Techno Fog: Henry Kissinger: America’s Most Prolific War Criminal


Kissinger: America’s Most Prolific War Criminal

Myths and Truths of America’s Worst Statesman

Henry Kissinger is dead at 100.

Henry Kissinger is dead at 100.

He rose to power from humble beginnings. His middle-class Jewish family escaped Germany for the United States in 1938. After graduating high school and attending one year of college (studying accounting, of all things), Kissinger would enlist in the Army and serve in Germany until 1947. 

Upon his return to the States, and through the advice of a mentor, he would gain admission to Harvard, where he excelled as an undergraduate and graduate student. His academic career at Harvard, starting in 1951, was also the beginning of his professional trajectory. Kissinger would establish himself as an important foreign policy theorist and a “recognized expert on the role of nuclear weapons in American foreign policy.”1 At the same time, by way of his position at Harvard, he would forge relationships with prominent American and foreign political figures. Kissinger’s network, and really his scope of influence, would further grow after his 1955 appointment to the Council of Foreign Relations, where he was brought in contact with “many of the most powerful men in the nation”2 including the Rockefellers.

Through the later 1950s and into the 1960s, Kissinger would cement himself as a best-selling author (Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy in 1957) and prolific writer. For all the talk of Kissinger’s genius (then and now), many of his ideas at that time were unoriginal, illogical, and near-delusional. For example, in Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, Kissinger argued in favor of limited nuclear war (as opposed to all-out nuclear war). To avoid the escalation from limited nuclear war to all-out nuclear war – a very real and obvious danger – Kissinger proposed conditions by which such a war could take place, such as using “diplomacy to convey to our opponent what we understand by limited nuclear war, or at least what limitations we are willing to observe.” He argued that “a war which began as a limited nuclear war would have the advantage that its limitations could have been established” in advance of hostilities. These ideas were as ludicrous then as they are now, and were criticized as such after publication. As one writer more recently observed, “Kissinger’s limited nuclear war had to be conceived and waged as an Ivy League fencing match.”3

Kissinger would eventually obtain a tenured professorship at Harvard in 1962. Yet he was not destined for academia; his appetite was for high-stakes policymaking. He was the foreign policy advisor for Nelson Rockefeller’s failed presidential campaigns and in 1968, when Nixon won the Republican nomination, Kissinger made it clear that he wanted to be part of the potential Nixon Administration. (Kissinger was adept enough to leave open the possibility of a position in the Humphrey administration, had he defeated Nixon.)

The lengths Kissinger might go to assist then-candidate Nixon – and thus ensure Kissinger’s ascent – were revealed in 1968, as President Lyndon B. Johnson sought to begin peace negotiations and bring about an end to the Vietnam War. This would undoubtedly benefit Democrat candidate Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Nixon learned of that peace effort via leaks from Kissinger, who was serving as an advisor to President Johnson and attended the Paris Peace talks with the North Vietnamese. Nixon then instructed his closest advisor, H.R. Haldeman, to “monkey wrench” the negotiations. The South Vietnamese were pressured to “hold firm” by Nixon’s allies. With the understanding that Nixon could deliver better terms, the South Vietnamese boycotted the talks. Nixon would win the election. Over 25,000 more Americans would die in Vietnam before the war eventually concluded.

Kissinger’s duplicity was rewarded with his appointment of National Security Advisor after Nixon took office in 1969. Seizing on Nixon’s distrust of the State Department, Kissinger executed a “quiet coup” to exclude other agencies and officials from the foreign policy decision-making process (an idea Nixon liked), effectively guaranteeing his “position as the foreign policy czar.”4

This structure allowed for streamlined decisions, Executive control, a reduction in bureaucratic meddling, and secrecy. Beginning in the Spring of 1969 through 1973, the Nixon and Kissinger conducted a secret and illegal and extensive bombing operation (codenamed MENU) of purported North Vietnamese routes and alleged headquarters in Cambodia. The architect and overseer of this plan was Kissinger. In fact, Kissinger maneuvered to ensure Nixon’s approval of the plan after the Secretary of State objected.

In the first 14 months of the operation (codenamed MENU), there would be a total of 3,630 flights dropping 110,000 tons of bombs. In total, U.S. planes “dropped 500,000 or more tons of munitions.” Gunships would rake children. The Nixon Administration and Kissinger conspired to keep the carpet bombings secret while Kissinger oversaw its execution and “approved each of the 3,875 Cambodia bombing raids” with “full knowledge of it effect on civilians.” Kissinger’s instructions for strikes (following Nixon’s demands) weren’t to hit military targets, but “anything that moves.” Many times, innocent Cambodian villages would be “hit with dozens of payloads over the course of several hours. The result was near-total destruction.”

Interviews of Cambodian victims by The Intercept reveal the first-person horror. One woman described what she experienced as a young girl, stating “At around 10 a.m., an airplane dropped a bomb on my home. My parents and four siblings were all killed.” Thousands of others had similar stories: “I lost my mother, father, sisters, brothers, everyone.” It is estimated that as many as 150,000 civilians were killed – all at the direction of Henry Kissinger.

While the killings were intentional, one unintentional consequences of the bombings and the deaths was that it strengthened the Khmer Rouge, which was then operating as a disorganized communist insurgency in Cambodia. According to one former Khmer Rouge officer, “Sometimes the bombs fell and hit little children, and their fathers would be all for the Khmer Rouge.” This consequence was known to the Nixon Administration – its CIA reported in May of 1973 that the Khmer Rouge was “using damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda.” It is no stretch to conclude that the Khmer Rouge “would not have won power without U.S. economic and military destabilization of Cambodia.” While this doesn’t make Nixon and Kissinger directly responsible for the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge and the genocide of approximately 2 million Cambodians, one can’t help but ask whether they have at least some degree of culpability.

Kissinger’s errors of judgment and the practice of his moral rot are plentiful – they are the subject of many books – and it’s near-impossible to address all of them for the purposes of this exercise. But let us provide, briefly, another example of Kissinger’s disregard for human life in furtherance of the “national interest.” It has to do with East Timor, located just southeast of Indonesia.

In December 1975, while Kissinger was serving as Secretary of State for President Ford, Indonesia conducted an illegal invasion of East Timor (the 1970s equivalent of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait) and declared it “part of Indonesia proper.”5 East Timor resisted – as they were entitled – resulting in increasingly brutal Indonesian efforts to “terrorize the population into submission”, including mass public executions and the murder of civilians, the destruction of villages, and mass incarceration and torture. The Indonesian occupation “involved an estimated 170,000 deaths, about 25% of the 1975 population, between 1975 and 1999.”

President Ford and Kissinger met with Indonesian leadership just days before the invasion. On the day it had commenced – December 7, 1975 – Ford and Kissinger were asked for comment on the developments. While Ford was evasive, Kissinger remarked: “the United States understands Indonesia’s position on the question.”6

According to State Department memos, however, Ford and Kissinger supported the invasion of East Timor (something Kissinger instructed his staff to keep secret), despite State Department protests that the invasion was illegal and “violated a treaty with the US because US weapons were used.”7 In fact, the “the United States was Indonesia’s principal supplier of military hardware” and continued to supply arms to Indonesia after the killing of civilians.8 Under Kissinger’s watch, and by his approval, American weapons were the tools of genocide.

Techno Fog: Henry Kissinger: America’s Most Prolific War Criminal Techno Fog: Henry Kissinger: America’s Most Prolific War Criminal Reviewed by Your Destination on December 03, 2023 Rating: 5

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