Dr. Henry Kissinger was born in 1923, in Germany. In 1938, his family fled Germany to escape the Nazis. The Kissingers traveled to the US where they lived in Washington Height, in Manhattan. In 1943, Kissinger was drafted into the army where he served in intelligence. Kissinger rapidly gained responsibility as his unit moved across France and moved into Germany. He was in charge of a team that located Nazis in hiding. After the war, Kissinger went to Harvard where he earned his undergraduates degree, a Masters and a Ph.D. which he received in 1954.
Kissinger consulted to the government and various non-government think tanks. In 1968, when Richard Nixon was elected President, Kissinger was appointed to be the National Security Advisor. Kissinger was instrumental in improving relations with the Soviet Union and beginning American ties with Communist China for the first time. Kissinger oversaw US negotiations with North Vietnam to end the Vietnam War.
On September 22, 1973, (25th of Elul) Kissinger was sworn in as the first Jewish US Secretary of State and he served in that job until the end of the Ford Administration. At the age of 95, Henry Kissinger continues to remain engaged in world affairs, writing, teaching and consulting to Presidents.
On China is a 2011 non-fiction book by Henry Kissinger, former National Security Adviser and United States Secretary of State. The book is part an effort to make sense of China's strategy in diplomacy and foreign policy over 3000 years and part an attempt to provide an authentic insight on Chinese Communist Party leaders.   Kissinger is considered one of the most famous diplomats of the 20th century, being well known for shaping American foreign policy from 1969 to 1976.  He is renowned for the integral role he played in Sino-American relations during the Nixon administration, particularly Nixon's 1972 visit to China. 
Kissinger's book focuses on Chinese history through the lens of foreign policy considerations, particularly his own brand of realpolitik. The book begins by inspecting China's historical views on peace and war, international order and compares it to the United States' approach to foreign policy.  The book follows how Sino-Soviet border clashes forced China to consider building a relationship with the United States. Kissinger records his own experiences in coordinating the 1972 Nixon visit, including authentic accounts on the nature of Mao Zedong and personality of Zhou Enlai.  The final part of the book looks to the future of Sino-American relations, critiquing the areas which prevent the US and China from developing a mutually beneficial relationship whilst warning of the consequences of another cold war. 
The book is a combination of pure history, discussion of foreign policy and personal narration of Kissinger's experiences in China.  It does not fit in to the genre of autobiography, memoir or monograph, but can be considered part reminiscence, part reflection, part history and part exploration in to the life of Kissinger and his experiences with China.  The book has received various reviews since its release in 2011. The response to Kissinger was polarising with the book receiving varying responses from several Newspapers and individuals.
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Ferguson’s observation reminded me of an occasion three years ago when, after an absence of four decades, Kissinger returned to Harvard. Asked by a student what someone hoping for a career like his should study, Kissinger answered: “history and philosophy”—two subjects notable for their absence in most American schools of public policy.
How did Kissinger prepare for his first major job in the U.S. government as national security advisor to President Richard Nixon? In his words, “When I entered office, I brought with me a philosophy formed by two decades of the study of history.” Ferguson uncovered a fascinating fragment from one of Kissinger’s contemporaries when they were both first-year graduate students at Harvard. John Stoessinger recalled Kissinger arguing “forcefully for the abiding importance of history.” In these conversations, Stoessinger said, Kissinger would cite the assertion by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides that “The present, while never repeating the past exactly, must inevitably resemble it. Hence, so must the future.”
“More than ever,” Kissinger urged, “one should study history in order to see why nations and men succeeded and why they failed.”
Ferguson has crafted his biography of Kissinger not only as the definitive account of an incredible personal and intellectual odyssey, but also as an opportunity to initiate a debate about the importance of history in statecraft. The book plants a flag for a project in “Applied History,” which he and I have been gestating at Harvard for several years. By Applied History we mean the explicit attempt to illuminate current policy challenges by analyzing historical precedents and analogues. Following in the footsteps of the 1986 classic Thinking in Time by Ernest May and Richard Neustadt, our goal is to revitalize Applied History both as a discipline in the university and as an art in the practice of statecraft.
How does Kissinger apply history? Subtly and cautiously, recognizing that its proper application requires both imagination and judgment. As Kissinger put it, “History is not … a cookbook offering pretested recipes. It teaches by analogy, not by maxims.” History “can illuminate the consequences of actions in comparable situations.” But—and here is the key—for it to do so, “each generation must discover for itself what situations are in fact comparable.”
Ferguson’s biography offers an array of examples of when Kissinger drew comparable analogues from history to illuminate contemporary issues and choices. For clues in coping with the frequently frustrating behavior of French President Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s, Kissinger suggested thinking about German leader Otto von Bismarck. For instance, responding to de Gaulle’s moves toward European confederation and away from American influence, Kissinger noted that the French president’s “diplomacy is in the style of Bismarck, who strove ruthlessly to achieve what he considered Prussia’s rightful place, but who then tried to preserve the new equilibrium through prudence, restraint, and moderation.” This insight led Kissinger to conclude that de Gaulle was a self-interested but reasonable leader whom the United States could deal with, at a time when many were ready to write de Gaulle off as a communist sympathizer for being the first Western leader to recognize Maoist China in 1964.
In the 1950s, when mainstream conservatives were ambivalent about Senator Joseph McCarthy’s broadside against alleged communist sympathizers in the State Department and across American society, Kissinger sought to remind them of the complacency of Germans during Adolf Hitler’s early years. As he wrote, “It took some of the best elements in Germany six years after Hitler came to power to realize that a criminal was running their country which they had been so proud of considering a moral state.” The challenge was “to convince the conservative element that true conservatism at the moment requires … opposition to McCarthy.” Using an early version of what Applied Historians might recognize as the “May Method,” in 1951 Kissinger wrote to the CIA’s leading theorist of psychological warfare to set out the similarities and, just as importantly, the differences between 1951, when the United States, the Soviet Union, and Western Europe were struggling to stabilize global order amid the Cold War, and 1815, when European nations constructed an enduring balance of power at the Congress of Vienna.
In reasoning from history, Ferguson explains, the “counterfactual–what might be and might have been—is always alive in the mind of Kissinger’s statesman. The peace he achieves is always by definition a disaster that has been averted.” Ferguson illustrates this point with a string of counterfactual examples in Kissinger’s writings—none more vivid than the West’s response to Hitler: “If the democracies had moved against Hitler in 1936, for instance, ‘we wouldn’t know today whether Hitler was a misunderstood nationalist or whether he was in fact a maniac. The democracies learned that he was in fact a maniac. They had certainty but they had to pay for that with a few million lives.’”
Ferguson calls this concept the “problem of conjecture”: acting before one is certain to avoid potential but uncertain consequences. This is the challenge policymakers face constantly—whether dealing with Vladimir Putin or the threat of nuclear terrorism from ISIS or al-Qaeda. What price are we willing to pay for greater certainty of an adversary’s intentions and capabilities? In the case of terrorist groups, if we don’t defeat them today, in their incipient phases, we risk allowing them to mature to the point where they can conduct Paris-style attacks—or even another 9/11— tomorrow .
Central to Kissinger’s statecraft, Ferguson’s masterful biography argues, was his ability to bring a deep knowledge of history to bear on the policy questions he confronted. In doing so, Kissinger demonstrated, as Winston Churchill observed, that “the longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward.”
What "politics" does to history: The saga of Henry Kissinger and George Shultz's right-hand man
By Jim Sleeper
Published May 8, 2021 12:00PM (EDT)
Henry Kissinger, Charles Hill and George Shultz (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images/U.S. Navy/Eric Dietrich)
The apothegm " De mortuis nil nisi bonum " ("Of the dead, say nothing but good") urges compassion and respect for the recently deceased, no matter how flawed they were in life. That injunction was obeyed last week in a memorial conference arranged by Yale's Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy for Morton Charles Hill, the university's "Diplomat in Residence," who died, at 84, on March 27.
