MONTECITO, Calif. - Former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger spoke at a Westmont College luncheon Wednesday.
Kissinger spoke on Syria, immigration and the role America plays in wars.
From 1969 to 1977, he played a prominent role in U.S. foreign policy.
"He's a world figure. I grew up with him as probably the most powerful voice for American diplomacy," said Dr. Gayle Beebe, Westmont president.
At the age of 90, Kissinger's opinion is still sought by world leaders. In two weeks he will meet with President Vladmir Putin in Russia.
"The first time I met him was six weeks before 9/11," said Kissinger in front of a crowd at the Coral Casino.
During his talk, he recalled the end of the Vietnam War and American troops leaving, comparing that with more recent conflicts.
"I really think it will tear our country apart if every few years or every decade, a president spends all his energy, on the one hand knowing what the national interest requires and on the other, trying to keep his country together. Once we are in a war, if we just withdraw from it, we have to consider what that does for the credibility of the United States," said Kissinger.
He also had a tip to leaders, to have a vision for the future and stay calm during a crisis.
"Because once a crisis hits, you have no idea how many cables come in and out. So if you haven't thought it through before, you're bound to be overwhelmed," he said.
"He truly is one of the great living Americans and certainly has done things to really advance the purposes of the country. Just really proud to be a part of it," said Beebe.
Kissinger was originally invited to speak at Westmont's President's Breakfast but couldn't attend because of scheduling conflicts. When the college found out he could speak this month, it made special arrangements for a luncheon.