On Tuesday April 26, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger participated in a Vietnam War Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas. Kissinger discussed his role as Security Adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford during the Vietnam War before opening the floor to questions from the audience. The event was promoted as unrestricted questions for Henry Kissinger because this is likely the last time he will publicly discuss his role in the war.
When it came time for audience questions I jumped up to get in line. There were two lines, one in each aisle of the auditorium. After 3 questions from each aisle the “unrestricted” questioning ended right on my turn. Some of my more conspiracy minded friends were quick to assume that the event organizers must have recognized me for my activism/journalism and decided that I could not be allowed to question Kissinger. Maybe the organizers saw this video. Either way, the questioning was over and I was not going to get an opportunity to question Kissinger about his thoughts on Russia’s role in the “emerging world order” he loves to speak about. Have no fear, Mr. Kissinger, we will meet again.
Thankfully, the moderator took the time to ask a few pertinent questions and Henry Kissinger’s answers further reveal the nature of the man known simultaneously as the greatest U.S. diplomat and wanted war criminal. Mark Updegrove, moderator and LBJ library director, asked Kissinger to respond to war criminal accusations related to U.S. strategy to winning the Vietnam War, specifically “carpet bombing” of Cambodia.
“I think the word ‘war criminal’ should not be thrown around in the domestic debate,” said Kissinger. “It’s shameful, it’s a reflection on the people who use it. Let’s look at the situation. First, there was no carpet bombing.”
Carpet bombing, or saturation bombing is the process of continuous and progressive aerial bombing designed to inflict damage on every piece of a targeted area. As part of Operation Menu, Cambodia was saturated with bombs, resulting in the deaths of around 4,000 civilians. Kissinger offered his view on the situation and explicitly states that he believes the civilian casualties were justified:
The North Vietnamese moved four divisions into the border areas of Vietnam and Cambodia, and established bases from which they launched attacks into Vietnam. These divisions were put there in opposition to the Cambodian government. When Nixon took office he took a message to the North Vietnamese that he was eager for negotiations. At that point, the North Vietnamese began daily attacks, many of which came from the four divisions occupying Cambodian territory.After suffering 1,500 casualties, nearly as many as we suffered in ten years of war in Afghanistan, Nixon ordered an attack on the base areas within 5 miles of the Vietnamese border, which were essentially unpopulated. So when the phrase carpet bombing is used… the size of the attack was probably much less than what the Obama administration has done in similar areas. Which I think was justified and therefore I believe what was done in Cambodia was justified. And when we eventually wiped out the base areas the casualties dropped by 80%.
I am a security adviser, I strongly favored it. I certainly was strongly supportive of it, it was correct. And it was in the American interest. And the civilian casualties from these bombings was justified. The argument against doing it was that Cambodia was a neutral country, but a country that 4 divisions on its soil is not a neutral country.
When asked whether he had any regrets about the Vietnam War, Kissinger stated, “Mistakes were made…. But I am proud of the service… one should stand by one’s decisions.” The final question posed to Mr. Kissinger was how will history judge you? During a momentary pause two audience members yelled out “murderer,” before Kissinger explained that he loses no sleep over what the people think about him. He also said that due to the Internet it’s doubtful that he will receive a fair treatment in the history books.
The Vietnam War took the lives of more than 21,000 Americans and possibly as much as 1.5 million Vietnamese. Many people blame the extensive damage and destruction on officials like Henry Kissinger, especially in regards to the civilian casualties in Cambodia. When reflecting on Henry Kissinger’s role in the Vietnam War it is important to remember that the statesman was controversially awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1973, for negotiating the Paris Peace Accords and “bringing peace to Vietnam.” The Peace Prize was also awarded to North Vietnamese Politburo Member, Le Duc Tho, but Tho rejected the award because peace had not been restored in South Vietnam. Kissinger accepted his award without question.