The conference webinar's virtually assembled (and tightly monitored) participants — some Yale faculty were "removed" by the website host from the "audience" — parodied unintentionally Hill's long career of diplomatic dissembling. A Vulcan conservative, he revered England's iron-fisted 17th-century Puritan "Lord Protector" Oliver Cromwell but also John Milton, an enigmatic diplomatic aide and chronicler. Both were models for Hill's own Foreign Service work and as a confidant and ghostwriter for secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali as the chief foreign policy adviser to Rudy Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign (during which Sen. Joe Biden quipped that Giuliani's every sentence "contains a verb, a noun and 9/11") and as the purveyor to starstruck Yale students of his own dark reading of liberal education's great conversation across the ages about lasting challenges to politics and the human spirit.
"Nil nisi bonum" has long been Yale's way of arranging senior luminaries' comings and goings with announcements "staged in a sequence indicative of sound judgment, good feeling, and the dawn of a bright new day," as Lewis Lapham put it in " Quarrels With Providence ,"his poignant, sometimes hilarious short history of Yale. In one such orchestration, you might have thought that Charles Hill was ascending to oceans of eternal light last week as the tributes to him flowed at the Yale conference.
Kissinger, now 97, characterized Hill as a master practitioner of "anonymous indispensability" throughout their 50-year relationship. Hill was Shultz's top executive assistant in the State Department and then a fellow with Shultz at the conservative Hoover Institution.
Yale named him "Diplomat in Residence" and a "distinguished fellow" of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, which has been funded by former Reagan Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady and securities analyst Charles Johnson, as well as by the conservative Olin and Smith-Richardson Foundations. For more than 20 years, that program's faculty triumvirate — John Lewis Gaddis, Paul Kennedy and Hill — worked to make "grand strategy" a brand name within Yale and at other universities, collaborating with other conservative-funded Yale initiatives: the Jackson School of Global Affairs, the William F. Buckley Program and the Johnson Center.
Conference tributes came also from Yale alumnus L. Paul Bremer III, the former American proconsul of Iraq's Green Zone in 2003 from former U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills (who embarrassingly praised Charles Hill's work with a man whom she misnamed "Boutros Boutros-Gandhi") and from toadying Yale faculty, including Hill's Grand Strategy partners, the historians Gaddis and Kennedy, as well as from the ubiquitous political scientist Bryan Garsten and the self-avowed "public interest lawyer" and longtime program functionary Justin Zaremby.
But a better admonition to conference goers would have been " De mortuis nil nisi veritas" ("Of the dead, say nothing but the truth "). The whole truth is that Hill instilled in student acolytes the strain of that iron yet duplicitous discipline that has run from Yale's own Puritan founders and from its first "spy," Nathan Hale, class of 1773, through its birthing of the CIA (see the movie "The Good Shepherd") and Yale's outsized role in designing and staffing 20th-century American foreign policy. "Nothing but the truth" would reveal that, in Washington as well as at Yale, Hill perpetrated something worse than diplomacy's inevitable, artful deceptions.
If you're tempted to consider this assessment over-determinedly liberal or leftist, read a strongly similar assessment of Hill in The American Conservative magazine by Michael Desch, a professor at the George H.W. Bush School at Texas A&M University. Desch reports — as the recent, credulous, error-ridden Washington Post obituary for Hil l does not — that "Hill was forced to resign from the Foreign Service after it became clear that he had concealed evidence of Shultz's extensive knowledge of the Iran-Contra scandal from federal agents." Hill was a "Diplomat in Residence" at Yale because he was a diplomat in exile from Washington. And that's only the beginning of what the nil nisi bonum faithful evaded.
When teaching becomes political
It's worrisome enough that today's financialization of everything in America is forcing university development officers to rely not only on conservative donors with "agendas" such as those of the Yale programs I've mentioned, but also on civically rudderless benefactors such as private equity baron Stephen Schwarzman, whose priorities constrain universities to become business corporations in an education industry that incentivizes students to become not citizens of a republic or the world but mincing, self-marketing, indebted buyers and sellers.
Some leftist and "politically correct" initiatives on college campuses are feckless reactions against these pressures. Some conservative faculty at Yale welcomed Hill as a superior antidote to such civic mindlessness and as the embodiment of an older social discipline and sense of duty on which Yale had been founded. Hill and his backers insinuated themselves into liberal education in ways that prompt two cautionary lessons.
First, the writing of history may be damaged, not enriched, when would-be statesmen teach it and write it.
Second, a university dedicated to liberal education's great conversation across the ages needs an immune system and antibodies strong enough to resist not only financialized greed and power lust but also all ideologies that serve such pressures instead of resisting them.
By the early 1990s, Yale's immune system had been weakened, if not traumatized, by demographic and economic upheavals in New Haven and within the university itself — a long, sad story, beyond my scope here. As if sensing blood in the water of left-liberal responses to these dislocations, right-wing journalists and operatives began attacking Yale as too gay, too feminized, too hostile to the Western canon. Yale president Richard Levin made tactical responses to the university's many challenges, engaging more seriously with New Haven's social institutions and residents, rebuilding the university's physical plant, and welcoming the lavishly funded conservative initiatives and operatives and exponents such as Hill.
Those tactics successfully deflected some of the right-wing assaults Hill put out some fires set by conservative bashers of "liberal Yale," some of whom had been his confederates in conservative policy making and Wall Street Journal punditry. But his Vulcan, almost pagan sense of human nature and its prospects compromised the classically liberal freedoms of expression and inquiry that he claimed to defend. Thousands of people beyond campus and the U.S. have become "mortuis" thanks to thinking and policies that Hill propounded as a sage to young acolytes at Yale.
Shortly before the war in Iraq began, I watched him pitch it forcefully to a packed Yale Law School auditorium audience. Interviewed on March 5, 2003 by "PBS NewsHour" correspondent Paul Solman (who would later join the Grand Strategy Program as a part-time lecturer), Hill assured PBS viewers that the United States had the capability "to do this operation swiftly, and it will be a war that will not do great damage to Iraq, to its installations, to its infrastructure, or to its people. … We will see … the restoration of American credibility and decisiveness. We'll see an Iraq that is freed from oppression."
Five years later, at a dinner in Yale President Levin's home, Hill regaled the guests with a Periclean assessment of Giuliani's recent presidential campaign, which he'd served while on leave from Grand Strategy.
What bad politics does to history
By 2010, when I was reading Hill's " Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order " for my Foreign Policy magazine review, PBS was broadcasting a documentary based on George Shultz's 1993 memoir, " Turmoil and Triumph ," which had mainly been written by Hill. The PBS ombudsman criticized the film's hagiographical, conservative slant, but the deeper problem was that Hill's crafting of the memoir revealed unintentionally what can happen when former statesmen try to write or teach history.
Iran-Contra special counsel Lawrence Walsh's 1993 report on how American officials had secretly funneled proceeds from illegal arms sales to Iran to right-wing insurgents in Nicaragua established that although Hill and Shultz opposed the scheme, bureaucratic self-interest kept them from trying to stop it. In congressional testimony written by Hill, Shultz lied about what they'd known and when, compromising the public investigation but providing Ronald Reagan with plausible deniability. By not telling the truth about the scandal, they hoped to avoid retribution from top Reagan aides. As the report goes, "Independent Counsel concluded that Shultz's testimony was incorrect, if not false, in significant respects and misleading, if literally true, in others, and that information had been withheld from investigators by Shultz's executive assistant, M. Charles Hill."
Desch of the American Conservative notes that Hill "describes himself as an 'Edmund Burke conservative,' but as one former Yale International Security Studies Fellow told me, 'There's not much if any daylight between Charlie and the neocons….'" Always at Hill's elbow were the admonitory ghosts that had haunted him since his student years at Brown University. A large oil portrait of Oliver Cromwell hung in Hill's New Haven home. The paleoconservative Richard Weaver, whose "Ideas Have Consequences" (1948) roused Hill's and other conservatives' dread of "the crumbling of modern man and the philosophical and moral threats hatching on the other side of the Iron curtain," as Molly Worthen, a former Hill student, wrote in her biography of Hill, " The Man on Whom Nothing Was Lost ."
An energetic autodidact, Hill spun great literature, classical and modern, to justify his mottled Foreign Service record, paleoconservative convictions and neoconservative alliances. That might suit the schoolmaster of a military boarding school better than a teacher of liberal arts. But it sidestepped what becomes of great men's ideas when those who virtually write their memoirs, as Hill did Shultz's, twist their record to evade the judgment of history (and, in his case, of the Iran-Contra independent counsel). In real life, Hill's dissembling compromised not only Shultz and foreign policy making but also an old, civic-republican college's three-century-long struggle to balance humanist truth-seeking with training for republican power-wielding.
