Under the Black Flag

Ignoring Dr. Hank

A few years back I was spending the weekend with the designer Oscar de la Renta and his wife, and they took me along to dinner at a neighbor’s on Saturday night.  We were in rural Connecticut, and the scene and the house we visited were straight out of Norman Rockwell.  The dinner party consisted of about 12 people, and my hosts were Dr. Henry and Nancy Kissinger.  The wonderfully hospitable Nancy seated me one away from the good doctor, as it was my first time in their house.  The Kissinger wine was of superior quality, and I indulged myself.

“May I call you Henry?” I inquired, once the wine began to have its effect.

“Soon he will be calling me Hank,” was the great man’s answer.  Then he added, laughing, “Of course you may.”  Ever since, Annette de la Renta and I refer to the great man as Dr. Hank.  But let’s get down to business: In the long history of American diplomacy, no figure has been more savaged by commentators and cheap-shot artists than Henry Kissinger.  As national security advisor to President Nixon and secretary of state during the Nixon and Ford administrations, Henry Kissinger played a pivotal role in negotiating some of the most important agreements of the Cold War.  Two of his most vociferous critics were Christopher Hitchens and Arianna Huffington.  If one judges a man by his enemies, Henry Kissinger...

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