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henry kissinger

Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State and national security advisor for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, discusses the Vietnam War in 2016.

December 4, 2023

The Legacy of Henry Kissinger

Ask students: When did Kissinger first become an influential figure in international affairs? What are some of the policies that Kissinger a "villain" to many?

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Henry Kissinger, America’s most consequential and controversial Secretary of State, died November 29 at the age of 100. He reached the peak of his power in the 1970s and remained highly influential until the very end.

For a transcript of this story, click here.

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Discussion Questions

  • Who was Henry Kissinger?
  • When did Kissinger first become an influential figure in international affairs?
  • How did Kissinger influence policy during the Nixon administration?
  • What are some of the policies that Kissinger a "villain" to many?
  • Why did Kissinger continue to influence foreign policy even after he no longer had an official role?

Focus Questions

How do you think some of the foreign policy choices pushed or organized by Kissinger will continue to shape the U.S.'s relationship with the rest of the world? Which do you think are most significant or important?

Media literacy: Why do you think the producers of this story sought to interview both guests who saw Kissinger as a hero and guests who saw him as a villain?

Extension Activity

You can read more about Kissinger's life and legacy here and here.

As a class, examine the following headlines from different publications following Kissinger's death. What similarities and differences do you notice? Why do you think some headlines described his legacy using balanced language and some did not? Review these headlines below: 

Lesson Plans on International Politics

Find more resources on international politics and how they relate to your students with our free collection of preK-12 lesson plans and teaching resources.

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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