Dissembling in print
In 1993 The New York Review of Books published a damning review of Shultz's "Turmoil and Triumph" by Theodore H. Draper, the grand historian of Communism and of the Cold War (which had been sputtering toward its close in the Reagan-Shultz years). Draper faulted Shultz's facts and his methodology in presenting them. That prompted a letter from Hill contesting Draper's judgment but, ultimately, discrediting his own. Hill contended that the factual errors Draper flagged in the memoir reflected Shultz's sound decision to confine his narrative "to what he knew or was told at the time" and, in so doing, to exclude "information and evidence which came to light after a decision or event occurred."
Defending this strange methodology, Hill unintentionally revealed what was untrustworthy in his own methods. He claimed that Shultz's decision to report only what he knew of past events as they were unfolding (or only what Shultz and Hill want readers to think he knew) "makes 'Turmoil and Triumph' a unique, irreplaceable and unchallengeable historical document, as it reveals a reality that 'memoirs' invariably obscure: decisions of statecraft must be taken on the basis of partial and sometimes erroneous reports." Parrying one of Draper's factual corrections, Hill admitted that "it may be true that [Iranian-born arms merchant Albert] Hakim, not [CIA official George] Cave, was the … drafter [of a memo on the Iran-Contra deal], but Shultz at the time was told it was Cave, and to be true to how things actually were, Shultz's narrative must say 'Cave.'"
But shouldn't the narrative have moved on to tell what Shultz learned shortly thereafter? Hill's casuistry is all too common in memoirs written by or for statesmen seeking to sanitize their own blunders and lies. His letter to the editor concluded his justification of that hoary practice with a try at literary grace: "In this review … Draper reads every note, but never seems to be able to hear the music." But Hill's own music was meant to distract attention from his flimsy rationale for Shultz's presenting as factual the many suppositions that he and Hill knew — but never told readers — had already been discredited by the time they were writing the memoir.
Such gyrations would offend Thucydides, and they open a Pandora's box or Orwellian memory hole in the writing of history: Hill's is a "peculiar interpretation of 'how things actually were,'" Draper replied , since the truth, as Hill and Shultz knew when they were writing the book, was that "Hakim was the [memo's] drafter, so that is how 'things actually were,'" while "Shultz was told at the time that it was Cave, so that was how things actually were not. But even if we accept [Hill's] strange premise that Shultz had to put in his book only what he was told at the time, however erroneous, a question arises: Was not Shultz obliged to tell the reader what the truth was? As for notes and music," Draper concludes, "the music cannot be right if the notes are wrong."
This was no trivial exchange. It bared something wrong not only in Hill's writing but also in the slippery historiographical and pedagogical modus he imparted to Yale students in lectures, seminars and campus publications. It should have disqualified him from teaching at a liberal arts college, but, as his students told me, and as I sometimes witnessed firsthand, he used his position as a supposed guide to the great humanist conversation, not to deepen their reckonings with the humanities' lasting challenges to politics and the spirit, but to advance his Vulcan logic and his superiors' strategic interests. His firmness and his intimacy with the great and powerful impressed students eager to learn how not to say that an emperor has no clothes and how to supply the necessary drapery if someone is incautious enough to say it.
Both Hill and a student reporter seemed disposed to do precisely that in a Yale Daily News interview a month after 9/11:
[M]any have noted a change in President Bush's behavior in the last month, the New York Times going so far as to say that he has achieved a certain degree of "gravitas." Do you agree?
I think that people with basically sound leadership instincts … will find them growing stronger over time. So it seems to me that what we have seen in the president's behavior is a string of more and more able performances, more and more firm and definitive performances. And this is what you want to see. It's a growing process, and I don't see any limitation to this growth.
Hill wasn't teaching student readers here how to conduct an inquiry in the spirit of liberal education. He was engaging in his almost instinctive misrepresentation of what was actually going on in order to reinforce political instincts and premises he believed the young reporter and his readers were inclined to share.
Hill loathed Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose understanding of equality and the General Will challenge the Lockean liberalism and Anglo-American hegemony that Hill claimed to defend. Never mind that more serious threats to Lockean liberalism and American hegemony come not from the revolutionary left but from casino-finance capital and corporate welfare that would have horrified Locke and Adam Smith, under banners of "free markets." On one occasion Hill made students from his freshman seminar in Yale's Directed Studies program recite in unison, from wherever each was seated in a larger assembly of the program's students and faculty, a Rousseauian Creed, intended "to depict Rousseauianism as proto-totalitarian," as one of the participants later wrote me.
"We went in feeling rather excited about it," the student added, "but as soon as it happened, I felt rather uncomfortable. … There was something disturbingly authoritarian in Hill's getting students to recite certain words at his prompting. In trying to combat a particular sort of groupthink, Hill actually wound up emulating what he claims to oppose." A faculty member later confirmed that impression and more. "People were at each other's throats over it afterward, he told me. 'This isn't liberal education,' some of us felt."
In 1998 Hill wrote another duplicitous, doomed letter to the New York Review , this one charging that Joan Didion's review of "Lion King," Dinesh D'Souza's hagiography of Ronald Reagan, recycled an "erroneous story" that Reagan had falsely claimed to have seen the Nazi death camps in person during World War II. (Reagan never left the U.S. during the war. He'd seen only footage from military cameramen, which he edited into briefing films.) Hoping to protect Reagan (as the Iran-Contra independent counsel had found him eager to do when that scandal broke), Hill cited Shultz's claim in "Turmoil and Triumph" that Reagan showed filmed footage of the death camps to visiting Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who told it to "the Hebrew language" press, whose reports of the meeting, according to Hill, were garbled in translation back to English, giving the misimpression that Reagan had claimed to have been in the camps.
Didion's reply showed that Hill's effort to deny Reagan's blurring of romance and fact was wishful, at best. She cited Washington Post correspondent Lou Cannon's report that both Shamir and Elie Wiesel told friends that Reagan, in separate, unrelated meetings with them, had given them the impression he'd visited the camps, and that both men had sincerely believed and been moved by what they understood to have been his experience. Perhaps four "statesmen" were only embellishing the past as they wandered through the fog of Reagan's mind. But more likely Hill was compounding Reagan's dissimulations. Scholars don't do such things. Foreign Service officers are expected to do it. Hill shouldn't have done such things so often at Yale.
Sometimes his footwork was so fancy that it only compounded suspicions he was trying to allay. In April 2006, the Yale Daily News noted that "An article published in the Yale Israel Journal by Charles Hill … has become the center of a debate over alleged plagiarism in a lecture delivered by … George Shultz at the Library of Congress. The controversy arose when a group of Stanford students revealed last week that they had come across 22 sentences in Shultz's 2004 Kissinger Lecture that had previously appeared in Hill's article, published the prior year."
It was really a non-story, given the two men's long relationship. But with colleges struggling to prevent plagiarism as opportunities for it proliferate, students are often concerned and confused about what plagiarism entails. In this case Hill need only have explained that he'd been Shultz's speechwriter and confidant for years and that the mix-up that led both to publish the same words under separate bylines hardly involved one person claiming credit for another's work.
But Hill couldn't leave well enough alone, probably because, as a teacher at Yale, he had to defend his scholarly integrity as well as that of Shultz, who was by then a "professor" at Stanford. Hill's first feint was to fall nobly on his sword, as a Foreign Service officer would: "It was my doing, and [Shultz] is blameless," he told the Yale Daily News before explaining that he, too, was blameless because he and Shultz met every summer "to discuss and debate current world issues, usually while taking notes and writing throughout."
Hill told the paper "he believes that after one such trip a few years ago, when Shultz was preparing for a lecture, they both took notes on their discussions, and then each returned home and wrote something up. Although Hill did not intend to publish his paper, he submitted it to the Yale Israel Journal when he was approached for an article on a short deadline. While he and Shultz later corresponded about the latter's upcoming Library of Congress lecture, Hill said, he found a copy of the paper he had written and recommended that Shultz take a look at it, forgetting that the paper had been published.
