Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Original Prince of Darkness

One of the first complete sentences my parents taught me to say as a small child was: Henry Kissinger is a war criminal.

Perhaps that explains much of my subsequent history, but I found myself uttering the sentence again last week when Sarah Did New York. While much of the press coverage focused - quite rightly - on her bottomless ignorance and ineptitude, I saw no comment on the absurdity that Kissinger remains an obligatory stop on the "Bone Up On Foreign Policy Tour." There Gov. Moosehead sat, smiling for the photo-op, with a man who should have been tried and convicted of war crimes.

Kissinger's sins and wrong-doings have been thoroughly documented - from the October Surprise of 1968 to his dirty wars in places like Chile - and I won't rehearse them all here. Suffice it to say that nearly forty years after Kissinger (and Nixon) began bombing and de-stabilizing Cambodia in 1970, Cambodia still has not recovered. (For those who haven't read it, William Shawcross's book Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia is well worth it).

Much of the rest of the world certainly recognizes Kissinger's criminalities. He can no longer travel freely in much of Europe and Latin America because of indictments, pending indictments and police investigations.

Yet here in the United States he has assumed the role of elder statesman and foreign policy wizard. When you want international relations gravitas, you go to Kissinger. Getting Kissinger's blessing is the mark that you are a serious player in the foreign relations game, though why that should be so, given Kissinger's record, simply baffles me.

When Bush finally agreed to set up a September 11 Commission (you'll remember that he and Dick Cheney vigorously opposed the idea; and you'll note that the administration has still not implemented many of its recommendations), he tapped Kissinger to be its Chair. When families of 9/11 victims - not the Administration mind you - asked him to specify his relationships -personal and business - with the Bin Laden Family, Kissinger, coward as he is, exited the Commission job by a back door.

I'm delighted that this past week or so the press finally woken up to the prospect of Gov. Moosehead as Vice President. But while they were launching their attacks against her failings, I wish they had found a moment to mention that my parents were right: Henry Kissinger is a war criminal.