Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton (AP Photo)
In Hillary Clinton's predictable, self-serving, overlong, boilerplate review of Henry Kissinger's new book, published last week in the Washington Post, she - well, the communications grunt who actually wrote the review - praises a man who should be serving life in prison for war crimes.
While there is no point addressing the majority of her article, nauseating and noxious as it is, a few things stick out. The first is that Hillary Clinton is friends with a whole lot of absolutely despicable people.
"Kissinger is a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as Secretary of State. He checked in with me regularly, sharing astute observations about foreign leaders and sending me written reports on his travels," Clinton writes in the review, echoing a passage from her own recent pre-presidential campaign manifesto, "Hard Choices."
That book contains myriad references to Clinton's "valued" and "invaluable friends," most of whom are rich, powerful or famous public figures - often all three.
Included among these are war criminals Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres. Clinton writes that she and Netanyahu "worked together as partners and friends." Peres, she notes in the book, is an "old friend."
In her role as Secretary of State, Clinton routinely referred to former Israeli Prime Minister and then-current Defense Minister Ehud Barak as her "friend," "old friend," and "longtime friend and colleague." In April 2010, Clinton remarked, "I have known the defense minister for more years than I care to remember. We were both very young, Ehud."
Barak endearingly replied, "Immediately after your bat mitzvah." A hearty chuckle was had by all.
Hillary, Hosni and Shimon
While Netanyahu has, at times, called Clinton "a great friend and a great champion of peace," Clinton and Shimon Peres have even more of a history of mutual admiration. In early March 2009, Clinton met with Peres in Jerusalem, describing him as "my dear and old friend" and thanking him "for the extraordinary example that your life sets, as someone who has devoted yourself to the state of Israel, to its security, and to the cause of peace."
Shimon Peres (born Szymon Perski in 1923 in what is now Belarus) immigrated to Palestine in 1934. He procured weaponry for the Haganah during Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947-48 and later became the architect of Israel's illicit nuclear weapons program, forging close ties with the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
In November 1974, after visiting the leadership in Pretoria, then-Israeli Defense Minister Shimon Peres stressed to the Knesset the "vitally important" economic, political and military ties between South Africa and Israel, emphasizing that "this cooperation is based not only on common interests and on the determination to resist equally our enemies, but also on the unshakeable foundations of our common hatred of injustice and our refusal to submit to it."
|Clinton and Peres|
Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton fawned, "I always come away from my times with you both inspired and encouraged to think more deeply and more broadly. And I also am silently challenged by your ceaseless optimism about the future." In earlier remarks, Clinton said to Peres, "You are an inspiration to me personally, as a person who has dedicated your entire adult life to the State of Israel." She extolled her presence in Israel as "truly a visit among friends."
The feelings were mutual. Peres expressed sincere gratitude to "our very dear Hillary" for her "understanding and sympathy and friendship."
When Clinton returned to Israel 18 months later, Peres hailed "her wisdom, her friendship, her carefulness and caring," while she, in turn, gushed that it was "a personal pleasure, privilege, and honor to be here with you."
When the two shared a stage at the Israeli-obsessed Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute in June 2012, Hillary called Peres her "longtime friend" whom she "so greatly" admires, while Peres expressed his "personal admiration, which is really tremendous" for Clinton.
Back in Jerusalem the following month, Clinton made sure to "be the first friend to wish [Peres] a very happy birthday," and expressed "such great gratitude how much I appreciate you, our friendship, the work we have done together and the work that we will do together in the future."
A day before Clinton's first official visit to Israel as Secretary of State in 2009, she was in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. In an interview with Al Arabiya, Clinton effectively dismissed the State Department's annual report on Egyptian human rights abuses as constructive criticism amongst chums, and declared, "I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family."
In this context, her respect, admiration, and friendship with Kissinger makes a lot more sense.
Kissinger's Democratic Values and Love of Legitimacy
In her sad stump speech/review of Kissinger's book, Clinton assures readers that, while they have their differences, she, President Barack Obama, and Kissinger all share the "belief in the indispensability of continued American leadership in service of a just and liberal order."