"[Shultz] got blindsided and it was my fault because I just didn't recall any of this," Hill said. "I guess I plagiarized something in reverse by using my own thing and gave him something he had contributed to without knowing it, so the whole thing is kind of upside down."
The image of Shultz and Hill scribbling madly as they "discuss and debate current world issues" in the California sun and then writing up their notes in their rooms soon afterward seems too clever by half — an effort to spare Shultz embarrassment over what shouldn't have been embarrassing at all to a former public official with a longtime amanuensis and few scholarly pretensions.
But Hill was still trying to live down the fact that his voluminous note-taking for Shultz had shown federal investigators, who wrested the notes from Hill only with difficulty, that the Senate testimony he'd prepared for Shultz on Iran-Contra was false. The report of the independent counsel called Hill's efforts to blame others "unworthy," as I mentioned in the Foreign Policy review .
A last telling instance of Hill's prevarications that I'll offer here highlights the dangers of entangling a state's public discourse with a university's teaching of the liberal arts. This time the late Tony Judt, not Theodore Draper, unmasked it. Reviewing a book by Hill's Grand Strategy colleague John Lewis Gaddis in the New York Review in 2006, Judt noted sardonically that "Gaddis' account of [Mikhail Gorbachev] gives the Reagan administration full credit for many of Gorbachev's own opinions, ideas, and achievements — as well it might, since in this section of the book Gaddis is paraphrasing and citing Secretary of State George Shultz's memoir, 'Turmoil and Triumph.'"
Not only had Hill ghostwritten Shultz's claim he'd made the same claim himself, in the Hoover Digest in 2001, writing that "through the quiet pressure of Secretary of State George Shultz," the United States had become in the 1980s "a guide for [the Soviet Union's] ridding itself of much of its socialistic economic system." Judt counters that "what changed [Gorbachev's] perspective" on Communism and capitalism" was not … Shultz's private lectures on the virtues of capitalism (as both Shultz and, less, forgivably, Gaddis appears to believe) but the catastrophe of Chernobyl and its aftermath."
Chernobyl isn't mentioned by Shultz, Hill or Gaddis or by Hill and Gaddis' former student Molly Worthen in her book's brief account of Hill's role in the U.S.-Soviet endgame. Worthen's account is Hill's account, polished by Gaddis, with whom she took a course in biography before writing the book and whom she thanks in her acknowledgments for having "read every chapter" in manuscript. So Gaddis, in his book "The Cold War , " credits Shultz's account in "Turmoil and Triumph," which was really written by Gaddis' own Grand Strategy partner Hill and all three men use a 24-year-old, prepped by Gaddis and Hill, to tell the story as they want it told.
What should we learn?
I've been sketching here the highly self-indulgent claims to omniscience of people who consider themselves credentialed and entitled to determine a republic's grand strategies. A lot depends on how and by whom they've been trained. The predominantly Ivy graduates whom the late David Halberstam dubbed, with mordant irony, "The Best and the Brightest," masterminded the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam fiascos, and their successors masterminded our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wrong conceptions and training reinforce arrogant ignorance of how the world really works. A republic must determine its vital interests by taking its innermost bearings through teaching and public discourse unlike Hill's.
A republic needs a well-disciplined but open elite — an "aristocracy of talent and virtue," as Jefferson characterized it, not of breeding or wealth. Charles Hill believed in this goal, which he warned that some liberals and leftists had forsaken in the name of a facile "equality" and cultural relativism. But strategists who are drawn inexorably to top-down crisis-definition and management can be facile and feckless too, corrupting the republican ethos and liberal education they mean to rescue from liberals.
"Superpowers Don't Get to Retire," warned the neoconservative Hill admirer Robert Kagan in a 2013 essay, insisting, as Hill did, that often only willpower and force can sustain the liberal order we've taken for granted. Quoting Michael Ignatieff, Kagan warned that liberal civilization itself "runs deeply against the human grain and is achieved and sustained only by the most unremitting struggle against human nature." Perhaps, Kagan added, "this fragile democratic garden requires the protection of a liberal world order, with constant feeding, watering, weeding, and the fencing off of an ever-encroaching jungle."
But such encroachments come not only from jungles abroad but also from within our own garden, and some of Yale's postwar strategists have been their carriers, casualties and apologists, too eager to supply missing drapery to emperors who lack clothes. Yale's own founders anticipated such dangers. They crossed an ocean to escape a corrupt regime and to build a college and society on moral and civic foundations stronger than armies and wealth. Soon enough, though, they had to seek material support from Elihu Yale, a governor of the East India Company, one of the world's first multinational corporations.
Yale has embodied that tension ever since, struggling to balance students' preparation for capitalist wealth-making with truth-seeking (first religious, then scientific) and civic-republican leadership training. The truth-seeking that I and other Yale students encountered in the 1960s nurtured in some of us enough independence of mind and spirit to resist established premises and practices when alternative strategies must be tried. Grand-strategic ventures abroad depend ultimately on such independence at home. Without it, the civic-republican strengths that effective foreign policy-making requires will be stampeded too easily into feckless ventures like the ones that Hill served in Vietnam and the Middle East and that he continued to defend and promote in New Haven.
A fuller accounting of this miscarriage will go farther than I can go here. But surely the true story of Charles Hill's experience should teach us to stop applauding tricksters and their funders who train young Americans to mistake presumed omniscience for clear-eyed assessment, total surveillance for real security and chronic lying for necessary discretion.
The Fact That Henry Kissinger Is Still Alive Convinces Me That There Is No God
New documents suggest the U.S. role in Argentina's 1976 military coup was considerable, shameful, and had a lot to do with Kissinger. But I repeat myself.
Every now and again, the good people at the National Security Archive share some of what they&rsquove newly pried loose from history&rsquos abandoned mine shafts. Generally, this information adds to what we know about our government&rsquos past crimes and blunders that were kept from us at the time. This week&rsquos dispatch involves the United States&rsquo knowledge of, and assistance to, the creation and subsequent horrors of the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 until 1983. That involvement was considerable, shameful, and had a lot to do with Henry Kissinger. But I repeat myself.
How Henry Kissinger, a one-person blight on human history, is still walking around free, let alone still welcome in so many government and media venues and halls of power, is an eternal shame to this nation and to the highest ideals it pretends to honor. The fact that he is still alive convinces me that there is no god, and the only good I can conceive of in his continued survival is that we haven&rsquot yet had to read the inevitable elite encomia that invariably will attend his demise.
In retrospect, it appears that the Monroe Doctrine was an idea that at the very least should have had an expiration date.
The life of Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger went on to play some important roles in the political landscape of the U.S: He became an advisor for the Department of State, and in 1968 he became the National Security Advisor of Richard Nixon, from 1969 to 1977. Furthermore, he was elected as Secretary of State under Nixon and Gerald Ford.
Kissinger’s policies in the Vietnam War, although he landed a cease-fire, the U.S. military Coup in Chile and his support for Pakistan during the Bangladesh War, despite the genocide, and his role in the secret bombing of Cambodia, made him quite a controversial figure.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace together with Le Duc Tho, who refused to accept the honour. Many critics raised their voice at Kissinger’s nomination. For some he’s considered a war criminal, while for others he’s regarded as one of the best Secretary of State in the history of the United States.
Since his retirement from active political life, Henry Kissinger has founded the consultancy firm Kissinger Associates specializing in international relations and he has written extensively about politics and the New World Order.
The Disastrous History of Henry Kissinger’s Policies in the Middle East
This piece first appeared at TomDispatch.com
The only person Henry Kissinger flattered more than President Richard Nixon was Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. In the early 1970 s, the Shah, sitting atop an enormous reserve of increasingly expensive oil and a key figure in Nixon and Kissinger’s move into the Middle East, wanted to be dealt with as a serious person. He expected his country to be treated with the same respect Washington showed other key Cold War allies like West Germany and Great Britain. As Nixon’s national security adviser and, after 1973 , secretary of state, Kissinger’s job was to pump up the Shah, to make him feel like he truly was the “ king of kings.”
Reading the diplomatic record, it’s hard not to imagine his weariness as he prepared for his sessions with the Shah, considering just what gestures and words would be needed to make it clear that his majesty truly mattered to Washington, that he was valued beyond compare. “ Let’s see,” an aide who was helping Kissinger get ready for one such meeting said, “ the Shah will want to talk about Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, the Kurds, and Brezhnev.”
