With the detention of Augusto Pinochet, and intense international pressure for the arrest of Slobodan Milosovic, the possibility of international law acting against tyrants around the world is emerging as a reality. In this incendiary book, Hitchens takes the floor as prosecuting counsel and mounts a devastating indictment of a man whose ambitions and ruthlessness have directly resulted in both individual murders and widespread, indiscriminate slaughter. He investigates and reveals Kissingers' involvement in: the deliberate mass killings of civilian populations in Indochina; the deliberate collusion in mass murder and assassination in Bangladesh; the personal suborning and planning of a murder, of a senior constitutional officer in a democratic nation that the USA was not war with - Chile; the incitement and enabling of a mass genocide in East Timor; and the personal involvement in the kidnap and murder of a journalist living in Washinton DC.
Christopher Eric Hitchens was an English-born American author, journalist, and literary critic. He was a contributor to Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, World Affairs, The Nation, Slate, Free Inquiry and a variety of other media outlets. Hitchens was also a political observer, whose best-selling books — the most famous being God Is Not Great — made him a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits. He was also a media fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Hitchens was a polemicist and intellectual. While he was once identified with the Anglo-American radical political left, near the end of his life he embraced some arguably right-wing causes, most notably the Iraq War. Formerly a Trotskyist and a fixture in the left wing publications of both the United Kingdom and United States, Hitchens departed from the grassroots of the political left in 1989 after what he called the "tepid reaction" of the European left following Ayatollah Khomeini's issue of a fatwa calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie, but he stated on the Charlie Rose show aired August 2007 that he remained a "Democratic Socialist."
The September 11, 2001 attacks strengthened his embrace of an interventionist foreign policy, and his vociferous criticism of what he called "fascism with an Islamic face." He is known for his ardent admiration of George Orwell, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson, and for his excoriating critiques of Mother Teresa, Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton.
Henry Kissinger is a bad bad man, and Christopher Hitchens sets out to prove it and expose all of the fucked up shit this slimy bastard has ever done to the world. The book is interesting, and it's more than a little sad that the one thing that was implicitly hoped for by this book was for Kissinger to sue Verso or Hitchens for libel, an act that would have forced him to open up some of his sealed documents and let the world see what an even bigger douche bag he is.
One day maybe we'll get to see Kissinger, Cheney, and Bush all get Pinocheted when they are traveling a country that really is concerned with more than a superficial meaning of the word justice, and then maybe one day all three can be hung for their crimes against humanity. Probably not though.
There was once a popular aphorism that used to circulate within the now discredited circles of American exceptionalism, “no one is above the law.” Looking back, I find it laughable that we ever conceded to such an utter falsehood in the first place.
Henry Kissinger is the personification of corruption and the poster boy of diplomatic immunity. His crimes, a small fraction of which are judiciously detailed here by the late, great Christopher Hitchens, are so far beyond contempt that their characterization defied my thesaurus. _________________________________
Kissinger in an interview with journalist Oriana Fallaci, 4 November 1972:
“The main point arises from the fact that I’ve always acted alone. Americans like that immensely. Americans like the cowboy who leads the wagon train by riding ahead alone on his horse, the cowboy who rides all alone into the town, the village, with his horse and nothing else.”
That quote… Kissinger fancies himself a leader and he’s not. The wagon masters and cowboys to which he compares himself said “follow me.” Kissinger never said that. What Kissinger said was “trust me.” A leader will put himself in harm’s way for a greater good. Henry Kissinger put others in harm’s way for corporate interests and/or political capital.
*NOTE: Thank you to my GR friend Michael for pointing me to the Fallaci interview!
Full documentary based on the book by Christopher Hitchens. Kissinger was very afraid of Hitchens and literally ran away from him. A sharp debater, with the facts at his fingertips, he would have flayed Kissinger one on one.
“The main point arises from the fact that I’ve always acted alone,” Kissinger says. “Americans like that immensely. Americans like the cowboy who leads the wagon train by riding ahead alone on his horse, the cowboy who rides all alone into the town, the village, with his horse and nothing else.”
He fostered violence and hate in South Africa, with the Angola war and supporting Apartheid....
(click "I'll do it later" to see the whole article)
“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking. Witness what Henry did in Cambodia – the fruits of his genius for statesmanship – and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milošević.”
