Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Kissinger's Shadow' Accuses the Controversial Statesman of Militarizing US Foreign Policy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Kissinger's Shadow' Accuses the Controversial Statesman of Militarizing US Foreign Policy

Article excerpt

For a man with a Nobel Peace Prize on his resume, Henry Kissinger sure has supported a lot of wars, great and small. Among them was the Vietnam War, a contest he backed to the bitter end even after reputedly determining in 1967 that it was a lost cause in search of a face-saving - sometimes called an honorable - exit.

There was hardly any conflict Kissinger didn't seem to favor while serving from 1969 to 1977 as National Security Advisor and then as US Secretary of State for presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford: whether the battle was in Chile, Angola, East Timor, or the secret bombing and subsequent invasion of Cambodia and Laos.

Once out of office and heading his own consulting firm, Kissinger hailed the American invasion of Panama to capture its president, Manuel Noriega, and in 2002 he was an early supporter of regime change in Iraq. That most of the fights Kissinger picked ended badly doesn't seem to have affected him one whit - nor has it significantly tarnished his reputation as a man of deep intellect and geopolitical acumen.

In Kissinger's Shadow: The Long Reach of America's Most Controversial Statesman, historian, author, and New York University professor Greg Grandin blames his subject for the militarization of American foreign policy and for setting precedents that have made it easier for subsequent presidential administrations to invade, or to carry out attacks in countries that are not at war with or even, in some cases, hostile to the United States.

Indeed, many of Kissinger's former professorial colleagues at Harvard were appalled by the1970 invasion of Cambodia, a peaceful and neutral country. They would have been more appalled had they known at the time that Kissinger had been overseeing a secret bombing campaign of that nation for more than a year, one that would continue for three more years.

Grandin argues that the rationale for the Cambodian bombing and invasion was a departure from American and international norms: that for the first time the United States determined that concern for its security trumped respecting the sovereignty of other nations and the sanctity of international borders.

Drawing on previous Kissinger biographies and historical accounts, as well as recently available government sources such as newly available White House tapes and declassified transcripts of secret telephone recordings, the author traces Kissinger's political philosophy back to his salad days as a student and professor at Harvard. His senior thesis, grandly titled "The Meaning of History," is a 400-page slog through the writings of a number of European philosophers.

In it, according to Grandin, Kissinger argues for old-fashioned American exceptionalism and robust freedom of action on the world stage. …

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