During another prep, Kissinger was told that “ the Shah wants to ride in an F‑ 14 .” Silence ensued. Then Kissinger began to think aloud about how to flatter the monarch into abandoning the idea. “ We can say,” he began, “ that if he has his heart set on it, okay, but the President would feel easier if he didn’t have that one worry in 10 , 000 [that the plane might crash]. The Shah will be flattered.” Once, Nixon asked Kissinger to book the entertainer Danny Kaye for a private performance for the Shah and his wife.
The 92 -year-old Kissinger has a long history of involvement in Iran and his recent opposition to Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, while relatively subdued by present Washington standards, matters. In it lies a certain irony, given his own largely unexamined record in the region. Kissinger’s criticism has focused mostly on warning that the deal might provoke a regional nuclear arms race as Sunni states led by Saudi Arabia line up against Shia Iran. “ We will live in a proliferated world,” he said in testimony before the Senate. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed co-authored with another former secretary of state, George Shultz, Kissinger worried that, as the region “ trends toward sectarian upheaval” and “ state collapse,” the “ disequilibrium of power” might likely tilt toward Tehran.
Of all people, Kissinger knows well how easily the best laid plans can go astray and careen toward disaster. The former diplomat is by no means solely responsible for the mess that is today’s Middle East. There is, of course, George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq (which Kissinger supported). But he does bear far more responsibility for our proliferated world’s disequilibrium of power than anyone usually recognizes.
After Kissinger left office, the special relationship he had worked so hard to establish blew up with the Iranian Revolution of 1979 , the flight of the Shah, the coming to power of Ayatollah Khomeini, and the taking of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran (and its occupants as hostages) by student protesters. Washington’s political class is still trying to dig itself out of the rubble. A number of high-ranking Middle East policymakers and experts held Kissinger directly responsible for the disaster, especially career diplomat George Ball, who called Kissinger’s Iran policy an “ “ manifest failure” of Kissinger’s Iran policy, “ it is worthy of note that in his two massive volumes of political memoirs totalling twenty-eight-hundred pages, Kissinger devoted less than twenty pages to the Iranian revolution and U.S.-Iran relations.”
After the Shah fell, the ayatollahs were the beneficiaries of Kissinger’s arms largess, inheriting billions of dollars of warships, tanks, fighter jets, guns, and other matériel. It was also Kissinger who successfully urged the Carter administration to grant the Shah asylum in the United States, which hastened the deterioration of relations between Tehran and Washington, precipitating the embassy hostage crisis.
Then, in 1980 , Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Iran, beginning a war that consumed hundreds of thousands of lives. The administration of Ronald Reagan “ tilted” toward Baghdad, providing battlefield intelligence used to launch lethal sarin gas attacks on Iranian troops. At the same time, the White House illegally and infamously trafficked high-tech weaponry to revolutionary Iran as part of what became the Iran-Contra affair.
“ It’s a pity they can’t both lose,” Kissinger is reported to have said of Iran and Iraq. Although that quotation is hard to confirm, Raymond Tanter, who served on the National Security Council, reports that, at a foreign-policy briefing for Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan in October 1980 , Kissinger suggested “ the continuation of fighting between Iran and Iraq was in the American interest.” Having bet (and lost) on the Shah, Kissinger now hoped to make the best of a bad war. The U.S., he counselled Reagan, “ should capitalize on continuing hostilities.” “ guardian” of the Gulf, Sunni Saudi Arabia, however, didn’t fall and he did everything he could to turn that already close relationship into an ironclad alliance. In 1975 , he signaled what was to come by working out an arms deal for the Saudi régime similar to the one he had green-lighted for Tehran, including a $ 750 million contract for the sale of 60 F‑ 5 E/F fighters to the sheiks. By this time, the U.S. already had more than a trillion dollars’ worth of military agreements with Riyadh. Only Iran had more.
Like Tehran, Riyadh paid for this flood of weaponry with the proceeds from rising oil prices. The word “ petrodollar,” according to the Los Angeles Times, was coined in late 1973 , and introduced into English by New York investment bankers who were courting the oil-producing countries of the Middle East. Soon enough, as that paper wrote, the petrodollar had become part of “ the world’s macroeconomic interface” and crucial to Kissinger’s developing Middle Eastern policy.
By June 1974 , Treasury Secretary George Shultz was already suggesting that rising oil prices could result in a “ highly advantageous mutual bargain” between the U.S. and petroleum-producing countries in the Middle East. Such a “ bargain,” as others then began to argue, might solve a number of problems, creating demand for the U.S. dollar, injecting needed money into a flagging defense industry hard hit by the Vietnam wind-down, and using petrodollars to cover mounting trade deficits.
As it happened, petrodollars would prove anything but a quick fix. High energy prices were a drag on the U.S. economy, with inflation and high interest rates remaining a problem for nearly a decade. Nor was petrodollar dependence part of any preconceived Kissingerian “ plan.” As with far more of his moves than he or his admirers now care to admit, he more or less stumbled into it. This was why, in periodic frustration, he occasionally daydreamed about simply seizing the oil fields of the Arabian peninsula and doing away with all the developing economic troubles.
“ Can’t we overthrow one of the sheikhs just to show that we can do it?” he wondered in November 1973 , fantasizing about which gas-pump country he could knock off. “ How about Abu Dhabi?” he later asked. (Imagine what the world would be like today had Kissinger, in the fall of 1973 , moved to overthrow the Saudi régime rather than Chile’s democratically elected president, Salvador Allende.) “ Let’s work out a plan for grabbing some Middle East oil if we want,” Kissinger said.
Such scimitar rattling was, however, pure posturing. Not only did Kissinger broker the various deals that got the U.S. hooked on recycled Saudi petrodollars, he also began to promote the idea of an “ oil floor price” below which the cost per barrel wouldn’t fall. Among other things, this scheme was meant to protect the Saudis (and Iran, until 1979 ) from a sudden drop in demand and provide U.S. petroleum corporations with guaranteed profit margins.
Stephen Walt, a scholar of international relations, writes: “ By the end of 1975 , more than six thousand Americans were engaged in military-related activities in Saudi Arabia. Saudi arms purchased for the period 1974 – 1975 totaled over $ 3 . 8 billion, and a bewildering array of training missions and construction projects worth over $ 10 billion were now underway.”Since the 1970 s, one administration after another has found the iron-clad alliance Kissinger deepened between the House of Saud’s medieval “ moderates” and Washington indispensable not only to keep the oil flowing but as a balance against Shia radicalism and secular nationalism of every sort. Recently, however, a series of world-historical events has shattered the context in which that alliance seemed to make sense. These include: the catastrophic war on and occupation of Iraq, the Arab Spring, the Syrian uprising and ensuing civil war, the rise of ISIS, Israel’s rightwing lurch, the conflict in Yemen, the falling price of petroleum, and, now, Obama’s Iran deal.But the arms spigot that Kissinger turned on still remains wide open. According to the New York Times, “ Saudi Arabia spent more than $ 80 billion on weaponry last year – the most ever, and more than either France or Britain – and has become the world’s fourth-largest defense market.” Just as they did after the Vietnam drawdown, U.S. weapons manufacturing are compensating for limits on the defense budget at home by selling arms to Gulf states. The “ proxy wars in the Middle East could last for years,” write Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper of the New York Times, “ which will make countries in the region even more eager for the F‑ 35 fighter jet, considered to be the jewel of America’s future arsenal of weapons. The plane, the world’s most expensive weapons project, has stealth capabilities and has been marketed heavily to European and Asian allies. It has not yet been peddled to Arab allies because of concerns about preserving Israel’s military edge.”
If fortune is really shining on Lockheed and Boeing, Kissinger’s prediction that Obama’s de-escalation of tensions with Tehran will sooner or later prompt Saudi – Iranian hostilities will pan out. “ With the balance of power in the Middle East in flux, several defense analysts said that could change. Russia is a major arms supplier to Iran, and a decision by President Vladimir Putin to sell an advanced air defense system to Iran could increase demand for the F‑ 35 , which is likely to have the ability to penetrate Russian-made defenses,” the Times reports.
