Hannes Wessels,

Few Rhodesians will mourn the passing of Henry Kissinger who died recently aged 100. Most see him as a central figure in the destruction of the country so many of us held so dear. This may be partly or even wholly true but I remain of the view Kissinger, while a ruthless pragmatist, was not insensitive to the plight of the Rhodesians.

One must bear in mind that at the time he intervened mid-1976 South African Prime Minister John Vorster was ratcheting up pressure on the country. Helicopters had been withdrawn, and fuel and ammunition supplies were below what was desperately needed as the war escalated. Pik Botha, then at the UN, but very influential on foreign policy, was cozy with the Americans and no fan of Ian Smith’s or Foreign Minister PK van der Byl. The South Africans were making it clear that their continued support for their northern neighbour was far from assured and they were prepared to dispense with the ‘Rhodesia problem’ if there was no political change forthcoming.

It was against this backdrop Kissinger intervened. After meeting the ‘Frontline’ leaders; principally Presidents Nyerere and Kaunda, who apparently accepted his proposed formula for a settlement in Rhodesia, he confronted Ian Smith in Pretoria and made it clear that the offer on the table was one the beleaguered prime minister could not afford to refuse.

There was truth in this; the economy was struggling and skilled personnel, tiring of military commitments, were leaving the country in growing numbers. With Vorster solidly behind Kissinger, Smith knew his options were very limited and with a heavy heart, and serious reservations, he accepted what was tabled. Kissinger later remarked that, “Ian Smith made accepting the deal worse by acting like a gentleman.”

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To soften the blow Kissinger promised continued American engagement in the transition process and that included significant financial support. With a heavy heart Ian Smith returned to Salisbury to tell his countrymen and women the die was cast.

He later wrote; “Kissinger, compared to the British was a pleasure to deal with. He seemed very genuine in his desire to reach an understanding that took the interests of all into account. I have nothing but respect for him. If the British had approached our problem in the same spirit, I think our history would have unfolded with a great less tragedy but they were terribly vindictive and they took treachery to a new level.”

We will now never know what might have been now, but the Watergate scandal that enveloped the Nixon White House, was a political shock-wave that disrupted American foreign policy initiatives which included Rhodesia. It also impacted on Pretoria, in that US support for the South African military intervention in Angola aimed at preventing the Soviet-backed MPLA from acquiring power, dissipated, and Vorster pulled his military back from the outskirts of Luanda.

With Kissinger on the sidelines, the British government quickly stepped back into the fray and gave a mandate to Sir Ivor Richard to reassert Whitehall’s authority. A hard-left Labourite who loathed the Rhodesians, he responded with alacrity; gone from the arena was the empathy shown by Kissinger, to be replaced by the spiteful vengefulness that Ian Smith and his ministers had come to know so well.

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At the Geneva Conference, which followed, hosted by Richard, the Kissinger proposals were put on the backburner, providing Richard with a platform to set about humiliating the Smith delegation while embracing the newly formed Patriotic Front of Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe who he encouraged to be strident in their demands for an immediate and unconditional transfer of power.

The Smith delegation knew they had hit a brick wall and abandoned the talks but not before Foreign Minister PK van der Byl further enraged Sir Ivor with his comments about some of the people at the conference who he had taken so affectionately under his wing.

Speaking to the media before leaving Switzerland, he referred to some members of the Mugabe delegation as “. itinerant, temporarily unemployed terrorists..”,  some of whom disported themselves with “tea cosies on their heads” who thought majority rule was “.. something you find on a menu.” Robert Mugabe responded by calling van der Byl a “foul-mouthed bloody fool”.

Many years later when I met Doctor Kissinger in Washington, he told me the British had been trying to undermine him the moment he became involved in trying to help find a solution.

When I handed him a letter I carried from Ian Smith he was astonished, then read the contents with tears in his eyes.  

My lasting impression of the man is he acted in good faith towards Rhodesia and tried to help us find a better way, but he was thwarted by events beyond his control in Washington and Britain’s insatiable desire to mete out the severest possible punishment to the colonial cousins who had scorned them.