― Anthony Bourdain, A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines
A long essay that seeks to do precisely what the title suggests: build a legal case for crimes against humanity against Henry Kissinger. Those expecting the literary ornamentation that Hitchens is known for will be mostly disappointed. This is more like a hard-nosed legal brief. The book points to a lot of smoke in Kissinger's individual behavior, though in my view the only chapters that definitively uncover fire are the ones on Indochina and East Timor. This is a whirlwind tour of bad acts around the world and presumes a high degree of prior knowledge.
Although Hitchens effectively makes the case that Kissinger was a bad guy, the book actually made me wonder why he alone should be singled out as prime villain. Kissinger was part of a long-running enterprise of state terrorism of which he was only one bombastic, arrogant and thoughtless player. This is really a condemnation of an empire and a ruling class that thinks nothing of smashing the lives of a few hundred thousand of people if some short-term benefit can (maybe) be gleaned form it. That is what Kissinger did, but I don't find him to be such an exceptional outlier among American statesman. He probably falls somewhere below the median of morality for his class, but he didn't — couldn't — exist in a vacuum. Kissinger was the product of a system that allowed him to get away with the murders of people in Laos and Cambodia, even the needless expenditure of U.S. servicemen, because they were deemed unimportant. Maybe this makes the United States no worse than other states or empires, but it also belies its insistent emotional claims to being better.
One important point Hitchens makes is that Kissinger was guilty by the United States own standards that it set during the World War II-era Tokyo War Crimes trials. Nevertheless he is somehow still alive and free after all these years. Kissinger is by no means unwelcome in Washington DC today. That should tell you some hard truths about the ruling class of which he is a part. It should also suggest something about what that they have been up to in the world since he exited the stage.
1.5 stars. This was a very frustrating book to read. In each of the chapters (except chapter 8 on East Timor), Hitchens makes his allegations against Kissenger and then proceeds to layout a seeming plethora of information to support the allegations.The problem is, the information presented does not confirm or, in the case of the Kissenger's alleged involvement in the murder of Greek journalist Elias Demetracopoulos, even support the allegations made. I kept finding myself saying "ok, then what...finish the argument." He never did. It was like 2 out of 3 parts of a syllogism that was never completed.
In my opinion, the one exception to this lack of "closing the logical argument" occurred in Chapter 8 dealing with the invasion of East Timor by Indonesia. Here I think hitchens makes a credible case to support his allegations that Kissenger knew about the invasion of East Timor before it happened and was actively against to any action by the U.S. in opposition to the invasion. That said, even though the incident certainly confirms the commonly held opinion of Kissenger as a cold, calculating practitioner of realpolitik , if Kissenger's actions in that matter constitute war crimes then you would likely have to include many other U.S. administrations including both Bill Clinton's for the atrocities committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and Reagan's administration for its support of Saddam Hussein in the early 1980s despite what they knew he was doing to his own people (i.e. the Kurds). I am just not willing to go that far even when the actions, on their face appear to lack a moral center.
Don't get me wrong, Kissenger may have done everything he is alleged to have done in this book and, if true, he should certainly be held accountable. I just did not see the evidence presented in this book.
Shortly before his lurch to the political right, Christopher Hitchens published The Trial of Henry Kissinger. This short, angry polemic about the former Secretary of State came about when Hitchens joined an effort to prosecute Kissinger for involvement in Pinochet's overthrow of Salvador Allende's government in Chile. Like most of Hitchens' books, it's really a collection of short essays outlining misdeeds committed by Kissinger, focusing on Chile, his role in the 1968 election (feeding information about negotiations to Nixon's campaign, while serving as an informal adviser to Lyndon Johnson's government) and destabilizing Cambodia, his support of Pakistan during their genocidal conduct in Bangladesh, his incitement of civil war in Cyprus and encouragement of atrocities on East Timor. All of this was well-trod ground even before Hitchens set pen to paper, in works by Seymour Hersh, William Shawcross and others, though it's certainly not a bad thing to be reminded of it, or have it assembled in easy to digest form. Hitchens' anger at Kissinger's crimes and ongoing adoration in Establishment circles is sincere enough, though it's hard to square with his future support for the Bush Administration; perhaps the Marxist in Hitchens viewed Bush's misguided idealism as preferable to the cold-blooded realpolitik of Kissinger. Or maybe Kissinger was just an easy target for the cheap seats, which Hitchens enjoyed lighting up whenever he needed to vouchsafe his "radical" cred. Still, if Hitchens reminded a new generation of progressives that Kissinger was indeed a monster, then his book (and the documentary later adapted from it) retains considerable value.
"Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel peace prize." -- Tom Lehrer
I wouldn't spend my words appearing to be shocked at the atrocities inflicted by Henry's foreign policies. Because it's in vain! 😏Despite all the wicked Machiavellian policies, Henry continued to flourish within the system, remains almost unscathed to this date, and obviously has been revered for his "realist" statesmanship! 👏
I don't think Henry is an outlier. The system that harbours warmongering attitude in the name of maintaining global-peace-and-order justifies, protects, and saves these warlords and war-criminals in one way or another! 😕 Even when they wanted to be great alone, they didn't leave the rest of the world alone and went on with their wars! 😒
This book is already 20 year old - it's kinda mock trial providing various facts/ pieces of information to take Henry to court. I won't deny that these conversations are necessary to point out the wrongdoings. However, 20 years later it almost feels futile! 🙁 And every mention of "the Congress was fooled by these handful of men" gave me a good laugh! They are all seasoned politicians, who know their games by heart and it sounds so naive that they could be fooled every now and then. 😕
This little book includes some of Christopher Hitchens' best investigative reporting. He puts former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on trial (at last), and indicts him for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Chile, Cyprus, East Timor, for an attempted assassination of Greek dissident journalist. The book is slim, but fairly detailed, and while it focuses on Kissinger (deservingly), the implicit thesis of the book is the flaw of international legal standards, that is to say, when a statesman commits crimes and is powerless he is hanged, if the statesman is powerful he is worshipped. Perhaps a little light on footnotes, Hitchens prefers to provide internal citations, but I think book's conclusions are actually conservative; Hitchens often cites the most conservative number of dead civilians to avoid legal pressure, i.e. 100,000 dead in East Timor (most studies cite 200,000 in total), one can be sure that the figures are not politicized, Kissinger's legal team would have brought Hitchens down in two seconds if there had been number inflation. (...)
I don't imagine that after Hitchens' account of Kissinger, there is need for any other on the fighting side. You can just take this as a sort of list of what Kissiger has (or hasn't) done. I tend to believe that the author's research is water tight, and as he did with Mother Theresa, after reading one of his accusatory works you can't go back to regarding the subject the same.
This book is simply a must read specifically for every american and generally for all humanity, in order to come to grips with reality. Very well researched, it really severely indicts Nixon and Kissinger for their genocidical campaigns or support thereof in vietnam, cyprus, east timor, bangladesh , chile etc. Without being sensationalist, the book tackles all these controversial issues ruthlessly, admitting from the outset to be a case against Henry Kissinger and his war crimes. As good as Investigative journalism gets. Its a shock that no action was taken despite the many evidences which this books presents, plus the ones that are locked away in the Library of Congress. A real eye opener for anyone wishing to know more about the superpower called USA and its hypocrisy, especially under Nixon.
A marvelous evisceration of the loathsome Dr K by Christopher Hitchens, convincingly making the case that said Dr should be indicted for war crimes and indeed there are warrants out for his arrest in some European countries. This is Hitchens at his best before he lost his soul to the neo cons and it is in the best tradition of Jonathan Swift. An exhilarating read, though one that makes you so angry, not only at Dr K's total amorality but at the fact that this highly intelligent, extremely powerful statesman is so profoundly unwise. There are some great stories of the Nixon White House, including the time when Nixon was going crazy at the end of the Watergate saga and had to be restrained by the Secret Service as he ran crazed around the White House. Nixon was taken out of the nuclear loop at this time and Dr K was effectively in control.
(I read this years ago, along with Seymour Hersh's book and Chomsky's copious writings on Kissinger. Every now and then it will randomly occur to me that the man is still alive, and not in prison, and it sort of ruins my day.