“ This could be the precipitating event: the emerging Sunni-Shia civil war coupled with the sale of advanced Russian air defense systems to Iran,” said one defense analyst. “ If anything is going to result in F‑ 35 clearance to the gulf states, this is the combination of events.’”
If all Henry Kissinger contributed to the Middle East were a regional arms race, petrodollar addiction, Iranian radicalization, and the Tehran-Riyadh conflict, it would be bad enough. His legacy, however, is far worse than that: he has to answer for his role in the rise of political Islam.
In July 1973 , after a coup in Afghanistan brought to power a moderate, secular, but Soviet-leaning republican government, the Shah, then approaching the height of his influence with Kissinger, pressed his advantage. He asked for even more military assistance. Now, he said, he “ must cover the East with fighter aircraft.” Kissinger complied.
Tehran also began to meddle in Afghan politics, offering Kabul billions of dollars for development and security, in exchange for loosening “ its ties with the Soviet Union.” This might have seemed a reasonably peaceful way to increase U.S. influence via Iran over Kabul. It was, however, paired with an explosive initiative: via SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police, and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), extremist Islamic insurgents were to be slipped into Afghanistan to destabilize Kabul’s republican government.
Kissinger, who knew his British and his Russian imperial history, had long considered Pakistan of strategic importance. “ The defense of Afghanistan,” he wrote in 1955 , “ depends on the strength of Pakistan.” But before he could put Pakistan into play against the Soviets in Afghanistan, he had to perfume away the stink of genocide. In 1971 , that country had launched a bloodbath in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), with Nixon and Kissinger standing “ stoutly behind Pakistan’s generals, supporting the murderous régime at many of the most crucial moments,” as Gary Bass has detailed. The president and his national security adviser, Bass writes, “ vigorously supported the killers and tormentors of a generation of Bangladeshis.”
Because of that genocidal campaign, the State Department, acting against Kissinger’s wishes, had cut off military aid to the country in 1971 , though Nixon and Kissinger kept it flowing covertly via Iran. In 1975 , Kissinger vigorously pushed for its full, formal restoration, even as he was offering his tacit approval to Maoist China to back Pakistan whose leaders had their own reasons for wanting to destabilize Afghanistan, having to do with border disputes and the ongoing rivalry with India.
Kissinger helped make that possible, in part by the key role he played in building up Pakistan as part of a regional strategy in which Iran and Saudi Arabia were similarly deputized to do his dirty work. When Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had backed the 1971 rampage in East Pakistan, visited Washington in 1975 to make the case for restoration of military aid, Kissinger assured President Gerald Ford that he “ was great in ’ 71 .” Ford agreed, and U.S. dollars soon started to flow directly to the Pakistani army and intelligence service.
As national security adviser and then secretary of state, Kissinger was directly involved in planning and executing covert actions in such diverse places as Cambodia, Angola, and Chile. No available information indicates that he ever directly encouraged Pakistan’s ISI or Iran’s SAVAK to destabilize Afghanistan. But we don’t need a smoking gun to appreciate the larger context and consequences of his many regional initiatives in what, in the twenty-first century, would come to be known in Washington as the “ greater Middle East.” In their 1995 book, Out of Afghanistan, based on research in Soviet archives, foreign-policy analysts Diego Cordovez and Selig Harrison provide a wide-ranging sense of just how so many of the policies Kissinger put in place — the empowerment of Iran, the restoration of military relations with Pakistan, high oil prices, an embrace of Saudi Wahhabism, and weapon sales — came together to spark jihadism:
” It was in the early 1970 s, with oil prices rising, that Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran embarked on his ambitious effort to roll back Soviet influence in neighboring countries and create a modern version of the ancient Persian empire… Beginning in 1974 , the Shah launched a determined effort to draw Kabul into a Western-tilted, Tehran-centered regional economic and security sphere embracing India, Pakistan and the Persian Gulf states… The United States actively encouraged this roll-back policy as part of its broad partnership with the Shah… SAVAK and the CIA worked hand in hand, sometimes in loose collaboration with underground Afghani Islamic fundamentalist groups that shared their anti-Soviet objectives but had their own agendas as well… As oil profits sky-rocketed, emissaries from these newly affluent Arab fundamentalist groups arrived on the Afghan scene with bulging bankrolls.”
Harrison also wrote that “ SAVAK, the CIA, and Pakistani agents” were involved in failed “ fundamentalist coup attempts” in Afghanistan in 1973 and 1974 , along with an attempted Islamic insurrection in the Panjshir Valley in 1975 , laying the groundwork for the jihad of the 1980 s (and beyond).
Much has been made of Jimmy Carter’s decision, on the advice of National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, to authorize “ nonlethal” aid to the Afghan mujahedeen in July 1979 , six months before Moscow sent troops to support the Afghan government in its fight against a spreading Islamic insurgency. But lethal aid had already long been flowing to those jihadists via Washington’s ally Pakistan (and Iran until its revolution in 1979 ). This provision of support to radical Islamists, initiated in Kissinger’s tenure and continuing through the years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, had a number of unfortunate consequences known all too well today but seldom linked to the good doctor. It put unsustainable pressure on Afghanistan’s fragile secular government. It laid the early infrastructure for today’s transnational radical Islam. And, of course, it destabilized Afghanistan and so helped provoke the Soviet invasion.
Some still celebrate the decisions of Carter and Reagan for their role in pulling Moscow into its own Vietnam-style quagmire and so hastening the demise of the Soviet Union. “ What is most important to the history of the world?” Brzezinski infamously asked. “ The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?” (The rivalry between the two Harvard immigrant diplomats, Kissinger and Brzezinski, is well known. But Brzezinski by 1979 was absolutely Kissingerian in his advice to Carter. In fact, a number of Kissinger’s allies who continued on in the Carter administration, including Walter Slocombe and David Newsom, influenced the decision to support the jihad.)
Moscow’s occupation of Afghanistan would prove a disaster — and not just for the Soviet Union. When Soviet troops pulled out in 1989 , they left behind a shattered country and a shadowy network of insurgent fundamentalists who, for years, had worked hand-in-glove with the CIA in the Agency’s longest covert operation, as well as the Saudis and the Pakistani ISI. It was a distinctly Kissingerian line-up of forces.
Few serious scholars now believe that the Soviet Union would have proved any more durable had it not invaded Afghanistan. Nor did the allegiance of Afghanistan — whether it tilted toward Washington, Moscow, or Tehran — make any difference to the outcome of the Cold War, any more than did, say, that of Cuba, Iraq, Angola, or Vietnam.
For all of the celebration of him as a “ grand strategist,” as someone who constantly advises presidents to think of the future, to base their actions today on where they want the country to be in five or 10 years’ time, Kissinger was absolutely blind to the fundamental feebleness and inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union. None of it was necessary none of the lives Kissinger sacrificed in Cambodia, Laos, Angola, Mozambique, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, East Timor, and Bangladesh made one bit of difference in the outcome of the Cold War.
Similarly, each of Kissinger’s Middle East initiatives has been disastrous in the long run. Just think about them from the vantage point of 2015 : banking on despots, inflating the Shah, providing massive amounts of aid to security forces that tortured and terrorized democrats, pumping up the U.S. defense industry with recycled petrodollars and so spurring a Middle East arms race financed by high gas prices, emboldening Pakistan’s intelligence service, nurturing Islamic fundamentalism, playing Iran and the Kurds off against Iraq, and then Iraq and Iran off against the Kurds, and committing Washington to defending Israel’s occupation of Arab lands.
Combined, they’ve helped bind the modern Middle East into a knot that even Alexander’s sword couldn’t sever.
Over the last decade, an avalanche of documents — transcripts of conversations and phone calls, declassified memos, and embassy cables — have implicated Henry Kissinger in crimes in Bangladesh, Cambodia, southern Africa, Laos, the Middle East, and Latin America. He’s tried to defend himself by arguing for context. “ Just to take a sentence out of a telephone conversation when you have 50 other conversations, it’s just not the way to analyze it,” Kissinger said recently, after yet another damning tranche of documents was declassified. “ I’ve been telling people to read a month’s worth of conversations, so you know what else went on.”