Whether one considers Henry Kissinger to be a “war criminal” for his actions in Vietnam, it is extremely important to study his other actions in other nations to determine if he does in fact warrant the title. A good place to start is Argentina’s Dirty War. To understand Argentina’s Dirty War, you have to understand Operation Condor, and to understand Operation Condor we must talk about Kissinger. In recently released memos it is made perfectly clear that in 1976 the former Secretary of State gave his approval for Argentina’s Dirty War.
On March 24, 1976, General Jorge Rafael Videla declared martial law after leading a military coup that lasted until 1983. The coup led to the deaths of nearly 30,000 people, including victims who were killed by throwing them alive from helicopters into the Atlantic Ocean. Thousands more were illegally detained and tortured. General Videla was sentenced to prison for human rights violations and died behind bars in 2013.
The Dirty War was only one part of a larger plan known as Operation Condor. Condor was a campaign of political repression and terror involving assassination and intelligence operations implemented in 1975 by the dictatorships of Chile and Argentina. The former Secretary of State was heavily involved in Operation Condor.
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Kissinger’s approval of Argentina’s decision to move forward with their repressive campaign has been suspected for years and confirmed since at least 2004 when the National Security Archive released a secret memo recounting a conversation between assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Patt Derian, and the US ambassador in Buenos Aires, Robert Hill. The two met in April 1977 and discussed a meeting between Henry Kissinger and Argentine Foreign Minister Cesar Augusto Guzzetti. Kissinger gives Guzzetti explicit permission to move forward with whatever they must do to repress “terrorism.”
In 1987, Martin Edwin Andersen reported that Kissinger had given the Argentine Generals permission to carry out their state-sponsored terrorism. In 2014, Andersen released another memo which is even more clear than the National Security Archive file. The memo contains the conversation between Ambassador Hill and Secretary Derian discussing Argentina’s fears of lecturing from the United States.
The Argentines were very worried that Kissinger would lecture to them on human rights. Guzzetti and Kissinger had a very long breakfast but the Secretary did not raise the subject. Finally Guzzetti did. Kissinger asked how long will it take you (the Argentines) to clean up the problem. Guzzetti replied that it would be done by the end of the year. Kissinger approved.
In other words, Ambassador Hill explained, Kissinger gave the Argentines the green light.
In the memo Kissinger expresses concern over new human rights laws requiring the U.S. to certify that foreign aid would not go towards terrorism. Kissinger wanted the generals to hurry their campaign and get back to normal by the end of the year. Kissinger is well known for promoting the idea of taking action whether legal or not. A leaked transcript from Monday, March 10, 1975 outlines Kissinger’s thoughts on the legality of government sponsored crime.
Kissinger: Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.” [laughter] But since the Freedom of Information Act, I’m afraid to say things like that.
Kissinger has evaded questions and legal summons by investigators in France, Spain, Chile and Argentina. They seek answers about his involvement in disappearances of citizens in the US and other countries in regard to Operation Condor. On September 10, 2001, the family of General Schneider initiated a civil action in federal court in DC, claiming that Kissinger gave the agreement to murder the general because he had refused to endorse plans for a military coup in Chile.
November 13, 2002, 11 individuals brought suit against Kissinger for human rights violations following the coup. They accused him of forced disappearance, torture, arbitrary detention, and wrongful death. The suit claims that Kissinger provided practical assistance and encouragement to the Chilean regime with reckless disregard for the lives and well-being of the victims and their families.
Both cases were dismissed based on sovereign and diplomatic immunity. Why? Because people like Henry Kissinger are above the law. To make matters worse, Kissinger, the Bushes, Cheney, Obama, and the rest of the criminals get paraded around and celebrated like heroes to the blind masses who do not even suspect that they are supporting darkness. It is up to each of us to be a shining light for truth and justice. Together we can wake our brothers and sisters and take the power away from people like Henry Kissinger and put it back in the hands of the people.
Derrick is available for interviews.
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