Dr Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State and National Security Advisor has died at the age of 100. The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation mourns his passing, while celebrating his long and remarkable life. The trustees have written to his widow Nancy to express our sadness and condolences.
Dr Kissinger was a great friend of Sir Edward Heath’s during his lifetime and also a kind supporter and friend of the Heath Foundation. He accepted with alacrity our invitation to become an International Patron of the Foundation when we launched the Edward Heath Centenary Campaign to mark a hundred years since Ted’s birth in July, 1916.
Ted and Henry met many times between the 1960s and 2005, in and out of government, in Britain and in the United States -and also in many other parts of the world, including in China, in Iran, in Europe and in Egypt, to mention only a few instances that stand out in our records. They didn’t agree about everything but they had much in common and there was strong mutual respect.
The Foundation was delighted when Dr Kissinger accepted our invitation to give the inaugural Edward Heath International Lecture in 2016 at the Banqueting House in Whitehall, followed by a dinner in his honour. The proceedings were chaired by our Honorary President, Sir John Major.
Henry Kissinger and the US administrations in which he served were strong supporters of Heath’s policy of securing British membership of the European Community. He and they believed this would strengthen the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance. Kissinger was also a determined advocate of NATO as the chief bulwark against Soviet communism. He laboured long and hard to maintain stability in the Middle East and to contain the periodic crises that erupted. Those over sixty will recall his ‘shuttle diplomacy’ -a style of diplomatic engagement he virtually invented. He worked hard along with Edward Heath and others to end China’s political and economic isolation, to re-engage it with the world and to harness it as a significant factor in the ultimate demise of the Soviet Union.
He exemplified Churchill’s dictum ‘jaw-jaw is better than war-war’. Throughout his life he struggled to keep channels of communication open and to sustain dialogue with unpalatable regimes, as well as with the West’s friends. He kept up these efforts and maintained a surprising degree of influence almost until his death.
As he leaves the stage, we have all lost a great statesman, a wise counsellor and a tireless public servant. We are poorer without him and an increasingly unstable and anxious world feels just a little less safe.