In hindsight it's all too clear, the point at which not-being-Trump starts to yield diminishing returns
Kissinger is the kind of public figure non-political junkies might know a bit about but haven't really got a full grasp on yet. He's vaguely, smellingly evil in other words.
This book brings it all out into the open.
Hitchens writes clearly and devastatingly, with understatement. He lets the facts do the talking. And they do a LOT of talking.
Basically, Hitch is a journalist and has hated Kissinger for years but he has a strong prosecutorial streak and he in effect puts Kissinger on the stand and cross-examines him for all to see.
If you are curious about why this man is so hated you won't be too surprised when you get about halfway through, and if you keep up your attention you will be squirming with rage by the end of it and you have absorbed all the facts.
There's so much more to mine here, Hitchens has reams of information and factual backup detail that he deliberately excluded it on account of the structure of the book. He kept it so that it would at least be a contribution to the case against letting Kissinger get off scot-free. The man sounds pretty fucking guilty, is what I mean. And he was recently seen to have been routinely whispering in the ear of none other than our beloved VP, Dancin' Dick Cheney.
He's right on target and it seems there's no escape.
It illuminates some of the very creepy and more than Machiavellian machinations of the political movements of the right wing for over half a century.
I mean, we're talking Chile, Vietnam, Cambodia, East Timor, Greece...the list of shady things Hank has done has got to be unending. The thing is, the list Hitchens has compiled is sufficient to make a pretty damn near shut case for putting the old wrinkly prick on the docket.
Let's hope this candle doesn't die out in our lifetimes!
There’s something challenging about reading, or commenting on a book by Christopher Hitchens, whose well-publicized defection from the radical left to the neoconservative right after the September 11, 2001 attacks leads the reader to look for signs of his then-impending change-of-heart in the texts of his glory years.
I’ll skip the score-settling, and judge Hitchens’ mock trial of the legendarily evil Henry Kissinger in its own right: this is a well-documented and ferociously argued glimpse into one of the last century’s most notorious political figures. Though a sizable minority in the U.S. public is familiar with Kissinger’s unique penchant for foreign policy savagery, Hitchens deftly reports on his investigations into Kissinger's signature works, most prominently his undermining of U.S.-backed peace talks in Vietnam in 1968, at the cost of millions of lives.
One may hesitate to focus too particularly on specific individuals within the U.S. foreign policy apparatus, for fear of losing sight of the greater systemic evil that continues unabated even while the names change of the people involved. That is a fair criticism, and a reason to avoid “personalizing” the study of government or business policies. Still, this is a damning work that provides key insights into not only Kissinger the butcher, but also the mentalities of his more banal, but similar-in-substance partners in the practice of statecraft, past and present.
This book is a very fast, very fluid read about the foreign policy and possible war crimes of Henry Kissinger. Hitchens does not mince words; there is no rhetorical foreplay nor long winded explanations of how Nixon came to power or Kissinger's childhood, etc. It runs the reader right into the major crimes of Kissinger, namely:
1. The fact that Kissinger most likely intentionally extended the Vietnam war in 1968 in order to defeat Herbert Humphrey and bring Richard Nixon to power, thereby needlessly extending the war four years; 2. Helped the Pakistani government ensure genocide in Indonesia; 3. Helped depose a democratically elected leader in Chile, assassinate those who were against eventual military dictator Pinochet; 4. Extended the Vietnam War, illegally, against non-combatant nations; and 5. Authorized the kidnap and potential assassination of at least one journalist living in the US.
The book is a very fast read; it streams facts, figures and dates past the reader with a staccato-type rhythm, that barely gives the reader time to breath, much less digest what he is reading. Hitchens jumps right into the story with both feet (some would say right on Kissinger) and does not let up. There is no time for pause or reflection and at times, I felt confused by what was being said. In some parts, I expected more foundation; in others, I felt Hitchens stopped half way through his narrative, only to find he was actually finished. If there is one overarching criticism of the book it is that Hitchens does not give the reader any guideposts nor back story- he assumes the reader knows where he has picked up the story and where he will end his argument. I found this ineffective. I would have liked it much better had Hitchens instead said at the beginning of each of his arguments "In this chapter, I will discuss X, Y, and Z." Instead, the reader is left no guide to what he is talking about or where it will lead.
But English being my native tongue, I could follow along well-enough.
