Appointed by President Richard M. Nixon
Continued in office under President Gerald Ford
Henry Kissinger was a rather remarkable individual who served as secretary of state during rather remarkable times, and scholars have yet to reach a consensus on his accomplishments and on the lasting impact he made on the conduct of U.S. diplomacy.
Henry Kissinger was born in southern Germany in May 1923. He and his family escaped Nazi Germany in 1938, eventually settling in the Washington Heights area of New York City. He interrupted his college education to serve in the U.S. Army. Later, he completed his undergraduate education with honors and then earned his MA and PhD degrees, all from Harvard University.
Kissinger was unique among secretaries of state because he held a doctoral degree in a relevant field, political science, and because he was a published if not highly regarded or particularly original scholar. His doctoral dissertation was the basis of his first book, A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22, in 1957, and this interest in and understanding of national interests and balance of power politics would figure greatly in his approach to diplomacy. Scholars commonly describe Kissinger as a believer in Realpolitik, and that he admired such practitioners from early European modernity as Armand Jean du Plessis, the Duke of Richelieu (better known as Cardinal Richelieu), William of Orange, Frederick the Great, Klemens Fürst von Metternich, Robert Stewart Viscount Castlereagh, and Otto von Bismarck. He disagreed with the strain of moral diplomacy in U.S. history and favored basing foreign policy on real interests. He also, late in his scholarly career, began to doubt the willingness of the United States to bear the costs alone of international leadership and thus he would seek to introduce balance of power politics to play off the Soviet Union and to recognize the People's Republic of China.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Kissinger wrote and published works on for-eign policy. He rejected the massive retaliation theory of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, believing it was unworkable, and even considered limited nuclear