The death of former secretary of state Henry Kissinger on Wednesday, at the age of 100, prompted a surge of reaction online, with historians and friends hailing his diplomatic achievements, and critics assailing his foreign policy actions in Vietnam and elsewhere around the globe as murderous.
In a statement, the daughters of former President Richard Nixon called Kissinger “one of America’s most skilled diplomats”, adding that he had worked with their father in “a partnership that produced a generation of peace for our nation”.
Kissinger was Nixon’s chief diplomat at a time of deep division and strife in the US over the war in Vietnam. His long career inspired decades of debate about the morality of his actions.
Friends like Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and former New York mayor, said on X, formerly Twitter, that “his death is a loss for our country and the world — and for all of us who were fortunate enough to call him a dear friend and mentor”.
Bloomberg called Kissinger “one of the most consequential public figures in American history” and said that “his legacy will shape the world for decades and even centuries to come”.
But critics of the former secretary of state also flooded X. Many accused Kissinger, who was also the national security adviser to Nixon and his successor, Gerald Ford, of advocating a foreign policy that led to death and war across the globe. More than a few posts expressed pleasure at his passing. Such strong reactions to the news of his death probably would not have surprised Kissinger.
In 2014, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton wrote a review of Kissinger’s book World Order, saying that Kissinger “is a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of state”.
On the Internet, many images were less flattering. The homepage of The Huffington Post showed a black and white photo of Kissinger’s face under the headline: “THE BELTWAY BUTCHER: WAR CRIMINAL KISSINGER DEAD AT 100.”
Rolling Stone tweeted: “Henry Kissinger, War Criminal Beloved by America’s Ruling Class, Finally Dies”.
New York Times News Service