However, he makes a deeply compelling case for war crimes against Kissinger. The book is a rude awakening to those who are not fully aware of the true damage Nixon and Kissinger did in their pursuit of global malleability. This book catalogs the crimes, shows the evidence, cross checks it with facts and figures, and then presents cogent retorts to any possible counter-arguments. It is, in a word, the opening argument in the case against Kissinger. It is great at that.
Taking the good with the bad, Hitchens even gives Kissinger time to counter-argue (by printing Kissinger's response to Hitchens' book review of the book "The Arrogance of Power" by Anthony Summers) and then making the man hang himself. In all, the book does all it can with the small pages it has (the book is a very, very past read.
I warn you- if you are closed to the idea that an American citizen can be a war criminal, this book is not for you. This book is not a "point/counter-point" debate, but a one-sided indictment of Henry Kissinger. If you are close to the idea that in the 1960's and 70's the US Government was involved in possible war crimes, this book is NOT for you. However, if you are open to that idea, this book will make you strongly question the US's actions during that time. I found the book a good, solid read, but I thought it could have used, maybe, a little LESS focus, more explanation, and could have been twice the size. Otherwise a very good read.
An essential piece that illuminates the shocking, corrupt and heartbreaking dark side of American foreign policy in the late 60's and early 70's. The extent to which Nixon, Kissinger and associates actively undermined democracies across any number of nations for the sake of 'national internest' and business interests is simply abhorrent.
Kissinger undermined peace efforts in Vietnam before Nixon came to power, authorised - and indeed pushed for gratutious, spiteful acts of murder in Indochina against the Cambodian and Loas civillian population, had a hand in the kidnap and assassination of democratically elected heads of state and the establishment of brutally repressive and murderous military dictatorships (including a policy of arms support for Indonesia's East Timor massacre) and ensure that he was personally to profit from shady deals cloaked under the guise of diplomacy.
Though this book is by Christopher Hitchens, it is markedly absent of his verbose prose. He constructed this book in the effort to further legal prosecution of Henry Kissinger in some court for war crimes, treason and much more.
The thrust perfectly surmised in this paragraph: "Here one must pause for a recaputaluation. An unelected official in the United States is meeting with others, without the knowledge or authorisation of Congress, to plan the kidnapping of a constituion-minded senior officer in a democratic country with which the United States is not at war, and with which it maintains cordial diplomatic relations... what we are reviewing here is a 'hit' - a piece of state supported terrorism."
Wow... Leave it to Hitch to write the most concise, meticulous and fact-filled novel regarding one of the greatest murderers and criminals of the last century. I constantly fail to understand how this man continues to, not only enjoy freedom, but remain one of the most influential people in American foreign policy. This is mind boggling. Obviously, Hitch isn't the only journalist who embarked on uncovering the many, many crimes this man has committed; however, he did do so in the most compelling way, leaving no room for error or misinformation, backing his every claim with documentation and indisputable facts. To this day, Kissinger's papers continue to lay dormant in the Library of Congress, protected from the public who will, most likely, never see this man face justice. What would have Hitchens written had he lived long enough to see those papers come to light (after Kissinger's death, which can't come soon enough)? We're left to dream about that... This book offers a trial for this genocidal criminal...a trial he will never see, as he continues to enjoy his lavish lifestyle, as he continues to be lauded by most notable politicians in our country, as he continues to deny his crimes and commit new ones. This book offers a peace of justice in a way; while he may deny what is blatantly obvious, we all know what the truth is. Hitchens delivers once again, but that is not a surprise. You're truly missed sir.
As I edge into Hitchens' deeper political writing I find myself a little out of my league when it comes to assessing the veracity of his claims. The Trial of Henry Kissinger unequivocally lambastes Kissinger's involvement, malfeasance, and outright criminality in American foreign policy decisions from Vietnam to Indonesia, Chile, Yugoslavia, and Cyprus - claims that if true, would certainly indict him on numerous counts as a war criminal. The writing is fervent and spirited in the usual Hitchens style, although I am troubled at times by the frequent presumption of guilt by tangential association, and of assuming motives and making moral judgement, rather than sticking clearly to the facts. The book paints a condemning picture overall, however I can't help but wonder if some parts may be somewhat overstated. As a skeptically-minded person, I cannot accept the totality of these arguments at face value (which is entirely a product of my own ignorance on the subject), however Hitchens has certainly taught me to approach the topic of Kissinger with a very large dose of cynicism.