32 thoughts on “Henry Kissinger; Friend or Foe?”
  1. As an Ex Rhodesian all I can say is Kissinger was a waste of White skin.

  2. Thanks Hannes. I am one of those who believes Kissinger’s whole egotistical life centered around his belief in, and implementing his evil ideology of a totalitarian New World Order political system and I think this little-known article, which I have posted here before, supports this. I believe he conned Ian Smith with his crocodile tears and fake words of concern. Smith’s time was so pre-occupied with trying to resolve Rhodesia’s problems and because he was so honest he would not have had the slightest inkling of an ulterior motive along the lines of those contained in this article. I have only included the first two paragraphs of the article to give readers the gist of it but I can supply the rest of the article plus a web link if anyone is interested.

    BEHIND THE INTERNATIONAL WAR AGAINST RHODESIA
    THE NEW TIMES AUGUST, 1976

    Following Dr. Henry Kissinger’s open declaration of war against Rhodesia
    early in May, when he visited Zambia, the American Secretary of State has
    promoted a continuing international campaign against Rhodesia. As Dr.
    Kissinger is an agent of the Rockefellers and their fellow international
    financiers, it is obvious that the anti-Rhodesian campaign has their
    backing. The fact that the Communists are also supporting the anti-Rhodesian
    campaign merely provides further evidence of the nexus between International
    Finance and International Communism.

    It is no secret that Dr. Kissinger wants to establish a “New World Order.”
    He has said so himself. And he also sees central control of the world’s
    resources, including food, along with a world financial monopoly, as
    essential for the building of the “New World Order”. He also believes that
    it is possible to work together with the Communists to achieve the ultimate
    goal. The Rockefellers and other Wall Street international financiers hold
    the same view, which is why they have over half a century financed massive
    economic blood transfusions to the Communists. This ensures that the
    Communist threat is maintained so that the peoples of what is left of the
    Free World can be stampeded progressively into surrendering more of their
    liberties and rights.

  3. Great and Interesting article Hannes. One of the many youtube discussions about Rhodesia basically highlights your views and the views of others around that time. Not as well put as other may, but simply put as I can:- Kissinger was a cunning evil man with a heart like Hitler who unfortunatly even managed to draw in IDS under his spell. While he did that, and behind the scenes, he did it with pains in his rear end as Vorster and Pik Botha scrambled to get in there. It was certainly not the poms that brought about change, but the influence that HK had on Pik and John who for some reason (But we all know what) disliked IDS and sold us down the River at the 11th hour with no further options. Although from Pioneer descent, with my Great grandmother being an afrikaner and my Grand father being n Engelsman. I have never truely put any trust in either the Dutchman or the Englishman. I’m born Rhodesian and fought for what IDS stood for. Standards, Morals and Integrity, the likes of wich are few throughout this world at the moment.

  4. I think your brief encounter with the no doubt smooth and engaging Kissinger family has clouded your judgment Hannes.

    He was the worst kind of evildoer, no doubt an engaging and clever narcissist, apparently full of promise and goodwill, who smiled into your eyes while he ripped your heart out of your chest.

    This ghastly globalist’s fingerprints are provably all over what is happening today, and his ties to the WEF are massive and many. He was one of the foundational architects and main drivers of This Great Reset, his efforts largely concealed by his sly, deceiving mostly hidden in the wings way.

    Rhodesia was just another plaything that he didn’t give a toss about, and like John Vorster he was a prominent figure in her downfall. Douglas Reed’s book “The Battle for Rhoesia” makes a compelling argument that Rhodesia, and particularly Smith’s Government, was the last obstacle between the cabal and their carefully orchestrated decimation of Africa which made her resources available to be raped, for cents in the dollar. Kissinger never had any intention of helping our beloved country or IDS, a wonderful, honest, trusting man who never had the wherewithal to deal with conniving arseholes like Kissinger.

