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Kissinger married rockefeller aide

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Posted on Wed, Nov. 27, 2002

Kissinger Brings Controversial Legacy to Post

WASHINGTON - In naming Henry Kissinger to lead the highly sensitive investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush picked a Republican Party eminence grise who is also one of the most controversial American statesmen of the last half-century.

The 79-year-old Kissinger, a former secretary of state and Nobel Peace Prize winner with a gravelly, German-accented voice, has left an indelible mark on U.S. foreign policy over the years from China to the Middle East to the Soviet Union.

But his legacy also conjures up some of the darkest days of modern American diplomacy, including American involvement in the Vietnam War as well as a U.S.-abetted coup in Chile.

While many, like Bush, hail Kissinger for his brilliance and broad experience, some opponents have gone as far as branding him a war criminal.

"If the goal is to have a blue ribbon, nonpartisan inquiry, Henry Kissinger's history as someone tied to Republican administrations is not likely to advance that goal," said Michael Smith, who has written about Kissinger and teaches ethics in international relations at the University of Virginia.

As secretary of state under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, the German-born Jewish refugee shaped policies behind major world events of the 1970s, like the Vietnam peace accord, the reopening of U.S.-China relations, growing Arab-Israeli contacts and U.S.-Soviet arms control talks.

His era as high-powered architect of U.S. foreign policy finally waned with Nixon's decline in the Watergate scandal.

But he continued to be an independent diplomatic mover-and-shaker and remained an intellectual force by writing books and foreign affairs columns for major U.S. media.

Secrecy was a Kissinger hallmark, as when he negotiated on Nixon's behalf to open China to the West in 1971 without telling then-U.N. ambassador George Bush -- the current president's father -- about the deal.

Voluble on policy issues, Kissinger was reticent on personal matters throughout his career, though he once told a journalist he saw himself as a cowboy hero, riding off alone.

His penchant for secrecy continued at the high-priced, New York-based consulting firm Kissinger founded in 1982, five years after leaving government service. All consultations were done verbally and in person because, as former Kissinger Associates executive Brent Scowcroft said, "We don't want to see it ... passed around."


His presence has left an indelible mark on Americans' collective consciousness. He was a featured character in Oliver Stone's 1996 epic "Nixon," in a History Channel series and an off-Broadway play about the oft-reviled, disgraced president.

A new documentary called "The Trials of Henry Kissinger" alleges that its subject is an international war criminal. The film is based on a book by British-born journalist Christopher Hitchens, who makes the case that Kissinger is culpable in the illegal bombing of Cambodia that resulted in millions of deaths and in subverting 1968 peace talks that could have saved 200,000 lives in Vietnam.

Heinz Alfred Kissinger was born in Fuerth, Germany, on May 27, 1923, and moved to the United States with his family in 1938 before the Holocaust.

Anglicizing his name to Henry, Kissinger became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1943, served in Europe in World War II and went to Harvard University on scholarship, earning a master's degree in 1952 and a doctorate in 1954.

Nixon brought Kissinger to the White House as national security adviser in 1969 to try to achieve the president's goal of peace with honor in Vietnam, where half a million U.S. troops were then stationed.

But the process of "Vietnamization" -- shifting the burden of the war from U.S. forces to the South Vietnamese -- was long and bloody, with massive U.S. bombing of North Vietnam, the mining of the North's harbors and the bombing of Cambodia.

U.S. anti-war sentiment grew, focusing on Kissinger and Nixon.

Kissinger in 1972 declared "peace is at hand" in Vietnam, but the Paris peace accords reached in January 1973 -- for which he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho -- were a preliminary to the final Communist takeover of the South two years later.

The Watergate scandal that forced Nixon to resign barely grazed Kissinger, who continued on as secretary of state when Ford took office in summer of 1974.

The next Republican in the White House, Ronald Reagan, rejected Kissinger as being out of step with his conservative constituency, but Kissinger was called upon in 1983 to head the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America, which aimed to develop long-term U.S. policy in the region. In 1985-1990, he served on Reagan's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Divorced from his first wife in 1964, he married Nancy Maginnes, an aide to New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller who was instrumental in boosting his early career, in 1974. He has two children from his first marriage.

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