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The Two Degrees of Henry Kissinger

The U.S. national security community is among the world’s most exclusive clubs—the preserve of the graduates of a tiny handful of schools and service academies. Within this small world, a number of individuals have become especially influential, and during their rise to the top they have groomed members of their staffs as future leaders and ...

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The U.S. national security community is among the world’s most exclusive clubs—the preserve of the graduates of a tiny handful of schools and service academies. Within this small world, a number of individuals have become especially influential, and during their rise to the top they have groomed members of their staffs as future leaders and pulled strings to get them hired for key jobs.

Nobody better personifies this influence than Henry Kissinger, the dean of modern U.S. foreign-policy professionals. As the chart below illustrates, if you want to join the committee that runs the world, it helps if you’re already a member.

The U.S. national security community is among the world’s most exclusive clubs—the preserve of the graduates of a tiny handful of schools and service academies. Within this small world, a number of individuals have become especially influential, and during their rise to the top they have groomed members of their staffs as future leaders and pulled strings to get them hired for key jobs.

Nobody better personifies this influence than Henry Kissinger, the dean of modern U.S. foreign-policy professionals. As the chart below illustrates, if you want to join the committee that runs the world, it helps if you’re already a member.

David Rothkopf is visiting professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His latest book is The Great Questions of Tomorrow. He has been a longtime contributor to Foreign Policy and was CEO and editor of the FP Group from 2012 to May 2017. Twitter: @djrothkopf

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