Henry Kissinger, fully Henry Alfred Kissinger

Kissinger, fully Henry Alfred Kissinger

German-born American Politician, Ambassador, Secretary of State

Author Quotes

Superpowers have a special obligation not to humiliate each other.

The committee system, which is an attempt to reduce the inner insecurity of our top personnel, has the paradoxical consequence of institutionalizing it.

Serious students of international affairs know that common policies can endure only if both parties serve their own purposes.

Policy exists in time as well as in space… a measure is correct only if it can be carried out at the proper moment.

Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Nations rarely pay for services already rendered.

Mankind will never know what it was spared because of the risks avoided or because of actions taken that averted awful consequences – if only because once thwarted the consequences can never be proved.

Moderation is a virtue only in those who are thought to have an alternative.

It is not the fact of alliance which deters aggression but the application it can be given in any concrete case.

Leaders are responsible not for running public opinion polls but for the consequences of their action.

It is generally unwise… to raise an issue when one is not prepared to accept the likely response.

In retrospect all events seem inevitable.

Intelligence is not all that important in the exercise of power and is often, in point of fact, useless. Just as a leader doesn't need intelligence, a man in my job doesn't need too much of it either.

In crisis the most daring course is often the safest. The riskiest course in my experience has been gradual escalation that the opponent matches step by step, inevitably reaching a higher level of violence and often an inextricable stalemate.

In a society of sovereign states, an agreement will be maintained only if all partners consider it in their interest. They must have a sense of participation in the result. The art of diplomacy is not to outsmart the other side but to convince it either of common interests or of penalties if an impasse continues.

In crises boldness is the safest course. Hesitation encourages the adversary to persevere, maybe even to raise the ante.

If history teaches anything it is that there can be no peace without equilibrium and no justice without restrain.

History is not, of course, a cookbook offering pre-tested recipes. It teaches by analogy, not by maxims.

Facing down a nonexistent threat is an easy way to enhance a nation’s standing.

Empires have no interest in operating within an international system; they aspire to be the international system.

Committees are consumers and sometimes sterilizers of ideas, rarely creators of them.

Effective policy depends not only on the skill of individual moves, but even more importantly on their relationship to each other.

All truly great achievements in history resulted from the actualization of principles, not from the clever evaluation of political conditions.

All too frequently a problem evaded is a crisis invited.

A stable social structure thrives not on triumphs but on reconciliations.

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Kissinger, fully Henry Alfred Kissinger
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German-born American Politician, Ambassador, Secretary of State