In his latest book on Henry Kissinger, fans cannot fail to miss the heartbeat of vintage Christopher Hitchens. Currently professor of Liberal Studies at New School, New York, his standing rests on awesome investigative journalism that has, in the recent past, pricked many bubble reputations.
The Trial of Henry Kissinger
By Christopher Hitchens
Hitchens' two most recent books dealt with Mother Teresa and Bill Clinton.
The Missionary Position - his book on Mother Teresa- exposed allegedly unknown facets of the saintly woman who was shown to have links with notorious dictators like Enver Hoxa of Albania. But, it is his new book on Henry Kissinger that has made the most impact. Initial hesitant steps have been taken in the United States to bring Kissinger to the bar of justice for his litany of crimes committed against countries, dissidents and ordinary people.
The immediate impulse behind the book seems to be the indictment of Chilean dictator general Augusto Pinochet, and lately Solobodan Milosovic, under the newly-minted and reinforced international criminal justice systemThe Trial of Henry Kissinger is a compilation (with additions in the light of recent developments in the area of international law) of essays written over a period of time, detailing Christopher's case against Kissinger.
Hitchens begins his argument from 1968 when a HenryKissinger close to Richard Nixon, played an active part in sabotaging peace negotiations between the North and South Vietnamese. By persuading the South Vietnamese leadership to wreck peace talks on the promise of offering them better terms once Nixon was installed in the presidency, America managed to delay the war, resulting in the massive killings in Vietnam. These killings, Hitchens asserts, are directly attributable to Henry Kissinger.Once in power, and at the helm of national security and foreign policy, Henry Kissinger presided over a Committee of forty that authorized all foreign cover campaigns. In both his roles, argues Hitchens, Kissinger was aware of, and authorized, all dirty wars waged abroad by the US intelligence agencies. However, his most heinous crime against humanity consists in ordering the carpet-bombing of Cambodia as it was suspected of acting as a supply route to the North Vietkong armies.
The innocent lives that perished as a result, still cry out for justice from unnamed graves. According to Hitchens,. Kissinger's role did not stop there. Chile was another unfortunate country where Kissinger played his murderous game with impunity resulting in untold sufferings for the local people.In Chile, Kissinger is alleged to have fully colluded with the US intelligence agencies - often behind the back of the US ambassador - in order to topple the elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende's government, even before its inauguration. When that did not materialize, efforts were put in place to buy off the military officers sympathetic to the US political game plan in Chile.
General Schneider, chief of the armed forces at the time, refused to fall in with the US-orchestrated coup. In order to smoothen America's way to the now-notorious Pinochet coup of 1973, a gang of bribed army officers bumped the General off the scene, with active encouragement from the US intelligence agencies. Again, according to Hitchens, the fingerprints of Henry Kissinger can be identified quite easily. Arms and money flooded Chile with his knowledge. Chapters on Chile, Vietnam and Cambodia form the major portion of the book, and hence the backbone of Hitchens' case against Kissinger. While firmly seated in the big theatre of White House politics, Kissinger is described as never letting his eye and bloody hand off the small theatre of his geo-political ambitions. Hitchens then implicates Kissinger in acting in collusion with the Indonesian dictator General Soharto. It was he who gave the green signal to the Indonesian dictator to mount an invasion of East Timor: the Indonesian army invaded east Timor a mere two days after the US president Ford and Henry Kissinger left the country.
There is a huge body of evidence produced in the book, which links the invasion to the tacit approval given by Henry Kissinger during his visit to the island.Similarly, Cyprus was an area where the US was heavily involved in the seventies. Here, Hitchens painstakingly proves that Kissinger had advance knowledge of the plot to kill Cypriot leader Makarios. Being close to the Greek military junta, he went along with the Greek plan to get rid of Makarios.
The author's contention is that Henry Kissinger was directly responsible for the crimes against humanity, both, in the role of national security supreme, as well as the head of the Forty Committee (supervisor of all foreign covert actions.One chapter of the book, more germane to the subcontinent, describes the period that led to the creation of Bangladesh. Here, Henry Kissinger looked the other way while General Yaha's military dictatorship was involved in massacring independent-minded Bengalis.
The reason why he colluded was that, at the time, Yaha Khan was acting as facilitator in the Sino-US demarche.So furious was the reaction of the US embassy officials in Dhaka that twenty of them wrote a strongly worded letter criticizing US complicity in the genocide committed by the Pakistani army; the letter was also signed by another nine diplomats in the South Asian division.
Henry Kissinger is also indicted on two other counts. The coup, which overthrew the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, had the tacit backing of the CIA. Khondkar Mushtaq Ahmed, right-leaning leader of the Awami League, was in touch with coup plotters before the coup occurred. It is not surprising therefore, that he was placed in the driving-seat after the coup had succeeded.
Indeed, Khondkar Mushtaq Ahmed's links with the Americans go way back to the days of the independence struggle, when he was prevailed upon to dilute the Awami League demand for outright independence. All these goings-on in Bangladesh, Hitchens argues, could not have happened without the authorization of Henry Kissinger.
This is a highly readable book on an important period of political history, when the famed master of geopolitics, Henry Kissinger, ruled the foreign policy roost in America. Hitchens' broader argument is already being translated into a series of intended court actions in Chile and France: a judge in Chile has drawn up a list of questions to be put to Kissinger about the extent of his involvement in the killing of the American journalist, Charles Horman, in Chile. Earlier, in May, Kissinger was subpoenaed by a French judge to answer questions about the death of French citizens under the Pinochet regime in Chile.
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