Tuesday, August 22, 2023

#234 / Kissinger's Crimes


Having recently had a birthday, Henry Kissinger is now over 100 years old. If you don't know who he is, please feel free to click the following link, which will take you to an extensive Wikipedia write up on Dr. Kissinger
The unflattering picture of Kissinger, reproduced above, comes courtesy of an online story from the London Times, dated in May 2021. This current blog posting of mine, referencing Kissinger, was stimulated by a May 24, 2023, story published by Democracy Now. Here's the Democracy Now headline, with a link to the story:

Kissinger at 100: New War Crimes Revealed in Secret Cambodia Bombing That Set Stage for Forever Wars
To summarize what Democracy Now has to say, let me give you the initial paragraph: 

A bombshell new investigation from The Intercept reveals that former U.S. national security adviser and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was responsible for even more civilian deaths during the U.S. war in Cambodia than was previously known. The revelations add to a violent résumé that ranges from Latin America to Southeast Asia, where Kissinger presided over brutal U.S. military interventions to put down communist revolt and to develop U.S. influence around the world. While survivors and family members of these deadly campaigns continue to grieve, Kissinger celebrates his 100th birthday this week. “This adds to the list of killings and crimes that Henry Kissinger should, even at this very late date in his life, be asked to answer for,” says The Intercept’s Nick Turse, author of the new investigation, “Kissinger’s Killing Fields.” We also speak with Yale University’s Greg Grandin, author of Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman (emphasis added).
When I was in college, I read what was then Kissinger's brand-new and much-heralded book, The Necessity of Choice. I gather, from an online search, that this book is pretty much out of print, today. Amazon reported having two paperback copies available (as of May 24, 2023), with the low-priced paperback listed at $84.73. Yesterday (I just checked), those seem to have been sold. I couldn't find my own copy, which kind of surprised me, since I never throw away a book, but I haven't exhausted all the bookshelves on which I might have lodged it, and if I can find my copy, maybe I can make some money by selling it off. I more or less remember thinking that the book was quite good, when I read it, shortly after it was published in 1962, but then I met Kissinger personally. Having done so, I have never since been a fan.

As I say, I did meet Henry Kissinger personally, at Stanford University - and I had some dealings with him. This was back in 1964; at least, I think so. I am a bit unclear on the actual date; it could have been in 1963. Having just read in the Democracy Now story that Kissinger should really be considered a war criminal, I thought I would tell my personal "Henry Kissinger Story," to demonstrate to those reading this blog why I am NOT a Henry Kissinger fan - aside from the fact that there is a good argument that he is, and should be considered, a war criminal. Based on  my personal experience, I expect the worst from Henry Kissinger, always, and I am not that surprised to hear about how he, personally, helped our government to commit atrocities not previously all that evident. As I reviewed the Wikipedia entry on Kissinger, I noted that it says that the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Kissinger, in 1973, was "controversial." Well, those who protested were definitely on to something!
I entered Stanford University as a freshman in the Fall of 1961, and during the 1961-1962 academic year, I lived in Wilbur Hall, a dormitory for freshmen men. During the Fall and Winter Quarters of the 1962-1963 academic year, I attended the Stanford overseas campus in Tours, France. I was back on the Stanford campus for the Spring Quarter of 1963, residing in Stern Hall. I also lived in Stern Hall during the 1963-1964 academic year. 

While living at Stern, I helped coordinate the Stern Hall "Guest In Residence Program." Again, I am not certain, now, what year this was. Notable people would come and actually live in the dormitory, eat with the students, and also make speeches for the campus and community at large. During the time I helped run the program, Henry Kissinger was our invited guest. As I say, I am pretty sure that was sometime during the 1963-1964 academic year. 

I can't remember all my responsibilities, but I guess I was considered to be "in charge" of the Guest In Residence Program the year that Kissinger was our guest - although I certainly had played no part in deciding whom to invite. One day, I was called to the phone, to take a call from Dr. Kissinger. There were no "texts" or "emails." Phones were the high-tech way to communicate, and the call from Dr. Kissinger, which somehow came to me, was made four days before Kissinger was supposed to arrive for his stay at Stern Hall. In the call, Dr. Kissinger told me that he wasn't coming - at least, he wasn't coming if I couldn't pay his first-class airfare to and from Stanford. I think that was then about $1,000. Kissinger was under contract to show up, and there were no provisions in his contract for any reimbursement for transportation. I did know about the contract, and so I reported the contractual situation to Dr. Kissinger. Well, said Kissinger, that was his booking agent's fault, but WE were going to have to rectify it.

I had not made the arrangements with Kissinger myself, but I was now tasked with getting Kissinger another $1,000 or so, all within a couple of days. If I couldn't deliver, the whole program would go down in flames. 

I more or less remember appealing to the President's office, and to the Politics Department, and to the administrators of Stern Hall. Somebody, and I don't remember who, did come through. The money was found. Kissinger came. 

When he arrived at Stern Hall, Kissinger was met by an official delegation, and I was among them. He shook my hand cordially, and gave me a big smile. No apologies for shaking down the program. No acknowledgment that he had acted badly. 

Like I say, I am NOT a fan of Henry Kissinger. And I am not a fan of his war-mongering foreign policy either. 

If you would like to learn a bit more about the kind of foreign policies that Kissinger has enabled, I do suggest tht you read the article in Democracy Now. Or, read what The Nation has to say, in its article, "Kissinger, War Criminal - Still at Large at 100." 

On the other hand, there are those who celebrate Kissinger. The former President of Armenia, for instance, Armen Sarkissian, calls him a "great teacher of statesmen." Click this link to read what Sarkissian has to say. If you can penetrate the paywall erected by The Wall Street Journal, you will find that Sarkissian finds great virtue in the kind of cynical realpolitik that qualifies Kissinger for that "war criminal" designation, in the eyes of others. 

Eyes like mine. 

Like I say, I am NOT a fan.


Image Credits:
(1) - https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/henry-kissinger-warns-of-colossal-dangerto-world-from-a-us-china-cold-war-lncr0mlvl 
(2) - https://www.thenation.com/article/world/kissinger-100-crimes-watergate/

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