Sunday, May 31, 2009


At the end of every conflict the crimes of the defeated are prosecuted and the victors are absolved of their crimes. Those charged with prosecuting German and Japanese war criminals at the end of World War II sought to depart from that principle. What they got was a refined version of victor's justice, but while their fervent advocacy for a universal standard of justice never fully materialized, it did cause some notable embarrassments. There is no other way to describe the effect of the comments of American Gen. Telford Taylor, the U.S. chief of counsel at the Nuremberg Trials, to the American government. "To punish the foe — especially the vanquished foe — for conduct in which the enforcing nation has engaged," Gen. Taylor wrote in his 1971 book Nuremberg and Vietnam: An American Tragedy "would be so grossly inequitable as to discredit the laws," before noting that if the standards used at the Nuremberg and Manila trials were in operation there was a strong chance that many senior American officials would face execution.

Included in this group is perhaps the world's greatest living criminal, a man whose crimes dwarf the combined offenses of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, al-Quadea leader Osama bin Laden, and Congolese warlord Laruent Nkunda, a man who enjoys a comfortable life in the U.S as a respected elder statesmen; Henry Kissinger. It is likely that Kissinger will never face trial for his crimes, that unlike the NAZI war criminals who continue to be vigorously pursued, Kissinger will continue to enjoy the impunity of rank. But calling for his trial is still important, producing an indictment of the principles that drove Kissinger, and continue to drive U.S policy, is easier and ultimately more important than producing a legal indictment of the man who was instrument of those principles.

Kissinger is a follower of Realpolitik, the belief that a person, or nation, should advance their own influence without regard to the effects on others. When John Steinbeck created such a character in his novel East of Eden critics of literature complained she was too evil to be realistic, when Henry Kissinger came into office defenders of human rights mourned just how realistic she had become.

Actually, Kissinger's first major crime predates his coming to office, in many ways it created an office for him to come into. While still a professor in the 1960's Kissinger became an influential consultant to the government. U.S ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge invited brought Kissinger to the nation several times as an adviser, but Kissinger had greater ambitions than being a foreign policy consultant. During the election of 1968 he joined on the Nixon campaign while simultaneously participating in the Paris peace talks on which Vice President Hubert Humphrey built his Presidential campaign. Kissinger, who was poised to take a high powered job if Nixon won the election, instructed the generals who ran South-Vietnam they would receive a better deal if the Republicans won the election. As a result the peace initiative, which almost succeeded in ending the conflict, fell apart when the South-Vietnamese began a boycott of the talks on the eve of the election. Nixon became President, Kissinger became National Security Adviser, and millions of people in southeast Asia died as a result. Treason was Kissinger's first crime.

Once in office Kissinger escalated the destruction of southeast Asia that he had earlier helped to prolong. In 1969 Kissinger transmitted an order from President Nixon to bomb Cambodia. "It's an order," he instructed military assistant Andrew Haig, "it's to be done. Anything that flies on anything that moves." In the ensuing bombing campaign millions of Cambodian civilians were killed.

In 1971 West Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight, an extermination campaign in East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh) prompting Bangladesh to declare its independence with the assistance of India. In the war and accompanying genocide Kissinger and President Nixon provided Pakistan with political and diplomatic support. Kissinger recalled the senior American diplomat in Bangladesh, Consul General Archer Blood, after Blood accused Kissinger of supporting genocide and opposing democracy in a confidential State Department Telegram.

The same year that the Bangladesh Liberation War began Chile elected Salvador Allende to the Presidency. Kissinger had opposed the election of Allende, but when he failed in his attempts at subverting Chilean democracy he began plotting the overthrow of the new government. This began with the removal of senior Chilean military commanders who Kissinger believed would defend the elected government in the event of a coup. After two commanders of the armed forces had been removed, one by assassination, General Augusto Pinochet assumed the command of the military. On Sept. 11, 1973 he launched fascist coup in which Allende was killed. Pinochet reigned until 1990 with the staunch support of the U.S. His regime came to power because of Kissinger and it enjoyed the support of Kissinger in spite of its horrific human rights record. Almost all of Latin American was ruled at this time by right wing military dictatorships, and all of those regimes enjoyed the staunch and uncritical support of Kissinger, who offered military and political assistance to his Latin American proteges.

On December 7, 1979 another of Kissinger's proteges, Indonesian dictator Suharto, launched an invasion and genocide against former Portuguese colony East Timor. The invasion began hours after Kissinger and President Ford left Jakarta from a meeting with Suharto where they authorized him to attack East Timor. The CIA's ranking operation officer in Jakarta at the time, C Philip Liechty, reported:
"Suharto was given the green light by President Ford and Kissinger. There was discussion. . .about the problems that would be created for us if the public and Congress become aware of the level and type of military assistance. . .The decision was taken to get the stuff on the high seas before someone pulled the chain. Most of it went straight into East Timor and was used against non-combatants... 200,000 people died."

In Iraq Kissinger encouraged an uprising by the Kurds, sending them $16 million of military aid. Believing they finally had the support of the U.S in their quest for an independent state the Kurds revolted, but they were little more than a pawn in a U.S-Iranian move to improve relations with Iraq. When Kissinger's Iranian protege, the Shah, suggested that a Kurdish uprising would be a good negotiating chip with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Kissinger jumped at the opportunity. A later Congressional Inquiry into the affair, the Pike Report, found "that the US acted only as a guarantor that the insurgents would not be abandoned by the Shah," however Kissinger was as ready to betray the Kurds as the Shah was. On the same day the U.S, Iraq, and Iran concluded an arrangement ending disputes the U.S revoked its support for the Kurds, leaving them defenseless against attack by the Iraqi leader. The Kurdish leader pleader for Kissinger's assistance against the Iraqi operation, but Kissinger did not even respond because as the Pike Report state "[n]either the foreign head of state nor the president and Dr. Kissinger desired victory for our clients," the Kurds were nothing more than pawns to be tossed away when they were no longer of use. When hundreds of thousands of Kurdish refugees flednto Iran they receive no humanitarian aid, many were later expelled back into Iraq, and the U.S refused to admit even a single refugee. Kissinger defended the policy“[c]overt action,” he explained “should not be confused with missionary work.”

Kissinger's crimes extend far beyond this sampling, he is guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes that would earn him immediate condemnation as the latest incarnation of Hitler if they were carried out by an official enemy, but instead a former American official Kissinger enjoys the plush lifestyle of a revered eledr statesman collecting $30,000 a lecture and running a high powered consulting group. Human rights and justice are universal concepts, they cannot be applied to some people and not to other. The U.S needs a Nuremberg style tribunal against those who are guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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