But a month’s worth of conversations, or eight years for that matter, reads like one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest plays. Perhaps Macbeth, with its description of what we today call blowback: “ That we but teach bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to plague the inventor.”
Henry Kissinger, also known as "Henry the K" and "Dr. K," was arguably the single most visible, powerful, and controversial figure in world politics the U.S. has ever fielded. He is credited with developing the policy of Detente, beginning talks to reduce strategic arms (SALT), encouraging China to expand international trade and foreign relations, and ending the Vietnam War. Conversely, he is accused of such enormities as advising South Vietnam to pull out of the Paris Peace Talks in 1968, thus prolonging the Vietnam War directing the first phase of the secret bombing of Cambodia, resulting in 200,000 deaths from 1969 to 1975 engineering the covert overthrow and assassination of Chilean socialist president Salvador Allende in 1973, and supporting U.S. arms sales to Indonesia at a time when that nation was attempting to annex East Timor in 1975, leading to the slaughter of 200,000 East Timorese, among other atrocities. Regardless of one's opinion, Henry Kissinger was a larger-than-life player on the world's largest stage. The early years Henry (nee Heinz) Alfred Kissinger was born in May 1923, in Bavaria. As a mid-teenage Jewish youth, he accompanied his family to New York City when they escaped Adolph Hitler's persecution in 1938. He was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1943. Kissinger's early American experience included working in a shaving brush factory while attending high school. He was drafted into the army in 1943 and served as an interpreter of German. Following the war, Kissinger earned his B.A. summa cum laude in 1950 from Harvard College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in 1952 and 1954, respectively, from Harvard University. His doctoral dissertation A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace 1812-22 predicted his point of view in the White House. Kissinger the statesman Kissinger became involved in political activism and came to be convinced that he could make a difference in the way government was conducted. Consequently, he backed New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 1960, 1964, and 1968. Kissenger's political philosophy was highly influenced by "realpolitik" (German for "politics of reality"), which is "foreign politics based on practical concerns rather than theory or ethics." An early example of realpolitik and utilitarianism was Machiavelli's Il Principe or The Prince (circa A.D. 1515), written to encourage the appearance of a political savior who would unify corrupt Italian city states of the time and fend off foreign conquest — and advocated the notion that "whatever was expedient was necessary." After being invited by President Richard M. Nixon to be his national security advisor in 1969, Kissinger formally introduced realpolitik in the White House. In that context, Kissinger intended for the policy to deal with other powerful nations in a practical manner, rather than on the basis of political doctrine or ethics — for instance, Nixon's diplomacy with the People's Republic of China, despite the United States' manifest opposition to communism and the doctrine of containment. The term "shuttle diplomacy" came into vogue in 1973 to describe a busy year for Kissinger. He was sworn in as Secretary of State, and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (along with Vietnam's Le Duc Tho¹), for bringing about the Paris Peace Accords. He also helped to normalize relations with China by making two secret trips for the White House, and bring an end to the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East. It also was in 1973 that Kissinger and the CIA allegedly influenced the overthrow of a democratically elected Chilean government by U.S.-backed General Augusto Pinochet and members of the Chilean military. Post-White House years When Democratic Jimmy Carter won the 1976 presidential election over Gerald R. Ford, Kissinger turned to political consulting, writing, and speaking, as well as serving on such policymaking groups as the Trilateral Commission. As the Republican Party began its swing further to the right in 1981, Kissinger's role in the conservative Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush terms of office was limited. Even though Kissinger was a Republican, leaders of the party took Kissinger's stance on detente as a sign of weakness. Following the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Kissinger was selected to chair the investigative committee that would track the events leading up to that fateful day. That appointment drew heavy criticism upon President George W. Bush because of Kissinger's alleged involvement in the aforementioned, alleged war crimes and his record of shunting aside the public's right to be informed about governmental activities (see Freedom of Information Act). Pandora's Box? Kissinger began to be hounded for alleged scheming in the geopolitical arena. In May 2001, a French judge served Kissinger a summons to answer questions about the death of French citizens during the Pinochet regime, as well as his knowledge about "Operation Condor."² Kissinger refused. He chose to return to the U.S. that night, rather than respond to foriegn inquiries. In July of that year, Chile's highest court gave permission to an investigative judge to question Kissinger about the execution of American journalist Charles Horman by Pinochet loyalists in 1973. Although the questions were relayed via diplimatic channels, Kissinger again chose not to answer, leading to a request for his extradition by the Chilean government. In August, 2001 the Argentine government requested a deposition from Kissinger regarding Operation Condor. In September, the family of slain Chilean general Rene Schneider filed a civil suit in a U.S. federal court, asserting that Kissinger decided to execute Schneider because he opposed the ultimately failed 1970 coup against newly elected president Allende. The following day, Chilean human rights lawyers implicated Kissinger, along with Pinochet, Alfredo Stroessner (former dictator of Paraguay), and a number of U.S., Chilean, and Argentinian officials, in a criminal lawsuit claiming the defendants were complicit in "crimes against humanity, war crimes, violations of international treaties, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, and torture" in their role in Operation Condor. Late in 2001, Brazilian authorities were forced to cancel a speaking engagement for Kissinger because the government could not guarantee his protection from legal proceedings. In 2002, the United Kingdom denied a request from a Spanish judge, backed by French officials, to request that Interpol detain Kissinger for questioning about events in Chile. In addition, a petition was filed in London for his arrest, citing "the destruction of civilian populations and environment in Indonesia from 1969 to 1975." East Timorese activists have accused Kissinger of "aiding and abetting genocide" by backing the bloody Indonesian invasion and occupation of their island, a former Portuguese protectorate. Those accusations, according to Kissinger, are all rebuttable. Examples: "Each instance is taken out of context." The bombing of Cambodia was against North Vietnamese regulars and the Vietcong the Indonesian affair was allowed because it was "consistent with the Cold War containment policy of the times."
¹Le Duc Tho turned down the peace prize because there was no peace at that time.
²Operation Condor was a covert operation carried out by South American countries in the “Southern Cone” — Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay and, later, Brazil and Bolivia — in the mid-1970s and early 1980s. The focus of the coordinated operation was to militarily eliminate leftist guerrillas who attempted to overthrow established governments of each member nation, regardless of where the enemy was in the world. The U.S. was implicated by serving as the intelligence coordinator with headquarters in the Panama Canal Zone. A document was discovered among some 16,000 records released in 2001 by the White House, Defense and Justice departments, as well as other government entities. The document and related material has been nicknamed the “Archive of Terror,” and was initiated by the secret police of Chile’s Pinochet. The document, a cable sent to then Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, stating a concern that “the U.S. connection to Condor might be revealed during the then ongoing investigation into the deaths of former Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier and his American colleague, Ronni Moffitt, who were killed by a car bomb in Washington, D.C. ‘It would seem advisable,’ he suggests, ‘to review this arrangement to insure that its continuation is in U.S. interest.’” "'This document opens a pandora's box of questions on the U.S. knowledge of, and role in, Operation Condor,’ said Senior Analyst Peter Kornbluh, director of the National Security Archive's Chile Documentation Project.” The National Security Archive then called on the U.S. intelligence community — NSA, CIA, DIA, and other Defense Department bureaus at the U.S. Southern Command — to make public their files on communications assistance to the military regimes in the southern cone.
REPORT: Henry Kissinger’s Long History Of Complicity In Human Rights Abuses
Earlier this month, audio tapes from the Nixon White House were revealed to the public that captured a shocking exchange between Nixon and then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. In the tapes, Kissinger responds to an appeal made by Israeli leader Golda Meir to Soviet leaders to allow the emigration of Russian Jews to her country. He tells Nixon that the &ldquoemigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.&rdquo
Since these comments were revealed to the public, there has been an uproar in the media, with the New York Times writing that the tapes showed that Kissinger was &ldquobrutally dismissive&rdquo of human rights concerns related to Soviet Jews.