    No mate, Kissinger was a bad man, an evil SOB who spent his life forwarding the agenda of the psychotic cabal that has this world by the nuts.

  5. great article Hannes.

    In my humble opinion, Kissinger should have appeared before an international war crimes court for his part in the genocide of the people of several countries. Truly one of the 20th and 21st century’s war criminals and evil geniuses who killed with impunity and received a Nobel Peace Prize for doing so.

  6. Hi Hannes – Many thanks for your interesting article on Henry Kissinger and his dealings with Rhodesia. I think what comes through in your article and several of the following comments is this: When an individual meets someone of the calibre of Ian Smith they are compelled to look at them selves in a new light.

    Because in the case of Henry Kissinger ( and his wife ) they could recognise a true man and leader who loved his country above everything else and was totally steadfast in his principles to the end – he like a reflective mirror stirred in him Kissinger a little of these higher qualities so lacking in lesser men.

    As for the British leaders Wilson, Callahan and Thatcher, and their servants Owen, Ivor Richard and Carrington they all realised that here was a real man ( there were others of course like PK van der Byl ) who like the reflective mirror high lighted their own weakness and inadequate moral fibre which made them uncomfortable. There only response was to ridicule what they could not understand let alone appreciate.
    Old Rhodesia may be passing into the mists of time but what will survive through the years is the legend that great men and women once fought against great odds for an ideal that was Rhodesia.

    Dr Richard Pim

  7. Good balanced overview Hannes . . . am just sad that Rhodesia has yet again been airbrushed out of even a slightly significant mention of what Kissinger tried to do.

  8. Thanks Hannes, most interesting. And, knowing that you have actually related it from a perspective many of us do not have though I do agree with your comment that Kissinger was “a ruthless pragmatist” and I guess for Rhodesia which was a pawn in the bigger global picture, our demise was inevitable regrettably. My invective is mostly towards Vorster and Pik Botha – they were the real villains in the piece in my own personal view. Real rubber necks!

  9. Hi Hannes
    I do recall you mentioned in passing you had dinner with Kissenger (though W F Buckley’s wife?)On Fighting men of Rhodesia. Always wondered his perspective. At that time just finished reading Niall Ferguson bio part One of HK. Alas this was prior to his Rhodesian involvement. But Ferguson has his personal and detailed library. It would have a trove of info of HK views.
    NF must have researched this era. Would be great to nail Niall done for a podcast/interview? Good luck!
    PS from Niall F.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2023-11-30/henry-kissinger-was-a-complex-man-for-a-complex-century?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_term=231130&utm_campaign=author_2151773

  10. The story of Southern Africa for the last 375 years is fascinating- and this is but one chapter. Sadly, the interventions of global leaders, however well intended, have lead to the destruction of at least two great countries thriving economies. So yes, apartheid was both abhorrent and totally wrong- but removing it has been bungled to say the least. What now for Southern Africa? Some would say total disaster must be seen before anything significant and positive will happen. I cry for my beloved countries – Rhodesia and South Africa. And I curse incompetence charlatans like Mugabe and Ramaphosa

  11. Hi Hannes, I didn’t know you had met Henry Kissinger in person, and the fact that you hand delivered a letter from IDS is interesting.
    The last three sentences in this article says it all. Perfidious Albion, on display, what can anyone say?

  12. Hi Hannes,
    Didnt Kissinger tell Vorster “Smith must go. There is no place for him in the negotiations”? I will suggest that his appearance to the world, and Rhodesia in particular, was double speak. He had every intention of screwing Rhodesia over, and making us look forward to it. And yes, I also heard that Kissinger’s wife was a honey, and insisted that IDS sit next to her for dinner.
    The bottom line is that he now faces the full scrutiny of his deeds. You cannot hide from the real truth where he is now. No-one does.

    1. Steve I have never heard he said that? If you said it came from Vorster I’d believe it more likely. Vorster was chary of Smith and when Smith got all that applause at the rugby I think Vorster was very pissed off.

