Henry Kissinger discusses decision-making at Harvard's Sanders Theatre in April. Moderated by Belfer Center Director Graham Allison, panelists included Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor Joseph Nye and doctoral student Jessica Blankshain.
Kissinger's Return to Harvard Draws Enthusiastic Crowd
Harvard President Drew Faust called him “one of Harvard’s most legendary graduates” as she welcomed Henry Kissinger back to campus as part of the university’s 375th anniversary celebration. And the overflow crowd that gathered to hear him speak at Sanders Theatre on April 11 was testimony to that legend.
After his round-table discussion with Belfer Center Director Graham Allison, Harvard University Distinguished Professor Joseph Nye, and Kennedy School doctoral student Jessica Blankshain, the 88-year-old Kissinger mingled with students who crowded the stage to have him sign copies of his latest book, On China.
There were a few echoes of the anti-Vietnam War protests that dogged Kissinger when he served as national security adviser and then Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford from 1969 to 1977. Kissinger responded to one critical question by saying: “No one had a bigger interest in ending the war than the people who were in office.”
Kissinger described the stark contrast he encountered when he joined the government after 15 years as a Harvard professor of government. He said an academic scholar “can pick his topic. He can work on it for as long as he wants. He can choose the best possible vision of it, and he has the option of changing his mind. None of these options exist for the statesman. Issues present themselves and have to be dealt with in a finite period of time.”
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