The former secretary of state has gone on a media offensive, attempting to save his public image among the media furor. In an op-ed piece published Sunday, Kissinger wrote that he was sorry he &ldquomade that remark 37 years ago,&rdquo and argued that it was taken out of context. Curiously, the Anti-Defamation League&rsquos Abraham Foxman, while condemning the comments, also rose to Kissinger&rsquos defense, saying, &ldquoI think what Kissinger said is horrendous, offensive, painful, but also I&rsquom not willing to judge him. The atmosphere in the Nixon White House was one of bigotry, prejudice, anti-Semitism, the intimidation of the anti-Semitism, the stories, the bigotry.&rdquo David Harris of the American Jewish Committee offered a similar defense: &ldquoPerhaps Kissinger felt that, as a Jew, he had to go the extra mile to prove to the president that there was no question of where his loyalties lay.&rdquo
But what both the press that is reporting about Kissinger&rsquos comments and what his most passionate defenders are omitting is that these revealed remarks only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the former secretary of state&rsquos complicity in human rights violations. The mentality revealed in his remarks about Soviet Jews are not an aberration but a major feature of his approach to foreign policy: disregarding human rights in pursuit of other strategic goals. Kissinger has a long history of complicity in major human rights abuses in every corner of the globe, one that is rarely reported on in the press in its reports on the former secretary of state. Here are just a few of these abuses:
&ndash Bangladesh: In 1971, Bangladesh, which was at the time East Pakistan, declared its independence from Pakistan. The Pakistani military responded with a brutal military campaign that included massive killings and the estimated systematic raping of nearly 200,000 Bangladeshi women. When Daka Consul General Archer Blood and other American diplomatic staff began to protest the Pakistani army&rsquos behavior to Washington, Nixon and Kissinger had him dismissed. During the height of the atrocities, Kissinger sent a message to Pakistan General Yahya Khan, congratulating him on his &ldquodelicacy and tact&rdquo in his military campaigns in Bangladesh. When Kissinger received word that massive famines were going to spring up in the country in 1971, he warned USAID to try to avoid helping, saying that Bangladesh was &ldquonot necessarily our basket case.&rdquo Soon after becoming secretary of state, Kissinger downgraded the American diplomatic staff who had signed onto a protest of Pakistani atrocities in 1971.
&ndash Cambodia: Kissinger was one of the chief masterminds of the Nixon administration&rsquos secret and illegal bombing campaign of Cambodia &mdash he wanted the bombing of &ldquoanything that flies, on anything that moves&rdquo and warned that it must be secretly done to avoid congressional scrutiny &mdash the extent of which was not discovered until President Bill Clinton declassified related documents in 2000. By the end of the American bombing campaign of Cambodia, the country was perhaps the &ldquomost heavily bombed country in history.&rdquo The bombings killed more than a half a million people, and were a major factor in the rise of the genocidal Khmer Rouge.
&ndash Chile: In 1973, Kissinger aided and abetted a right-wing military faction that deposed the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. The faction then installed the dictator General Augusto Pinochet, who went on to torture and/or murder tens of thousands of peaceful dissidents in the country. &ldquoI don&rsquot see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its people,&rdquo Kissinger said in rationalizing his actions, falsely accusing Allende of being a communist and essentially declaring that the United States should have the power to decide Chile&rsquos government. Due to his complicity in bringing Pinochet to power, Kissinger was summoned for questioning and has arrest warrants out in his name in Chile, Argentina, and France. Since the warrants were issued he has not returned to any of those three countries.
&ndash Indonesia and East Timor: In 1975, President Gerald Ford and Kissinger met with Indonesian&rsquos leader, General Suharto. During the meeting, Ford and Kissinger essentially gave &ldquofull approval&rdquo to Suharto to invade neighboring East Timor. In the resulting invasion, hundreds of thousands of Timorese civilians were massacred. Kissinger repeatedly denied that he had such conversations with Suharto, but these denials were found to be false after the declassification of government documents in 2001.
&ndash Iraq: In 1975 Kissinger both encouraged a Kurdish revolt against Saddam Hussein and then abandoned the rebels to be killed following invocations from the Shah of Iran. Bob Woodward&rsquos book State of Denial revealed that Kissinger was a major Iraq policy advisor to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. He warned Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson of the same analogy he used during the Vietnam years, that troop withdrawals would be like &ldquosalted peanuts to the American public the more U.S. troops come home, the more will be demanded.&rdquo Woodward writes that when Gerson asked Kissinger why he supported the war, he replied, &ldquoBecause Afghanistan wasn&rsquot enough,&rsquo &hellip In the conflict with radical Islam, he said, they want to humiliate us. &lsquoAnd we need to humiliate them&rsquo &hellip In Manhattan, this position got him into trouble, particularly at cocktail parties, he noted with a smile.&rdquo &ndash Vietnam: Kissinger, in a possible violation of the Logan Act, helped scuttle peace talks in 1968, prolonging the Vietnam War to advantage Richard Nixon in the presidential election. This extension of the war cost thousands of American lives and those of more than a million people in Indochina.
Viewed with the context of Kissinger&rsquos actions while he was a senior official in multiple American administrations, his comments about Soviet Jews are hardly surprising. Unfortunately, most of the major media&rsquos reporting about Kissinger&rsquos comments does not include this history of complicity in human rights abuses.
In fact, despite his complicity in these abuses, the former secretary of state continues to be a lauded public figure in the United States. He is regularly uncritically featured on major news programs, was recently honored at the State Department, and was even cast as a cartoon character&rsquos voice on a children&rsquos TV show. If history is any judge, this latest revelation about Kissinger will soon be forgotten by major media and elites in the public sphere. But that does not change the actual facts and Kissinger&rsquos long, sordid history of human rights abuses.
Henry A. Kissinger Henry A. Kissinger Henry A. Kissinger
Henry Alfred Kissinger was sworn in on September 22, 1973, as the 56th Secretary of State, a position he held until January 20, 1977. He also served as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from January 20, 1969, until November 3, 1975. In July 1983 he was appointed by President Reagan to chair the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America until it ceased operation in January 1985, and from 1984-1990 he served as a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. From 1986-1988 he was a member of the Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy of the National Security Council and Defense Department. He served as a member of the Defense Policy Board from 2001 to 2016.
At present, Dr. Kissinger is Chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm. He is also a member of the International Council of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. a Counselor to and Trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies an Honorary Governor of the Foreign Policy Association and an Honor Member of the International Olympic Committee. Among his other activities, Dr. Kissinger served as a member of the Board of Directors of ContiGroup Companies, Inc. from 1988-2014 and remains an Advisor to the Board, a position he also holds at American Express Company since 2005, after serving on the Board from 1984. He is also a Trustee Emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art a Director Emeritus of Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. and a Director of the International Rescue Committee.
Among the awards Dr. Kissinger has received have been a Bronze Star from the U.S. Army in 1945 the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation’s highest civilian award) in 1977 and the Medal of Liberty (given one time to ten foreign-born American leaders) in 1986.
Dr. Kissinger was born in Fuerth, Germany, came to the United States in 1938, and was naturalized a United States citizen in 1943. He served in the Army from February 1943 to July 1946. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1950 and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University in 1952 and 1954.
From 1954 until 1969 he was a member of the faculty of Harvard University, in both the Department of Government and the Center for International Affairs. He was Director of the Harvard International Seminar from 1952 to 1969.
Dr. Kissinger is the author of:
- A World Restored: Castlereagh, Metternich and the Restoration of Peace, 1812-1822 (1957)
- Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (1957)
- The Necessity for Choice: Prospects of American Foreign Policy (1961)
- The Troubled Partnership: A Reappraisal of the Atlantic Alliance (1965)
- Problems of National Strategy: A Book of Readings (ed.) (1965)
- American Foreign Policy, Three Essays (1969)
- White House Years (1979)
- For the Record: Selected Statements, 1977-1980 (1981)
- Years of Upheaval (1982)
- Observations: Selected Speeches and Essays, 1982-1984 (1985)
- Diplomacy (1994)
- Years of Renewal (1999)
- Does America Need a Foreign Policy?: Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st
- Century (2001)
- Ending the Vietnam War: A History of America’s Involvement in and
- Extrication from the Vietnam War (2003)
- Crisis: The Anatomy of Two Major Foreign Policy Crises (2003)
- On China (May 2011)
- World Order (September 2014)
He has also published numerous articles on United States foreign policy, international affairs, and diplomatic history. His columns appear in leading U.S. and international newspapers.
Dr. Kissinger is married to the former Nancy Maginnes and is the father of two children by a previous marriage.