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Kissinger should be no role model for Democrats

Kissinger is not a person that Clinton should be praising. (AP Photo)
Kissinger is not a person that Clinton should be praising. (AP Photo)

By Paul Mulholland

The Democrats will almost certainly nominate Clinton at the Convention this summer, and she will probably win the general election. Sen. Bernie Sanders will be 75 years old on inauguration day. He is a fossil, in other words. But another fossil was a subject of interest during the most recent Democratic debate: Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state to the Nixon and Ford administrations. Sanders’s condemnation of Kissinger caught my ear and gave me an increased respect for him. Clinton’s rigid and smug defense of a known war criminal — an enabler and facilitator of genocide and cruelty — should be a concern not just for her supporters, but for all Americans, as she may very well be the next president of the United States.

For those who missed the debate, the exchange between Sanders and Clinton went something like this: Sanders mentioned Clinton’s reverence for Kissinger in her book, “Hard Choices.” He went on to say, “I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country. I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger.”

Sanders went on to describe the Nixon administration’s illegal bombing of Cambodia, which Kissinger supported and lied to maintain, helped to bring about the genocidal Pol Pot regime, a Maoist government whose “agricultural reforms” would end up killing at least two-million people. Clinton, in her usual way, dismissed Sanders by responding, “Well I know a lot of journalists have asked who you listen to on foreign policy and we have yet to know who that is…”

Sanders cut her off with, “Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger, that’s for sure!”

Many biographies of Kissinger can be found which will substantiate the following claims. I personally would recommend “The Trial of Henry Kissinger,“ by Christopher Hitchens, and another book in non-biographical form called “The Blood Telegram,” by Gary J. Bass.

Kissinger’s record ought to speak for itself. However, he is still deferred to on subjects by journalists and modern statesmen on which he has no expertise. His actions concerning Cambodia as secretary of state to Richard Nixon, Kissinger also thought it wise to organize a coup against the democratically-elected leftist Salvador Allende, bringing to power the fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet in Chile, using assassination and bribery in order to achieve its goals. The Pinochet government proceeded to torture and murder its political opponents. Pinochet narrowly escaped justice in international courts by dying by decades later, and Kissinger likely will too.

He helped to arm the genocidal Indonesian government when its leader, Suharto, was murdering and raping tens of thousands of civilians in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony. His stated excuse for this was that Marxists were powerful among those fighting for the independence of East Timor, first from Portugal and later from Indonesia, so the destruction of the society of East Timor was justified.

Pakistan at one time was separated into East and West Pakistan, with the West being modern Pakistan and the East being Bangladesh, one discontinuous Muslim-state. For ethnic and political reasons, the people of East Pakistan sought independence from the West. Kissinger was not neutral on the East’s desire to leave the West. Kissinger helped to equip West Pakistan in its genocidal attempt to hold on to what is now Bangladesh. Hundreds of thousands were murdered and many more systematically raped. The excuse for this was the Pakistan was an ally of China, whom Kissinger hoped to court, and out of contempt for India — a non-aligned state — which supported East Pakistan. America now has all this on its collective conscious, because Kissinger clearly has none of his own.

None of this can be explained by the realities of the Cold War and the fight to contain communism. For one thing, Kissinger was a realist, which means he is unprincipled by definition. For another, he continues to apologize for the Chinese Communist Party to this day due to the close working relationship with Chairman Mao Zedong while Secretary of State for the Nixon and Ford administrations. As a matter of efficacy, the Vietnamese Communists are currently enjoying good relations with the United States. The resistance to American occupation included Vietnamese Nationalists and Buddhist monks in addition to Marxists, but such nuance was beyond this elder statesman.

I think Democrats should expect better than this. I would be embarrassed, and gravely concerned, to have my party’s probable nominee bow to a merchant of death.

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