Henry (Heinz) Alfred Kissinger, national security director and secretary of state to Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and advisor to eight other presidents, died at 100 years of age on November 30.
Already the corporate media and politicians are memorializing him as a great statesman and brilliant diplomat, but for the many countries his advice and Cold War machinations destroyed and the millions of innocent lives lost and their bereft families, it came decades too late. Indeed, when the ditch is dug for Kissinger’s casket, the gravedigger should make room under it for a gravel-filled catch basin to collect and carry away all the blood that will likely drain from his hands, lest it bubble up through the sod and stain the grass red.
It was Kissinger who dreamed up Nixon’s “secret plan” to end the war in Vietnam as a campaign theme to win support from a war-weary nation and ensure Nixon’s election victory over the hapless Cold Warrior Hubert Humphrey. That “plan,” as it turned out, was to expand the US war into neutral Cambodia and Laos, and later, when that didn’t work, to launch, in mid-December 1972 just ahead of the start of Nixon’s second disastrous term, a weeks’ long B-52 carpet-bombing of North Vietnam (the Democratic Republic of Vietnam).
It was a massive war crime that saw Red River dikes, power plants, hospitals, schools and even the national music conservatory, destroyed and countless civilians killed in hopes of “breaking the will” of the North Vietnamese people to fight on. The plan failed, like many of this supposedly brilliant or at least canny “diplomat’s” creation, but at a huge cost in civilian lives and the lives of soldiers fighting for their country.
A year later, Kissinger, as Nixon’s key international “security” advisor, orchestrated a coup in Chile by first destroying the country’s economy with sanctions (“Make the economy scream,” he cruelly advised), and then encourage revolt by the formerly apolitical Chilean military under the direction of the bloody-minded and power-hungry Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew and killed the country’s popular and popularly elected Marxist socialist President Salvador Allende Gossens, as well as killing and “disappearing” over 20,000 supporters — a catastrophe from which formerly democratic Chile is still recovering 50 years later.
Like Vietnam, Chile posed no possible threat to the United States at any time, yet both countries and their people were put through hell by Kissinger. For those crimes alone, if there were a hell he should be consigned to eternal damnation in it himself, at the deepest level of torment.
The list of Kissinger’s other atrocities and war crimes is long, ranging from green-lighting the massacre of independence advocates on the Island territory of East Timor by Indonesian military forces, Pakistan’s military slaughter of independence-seeking Bengalis in the eastern half of that country, the so called “dirty war” against leftists in Argentina by the military junta then ruling that country, as well as support for white colonial forces and white-ruled South Africa against African liberation forces in colonies like Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and elsewhere on that continent.
Heinz Arthur Kissinger, an immigrant to the US who at 15, fled Nazi Germany with his Jewish family taking the given name of Henry, never showed any remorse for the bloody trail he left around the globe (and at home in the form of physically and mentally wounded US troops), or for the disasters his “policy advice” caused in the impacted countries. That said, he certainly knew he was loathed internationally and was guilty of war crimes deserving imprisonment or worse.
Kissinger, who in his later years when he got rich capitalizing on his government experience by founding Kissinger & Associates, a Wall Street geopolitical consulting firm for foreign companies and foreign leaders, was cautious about where he traveled abroad on business for fear that in some countries he could find himself arrested and charged with war crimes. He was also cautious about keeping his client list of wretched capitalist and vicious autocratic leaders secret to avoid embarassing them or himself.)
He wasn’t just being paranoid either. On several occasions this nearly happened, as in 2002 when he was in London and was nearly arrested on Irish charges relating to his policies and tactics in Vietnam. A year earlier, while drumming up business in France, Paris gendarmes served him at his luxury Paris hotel with a writ requiring to him to appear at an inquest into possible war crimes in Laos and Cambodia. He managed with French government assistance to flee the country.
Kissinger was always treated with undeserved respect by the establishment US media and by politicians of both parties, and was given credit for such noted diplomatic “breakthroughs” as the US turn from pathetic refusal to recognize the Communist government of China, which had been established in 1949, and the 1979 Camp David Accords that produced for a time aan easing in the bitter relationship between Israel and the Palestinians in occupied Gaza and the West Bank. Those much praised successes, however, were not an indication of any humanism on his part, but of cold calculations about US national interest in isolating the Soviet Union in one case, and solidifying Israel’s position as a lynchpin of US power projection in the Middle East on the other.
Kissinger was in fact in 1973 selected, together with DRV diplomat Le Duc Tho, to share in being offered a Nobel Peace Prize. It was a controversial decision that led two members of the Nobel Committee to make the unprecedented decision to resign in public disgust. Le Doc Tho himself had the decency to decline the award as inappropriate. Kissinger in contrast happily accepted it (like an unworthy President Obama did almost 30 years later), and added it as a trophy to his already shamelessly inflated resume.
I know it is considered bad form to speak ill of the dead but in the case of Kissinger, an egocentric, self-promoting, power-seeking guy who never expressed the slightest contrition for the death and mayhem he caused through his criminal policies — either those that were “successful” or those that were unmitigated disasters. At least Nixon had some of his crimes catch up with him, and was compelled to resign the presidency to avoid impeachment, conviction and prison time. Many other historic villains have suffered public humiliation, arrest and jail, or even execution, but Kissinger managed to avoid any such public reckoning and so it seems fair to at least call him out in death.
Given the number of heroes who die early, and the number of evil-doers who live to ripe old age it’s clear that nature seems to do a poor job of divining who deserves to grow old and who gets cut down too early. Maybe some medical research should be done to see if Kissinger had a heart. At the very least it would be scientifically interesting if it were discovered that he survived for decades without a working one.