Review: The Trial of Henry Kissinger

5 Star, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Impeachment & Treason, Truth & Reconciliation

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Beginnng of US Truth and Reconciliation with Rest of World,

November 27, 2006
Christopher Hitchens
This extraordinary book is the “first word” about Henry Kissinger's culpability for war crimes that may yet see him hanged (highly unlikely but worth mentioning for “awakening” value); but it also brings together a number of themes discussed in more detail by other authors, and I want to start with those before detailing the author's superb and very studied denunciation of Henry Kissinger, a denunciation all the more timely as Donald Rumsfeld is charged with war crimes where a US general officer is testifying against him.

First off, there is the matter of the end of sovereign immunity. This trend could be perceived when the United Nations established that human rights and human security were sufficient to warrant INTERVENTION, and is detailed in the most amazing intellectual and legal review of Philip Allott of Cambridge, in his book HEALTH OF NATIONS: Society and Law Beyond the State, in which he explicitly calls for the overturning of the Treaty of Westphalia, and the re-examination of borders carved by the colonial powers and against hundreds of years of tribal distinction.

Then there is the matter of government integrity. It is now undeniably established that the US Government and the Executive in particular, lies to Congress and the public as a matter of routine. These lies tend to be exposed in the ten-fifteen year time frame (some sooner, as with CIA and other whistle-blowers four years into the war on Iraq), but at the twenty five year mark, there is a clear “explosion” of illumination. Robert Parry, LOST HISTORY: Contras, Cocaine, the Press, & Project Truth” is one book in this vein; while Larry Beinhart's FOG FACTS: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin addresses a different aspect.

Finally, one has the general matter of whether the US as a Nation is represented overseas as America the Good, which most US citizens would like to believe, or America the war-mongering, predatory, immoral “rogue nation.” The books documenting the latter are legion, from Derek Leebaert's THE FIFTY YEAR WOUND to Chalmers Johnson SORROWS OF EMPIRE to my fellow moderate Republican Clyde Prestowitz's ROGUE NATION: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions. On the corporate side, one has many many books, among which John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, and William Greider's THE SOUL OF CAPITALISM: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy, stand out.

My point is that this author's crucification of Henry Kissinger on the basis of documented facts, in a historical context, is NOT a “hit job” or by any stretch of the imagination anything less than a sensible legal document that is a precursor to Kissinger inevitably being brought to justice.

Now to the specifics. The author focuses on the manner in which Kissinger specifically helped Nixon undermine the Paris peace discussions that could have brought Hubert Humphrey to office, with the result that fully 20,000 additional Americans were killed in Vietnam, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, over the next four years. Henry Kissinger stands indicted–personally indicted–for the totally unnecessary and immoral death of 20,000 US and 100,000+ others (closer to millions, actually, but how many life sentences can he receive…)

The author:

1) focuses on the manner in which Kissinger explicitly supported specific dictators in their genocidal endeavors, violating the U.S. Constitution and a variety of laws both domestic and international.

2) excels at discussing details, such as the indiscriminate nature of B-52 bombings, and points out that we put twice as much tonnage of bombs on Vietnam as were fired during our entire World War II campaign.

3) lays out the manner in which Kissinger managed “two track” policies in which the State Department and the Ambassador were kept in the dark, and covert illegal operations were carried out by the CIA and the defense attaches. Chile, Indonesia, and Greece are featured.

4) is careful to note that in this book he is covering only four specific major documentable aspects of Kissinger's high crimes–he lists many others that do not make the cut but are equally reprehensible, such as the betrayal of the Kurds, the support for apartheid in South Africa, the Central American games, and the tortured regime of the Shah of Iran

5) suggests hat Kissinger pioneered US sponsored–state sponsored–terrorism in the modern era; he also pioneered rendition, that nasty little word that means “kidnap people so they can be tortured by others”.

The author does not prove nor claim that Kissinger profited from his public position, but draws out compelling relationships between Kissinger, his private gain, and his political interventions. Much information remains to be revealed, I have no doubt that it will reveal Kissinger to be a world-class criminal guilty of betraying the American public and helping many dictators abuse their own populations.

The author closes with a concise legal summary that I suspect is as good a description as one can achieve of Kissinger's living nightmare. This book inspires, this book justifies, this book DEMANDS a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate both what has been done against Americans by their own government “in our name,” and what has been done against the publics of the world, again “in our name.”

I will close with three snippets.

The author suggests that now that international law has turned a corner, Kissinger must shudder with every dictator's arrest, fearful of what their testimony will disclose.

The author quotes General Taylor, reflecting on Vietnam in 1971, as saying that in comparison with the accusations and judgments of the Nuremberg trials, the White House and the senior generals serving in Vietnam clearly qualified for similar accusations and judgments.

Finally, the author suggests that Kissinger is not in fact an example of power as the ultimate aphrodisiac, but rather of power as the ultimate pornography. Norman Cousins, in The Pathology of Power, would certainly agree.

I concur with this author, and suggest that he has been too kind. America cannot afford any more pathological monsters in the White House. It's time we returned to America the good.

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