That is the question you need to ask yourself as you read this post.
On Thursday, former secretary of state and national security adviser Henry Kissinger, who served during tumultuous times in the Nixon and Ford administrations, appeared before Congress to participate in a hearing on global security challenges. There, he was confronted by a number of protesters from the antiwar group Code Pink, who held banners calling Kissinger a “war criminal.” Some shouted: “Arrest Kissinger for war crimes!”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was having none of it, ordering capitol police to remove the demonstrators. “Get out of here, you low life scum,” he thundered.
First, a bit of background information for those of you who don’t remember the 1960s and ’70s:
Kissinger was instrumental in the secret and illegal bombing and invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam war. Profoundly impoverished Cambodia was neutral during the Vietnam war, although North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong insurgents used the Ho Chi Minh trail, which runs through part of Cambodia, to transport troops and supplies.
The secret carpet bombing offensive was called “Operation Breakfast” and it killed between 150,000 and 500,000 innocent civilians. Nixon and Kissinger went to great lengths to conceal their bloody secret war from the public, but slaughter on this scale couldn’t be kept secret for long.
The US also waged a covert war in neighboring Laos in which more bombs rained down on that dirt-poor nation than were dropped on Europe during all of World War II. American bombers dropped 260 million cluster bombs on the peasants of Laos, killing tens of thousands. Some 75 million of the bombs failed to detonate, but later exploded, killing an additional 20,000 hapless Laotians, and maiming tens of thousands more, in the decades that followed, right up to this day.
Vietnamese and Americans exposed to the chemical/biological warfare agent Orange are still dying today, and giving birth to horrifically deformed babies, half a century after Kissinger supported and stewarded US intervention in the Vietnamese civil war. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died from American bombs, bullets and chemical/biological warfare, all because the United States chose to intervene in an internal conflict halfway around the world.
After Socialist reformer Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile in 1970, Kissinger pressed Nixon to authorize a corporate-backed CIA coup that helped the brutal General Augusto Pinochet rise to power. He ruled with an iron fist for nearly two decades, a period characterized by crimes including disappearances, torture and the murder of thousands of Chilean dissidents. All the while, successive US administrations lavished Pinochet with weapons and friendship.
But Chile would pale in comparison to what came next. In late 1975 Kissinger and Gerald Ford, who replaced Nixon after his Watergate resignation, were approached by Indonesia’s murderous military dictator, Suharto, who was seeking Washington’s permission to invade and annex its tiny neighbor, East Timor. “We understand the intentions you have,” the administration replied, green-lighting what would become one of the great mass slaughters of the 20th century.
By the following year, nearly 10 percent of East Timorese were dead. The Nixon, and subsequently Carter, administration provided 90 percent of the weapons used in the genocidal campaign, which featured a deliberate mass starvation campaign, concentration camps and the massacre and destruction of entire villages. By 1989, nearly one third of East Timor’s population was wiped out.
Kissinger has the blood of millions on his hands. This is history, not hyperbole. The Code Pink protesters attempted to address all of the aforementioned offenses, which under US and international law — not to mention any sense of basic human decency — are undeniably war crimes, even crimes against humanity.
What you just read were only Kissinger’s ‘greatest hits.’ A list of all the dirty dealings bearing his fingerprints would fill an entire book, a book that has already been written by numerous authors.
But John McCain, who has admitted in his autobiography that he was on his way to bomb civilian infrastructure in a heavily populated area of Hanoi when he was shot down and taken prisoner during the Vietnam War, had Kissinger’s back. Appearing on Fox News, that staunch supporter of every American war crime not ordered by President Obama, McCain asked with incredulity how the “lowlife scum” peace protesters could confront “a 91-year-old man who is recovering from a broken shoulder.”
In addition to his shoulder, Kissinger has broken entire nations. He is responsible for the violent, premature deaths of millions of innocent people and the death of democracy in Chile. Furthermore, his policies and actions denied countless hundreds of millions of people around the world the very freedom he, Nixon, Ford and every American president before and since claim to champion, while conducting themselves in a manner diametrically opposed to democracy.
That is Henry Kissinger’s undeniable legacy. He should be getting prosecuted in The Hague, not saluted in Congress.
Why do we Americans demonize those who dare speak the truth about crimes of the gravest magnitude committed by our government in our name? It’s times like these that I wish there really was a ‘Hell,’ for surely there would be a special place reserved there for those who knowingly vilify champions of peace while lionizing mass-murdering hypocrites.