- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 28, 2002

The biographer of Henry Kissinger says the former secretary of state refused to speak to him for years following the publication of the 1992 study on the architect of American foreign policy during the Nixon and Ford years.
But Walter Isaacson said that, three or four years ago, Mr. Kissinger resumed talking to the author. Mr. Isaacson, who is now chairman and chief executive officer of CNN, yesterday hailed President Bush's choice of Mr. Kissinger to serve as chairman of the bipartisan independent commission that will investigate pre-September 11 intelligence failures and try to help the administration learn the motives and tactics of this country's terrorist enemies.
"I think Henry Kissinger is really a smart choice for this position," Mr. Isaacson said, adding:
"He's had both an appreciation for and a healthy skepticism of American intelligence. He's particularly good at putting intelligence in an analytical framework. He's also great at understanding links; meaning, how an action in one corner of the world reverberates in another corner of the world."
Mr. Isaacson knows the life and mind of the German immigrant very well. Mr. Isaacson wrote "Kissinger: A Biography" when he was an assistant managing editor at Time magazine. Mr. Kissinger was both assistant to the president for national security affairs and secretary of state under President Nixon and continued as secretary of state under President Ford.
CNN's top executive said he likes the fact that Mr. Kissinger is "impatient when others fail to be" and is "never mild-mannered when it comes to misjudgments in intelligence."
Those are some of "his strengths," Mr. Isaacson said.
As he said of Mr. Kissinger in an interview with The Washington Times soon after his book was released: "He has always been able to generate very polarized opinions, both of veneration and vituperation, of animosity and awe."
Mr. Isaacson pointed out that, in 1973, Mr. Kissinger was the most-admired person in America. That was the year he was named secretary of state by Mr. Nixon. It was also the year he won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a cease-fire in Vietnam.
Born in Furth, Germany, near Nuremburg, Mr. Kissinger arrived in the United States with his parents at the age of 15. His relatives were Orthodox Jews, and they recognized the terror that faced them in Adolf Hitler's Germany. In fact, some of Mr. Kissinger's relatives, including three aunts, died in concentration camps.
Mr. Kissinger met a man while the German immigrant was stationed in Louisiana in the Army during World War II who recognized his brilliance and suggested he seek admission to Harvard which he did. While a student, Mr. Kissinger received high grades and later gained notice as an author of several books.
Mr. Kissinger has been portrayed as America's most brilliant and enterprising modern statesman and also denounced as a hawkish exponent of realpolitik. Many of his critics have said that Mr. Kissinger's approach to foreign affairs excessively emphasizes the importance of geopolitics and advancing national interests at the expense of moral issues.
Mr. Isaacson said he believes Mr. Kissinger hated his book so long because he did not always portray the former secretary of state as the text of the Nobel Peace Prize did. The author showed him as secretive, ambitious, ruthless toward his enemies and associates, manipulative, autocratic, and given to temper tantrums and rages.
But Mr. Isaacson's book was mild compared to a two-part series about Mr. Kissinger that ran in Harper's magazine in February and March 2001. The series, written by British journalist Christopher Hitchens, held that Mr. Kissinger should be viewed as a war criminal.
Mr. Hitchens accused Mr. Kissinger of being responsible for numerous "crimes," such as prolonging and expanding the war in Southeast Asia; human rights abuses in Chile in the early 1970s; the 1971 Pakistani-led massacre in Bangladesh; and the car-bombing in Washington that killed a Chilean foreign minister and his aide in 1976.
Mr. Kissinger refused to comment on the series when it ran, and Mr. Isaacson declined to react to it yesterday.


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