There is no one like Henry Kissinger. From the first time I met him as a new Labour Party Opposition Leader in 1994, struggling to form views on foreign policy, to the last occasion when I visited him in New York and, later, when he spoke at my Institute’s annual gathering, I was in awe of him. The range of his knowledge, the insights which would tumble out of him effortlessly, the lucidity, the mastery of the English language which made him a joy to listen to on any subject, and above all the ability to take all the different elements of the most complex diplomatic challenge and weave from them something astonishing in its coherence and completeness, and, most unusual of all, leading to an answer and not just an analysis: no one could do that like Henry. If it is possible for diplomacy, at its highest level, to be a form of art, Henry was an artist.
Of course, like anyone who has confronted the most difficult problems of international politics, he was criticised at times, even denounced. But I believe he was always motivated not from a coarse “realpolitik”; but from a genuine love of the free world and the need to protect it. He was a problem-solver, whether in respect of the Cold War, the Middle East or China and its rise. And not once did he ever stop thinking about the future, reflecting on it and proffering wisdom upon it, most recently on the technology revolution.
I consider it one of the greatest privileges of my political life to have known him. From that first moment of meeting him to the last, he inspired me and taught me and I will forever be grateful to him.