Magazine article New Internationalist

Kissinger Is Not Our Friend

Magazine article New Internationalist

Kissinger Is Not Our Friend

Article excerpt

If there's a living symbol of the United States' inability to reckon with its disastrous history of military adventurism and embrace of undemocratic regimes, it's Henry Kissinger. Unfortunately, his influence in Washington has proven exceptionally sticky.

Although rare, it's not unprecedented for the US government to acknowledge some of its most undeniable foreign-policy catastrophes. During a 1999 trip to Guatemala, then-President Bill Clinton apologized for the US's role in that country's genocide in the 1980s, expressing remorse over 'support for military forces' which 'engaged in violent and widespread repression'. Likewise, travelling in the Middle East at the beginning of his first term, President Obama delicately suggested of America, 'We sometimes make mistakes.' Conservatives were outraged.

The preferred posture in imperial Washington is to refuse to learn from the past, and hence to repeat it. So maybe it's not surprising that many leading US boosters of Reagan-era death-squad governments in Central America (figures such as Elliott Abrams and John Negroponte) returned to serve again under George W Bush.

But none of these henchmen has racked up as many war crimes - nor accumulated as much official esteem - as Kissinger.

The former secretary of state and national security advisor's sordid professional history is familiar to many New Internationalist readers: for starters, Kissinger was architect of the secret and illegal bombing of Cambodia in the 1970s. He then provided US cover for campaigns of mass murder in Bangladesh and Timor Leste. All told, millions perished.

Today, Kissinger remains entirely unrepentant, even as further evidence of his crimes accumulates.

This August, newly declassified memos added to the paper trail showing that Kissinger not only knew about Argentina's 'Dirty War', but actively cheered it on. The notorious campaign of abduction and torture led to the deaths of some 30,000 people, including trade unionists, students, human rights advocates and religious activists. Amid the horror, Kissinger recommended tens of millions of dollars in expedited US 'security assistance'.

One new document shows that, in 1978, the US Ambassador to Argentina sent a cable to Washington expressing concern about Kissinger's unrestrained praise for the country's bloody military government: 'There is some danger that Argentines may use Kissinger's laudatory statements as justification for hardening their human rights stance,' the ambassador warned. …

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