Breve saggio sui fatti e soprattutto i misfatti della vita politica del famoso o meglio dire famigerato Henry Kissinger. Il limite vero del lavoro e' il suo taglio giornalistico, dato che il libro e' una riedizione ampliata di due inchieste pubblicate su riviste USA, e l'autoreferenzialita' statunitense troppo accentuata. Ma nulla impedisce l'emergere sconvolgente e quasi grottesco della gigantesca responsabilita' criminale di un uomo politico che ha dominato la scena mondiale per decenni: genocidi, stupri di massa, assassinii politici, colpi di stato.... di tutto e di piu' sul groppone del suddetto premio Nobel per la pace! Ebbene si la chicca e' proprio questa.... la beffa che non poteva mancare alla parabola politica di questo spregiudicato figuro che non si e' risparmiato nessuna bassezza sullo scacchiere mondiale, dal Vietnam al Cile, da Cipro a Timor est e via prevaricando.
I cannot provide a point by point criticism of the career of Henry Kissinger, for I lack the research and background to really stand as any kind of source for a call for action. Better writers and reporters had dedicated their time and energies to this effect and done a better job than I ever could. What I will allow myself is the title of a citizen of the United States, and this position affords me the right to criticize figures in politics when they have performed or become implicated in heinous actions.
Kissinger’s role in the involvement and establishment of the government of Pinochet was an odious offense, and while some apologists would step in and remind me of the Marshal Plan, the Domino Effect, and the reminder to be hesitant when judging people of the past I can stand firmly on the position that regardless of these points, the fact that a representative of the United States would so freely aid a dictator who employed torture and genocide to ensure his will surpasses any and all concern. Kissinger is not an abstract founding father, he is a contemporary living being and as such he can and should (and has) stand for the accusations and realities that various papers, testimony, and reports implicate him in.
It’s the responsibility of citizens to observe their government and ensure that their representatives are not corrupt, and when naysayers attack said citizens as whistleblowers and self-righteous buffoons the resolve should only be stronger.
If the reader would like to read my entire review they can follow the link to my site White Tower Musings below:
Last year I read, Who Rules the World, by Chomsky. I didn’t like it. It was too bias. It was as much a defence of terrorism (the crimes of Hamas/Hezbollah) as it was a polemic against US Foreign Policy.
Hitchens’ book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, is similar to Chomsky’s on the basis that it is a critique of US Foreign Policy. Only from an evidenced-based perspective, rather than a one-sided rhetorician. Through examining the crimes of Kissinger, Hitchens puts the presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter all under the spotlight. Hitchens provides evidence, written testimony and public records, all of which when threatened by Kissinger under libel following the release of the book, Hitchens was prepared to subpoena and defend. He welcomed the prospect of libel to bring Kissinger to justice. Subsequently, Kissinger took no action. Take from that what you will.
Hitchens exposes Kissinger and the US for their roles in atrocities in Argentina, Chile, Angola, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia and East Timor. I knew very little of East Timor before this book, however, such a small country in the Indonesian archipelago has had a third of its population wiped out by an expansionist Indonesian government, supplied with US weapons. To put this in perspective, more East Timorians have been killed than Russians during World War 2.
It is worth remembering that Hitchens was pro the Iraq war. This is not a one-sided anti-American/western hit job. Hitchens is a man against totalitarianism and totalitarian acts around the world. And is all too happy to point the figure at his own country’s when they act despotically. As he so damningly does here.
The biggest sadness when reading this book is knowing that Hitchens is no longer with us. And at the grand old age of 97, Kissinger still walks free
This is Hitchens at his absolute best. He develops an incredibly strong argument against Kissinger and exposing his crimes to the world to read. This book was extremely readable and enjoyable. I read it cover to cover in a few hours and couldn't put it down. Highly recommend.
