Book: The Trial of Henry KissingerPar Eric Antoine Scuccimarra
There's nothing I dislike more than people who are always 100% sure that their opinion is correct. When people are sure that they are right they tend to disregard any facts or evidence that contradict their beliefs and grab onto anything, however flimsy, that supports their beliefs. This leads to a situation which we see in the US now where "alternative facts" are made up to support an existing position, in clear contradiction of the actual evidence. This is why I hate so much that I so often agree with Christopher Hitchens - he comes across as so sure of his position that it just unsettles me, and it unsettles me even more that I usually can't argue with his reasoning.
This book is actually more of a long essay outlining alleged war crimes committed by Henry Kissinger. The biggest one is how he gave Richard Nixon information that allowed Nixon to torpedo the 1968 peace talks aimed at ending the Vietnam War. Nixon, at the time a private citizen, passed along information to the South Vietnam government that if they did not agree to a peaceful settlement he would be elected, and after election would provide better terms for them. So South Vietnam boycotted the talks and the Vietnam War went on for an additional four years before the exact same terms were finally agreed to, at a cost of twenty thousand American troops and maybe half a million or more Vietnamese casualties. Hitchens claims that Kissinger also provided information to the Humphrey campaign, playing boths sides so that no matter who became President he would have an in with them. I'm not sure who comes across worse in this whole mess - Nixon for meddling in foreign affairs as a private citizen and sacrificing an enormous number of lives for his political ambitions, or Kissinger who played both sides, again for the sake of his own ambitions.
This is not the only case of Kissinger doing things that would seem more appropriate for a murderous dictator than for the government of a supposedly democratic country. He was also complicit in the Indonesian massacre in East Timbor, the military coups in multiple South American countries, the coup in Cyprus, and others.
What strikes me the most about this long list of atrocities, most of which were justified in the name of anti-communism, is that the American government got the problem with communism exactly wrong. In my mind the problem with Soviet communism was the fact that it was actually a repressive authoritarian dictatorship, not the fact that this dictatorship was paying lip service to a different economic model. Kissinger and Nixon apparently took the exact opposite viewpoint - the US supported numerous brutal, murderous, totalitarian dictatorships - so long as they espoused free market philosophies. In Chile they supported a coup against a democratically elected government which had slight socialist leanings - Kissinger said that there was no need to let the country "go Marxist" just because the people "were irresponsible" - and supported Pinochet's government which was later charged for numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from it's brutal repression of any dissent and political opposition.
Who benefits from US support for repressive military dictatorships? Certainly not the people of the country who trade in democratic government for totalitarianism. The people who benefit are the multinational corporations who want to either privatize industry or keep their own business from being socialized. The US is supposed to be an example of "freedom" on the world stage - but in reality what they advocated was freedom for corporations and individuals to make money at the expense of the people, who were systematically impoverished and repressed, or in the worst case tortured and "disappeared."
While I knew of some of Nixon and Kissinger's misdeeds in foreign affairs, reading this list of the worst of them made me horrified and ashamed to be an American, and glad I no longer live there.