Kissinger featured at Heinz Hall
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited Heinz Hall on Tuesday to speak about the demands that the war on terrorism has placed on American policy making.
Kissinger, whose lecture was sponsored by Robert Morris University?s popular Speaker Series, warned his audience of the dangers, both new and old , that America faces today, from nuclear proliferation to the peril of stateless terrorists. Claiming that the past few years have contained many ?seminal? moments in American history, Kissinger addressed the necessity of a fresh foreign policy, applauding President Bush?s doctrine of preemption .
Shifting his focus from international threats to America?s role in the world, Kissinger touched on the delicate pursuit of maintaining global power, remarking particularly on the ?complexity? of rebuilding Iraq, bridging comparisons between this current campaign and the Vietnam War.
Having served as Secretary of State under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Kissinger received the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in helping to end the Vietnam conflict. He also aided in developing U.S. relations with China and the Middle East and promoted a d?tente policy toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Kissinger?s controversial past was brought into play, however, as political writer and Kissinger critic Christopher Hitchens visited Pittsburgh the same night. Hitchens, whose appearance was coordinated by the Pittsburgh Filmmakers, lectured after a showing of Eugene Jarecki?s documentary based on Hitchens? book The Trials of Henry Kissinger. These works charge Mr. Kissinger with committing war crimes, namely in his support for regimes in South America and East Timor several decades ago.
Even closer to home, a handful of protesters, led by the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center, demonstrated in front of Heinz Hall prior to Kissinger?s lecture.
?I support freedom of speech and every person?s right to state their opinion. Therefore, I embraced their action, although I do not agree with their statements,? remarked Robert Morris University Director of Public Relations Mark Weinstein.
In the most revealing part of the night, the question-and-answer portion at the end of his lecture, Kissinger confronted these allegations by Hitchens and others, calling them ?absurd? and ?out of context.?
During this part of his talk, Kissinger also addressed questions regarding French-American relations, future competition with China (which he likened to a game of Go), his opinion on how history will treat former President Nixon, and, perhaps most entertainingly, his younger days as a soccer player.