Henry A. Kissinger Quotes

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

A leader who confines his role to his people’s experience dooms himself to stagnation; a leader who outstrips his people’s experience runs the risk of not being understood.

Accept everything about yourself – I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end – no apologies, no regrets.

Any fact that needs to be disclosed should be put out now or as quickly as possible, because otherwise the bleeding will not end.

Art is man’s expression of his joy in labor.

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

Diplomacy: the art of restraining power.

Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem.

Even a paranoid can have enemies.

For other nations, utopia is a blessed past never to be recovered; for Americans it is just beyond the horizon.

High office teaches decision making, not substance. It consumes intellectual capital; it does not create it. Most high officials leave office with the perceptions and insights with which they entered; they learn how to make decisions but not what decisions to make.

I am being frank about myself in this book. I tell of my first mistake on page 850.

I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.

If eighty percent of your sales come from twenty percent of all of your items, just carry those twenty percent.

If I should ever be captured, I want no negotiation – and if I should request a negotiation from captivity they should consider that a sign of duress.

If it’s going to come out eventually, better have it come out immediately.

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

In crises the most daring course is often safest.

It is, after all, the responsibility of the expert to operate the familiar and that of the leader to transcend it.

It was a Greek tragedy. Nixon was fulfilling his own nature. Once it started it could not end otherwise.

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

Leaders must invoke an alchemy of great vision.

Moderation is a virtue only in those who are thought to have an alternative.

Most foreign policies that history has marked highly, in whatever country, have been originated by leaders who were opposed by experts.

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

No country can act wisely simultaneously in every part of the globe at every moment of time.

No foreign policy – no matter how ingenious – has any chance of success if it is born in the minds of a few and carried in the hearts of none.

No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.

People are generally amazed that I would take an interest in any form that would require me to stop talking for three hours.

Power is the great aphrodisiac.

The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.

The American foreign policy trauma of the sixties and seventies was caused by applying valid principles to unsuitable conditions.

The American temptation is to believe that foreign policy is a subdivision of psychiatry.

The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.

The essence of Richard Nixon is loneliness.

The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.

The longer I am out of office, the more infallible I appear to myself.

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

The security of Israel is a moral imperative for all free peoples.

The statesman’s duty is to bridge the gap between his nation’s experience and his vision.

The superpowers often behave like two heavily armed blind men feeling their way around a room, each believing himself in mortal peril from the other, whom he assumes to have perfect vision.

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

The Vietnam War required us to emphasize the national interest rather than abstract principles. What President Nixon and I tried to do was unnatural. And that is why we didn’t make it.

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.

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

University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.

We are all the President’s men.

We cannot always assure the future of our friends; we have a better chance of assuring our future if we remember who our friends are.

Whatever must happen ultimately should happen immediately.

While we should never give up our principles, we must also realize that we cannot maintain our principles unless we survive.

You can’t make war in the Middle East without Egypt and you can’t make peace without Syria.