Well, Henry is self-serving and in effect murderous scum who should rot in jail. It's that simple. And while - as Mugabe has shown - it's never too late to ensure that one rightfully dies in dishonour, it won't happen. Which is likewise simple. International law and prosecution is for puny third world countries, not for Western heavyweights who dominate by brute force. This has been recently one again confirmed by the idiot fuckface Pompeo who initiated sanctions against ICC judges because they may investigate war crimes committed by US and their allies, specifically Israel this time (being appropriately a racist shit, too, Pompeo started - with no particular reason - with sanctions against black judges). The question why not even late war criminals like Kissinger will ever be prosecuted is, though, apparently structural in nature, nothing personal. Hitchens, for example, among other things, discloses the intermingling of lobbyists and Nixon-Kissinger gang which can be somehow put within the economic terms of "rational" self-interest.
Of course, one could argue that nothing in international world order will be lost if Western countries actually really cared about international law and human rights and shed the hypocrisy - actually, the order would be strengthened - but this would require fighting against very powerful enemies within. As for now - being from the weak country forced to choose its protector, we can only put such choice in terms of lesser evilism, or even in terms of bondage, whereby one is free to exploit semiotic possibilities offered both by associations with feudalism and S&M.
Henry Kissinger served as National Security Advisor from 1969 to 1973 during the Richard Nixon administration and as Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977 during the Gerald Ford administration. More recently, Kissinger has served as a private geopolitical consultant to multinational corporations and has written a selection of memoirs that drew controversy for what critics of Kissinger cited as substantially ommitive and historically reductive.
A poignant and brief assessment hinting at the magnitude of Kissinger's involvement in the conflict in Vietnam comes in the form of a quote by Telford Taylor (American lawyer and chief prosecutor during the Nuremberg Trials) that features early in the book. Taylor alludes that if the American's involved in the formation and inaction of the abhorrent and violent aggression during the Vietnam War were brought to trial or tribunal, they would almost certainly see the same fate as the eleven men hung at Nuremberg and the seven executed following the International Military Tribunal for the Far East following World War II.
Christopher Hitchens structures The Trial of Henry Kissinger as an international memorandum or indictment. Chiefly addressed in his book are Kissinger's alleged foreign policy failings at a time that, now viewed with not only the benefit of hindsight and retrospect but with the aid and assistance of a number of tangible and evidential transcripts, classified documents and witness testimonies, makes it increasingly difficult to ignore not only the United States of America's role in stoking the coals beneath a number of Cold War era proxy conflicts but the direct influence of individuals like Kissinger on numerous violent breaches of State sovereignty, the instillation of agreeable regimes, the assassinations of unfavourable individuals and most shockingly, conflicts resulting in the deaths of millions of people. Hitchens lays out his argument in unsurprisingly convincing and efficient fashion. The book is chaptered to address individual eras, conflicts and failings, including but not limited to the Vietnam war, CIA interference in Chile that resulted in the instillation of the Pinochet regime, the US support of the Indonesian General Suharto's aggression against the region of East Timor and the involvement of the US in the Turkish Governments aggression against Cyprus.
With the widespread ratification of the Rome Statute in 1998 and the rising climate of international criminal responsibility enshrined in International Human Rights and Criminal Law, with regard to individuals like Kissinger, the global legal landscape, despite the inherent obstacles and failings preventing these mechanisms from operating smoothly, thankfully appears to be moving in a disadvantageous direction for individuals like Henry Kissinger. Whilst the International Criminal Courts pitiful record on not only convictions but active investigations and indictments, its infancy and the bureaucratic and diplomatic hurdles it faces are both understandable and justifiable mitigating factors.
Interesting and alarming facts I learnt:
The bomb tonnage dropped by the USA on Vietnam eclipsed the amount it dropped during World War Two by three and a half times. The tonnage dropped on Vietnam was just over seven million, with just over two million dropped by American during their World War Two intervention. This equates to one thousand pounds of bomb for every man woman and child in Vietnam at the time. Kissinger was responsible for not only reading reports on these bombing missions, but for altering the routes and bombing patterns the planes took.
