Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The Ivy League’s Favorite War Criminal: Why the Atrocities of Henry Kissinger Should be Mandatory Reading

So it was that last Friday night, Henry Kissinger spoke at Yale — to which he has donated an archive of personal documents, where he occasionally participates in a course with Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis, and where he give an invite-only talk just a year ago. Last week’s “conversation” was moderated by Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson, who is also Henry Kissinger’s official biographer. As if to underscore the incestuous insider game on display, sitting in the third row was Paul Bremer, the “Administrator” of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, the man who de-Baathified the country, threw millions of people out of work, and helped destroy the Iraqi state, which spurred the insurgency, the Sunni-Shia civil war, and later the transmogrification of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia into the Islamic State. A record to proudly burnish in and around Yale University.

At least members of the Yale community would be allowed to ask questions of Mr. Kissinger, challenge him on his public record, and dispute the wrongheaded assessment of the US-Iran nuclear deal he penned in the The Wall Street Journal just days prior, right? Wrong. Ferguson was to screen all questions ahead of time, and the questions Mr. Kissinger received were the intellectual equivalent of underhand softballs. There was a discussion of “World Order,” Kissinger’s latest book, questions about Iran and the Middle East, ruminations on China. Every question Ferguson asked could have been competently answered by an undergraduate.
So, in the interest of Lux et Veritas—“Light and Truth,” Yale’s official motto—a brief recapitulation of Kissinger’s record is in order:

1. Sabotaging U.S. Government Diplomacy

Five days before the 1968 election, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a bombing halt of North Vietnam to begin negotiating an end to the Vietnam War. Johnson needed to keep this decision a secret; any leak could jeopardize the peace he was seeking. Kissinger, who had been an adviser to the negotiators, called the Nixon campaign and said, “I’ve got some information. They’re breaking out the champagne in Paris.” In his own memoirs, Richard Nixon says that he had received advanced word of the negotiation “through a highly unusual channel.” Three days before the election, the South Vietnamese pulled out of the talks because a Nixon confidant named Anna Chennault informed them that they would get a better deal under a Republican administration. The number of Vietnamese and Americans killed because of Kissinger and Nixon’s sabotage of the Paris negotiations remain unaccounted.

2. Illegal War in Cambodia

Nixon-Kissinger expanded the Vietnam War to include carpet bombings of Laos and Cambodia. “It’s an order, it’s to be done. Anything that flies, on anything that moves. You got that?” is how Kissinger relayed his boss’s order. Nearly 3 million tons of bombs were dropped on Cambodia alone, more than the 2 million tons dropped during all of World War Two. Between 4,000 and 150,000 civilians were killed in carpet bombings codenamed 'Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Dinner, Supper, and Dessert.' The unintended consequence of this illegal expansion of the Vietnam War was the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, a genocidal cult that killed between 1.5 and 3 million people. Kissinger, in a conversation with the Thai Foreign Minister in 1975, said, “You should tell the Cambodians (i.e., Khmer Rouge) that we will be friends with them.” This was not 'realpolitik' but accessory to murder.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, April 21st, 2015.]

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