Henry A. Kissinger as Negotiator: Background and Key Accomplishments

by James Sebenius & Laurence A. Green
 
 

Overview — This paper describes three of the most pivotal negotiations of statesman, scholar, and public intellectual Henry A. Kissinger, born in 1923 to a German Jewish family in Fuerth. These negotiations include the historic establishment of United States diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, the easing of geopolitical tension with the Soviet Union, and the mediation of the agreement on Sinai disengagement between Egypt and Israel. Additionally, the authors of this paper provide a brief summary of Kissinger's biography and career as well as an appendix of his involvement in other important diplomatic negotiations. In a forthcoming paper, the authors will examine these and other major events in which Henry Kissinger played leading roles in order to extract their most important insights into the principles and practice of effective negotiation. Key concepts include:

  • Henry Kissinger played key roles in many important diplomatic negotiations. This paper outlines three in depth.
  • Throughout his time as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, Kissinger exerted a strong influence on American foreign policy.
  • In tandem with working for détente with the Soviet Union, he played a central role in helping to end 23 years of diplomatic isolation and mutual suspicion between the United States and China as well as, after the 1973 Yom Kippur war, to orchestrate disengagement agreements between Egypt and Israel as well as Syria and Israel.

Author Abstract

Following a brief summary of Henry A. Kissinger's career, this paper describes three of his most pivotal negotiations: the historic establishment of U.S. diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, the easing of geopolitical tension with the Soviet Union, symbolized by the signing of the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I), and the mediation of the agreement on Sinai disengagement between Egypt and Israel. An appendix lists other important negotiations in which Kissinger played key roles.

Paper Information