Henry Kissinger Quotes On Leadership and Power

Henry Alfred Kissinger, also known as Heinz Alfred Kissinger, was a German-born American politician, diplomat, and geopolitical consultant who served as the nation’s secretary of state and national security adviser during the administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

47 Henry Kissinger Quotes

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  1. “Every victory is only the price of admission to a more difficult problem”
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2. “History knows no resting places and no plateaus”

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3. “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”

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4. “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”

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5. “Who controls money control the world.”

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6. “The issues are too important to be left for the voters.”

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7. “If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.”

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8. “In our period, new technology has been developed, but remains in need of a guiding philosophy.”

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9. “Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.”

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10. “Blessed are the people whose leaders can look destiny in the eye without flinching but also without attempting to play God”

11. “Corrupt politicians make the other ten percent look bad.”

12. “Don’t be too ambitious. Do the most important thing you can think of doing every year and then your career will take care of itself.”

13. “When statesmen want to gain time, they offer to talk.”

14. “I want to thank you for stopping the applause. It is impossible for me to look humble for any period of time.”

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15. “Americans have a tendency to believe that when there’s a problem there must be a solution.”

16. “If history teaches anything it is that there can be no peace without equilibrium and no justice without restraint.”

17. “Leaders must invoke an alchemy of great vision.”

18. “A country whose security depends on producing a genius in each generation sets itself a task no society has ever met.”

19. “Even a paranoid can have enemies.”

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20. “Mao thought he was inscrutable you know. At least I think he did. it was hard to tell with him.”

21. “There can’t be a crisis next week, my schedule is already full.”

22. “Behind the slogans lay an intellectual vacuum.”

23. “A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”

24. “Order should not have priority over freedom. But the affirmation of freedom should be elevated from a mood to a strategy.”

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25. “The nice thing about being a celebrity is that if you bore people they think it’s their fault.”

26. “The goal of the tribute system was to foster deference, not to extract economic benefit or to dominate foreign societies militarily.”

27. “Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.”

28. “Leaders are responsible not for running public opinion polls but for the consequences of their actions.”

29. “For nations, history plays the role that character confers on human beings.”

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30. “A leader does not deserve the name unless he is willing occasionally to stand alone.”

A must Read: On China by Henry Kissinger

One of the most well-known diplomats in history, Henry Kissinger has a dubious reputation for his work. In his book “On China,” Kissinger outlines his own interpretation of the country and argues that its cultural foundation is crucial to its leadership and foreign policy.

If you’re looking for information on how US-China relations changed during his time in government, this book is a priceless resource because it goes into great detail about his work in China as a diplomat for the US government. Of course, keep in mind that this book has little to say for the last twenty years.

For academics, researchers, and fans of foreign policy, it’s a must-read.

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

32. “It is not a matter of what is true that counts, but a matter of what is perceived to be true.”

33. “We live in a wondrous time, in which the strong is weak because of his scruples and the weak grows strong because of his audacity.”

34. “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”

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35. “Americans hold that every problem has a solution; Chinese think that each solution is an admission ticket to a new set of problems.”

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36. “Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.”

37. “Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There is too much fraternizing with the enemy.”

38. “In the end, peace can be achieved only by hegemony or by balance of power.”

39. “What is new about the emerging world order is that, for the first time, the United States can neither withdraw from the world nor dominate it.”

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40. “To be absolutely certain about something, one must know everything or nothing about it.”

41. “Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes. There’s just too much fraternizing with the enemy.”

42. “Politicians are like dogs… Their life expectancy is too short for a commitment to be bearable”

43. “A Harvard study has shown that in fifteen cases in history where a rising and an established power interacted, ten ended in war.”

44. “Order always requires a subtle balance of restraint, force, and legitimacy.”

45. “A country that demands moral perfection in its foreign policy will achieve neither perfection nor security”

46. “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.”

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47. “Self-governed nations do not fill their neighbor states with spies”

Henry Kissinger was a Jewish refugee who left Nazi Germany in 1938 with his family, and in 1969 he was appointed national security adviser. In 1973, he was appointed secretary of state. Kissinger was awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in brokering a cease-fire in Vietnam, but the ceremony was marred by controversy and the resignation of two committee members.

Additional Read:

Henry Kissinger Biography

The Myth of Henry Kissinger 

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