Henry Kissinger, the man who steered American foreign policy for a generation and was complicit in atrocities across the globe, died Wednesday at age 100.
His death prompted posts of adoration from many prominent lawmakers. Former President George W. Bush called Kissinger “one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs,” saying he had “long admired the man who fled the Nazis as a young boy from a Jewish family, then fought them in the United States Army.”
“He worked in the administrations of two presidents and counseled many more,” Bush said in a statement. “I am grateful for that service and advice, but I am most grateful for his friendship.”
Others, including billionaire and former presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, said no one had “exercised more influence over global affairs over a longer period of time” than Kissinger.” He called his death “a loss for our country and the world.”
That influence amounted to a legacy of death and war crimes. While serving under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, he was responsible for the prolonging of the Vietnam War, the then-secret carpet-bombing of Cambodia and Laos and an arms deal with Pakistan that was later linked to hundreds of thousands of deaths.
In Cambodia, Kissinger told the military to bomb “anything that flies or moves.” At least 50,000 civilians were killed there in 1969 and 1970.
He vehemently defended his actions amid criticism of his role in geopolitics and remained a member of the Washington elite throughout his life. He was awarded the Distinguished Public Service Award by the Obama administration in 2016 and was regularly seen with presidents, popes and foreign leaders until his death.
Prominent lawmakers, including many Republicans, memorialized the former secretary of state with messages on social media Wednesday.