WASHINGTON - When I picked up the February issue of Harper's, I got so mad I could hardly speak. I mean, the nerve of these people.
The cover has a picture of Henry Kissinger, the wise old sage of power and diplomacy, above the headline "The Case Against Henry Kissinger, Part I: The Making of a War Criminal."
Oh, come on. How '60s can you get? OK, there was a war in Vietnam, and, yes, hundreds of thousands of innocent people got killed. Get over it. And leave poor Henry alone. He's such a charming dinner guest. Bringing up these old stories is just so tacky.
The article is by Christopher Hitchens, a famous contrarian who once criticized Mother Teresa, so I thought maybe it was all a joke. Hitchens can be pretty funny. But this time he's serious. He actually thinks Kissinger should be tried for war crimes, and he wrote the 26-page story like an indictment. Come on.
You can't try a former American secretary of state for war crimes. War-crimes trials are for foreigners.
Hitchens goes on and on about Vietnam. He's obsessed with it. He's particularly irate that, in 1969, Kissinger plotted the bombing of Cambodia, a country that was neutral, and kept it secret from Congress. Hitchens says 600,000 Cambodian civilians were killed.
And he quotes from the diaries of Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman, who noted how gleeful Kissinger was about the bombing: "He came in beaming ... ."
Well, hey, it was the '60s, you know? A lot of people got into weird stuff back then. Some people smoked pot. Some people took acid. Kissinger bombed neutral countries.
Hitchens also goes on and on about Chile. In 1970, the Chileans elected a socialist president named Salvador Allende. Kissinger and President Nixon didn't like socialists so they backed a military coup that killed Allende. Hitchens reprints some recently declassified CIA documents that seem to show that Kissinger also helped plot the kidnapping of Rene Schneider, a Chilean general who was against the coup. Chilean soldiers killed Schneider during the kidnapping.
Well, I just couldn't believe that good old Henry would do something like that, so I called his consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, and asked to talk to him: Say it ain't so, Henry.
But his secretary said he wouldn't comment on the Harper's article.
I can't blame him. It's old news now. Except for the CIA cables, most of this stuff came out years ago in books by William Shawcross and Seymour Hersh. Why bring it all up again? The man hasn't committed a war crime in more than 25 years! Hasn't he suffered enough?
actually, he hasn't suffered at all. He's as rich as Croesus from his consulting
firm and his $30,000 speeches. But, hey, that's the American way.