Henry Kissinger’s friends, former colleagues reflect on his legacy: ‘A titanic figure’

Henry Kissinger’s friends and former colleagues have spoken of the impact he left on the world and the legacy he will leave behind.

William D. Rogers, a former assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs under President Richard M. Nixon, said that Kissinger was a “titanic figure” in history.

“He was the principal negotiator of the major foreign policy issues of the time,” Rogers said of the former U.S. secretary of state who served in the Nixon and Gerald Ford administrations.

He added that Kissinger’s presence and influence will be felt across the world, particularly in countries like China, Vietnam and the United States.

“He’s been in diplomacy, on the international scene, for longer than almost anybody in the world,” said Stanley Brand, a Washington lawyer who worked as an assistant counsel in the White House during the Nixon administration.

Brand went on to say that the statesman’s biggest legacy is the historic Nixon and then-Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev’s meeting in Moscow in May 1972. At the summit, the two world leaders signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, leading to leeway in the Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, said Kissinger was a leader who “played a very large role in the history of the twentieth century.”

The success of Kissinger’s work, Brzezinski said, is still visible in places such as Western Europe — where the “system of alliances and shifting away from the bipolar arrangement of the world has not only been maintained but even deepened.”

Kissinger’s working relationship with former Secretary of State James A. Baker III also stands out, Baker said.

“He’s an amazing man,” Baker said. “He was always willing to devote his time and energy to the cause of world peace. There was no one more dedicated.”

Baker said Kissinger’s legacy is one of “peace and understanding.”

“He had a great sense of the need for cooperation between countries,” he said. “He pursued peace with vigor.”

Kissinger will be remembered for his diplomatic acumen and intellect as well as his larger-than-life personality, Rogers said.

“I don’t think you’ll ever see anyone like him again,” Rogers said. “His name will be immortalized.”