Socialist Worker

Henry Kissinger: war criminal

Issue No. 1788

This man is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. He is not on trial in The Hague this week, and his name is not Slobodan Milosevic.

Henry Kissinger is the biggest war criminal of the last half century, and he is on his way to Britain. In ten weeks time he will be met at Heathrow airport. He will not be arrested and dragged off to the cell and the trial he deserves.

Instead he will be chauffeur-driven in a luxury limousine to a meeting of the captains of British industry massed in London's Albert Hall.

Kissinger is the invited guest of the Institute of Directors. And he will, as he has been throughout his bloody career, be feted by Western politicians.


At his trial in The Hague this week former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic is accused of horrendous crimes, and he is undoubtedly a monster. The charges against him are not that he pulled the trigger to personally kill his many victims, but that he is 'morally responsible' for their deaths.

By that standard, Henry Kissinger's crimes are on an almost unbelievable scale. In 1969 he became National Security Assistant to newly inaugurated US president Richard Nixon. He went on to become Nixon's Secretary of State and the effective number two in the US administration. One of Kissinger's first acts in 1969 was to organise the secret invasion and carpet-bombing of Cambodia.

In just 14 months B-52 bombers flew 3,630 missions in an operation codenamed 'Menu'. Each day's bombing was labelled 'Breakfast', 'Lunch' and 'Dinner', as ton after ton of high explosives rained down on Cambodian villages, fulfilling what one US general called 'bombing them back into the Stone Age'. Journalist William Shawcross, in his definitive book on the Cambodian war, Sideshow, describes how 'that summer's war provides a lasting image of peasant boys and girls clad in black, moving slowly through the mud, half-crazed with terrors, as fighter-bombers tore down at them by day, and night after night whole seas of 750-pound bombs smashed all around.'

No one knows how many people died in the Cambodian war as a direct result of US bombing. At least 600,000 Cambodians died in all before the US-backed regime was toppled in 1975. And it was the horror inflicted by the US that created the conditions in which the Khmer Rouge regime that came to power then went on to inflict even more death and horror on Cambodia.

Kissinger and Nixon kept their Cambodian war secret at first, even from other US politicians. When the truth came out they were forced to call a halt to the bombing campaign. By then, in just over a year, the US had dropped 539,129 tons of bombs on Cambodia, over three times what US forces dropped on Japan in the whole of the Second World War.


Death his favoured Christmas present

CAMBODIA WAS only one of the horrors that Kissinger was responsible for in South East Asia. In December 1972 he personally persuaded Nixon to order one of the most horrific episodes of the whole Vietnam War. Between 18 and 29 December B-52s carpet-bombed Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam.

The 'Christmas bombing' campaign saw 40,000 tons of bombs dropped on the city, blasting schools and hospitals, and wiping out whole residential blocks. Thousands of people were killed and many more maimed. Indochina was just the start of Kissinger's career as a war criminal. In December 1975 he paid a personal visit to dictator General Suharto in Indonesia to give the go-ahead for the invasion of neighbouring East Timor. Just hours later, as Kissinger's plane left the country, the Indonesian regime launched its forces across the border.

Some 200,000 people, a third of the population, died as a result of the Indonesian occupation. At least 90 percent of the arms used in East Timor by the Indonesian forces were supplied by the US.

Philip Liechtly later testified, 'I was the CIA desk officer in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. I saw the intelligence that came from hard, firm sources in East Timor. There were people being herded into school buildings and the buildings set on fire. There were people herded into fields and machine-gunned. 'We knew the place was a free fire zone and that Suharto was given the green light by the US. We sent rifles, ammunition, mortars, grenades, helicopters. You name it, they got it, and they got it direct.'

Latin America is another continent where there are people who remember the bloody trail left by Henry Kissinger.


Bloody trail left across the world

WHEN SOCIALIST Salvador Allende was elected as president of Chile in 1970 Kissinger tried to organise a coup to overthrow him. That plot failed, but not before a Chilean general, Schneider, who opposed the coup plans, had been assassinated.

Three years later the Chilean ruling class and armed forces themselves organised a coup to overthrow Allende. Kissinger ensured that the coup got full US assistance as General Pinochet's military regime killed thousands of people. Kissinger was then up to his neck in 'Operation Condor', an operation in which the armed forces of Chile, Argentina and other regimes in the southern 'cone' of Latin America carried out assassinations, abductions, torture and murder of their opponents.

Kissinger has left his mark on every continent. In South Asia, Kissinger was involved in backing the Pakistani regime which slaughtered thousands of people as it tried to stop Bangladesh winning its independence in 1971.

He also poisoned the already troubled relations between Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, and has been accused of being involved in the 1974 series of coups, assasinations and invasions which divided the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. If ever there was a living person who should be standing before a war crimes tribunal it is Henry Kissinger.

Yet instead he is still feted by academics, policy-makers and businessmen across the Western world. He lives a luxurious life protected by the US government he long served. In a grotesque parody, Henry Kissinger was actually awarded the Nobel peace prize.

That this man is not in the dock shows the hollowness of Western leaders' claims to stand up against injustice. Everyone who cares for real justice will be joining the protests planned when the war criminal Henry Kissinger comes to London in April.


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Features
Sat 23 Feb 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1788
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