Henry Kissinger Quotes on Politics, Leadership, and War

Sckylar Gibby-Brown

Henry Kissinger is an American politician and political scientist who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under both the Nixon and Ford administrations.

These Henry Kissinger quotes on politics, leadership, and war will give you insight into this politician’s mind. 

Do you know the art of war?

Henry Kissinger immigrated to the United States with his family to escape Nazi persecution in 1938.

Kissinger then became a U.S. citizen and served in the U.S.

Army during World War II.

After the war, Kissinger earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University before becoming a security consultant for the United States Government.

He eventually served as the head of the National Security Council and was heavily involved during the Vietnam War. 

Kissinger has been the recipient of many awards for his service to the government, including the Nobel Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Medal of Liberty.

This collection of Henry Kissinger quotes comes from statements he made throughout his political career as well as excerpts from his books.

Don’t forget to also check out these political quotes that show all perspectives.

If you enjoy this article, check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily motivation. 

If you want more motivational quotes, check out our motivational quotes category page.

Henry Kissinger quotes on politics

1. “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” – Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger quotes on politics

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2. “University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” – Henry Kissinger

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3. “We are all the President’s men.” – Henry Kissinger

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4. “People are generally amazed that I would take an interest in any form that would require me to stop talking for three hours.” – Henry Kissinger

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5. “The longer I am out of office, the more infallible I appear to myself.” – Henry Kissinger

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6. “Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.” – Henry Kissinger

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7. “The American foreign policy trauma of the sixties and seventies was caused by applying valid principles to unsuitable conditions.” – Henry Kissinger

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8. “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.” – Henry Kissinger

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9. “Diplomacy: the art of restraining power.” – Henry Kissinger

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10. “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.” – Henry Kissinger

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11. “It was a Greek tragedy. Nixon was fulfilling his own nature. Once it started it could not end otherwise.” – Henry Kissinger

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Henry Kissinger quotes on leadership

12. “It is, after all, the responsibility of the expert to operate the familiar and that of the leader to transcend it.” – Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger quotes on leadership

13. “For other nations, utopia is a blessed past never to be recovered; for Americans it is just beyond the horizon.” – Henry Kissinger

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14. “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.” – Henry Kissinger

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15. “Leaders are responsible not for running public opinion polls but for the consequences of their actions.” – Henry Kissinger

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16. “Leaders must invoke an alchemy of great vision.” – Henry Kissinger

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

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18. “The statesman’s duty is to bridge the gap between his nation’s experience and his vision.” – Henry Kissinger

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19. “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.” – Henry Kissinger

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20. “A leader does not deserve the name unless he is willing occasionally to stand alone.” – Henry Kissinger

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Henry Kissinger quotes on war

21. “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.” – Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger quotes on war

22. “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.” – Henry Kissinger

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23. “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.” – Henry Kissinger

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24. “Most foreign policies that history has marked highly, in whatever country, have been originated by leaders who were opposed by experts.” – Henry Kissinger

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25. “The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.” – Henry Kissinger

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26. “The American temptation is to believe that foreign policy is a subdivision of psychiatry.” – Henry Kissinger

27. “No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.” – Henry Kissinger

28. “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.” – Henry Kissinger

29. “While we should never give up our principles, we must also realize that we cannot maintain our principles unless we survive.” – Henry Kissinger

30. “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.” – Henry Kissinger

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

32. “There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” – Henry Kissinger

33. “You can’t make war in the Middle East without Egypt and you can’t make peace without Syria.” – Henry Kissinger
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Wise Henry Kissinger quotes

34. “In crises, the most daring course is often safest.” – Henry Kissinger

35. “If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.” – Henry Kissinger

36. “If it’s going to come out eventually, better have it come out immediately.” – Henry Kissinger

37. “Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem.” – Henry Kissinger

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

39. “Power is the great aphrodisiac.” – Henry Kissinger

40. “Art is man’s expression of his joy in labor.” – Henry Kissinger

41. “No country can act wisely simultaneously in every part of the globe at every moment of time.” – Henry Kissinger

42. “Moderation is a virtue only in those who are thought to have an alternative.” – Henry Kissinger

43. “The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.” – Henry Kissinger

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44. “Whatever must happen ultimately should happen immediately.” – Henry Kissinger

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

46. “To be absolutely certain about something, one must know everything or nothing about it.” – Henry Kissinger

47. “The nice thing about being a celebrity is that, if you bore people, they think it’s their fault.” – Henry Kissinger

48. “It is not a matter of what is true that counts, but what is perceived to be true.” – Henry Kissinger

49. “Even a paranoid can have enemies.” – Henry Kissinger

50. “If eighty percent of your sales come from twenty percent of all of your items, just carry those twenty percent.” – Henry Kissinger

More Henry Kissinger quotes and sayings

51. An expert is someone who articulates the needs of those in power. – Henry Kissinger

52. In the end, peace can be achieved only by hegemony or by balance of power. – Henry Kissinger

53. Every success is usually an admission ticket to a new set of decisions. – Henry A. Kissinger

54. The art of good foreign policy is to understand and to take into consideration the values of a society, to realize them at the outer limit of the possible. – Henry Kissinger

55. If we do what is necessary, all the odds are in our favor. – Henry Kissinger

56. What political leaders decide, intelligence services tend to seek to justify. – Henry Kissinger

57. The important thing is to do the right thing. Then credibility will follow. – Henry Kissinger

58. Self-governed nations do not fill their neighbor states with spies – Henry Kissinger

What did you think of these Henry Kissinger quotes?

It takes a great leader to lead us out of a war, but it also takes a great leader to help us avoid war and strive for peace. 

Kissinger’s study of war and leadership led him to be an important advisor to The United States’ government.

These Henry Kissinger quotes give us substantial insight into the mind of a man who had incredible influence over the security of our country. 

Was Henry Kissinger a good leader?

Do you have any other favorite Henry Kissinger quotes and sayings?

Let us know in the comments below.

Sckylar Gibby-Brown
Sckylar is a gifted storyteller who enjoys writing creative and motivational content. She graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in English literature and a minor in film production! She graduated with Cum Laude honors and was a member of the Dean's List. She loves to help teach aspiring millennials to ditch the 9-5 and work from anywhere through her company, Adventuring Dreamers. When not creating engaging articles for businesses and entrepreneurs, Sckylar enjoys working on her own creative writing projects, producing films and commercials, and traveling the world. Her skill set also includes digital marketing knowledge and a strong leadership background. As a business owner, she is also well versed in social media marketing, affiliate marketing, Canva, and Microsoft Office.
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