The Trial of Henry
|The Trial of Henry Kissinger
By Christopher Hitchens
The Trial of Henry Kissinger documents how the pursuit of justice became
the least important consideration for US foreign policy makers. Henry
Kissinger, national security advisor to two presidents (Nixon and Ford),
one-time Secretary of State and now cosseted elder statesman personifies
the worst features of the US's interventions in different countries of
Lest Kissinger be regarded as a lone ranger, it is worth bearing in mind what Roger Morris, a former member of the National Security Council under Presidents Johnson and Nixon, has to say:
Kissinger's hand can be seen today in the 'war against terrorism' rhetoric. A week after the WTC and Pentagon attacks, he stated, "President Bush has wisely warned that the attacks on New York and Washington amounted to a declaration of war. And in a war it is not enough to endure; it is essential to prevail."2" Kissinger called for 'retaliatory blows', notwithstanding the illegality of such action under international law (the oft-cited right of self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter gives a state the right to repel an attack that is ongoing or imminent, but the right of unilateral self-defence does not include the right to retaliate once an attack has stopped). His contempt remains thinly veiled: "Then there is the argument that America should modify its foreign policy to remove the resentments that produce terrorism. Of course US policy should be under constant review. And good relations with the Islamic nations must be a principal component. However, moderation is a virtue only in those known to have an alternative".
Kissinger's role as a grand player in US foreign policy making was first revealed by Seymour Hersch in 'Price of Power' (1983), in particular the intrigue leading to the settlement of the Vietnam war. Christopher Hitchens is now able to throw new light on the sordid affair based on access to previously closed FBI files on the Nixon campaign. During the 1968 presidential campaign, Kissinger was a senior member in the team of Hubert Humphrey, who had been Lyndon Johnson's vice-president. Johnson and Humphrey were at the time conducting peace talks with the North and South Vietnamese. However a few days before the election, the South Vietnamese broke off the talks, thus discrediting the Democrats and giving victory to the Republican Richard 'Tricky Dick' Nixon. The new president's very first appointment was to make Henry Kissinger the National Security Advisor. Hitchen now provides the definitive account of an act of treachery:
This act of mendacity promoted a mediocre and opportunisitic academic to an international potentate. The war continued for another four years under Nixon, resulting in untold human suffering and the destabisation of Laos and Cambodia. The travesty is that Kissinger then jointly shared the Nobel Prize in Peace in 1973 for negotiating the cease fire agreement with the North Vietnamese.
Between 1969 and 1976, Hitchens found that Kissinger had served as chairman of the '40 Committee', which provided "ultimate supervision over United States covert actions overseas (and, posibly, at home) during this period".
In September this year, a day after the WTC attack, newspapers carried a brief report of a law suit filed against Kissinger by the family of the Chilean military commander Rene Schneider, killed during a botched kidnapping in 1970. The background story behind these brief press reports can be obtained from Hitchens's book:
It is ironic that the US-inspired bloody coup d'etat, in which Allende was killed, also took place on 11 September, thirty one year ago.
Hitchen's concluding chapter is entitled 'The Profit Margin'. This provides an insight into the work of Kissinger Associates, the private consultancy firm run by Henry Kissinger, and in which the initial fellow 'associates' were Lawrence Eagleburger and General Brent Snowcroft.. Notwithstanding Tienanman Square and other human rights violations in Tibet and East Turkmenstan, Kissinger Associates have opened doors in China for companies such as H.J. Heinz , Atlantic Richfield, ITT, David Rockefeller and the Chase Manhattan Bank. The firm also has significant interests in Serbia, and Hitchen notes wrily "at all time during this protracted [Balkan] crisis, and somewhat out of step with his usually hawkish colleagues, Henry Kissinger urged a consistent policy of conciliation with the Milosovic regime. Mr Eagleburger in due course rejoined the State Department as Deputy Secretary of State and briefly became Secretary of State. So it goes."
Robert Crane, a career US diplomat who served as foreign policy advisor to Richard Nixon from 1963 to 1968 and ambassador to the UAE in 1981, recently observed:
Just as the Muslim world is quite correctly being urged to put its house in order, by isolating and neutralising rogue infrastructures for whom the ends justify the means, the US too needs to call its own rogues to account and acknowledge its state crimes.
In June 1999, the British broadcaster Jeremy Paxman had an on-air confrontation with Kissinger that has entered the annals of journalistic history:
Paxman: "It's been 17 years since the last volume of your
memoirs. You said you wanted to let the dust settle but [didn't you]
need the distance in order to rewrite history?"
A treaty creating the world's first independent and permanent International Criminal Court has recently been ratified by many countries. The ICC's brief will be able to investigate and prosecute those individuals accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, and crimes of war. A handful of countries have voted against the Treaty, including the United States. The prospect of its senior figures being charged for crimes against humanity is obviously a matter of consideration. It will be a hearing in which Kissinger will not have the option of storming out.
1) source: http://www.harpers.org/online/kissinger_forum/
2) source http://www.suntimes.com/terror/stories/cst-edt-kiss17.html