Kissinger advised Nixon to overthrow the democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende in Chile. The assassination of Commander in Chief General Schneider was seen as imperative to this as he was an ardent believer in the separation of powers and the prevention of allowing the military an active role in governmental affairs, thus the US saw Schneider as a stumbling block preventing a coup from being possible. In 2001, Schneider's family brought a lawsuit against Kissinger himself, alleging that he collaborated with Roberto Viaux in attempting to overthrow President Montalva in 1969 and that he prevented the Salvador Allende's democratic election in 1970 by State sponsoring the subsequent coup that followed the assassination of General Schneider. Allende committed suicide in the presidential palace in 1973 whilst the coup was unfolding. The Pinochet regime followed from 1973 to 1990 when he assumed the role of Commander in Chief.
The Junta controlled Greece from 1967 to 1974 and In 1974 a coup was organised by the US controlled Junta in Cyprus, aimed at assassinating President Archbishop Makarios. Kissinger admitted that Cyprus was the greatest failing of his career. The Turkish decimation of Cyprus that followed was criticised by the European Court for Human Rights, who found Turkish soldiers guilty of the most abhorrent of war crimes during the ensuing conflict.
Kissinger and the US greenlighted Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor. 90% of the weapons used during the conflict, which resulted in the deaths of around two hundred thousand people were sold to the State by the United States. Kissinger has since avoided the topic in his memoirs and has attempted to absolve himself of moral involvement, citing a lack of control over what weapons are used for once they are sold. Kissinger's lack of repose on the subject of East Timor is perhaps the most alarming section of the book. His lack of sincere engagement with questions regarding the Ford Administration's relationship with General Suharto at a question and answer session aimed at promoting one of his books is enough to make your blood boil.
Celebrated US diplomat Henry Kissinger has a hidden dark side. Despite being a great statesman, he was also a pitiless, profit-seeking politician who could cover up a long record of human rights violations with some larger diplomatic successes. Although it’s unlikely to happen, there’s enough evidence available to bring Kissinger to trial.
Absolutely dreadful. I don't know if Hitchens is right about Kissinger. If he is, his utterly obnoxious tone and need to blast insults in all directions undercuts his argument significantly. I hated every page of this book.
I was rather disappointed with this book. I have had good experiences with Hitchens before and was especially looking forward to this book after being impressed with how well-argued his criticism of Mother Theresa was in The Missionary Position. Unfortunately, I was frustrated right from the beginning of this work. Hitchens starts cataloging Kissinger’s role in the atrocities inflicted or abetted by US foreign policy during the Johnson, Nixon and Ford presidencies. The problem I saw right away is that Hitchens doesn’t give the reader any context for holding only Kissinger culpable for these actions. I’m not arguing in favor of Kissinger; I am only trying to understand in what way his actions differed from those of previous US secretaries of state, like John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower’s secretary of state, who oversaw similar violent subversions of the law in Iran and Guatemala. I never found that clarification in the book. I could have understood if Hitchens had explained that we have more information about Kissinger’s actions but the absence of a recognition that Kissinger differed only in degree but not in kind with previous US officials was frustrating. This soured the rest of the book since it never amounted to more than a catalog of US foreign policies atrocities between 1968-1976. Maybe I am a cynic and this catalog was the whole point, but I found it disingenuous to imply that Kissinger was the first US official with blood on their hands. The best that I can say of the book is that Hitchens skewers the hypocrisy of not holding any US officials to the same definitions of war crimes that they imposed on German and Japanese officials at the end of WWII.
I worked with a friend who would always snarl and roar at the first mention of Henry Kissinger. "He's a war criminal!" he would shout through showers of bile. I would always nod and think "I've heard this but can't really comment much as I don't know enough".
Well, imagine my delight when Amazon recommended The Trial of Henry Kissinger by the late, great Christopher Hitchens. Brilliantly researched and perfectly set-out, The Trial of Henry Kissinger turned me from someone who was unsure to now someone who tenses at the very name 'Henry Kissinger'. By the time I got to the chapter on East Timor I was very angry mainly because the history of the conflict is still very contentious in that of my home country, Australia. I think we are programmed to think that as the "good guys" we wouldn't do that when in actual fact you only have to look at any conflict to see the atrocities both sides commit.
There are always two sides to every story but I think it would be hard to imagine anyone could read this book and still have any doubt of Kissinger's guilt. Sadly, we live in a world where the West is innocent of war crimes. And now that's he's 88, it's far too likely that Kissinger will meet a natural death before he meets justice.