Henry Kissinger, who turned 90 on Monday, May 27, is one of the most influential Jews in American history-and one of the most controversial. In the 1970s, Henry Kissinger was all about using Jewish smarts to manage the world.
This brilliant refugee from Nazi Germany with the gravelly voice, Teutonic accent, and thick Poindexter glasses, embodied the pinnacle of a certain type of Jewish aspiration and achievement in 20th-century America, becoming a Harvard professor in 1954, Richard Nixon’s foreign-policy mastermind in 1969, and the first Jewish secretary of state in 1973.
For the past four decades, he has remained the dean of America’s foreign-policy establishment, advising presidents and foreign governments alike. Just this month, at the Atlantic Council, Hillary Clinton wished him an early happy birthday. “Everywhere I go,” she said, “people talk to me about Henry.” Yet at the same time he remains a profoundly polarizing figure. In the last few years alone bloggers have called him a kapo who should have been gassed, and the late Christopher Hitchens pronounced him a “vile creature.”
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