In 1938 a fifteen-year-old Jewish boy was forced to Нес from Germany with his parents in order to escape imprisonment in one of Hitler’s concentration camps. The family went to live in the United States where the boy got a job cleaning bristles in a shaving-brush factory. He was Cleveland hardworking, however, and went on to become a brilliant student at Harvard University. Just over thirty years later he became the Secretary of State of the United States. 1 lis name was Henry Kissinger.
Kissinger’s rise to importance began when Richard Nixon became President in 1%9. He became Nixon’s personal adviser in all the United States’ dealings with the rest of the world. In 1973 Kissinger officially became Secretary of State, a position he held until jimmy Carter became President in 1977.
All through the early and middle 1970s Kissinger played a central part in shaping American foreign policy. He helped to form and direct the Nixon government’s policy in the later years of the Vietnam War. He prepared the way for detente with communist China. 11c worked to bring peace between the United States’ ally Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Some people believed that Kissinger’s boyhood experiences in Germany played an important part in forming his ideas about the kind of world be wanted to shape as Secretary of State. One man who knew him said:
Henry Kissinger, the man who shaped and dtreeted АтетіеЖ foreign policy for much of the 1970s.
“1 think he came out of it with a kind of burning need for order. People in these experiences have a real memory of chaos, of violence and brutality, like the world is collapsing under them. Kissinger, more than most, would probably agree that disorder is worse than injustice.”
Kissinger’s critics saw him as a showman, whose achievements were more apparent than real. His admirers believed that he was one of the most effective statesmen of the twentieth century.
By the middle of the 1980s President Reagan had increased American military strength so much that he was ready to start talking seriously about slowing down the arms race. ‘1 he Soviet Union was ready, too. In 1985 a new leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, had come to power there. Gorbachev believed that the huge cost of the arms race was crippling the Soviet Union’s economy and he was eager to reduce it.
In December 1987, Gorbachev traveled with his wife to the United States. There, in Washington, he and President Reagan signed the Intermediate Range
Nuclear Force (INF) treaty.
In the INF treaty both countries agreed that within three years they would destroy all their land-based medium and shorter range nuclear missiles. President Reagan gave Gorbachev a pair of cufflinks to celebrate the signing of the treaty. To symbolize their two countries turning away from war and towards peace, the cufflinks showed swords being beaten into ploughshares.
In May 1988, Gorbachev began со withdraw Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The following year brought even bigger changes. All over central and eastern Europe the communist political systems imposed by Stalin in the years after the Second World War crumbled away. While Gorbachev’s Soviet Union looked on without interfering, countries such as Hungary, Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia set up multi-party systems and held free elections.
Such developments raised hopes that a new time of peaceful cooperation might now be possible between the Soviet Union and the United States. “I believe that future generations will look back to this time and see it as a turning point in world history,” the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had said after a visit to Washington in 1988. “Wc arc not in a cold war nowc”
By 1990 most people believed that she wras right.