

Video (00:26):

Yeah. Thank you for being here, Henry.

James Landale (00:28):

To some, Henry Kissinger was one of the Cold War’s most influential statesmen who advised presidents and prime ministers for decades.

Video (00:34):

In considering Ukraine issue…

James Landale (00:36):

To others, he was a war criminal.

Video (00:40):

[inaudible 00:00:39] calls for the arrest of Henry Kissinger for war crimes.

James Landale (00:43):

Whose ruthless defense of American interests cost thousands of lives. He was born Heinz Kissinger in Nazi Germany. His Jewish family fled to America in 1938, but the young Henry, as he became, returned to Europe fighting with the US Army. In peace time, the soldier became a scholar at Harvard University, making his name arguing that nuclear weapons could be used in conventional wars.

Video (01:08):

I believe it is technically possible to conduct the resistance with a limited employment of nuclear weapons, though that is less desirable.

Today I’m pleased to announce the first appointment of the White House staff…

James Landale (01:23):

It was President Nixon who brought him into government, first as National Security Advisor, then Secretary of State, a double act seeking to reshape the Cold War by balancing competing world powers. Kissinger drove America’s re-engagement with communist China, paying secret visits to its leaders, paving the way for an historic first visit by a US president in 1972. He sought to improve relations with the Soviet Union through negotiations about trade and arms control. And in the Middle East, he coined a new phrase, shuttle diplomacy, as he flew between capitals to try to constrain Arab-Israeli conflict. His belief was in realpolitik, the idea that national self-interest trumped human rights or shared values.

Video (02:11):

No nation can make its survival dependent on the goodwill of another state.

James Landale (02:17):

All this brought him some global celebrity.

Video (02:20):

I don’t stand on protocol if you’ll just call me Excellency. We’ll be getting…

We believe that peace is at hand.

James Landale (02:29):

But Kissinger’s fame became notoriety as he struggled to end America’s involvement in the Vietnam War by bombing Cambodia. This cut supplies to North Vietnam, but also killed hundreds of thousands. His critics accused him of war crimes. His supporters welcomed a Nobel Peace Prize.

Video (02:46):

Nothing that has happened to me in public life has moved me more than this award.

James Landale (02:56):

He was criticized too for supporting authoritarian anti-communist leaders, such as General Pinochet in Chile. He backed the coup that brought the general’s brutal junta to power.

Video (03:05):

It was at the height of the Cold War, so that the United States could not be totally indifferent to the question of a communist regime in Chile.

I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

James Landale (03:17):

Kissinger was considered so indispensable, he survived the Watergate crisis and was kept on by Gerald Ford. But he fell out of favor in Washington, loathed by the left, distrusted by the right, and began a life of lucrative consultancy. Thus, Henry Kissinger, a scholar and statesman, a cynic, at time, cavalier with people’s lives, above all, a diplomat, always ready to talk.

Speaker 1 (03:45):

Well, let’s go live to Washington now and speak to our North America correspondent Shingai Nyoka. Shingai, talk us through reaction to this news.

Shingai Nyoka (03:54):

Well, some of the tributes have started to trickle in. They began trickling in shortly after we heard the news that Henry Kissinger had died in his home in Connecticut, aged 100. A former president, George W. Bush, described him as one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs.

We also heard from the George and Barbara Bush Foundation, that’s George Bush’s father, George Bush Senior, who described him as a foreign policy icon whose work to establish relations with China was notably historic.

And so we’ve seen two sides in terms of the reactions to his death. The Republican, especially the Republican Party, and some of those who worked with him, believe that he was a formidable foreign policy advocate furthering the interests of the United States. But also there there’s been some criticism for academics. Criticism in the fact that they think that he took pragmatism too far and lacked moral compass. We’ve heard some of that criticism in that package there stemming from his government’s support of General Pinochet who overthrew a democratically elected government. And we also saw the reaction from when the US government supported Indonesia in its invasion of East Timor.

And so, a very checkered legacy, but I think a lot of people would describe him as having a remarkable life. He’s the first immigrant, a US Secretary of State, and the tributes are still coming in.

Speaker 1 (05:37):

Okay, Shingai. For now, thank you. Shingai Nyoka there in Washington for us.

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