Dr Henry Kissinger, who died on Thursday aged 100, was a complex and divisive figure whose legacy will be debated for decades.
He lived in "the century of violence" and, like Metternich - the Austrian diplomat at the heart of his doctoral thesis, believed statesman did not have the luxury of choosing between good and evil. They could, at best, choose the lesser evil over the greater.
And, like Napoleon, Kissinger wholeheartedly endorsed the French counter-revolutionary Francois de Charette's pithy observation "you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs".
While Kissinger's innate pragmatism, ripped straight from the pages of Machiavelli, left him open to accusations of a callous indifference to the suffering of history's bystanders it was also what made his greatest successes possible.
These included the Vietnam withdrawal, the opening of China, "military disengagement agreements" between Israel, Egypt and Syria after the Yom Kippur War, and the 1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with the Soviet Union.
During his time as both National Security Adviser and Secretary of State to presidents Nixon and Ford, Dr Kissinger never lost sight of the end game.
His diplomacy played out against the backdrop of a superpower rivalry which, if unchecked, would lead to a nuclear holocaust.
Dr Kissinger, who always denied involvement in the coup that overthrew Chilean president Salvador Allende, made no bones about the fact that if it was a choice between a right-wing military dictatorship or a Marxist regime the US should always favour the dictatorship.
Kissinger and Nixon saw Marxism as an existential threat to America and to Western interests more generally. Everything they did, including going to Beijing, the Middle Eastern diplomacy and even the withdrawal from Vietnam, was calculated to make America stronger at the Soviet Union's expense.
The most compelling argument for getting out of Vietnam, albeit with guarantees of ongoing military support which were overturned by the veto of a hostile Congress, was that the war was doing more harm than good.
It was costing too much blood and treasure, fomenting widespread civil unrest in America and damaging the country's international prestige.
The Middle Eastern diplomacy successfully froze the USSR, which had strong ties with Egypt before the Yom Kippur War, out of the region.
Dr Kissinger's brokerage of the rapprochement with China thwarted Soviet geopolitical ambitions in the east which had already led to cross-border skirmishes.
When America entered the decisive round of the SALT talks it had what has been called "the China card" in its pocket.
The final agreement, signed in 1972, was his - and Nixon's - greatest achievement. Less than a decade after the Cuban missile crisis the rival superpowers agreed to co-exist.
While there are many legitimate criticisms of decisions taken during Dr Kissinger's carriage of US affairs including the "secret" bombing of Cambodia and the administration's support for dictators, he vigorously defended his actions in his best selling memoirs.
That said, it's hard to ignore the fact Cambodia was a neutral country when the bombing was authorised and that was why it was not made public at the time.
Although criticised by President Reagan as a Kremlin appeaser, there is an argument to be made that many of his strategies and actions contributed directly to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990.
It is unfortunate few politicians and diplomats have his ability to play the long game. As one father of détente he may have helped save the lives of millions.
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