henry kissinger quotes

George Harrison, Leon Russell, and Bob Dylan, Concert For Bangladesh, 1 August 1971. Photo © Pariser Archives.

Further to a recent post regarding George’s 1973 telegram to President Richard Nixon (here), a look at how the Concert for Bangladesh vexed President Nixon. It comes from an article by Professor Farida Majid, written for News From Bangladesh in early December 2001:

“In the wake of the departure of George Harrison, I am full of memories of that electrifying Concert For Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden in 1971, which I had the great fortune to attend. Throughout the nine months of the liberation war I had traveled in the USA and Europe working ceaselessly for the cause of an independent Bangladesh and creating public opinion against the atrocities of Pakistani army on the innocent civilians of East Pakistan. The warmth, care and goodwill expressed at the Concert For Bangladesh were echoed all over the world.

To the utter consternation of Nixon, Kissinger and Yahya team, George Harrison’s ‘Bangladesh’ hit the top of the chart. It was a thrilling moment, in the midst of all the sad news emanating from the battlefront, because even the Western journalists covering the civil war in East Pakistan were not yet using the word ‘Bangladesh.’ I want to remind everyone that this country was born on the crest of not only Bangladeshi’s dream of freedom, democracy and secularism, but the good wishes and cheers of all the world’s freedom-loving people.”

Can you imagine what this man could have been had somebody loved him? Had somebody in his life cared for him? I don’t think anybody ever did, not his parents, not his peers. He would have been a great, great man had somebody loved him.
—  Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, on Richard Nixon, in an interview with TIME’s Hugh Sidey

George Harrison and Henry Kissinger, 11 November 1976

Photos: Nara Archives/REX; PhotoQuest/Getty Images

“People always want to have their picture taken with you. I remember I was in America, on the tour, and I got a note from Henry Kissinger saying he wanted to meet me. So I thought, ‘That’s strange.’ But I went along and he said, ‘Glad you came. Why did you want to meet me?’ And I thought, ‘Well, I didn’t want to meet you, you wanted to meet me.’ He said, ‘I met another one of your lot once, what’s his name? The one with the Japanese wife?’ Then he pressed this buzzer and a photographer appeared. He got up to have his photo taken with me and he was standing there with one half of his trousers stuck halfway up his leg. He was just like a pop star, really. He just wanted to have his photo taken with famous people.” - George Harrison

* * *

“Kissinger looked like an Arab, talked like a German and was tanned all over, like Clark Gable.” - George Harrison, I Me Mine

* * *

“Mo Ostin, President of Warner Brothers Records, said that George Harrison, the Beatle, was coming to Washington for the day and could I think of something exciting? I said, ‘Why not meet with the Secretary of State?’

I called Jackie Hill in the Secretary’s office. Henry Kissinger would be delighted. We went to the 7th Floor at 4 p.m. In his familiar voice the Secretary said, ‘Mr. Harrison, you are a very famous man. It is my understanding you are in Washington for one day and of all the people I am the one you wanted to meet.’

George Harrison responded in his own characteristic voice, ‘I didn’t want to see you, it was Upston’s idea.’

‘Well,’ said Henry, ‘Let’s have a picture, I need to go to the White House.’” -  John Edwin Upston (Executive Director, U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, Washington, DC, 1973-1977), Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training 

* * *

“'The meeting was strange. I didn’t know if Kissinger wanted to see me, or if he thought I wanted to see him,’ says George Harrison on the Warners jet flying from Washington to New York on the last leg of a promo blitz for his new album, Thirty-three and 1/3.

‘Somebody suggested we go to the State Department instead of the Smithsonian aerospace place, and I got this message saying to go meet him in his office. He said he wasn’t seeing many people these days because he was moving out soon. I told him I was on a promotional tour. He asked, ‘What are you promoting?’ I said, ‘Me.’ Then he mentioned he had met another one of the Beatles but wasn’t sure which. He thought it was the one with a Japanese wife. ‘Oh, you probably mean John,’ I said. ‘He was having trouble with Immigration.’ He asked if I was having trouble with Immigration and I said, ‘No, I still live in England.’ I gave him a T-shirt and a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi, and he said goodbye.’” - Rolling Stone, 30 December 1976

* * *

“Oh, me and Henry, we, you know, we’re great buddies [chuckles]. Somebody told me he wanted to meet me and so I was in Washington and they took me over to the State Department. And I got there and they brought me in his office, and he shook hands and he said, ‘Why did you want to meet me?’ And I didn’t know what to say, because I was going there because he wanted to meet me. So, I don’t know what I said, but I waffled something to get out of it and then he said, ‘Well, do you want to have a photograph taken?’ I said, ‘Yeah, okay.’ And he pressed a button and a photographer came in, took our photo and that was it. The great Henry.” - George Harrison in an interview for Dutch television, c. 12 December 1987


The only place where you and I disagree … is with regard to the bombing. You’re so goddamned concerned about civilians and I don’t give a damn. I don’t care.


I don’t think a woman should be in any government job whatever. I mean, I really don’t. The reason why I do is mainly because they are erratic. And emotional.

#3: I have the greatest affection for them but I know they’re not going to make it for 500 years. They aren’t. You know it, too. The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time they steal, they’re dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life. They don’t live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like.


the racist imperialist sexist Richard Nixon.

#1: conversation with Henry Kissinger as quoted in Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers;
#2: conversation with John Mitchell, Slate, Oct. 11, 2001;

#3: tape transcripts from 1971, Harper’s Magazine, Feb. 2000