The Obama administration, via its Department of Defense, had war criminal Henry Kissinger over at the Pentagon yesterday. The reason? To award Kissinger its highest honor, the award for Distinguished Public Service.
If you measure “public service” as being responsible for more deaths than any other living American in the effort to spread the influence of American empire over the globe, Kissinger was surely deserving.
It is not news that Kissinger has been embraced by this White House. The Obama administration use of this criminal has been open since the first days of the Obama presidency. The Kissinger issue, if I may call it that, surfaced again during the Clinton-Sanders debates, when Sanders decried Clinton’s reliance on the advice and counseling of Kissinger. For her part, Clinton lionized the former Nixon Secretary of State and National Security Adviser. (See the full transcript here.)
Sanders made it clear, that given Kissinger’s record, he would never rely on him for anything having to do with a Sanders administration. Indeed, it’s clear that Kissinger should be in jail. Sanders erred only in not saying it would prosecute him for war crimes.
The fact is, support for Kissinger is right at the dividing line between those who support and those who oppose an aggressive, militaristic foreign policy. In his reward speech, speaking of his so-called accomplishments , Kissinger said, “the fact is we were engaged in good causes" during his tenure in the Nixon and Ford White Houses.
For Kissinger, the Vietnam War, with its massive use of napalm, Agent Orange, its secret bombing campaigns, and use of torture and assassination, was a “good cause.” When the Obama administration, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, embrace Kissinger, both his legacy and the man, they are embracing the greatest set of war crimes in living memory by the United States, a war that killed millions, and also destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of Americans.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who gave the award personally to Kissinger, was named by Politico recently as a top candidate for the Secretary of Defense position under a Hillary Clinton administration, not least because of his hawkish views.
Vox editorialized news of the recent award, in its article, “The Obama administration is honoring Henry Kissinger today. It shouldn’t be.”
While Kissinger deserves real credit for some of America's most important Cold War victories, including Nixon's diplomatic opening to China, he is also responsible for some of its worst atrocities. Carpet-bombing Cambodia, supporting Pakistan's genocide in Bangladesh, greenlighting the Argentinian dictatorship's murderous crackdown on dissidents — all of those were Kissinger initiatives, all pushed in the name of pursuing American national interests and fighting communism.
While the Obama administration might want to pretend that only the first half of his résumé exists, that doesn't change reality. The secretary of defense is handing an award to a man whose actions belie the values Obama administration claims to stand for.
The Nation also chimed in:
It’s exhausting trying to keep track of what is now a quarterly celebration of the 92-year-old Kissinger. It was just six or so months ago when The New York Times Book Review assigned Kissinger’s preferred authorized biographer to review a Kissinger biography written by Kissinger’s second-choice biographer. A “masterpiece”! the first said of the second. And then, three months ago, Hillary Clinton, in a debate with Bernie Sanders, cited Kissinger’s recommendation as a referral for the White House.
At the time, Clinton’s remarks seemed a misstep, allowing Sanders an opening to criticize her catastrophic interventionism in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Now, though, it is clear that Clinton’s invocation of Kissinger wasn’t a fluke but rather a preview of a general election strategy to run to Trump’s right on foreign policy and win over the hawkish wing of the Republican Party.
Now some of you reading this may not realize how horrific Kissinger really is. But since he has become a campaign issue, and for some people — like myself — is a serious consideration not to support the presumptive candidate for the Democratic Party, you will need to educate yourself about who Kissinger is and what he’s done. Among his crimes are the mass bombing of civilian populations, support for assassinations and torture, wiretapping of journalists, support for invasions and military repression in numerous countries. He was notoriously involved in helping secure a military coup against the democratically elected government of Salvadore Allende in Chile.
Anyone can Google the information these days, but I particularly recommend reading the reproduction of Chapter One of the late Christopher Hitchens’ book, The Case Against Henry Kissinger at this link. Here’s a small section:
Declassified documents show that Kissinger- who had previously neither known nor cared about Chile, describing it offhandedly as "a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica"-took seriously this chance to impress his boss. A group was set up in Langley, Virginia, with the express purpose of running a "two track" policy for Chile, one the ostensible diplomatic one and the other- unknown to the State Department or the U.S. ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry-a strategy of destabilization, kidnapping, and assassination designed to provoke a military coup….
The short-term obstacle lay in the person of one man: General Rene Schneider. As chief of the Chilean Army, he was adamantly opposed to any military meddling in the electoral process. Accordingly, it was decided at a meeting on September 18, 1970, that General Schneider had to go….
On September 15, 1970, Kissinger was told of an extremist right-wing officer named General Roberto Viaux, who had ties to Patria y Libertad and who was willing to accept the secret American commission to remove General Schneider from the chessboard. The term "kidnap" was still being employed at this point and is often employed still. Kissinger's "track two" group, however, authorized the supply of machine guns as well as tear-gas grenades to Viaux's associates and never seem to have asked what they would do with the general once they had kidnapped him.
On October 22, 1970, after one failed attempt, Kissinger’s Chilean surrogates succeeded in machine gunning Schneider. It was a prelude to the coup that was to come.
The Obama administration is to be condemned for honoring this mass murderer. The supporters of Hillary Clinton have to answer for why they are supporting a candidate whose foreign policy mentor is someone who lauds the Vietnam War as a “good cause.”
Once upon a time, a site such as Daily Kos, which claimed to be for progressive causes, would not have let something like this pass unnoticed or uncommented upon. But with the rush to support a hawkish candidate for president in Hillary Clinton, the past crimes of U.S. foreign policy are being flushed down the memory hole. An earlier diary on this by pablito got ignored or disparaged by various readers.
That should not be.
UPDATE (2:35 PDT): Thanks to those who helped this diary make it to the Recommended List! Perhaps it will help us send a message to the administration that past crimes are still remembered, and that there is at least a political cost (given I’m not expecting any domestic indictments) to cozening up to war criminals. Well… I can still hope so!