      1. Hi Hannes,
        Thanks for the reply. I will have to go back to where I found the comment. As a typical politician, HK played the field, making friends on both side, and loyal to none.
        In my time, I have been to functions where top politicians were star guests. People like Edward Kieswetter (SARS Boss), Derek Hanekom (Deputy minister Science / Technology) and Naledi Pandor (Foreign affairs) and everyone had that outer coating of humanity, intelligence and compassion. but are rotten inside. Vorster, on the other hand, appeared honest – he didnt like Rhodesia and showed it. Perhaps he was not very bright, as he believed in throwing Rhodesia to the wolves, in the hope that the rest of Africa would see SA (and apartheid) in a better light. HK saw this and promoted it, knowing full well that once Rhodesia went, SWA would follow shortly thereafter, then SA.
        We have to agree, SA was the key to black Africa. HK knew Vorster was the weakest link.

  13. Hannes , I had the pleasure of meeting K’s senior aide in a Palm Springs golf club some years back. A passing comment ended up being a three-hour discussion and dinner and he changed my outlook on K completely. He basically taught me what you just so elegantly wrote. RIP, Henry. You did what you could for us.

  14. Hannes, thanks very much for this article. I think for many of us involved in the war, we never really knew what the bigger picture looked like, we just knew that we had to do the best we could to try and preserve Rhodesia. It has only been later in our lives that we realized we were just pawns and that we were badly screwed and sadly many lives were lost in the process.. I now have a more positive view of Kissinger.
    Thanks.
    Ant

    1. Ant I think that’s true of any war; the grunts fight and die believing their leaders know what they’re doing. So often that’s not the case.

  15. Great perspective! What role did the recently elected Joe Biden play in these proceedings?

    1. Not sure but Biden was consistently hostile to any semblance of white rule in Africa.

  16. I’m constantly amazed by how my government’s actions or inaction have adversely impacted our international neighbors. The news we receive is often very limited and biased. The different perspectives I read here are quite enlightening, I think the vast majority of our citizens have no concept of the consequences of our policies on others. Thank you for sharing your perspectives.

  17. Wow! This changed my view on the man. That will never change my view on the filthy British. But then again, their days are Numbered

    1. Yes Ross I think they’re getting their come-uppance. They have facilitated their own destruction; at least we had the sense and the guts to try and save ourselves.

    2. Interesting. The Labour party, largely made up of the low end of the Brit population, created the climate for the woke culture to dominate their country. The payment that they will reap for their duplicitous spite is just starting and will in time destroy them.

  18. Thanks Hannes for that perspective, a lot of the immediate reaction was one of glee, but as you state it was all timing and events elsewhere that sealed our fate

    1. My thoughts, of what I eventually learned, are expressed in this article and comments.

  19. Hannes – by and large an excellent and balanced article, the more credible because of your personal interaction with the parties concerned. I would voice a factual incorrection though – in 1976, when the ‘Kissinger Agreement’ was formalised, Watergate was over and the profoundly underrated Gerald Ford was President – the great Nixon was gone. To compound this, the real destroyers of the deal – Messrs Carter and Andrew Young, preferred favourites of the Labour Party – did precisely that. My own view is that these two were the premier villains of the piece. For our cause Reagan and Thatcher were a lifetime too late.

    1. You right John. But I think had it not been for Watergate our history in southern Africa would have turned out differently. But thanks for pointing this out.

  20. An extremely interesting piece Hannes. This has changed my view on Henry Kissinger entirely

    1. Thanks old friend. When I met Henry I also spent some time with his wife Nancy; she thought the world of Ian Smith and expressed her heartfelt sorrow at what had happened to our old homeland. They both had a real soft-spot for old IDS

      1. Thanks Hannes but HK was a smoothie. The phrase that comes to mind is the Zulu ‘ukumamatheka nawe kodwa empeleni ukukubulala’ as exemplified by Gedleyihlekisa Zuma. Think of the Military Industrial Complex and their goals. I should know!

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