Politico: Indefensible KissingerSubmitted by Michael Nystrom on Tue, 01/14/2014 - 13:44
As more details come to light, the darker his deeds seem.
By GARY J. BASS - POLITICO | January 13, 2014
Can we please stop already with the tributes to Henry Kissinger? As more and more material gets declassified, there are periodic exposures of his uglier deeds. Walter Isaacson’s biography showed in detail how Kissinger had the FBI put wiretaps on journalists and government officials, including some of his own top staffers. A couple of years ago, it was revealed that back in 1975, while discussing how the Khmer Rouge had killed tens of thousands, he told Thailand’s foreign minister, “You should also tell the Cambodians”—the Khmer Rouge—“that we will be friends with them. They are murderous thugs, but we won’t let that stand in our way.” More recently, an Oval Office tape was released that captured Kissinger in 1973 saying, “if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.”
And yet Kissinger continues to be publicly lionized in some circles. After his remarkably successful decades-long marketing campaign, he can still call upon an impressive array of friends and cronies to promote him, give him fancy awards or explicitly exonerate him in the press. Last June, at his gala black-tie 90th birthday party at the St. Regis Hotel in New York, the guests included Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Barbara Walters, Tina Brown and hundreds more. Secretary of State John Kerry hailed him as an “indispensable statesman,” while Senator John McCain told a reporter, “I know of no individual who is more respected in the world than Henry Kissinger.”
Just this week, Kissinger will be speaking at the Center for the National Interest (CNI), a Washington think tank dedicated to realism and therefore regular encomiums to its most famous practitioner. Once again, he is more likely to be acclaimed than to face serious questions about, for instance, the 1972 “Christmas bombing” of Hanoi and Haiphong or the civilian death toll from the massive bombing of Cambodia.
Of all the incidents in Kissinger’s dark past, one of the least defensible must be his and President Richard Nixon’s staunch support of Pakistan’s military dictatorship while it carried out a bloody crackdown on its restive Bengali population in 1971. As Nixon's national security adviser, Kissinger stood behind Pakistan—a Cold War ally that prized its close military and diplomatic relationship with the United States—even as it swept away the results of a democratic election, killed horrific numbers of Bengalis and targeted the Hindu minority among Bengalis. He reserved his vitriol for India. And he trashed the career of Archer Blood, the brave U.S. consul general in Dhaka who, while witnessing and documenting the onslaught against the Bengalis, dissented from the White House’s pro-Pakistan policy. Here is a case where you’d think that even Kissinger’s most ardent defenders might settle for an embarrassed silence.
Not so. Confronted with the facts in my new book, The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, Robert D. Blackwill makes a plea for sympathy—not for the hundreds of thousands of Bengalis killed, nor for the 10 million refugees or the traumatized survivors, but for “those at the top of the U.S. government who have to make momentous decisions.” In an expanded essay in The National Interest (which is published by CNI and whose honorary chairman is Kissinger), Blackwill goes further: “We should be grateful” to Nixon and Kissinger for their actions.
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