Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger discusses his controversial career

Historians in the News
tags: Henry Kissinger

Addressing his controversial record as former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger acknowledged “mistakes were made” by America in the Vietnam War but said he had no regrets about his actions in the war at the Lyndon B. Johnson School on Tuesday.

“We acted on the basis of our best judgment at the time,” Kissinger said. “One should stand by one’s decisions.” 

Kissinger, former American diplomat and Harvard professor, served as secretary of state from 1973 to 1977. He is best known for his role in the Vietnam War — for negotiating a ceasefire between North and South Vietnam and expanding the war into Cambodia through a secret bombing in 1969. 

Kissinger — who is alternately praised as a brilliant statesman and denounced as a “war criminal” — answered questions about his time in office from Mark Updegrove, moderator and LBJ library director, and insisted on taking unrestricted questions from the audience.

Responding to criticism about the Cambodia “carpet bombing,” Kissinger denied he was a “war criminal.” He defended the action as necessary because American forces would have been “absolutely hopeless” if the Vietnamese fighters were allowed to keep their base there.  ...

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