By Carey Wedler
Since Donald Trump unexpectedly won the presidency last week, his official positions have become increasingly murky.
Though he vowed to repeal Obamacare on the campaign trail, he has since softened his rhetoric. Though he claimed he would prosecute Hillary Clinton, he now says he doesn’t want to “hurt’ her and has avoided confirming any such plans. Though he initially claimed he would institute a Muslim registry of sorts — and his advisors are reportedly concocting plans to do so — he is yet to confirm whether or not he will implement one (spoiler alert: one was established for people from Muslim-majority countries during the Bush era).
What is clear is that in spite of Trump’s anti-establishment rhetoric, he has thus far decided to surround himself with some of the establishment’s key figures.
In addition to choosing advisors like war hawk James Woolsey, among other neoconservatives, Donald Trump has now sought guidance from Henry Kissinger, whom Clinton has called a friend. Kissinger first made a name for himself as an advisor to Richard Nixon. He played a key role in the administration’s wars in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
According to a statement from the Trump camp:
President-elect Trump and Dr. Kissinger have known each other for years and had a great meeting. They discussed China, Russia, Iran, the EU and other events and issues around the world.
But there’s just one problem: the establishment Trump has vowed to obliterate reveres Kissinger.
Unsurprisingly (and just like the political establishment), Kissinger is responsible for millions of deaths around the world. In his book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, the late Christopher Hitchens outlined key facts he argued prove Kissinger is a war criminal. As cited by the Intercept, Kissinger was behind a wide array of destructive policies:
1. The deliberate mass killing of civilian populations in Indochina.
2. Deliberate collusion in mass murder, and later in assassination, in Bangladesh.
3. The personal suborning and planning of murder, of a senior constitutional officer in a democratic nation — Chile — with which the United States was not at war.
4. Personal involvement in a plan to murder the head of state in the democratic nation of Cyprus.
5. The incitement and enabling of genocide in East Timor
6. Personal involvement in a plan to kidnap and murder a journalist living in Washington, D.C.
Greg Grandin, a professor of history at New York University, outlined Kissinger’s transgressions just during his time in the Nixon administration:
He (1) prolonged the Vietnam War for five pointless years; (2) illegally bombed Cambodia and Laos; (3) goaded Nixon to wiretap staffers and journalists; (4) bore responsibility for three genocides in Cambodia, East Timor, and Bangladesh; (5) urged Nixon to go after Daniel Ellsberg for having released the Pentagon Papers, which set off a chain of events that brought down the Nixon White House; (6) pumped up Pakistan’s ISI, and encouraged it to use political Islam to destabilize Afghanistan; (7) began the U.S.’s arms-for-petrodollars dependency with Saudi Arabia and pre-revolutionary Iran; (8) accelerated needless civil wars in southern Africa that, in the name of supporting white supremacy, left millions dead; (9) supported coups and death squads throughout Latin America; and (10) ingratiated himself with the first-generation neocons, such as Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, who would take American militarism to its next calamitous level.
Grandin notes that a “full tally hasn’t been done, but a back-of-the-envelope count would attribute 3, maybe 4 million deaths to Kissinger’s actions, but that number probably undercounts his victims in southern Africa.”
Kissinger has met with every incoming president since he worked in the Nixon administration. The only exception to that rule was Barack Obama, who did not seek his advice.
Though Trump’s meeting with Kissinger is not guaranteed to reflect in Trump’s policies – especially considering how erratic the new president has proved himself to be — his decision to meet with one of Hillary Clinton’s favorite advisors reflects his lack of commitment to his previous rhetoric.
Though Trump campaigned on the sentiment that nation-building is unwise and the Iraq War was a mistake, he is now seeking guidance from one of the foundational architects of America’s decades-old role as chief hegemonist and policeman of the world.
“I have tremendous respect for Dr. Kissinger and appreciate him sharing his thoughts with me,” Trump said after meeting with him.
Perhaps the best example of Kissinger’s poor judgment is reflected in a statement from Hillary Clinton during a presidential primary debate:
I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better — better than anybody had run it in a long time.
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