15 Henry Kissinger Quotes That Speak to His Person

By , Staff Editor
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Whether you love or loathe him, there’s no denying that former U.S. Secretary of State (1973-1977) Henry Kissinger will live on in the history books. His abilities to provide convincing arguments and negotiate with tough opponents are on display in the many speeches he gave.

Henry Kissinger Quotes on Power and Leadership

Henry Kissinger has spent the majority of his life sharing his opinions and advice on how those in leadership positions around the world can contribute to global order.
  • “An effective foreign policy must reflect the values and permanent interests of our Nation and not the fashionable trends of the moment. These values and interests antedate this election year and must be maintained beyond it.” - “A Strong Foreign Policy for a Confident America” speech, 1976

  • “The optimist is not one who pretends that challenges do not exist — that is escapism. The true optimist has faith in his nation; he believes that challenges are to be mastered — not avoided.” - “A Strong Foreign Policy for a Confident America” speech, 1976

  • “ It is a tragedy that the forces of change in our century — a time of unparalleled human achievement — have also visited upon many individuals around the world a new dimension of intimidation and suffering.” - “Human Rights and the Western Hemisphere” speech, 1976

  • “There's therefore the danger that you pick the urgent over the important and that you are driven by short-term considerations. The policy maker, unlike the professor, is responsible not only for the best that can happen but also for the worst that might occur.” - U.S. Naval Academy Forrestal Lecture, 2007

  • “The concept of nation is beginning to weaken in different parts of the world, and it weakens in a different way in different parts of the world.” - U.S. Naval Academy Forrestal Lecture, 2007

  • “The danger posed by nuclear weapons is unprecedented and it brings us back to the basic challenge of the nuclear period: Our age has stolen the fire from the gods; can we confine it to peaceful purposes before it consumes us?” - Speech to the 45th Munich Security Conference, 2009

  • “World order now means in effect the establishment of compatible priorities.” - Remarks at the 2009 Makins Lecture

Henry Kissinger Quotes on Hope and Peace

Though his ideas and beliefs haven’t always been universally appreciated or accepted, Kissinger has often spoken about the ideal of world peace.

  • “Where there was once only despair and dislocation, today there is hope, however frail.” - Referencing Vietnam, 1973 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

  • “If peace, the ideal, is to be our common destiny, then peace, the experience, must be our common practice. For this to be so, the leaders of all nations must remember that their political decisions of war or peace are realised in the human suffering or well-being of their people.” - 1973 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

  • “This generation of Americans, like every generation before it, will shape its destiny and in helping the world will help itself. For what we and the world around us shall be is in our hands.” - “A Strong Foreign Policy for a Confident America” speech, 1976

  • “And today, more than ever, the successful advance of our societies [in the Western hemisphere] requires the full and free dedication of the talent, energy, and creative thought of men and women who are free from fear of repression.” - “Human Rights and the Western Hemisphere” speech, 1976

  • “It’s not often that people hear me make a relatively optimistic speech. But I want you to understand that the difficulties I have described I did as opportunities and challenges, that the condition for a dialogue among all the nations is unusually propitious.” - Remarks at the 2009 Makins Lecture

  • “I did not want to risk marring the international community’s most important celebration of the cause of peace by providing an occasion for demonstrations.” - On not attending the awarding of his Nobel Peace Prize in an Address to the Inaugural Nobel Peace Prize Forum, 2016

  • “I have had the honor to participate in various ways in America’s quest for a structure of peace. Some hopes were unfulfilled; a few proved unrealizable, even counterproductive.” - Address to the Inaugural Nobel Peace Prize Forum, 2016

  • “In a world of admitted rivalry and competition, a balance of power is necessary but not sufficient. The underlying question is whether a renewed rivalry between major powers can be kept from culminating in conflict.” - Opening Statement Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, 2018

Learn to Lead

Following the advice of notable world leaders, even the controversial ones, could help you sharpen your own leadership skills.