Hillary Clinton's review sheds some light on these supposed "shared values" and the collective view of American imperialism by the politically powerful:
During the Cold War, America's bipartisan commitment to protecting and expanding a community of nations devoted to freedom, market economies and cooperation eventually proved successful for us and the world. Kissinger’s summary of that vision sounds pertinent today: "an inexorably expanding cooperative order of states observing common rules and norms, embracing liberal economic systems, forswearing territorial conquest, respecting national sovereignty, and adopting participatory and democratic systems of governance."Later, Clinton pointedly notes - in a glowing review of a book by Henry Kissinger, mind you - that "our devotion to human rights and democratic values" are an integral part of what "make[s] us who we are as a nation." Adhering to such values, Kissinger apparently suggests in his newly-published doorstop, is what leads to success.
This system, advanced by U.S. military and diplomatic power and our alliances with like-minded nations, helped us defeat fascism and communism and brought enormous benefits to Americans and billions of others. Nonetheless, many people around the world today — especially millions of young people — don't know these success stories, so it becomes our responsibility to show as well as tell what American leadership looks like.
Neither Clinton nor Kissinger actually believe this, of course. After all, when asked whether "national security is more important than human rights" during a 2007 debate, it was Clinton who eagerly responded, "I agree with that completely. The first obligation of the president of the United States is to protect and defend the United States of America." Clinton was wrong, of course. The president is primarily duty-bound, per the oath of office, to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," y'know, that thing with all those rights in it.
Indeed, one would be hard pressed to figure out just how respecting national sovereignty, an abiding commitment to democratic governance, and standing up for human rights fits into the policy prescriptions of either the Nixon/Kissinger or Obama/Clinton administrations.
After all, Kissinger and his team conceived of and promoted the Nixon administration's so-called "Tar Baby Option," the U.S. policy of increasing communication and cooperation with white minority governments in southern Africa, namely Apartheid South Africa and Portuguese colonies, for fear that supporting oppressed, indigenous populations could lead to Marxist socialist revolutions. This policy, the outcome of a Kissinger instigated review, resulted in - among other things - "a redefinition of embargoes on military equipment for Portugal and South Africa," loan guarantees to Portugal of up to $400 million, new agreements "with the Portuguese government on American bases in the Azores" and "covering the sale of South African gold" to the IMF "on terms highly favorable to Pretoria," as well as "a series of abstentions and negative votes at the United Nations on measures condemning apartheid and the white regimes of southern Africa."
And that's some of the nicest stuff Kissinger is responsible for.
As David Corn wrote in Mother Jones, rather than a champion of justice and self-determination, Kissinger is best remembered for engaging "in underhanded and covert diplomacy that led to massacres around the globe, as he pursued his version of foreign policy realism. This is no secret." Corn continues:
- Chile: Nixon and Kissinger plotted to thwart the democratic election of a socialist president. The eventual outcome: a military coup and a military dictatorship that killed thousands of Chileans.
- Argentina: Kissinger gave a "green light" to the military junta's dirty war against political opponents that led to the deaths of an estimated 30,000.
- East Timor: Another "green light" from Kissinger, this one for the Indonesian military dictatorship's bloody invasion of East Timor that yielded up to 200,000 deaths.
- Cambodia: The secret bombing there during the Nixon phase of the Vietnam War killed between 150,000 and 500,000 civilians.
- Bangladesh: Kissinger and Nixon turned a blind eye to—arguably, they tacitly approved—Pakistan's genocidal slaughter of 300,000 Bengalis, most of them Hindus.
And there's more. Kissinger's mendacity has been chronicled for years. See Gary Bass' recent and damning book on the Bangladesh tragedy, The Blood Telegram.There's Seymour Hersh's classic, The Price of Power. In The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens presented the case against Kissinger in his full polemical style. As secretary of state, Kissinger made common cause with—and encouraged—tyrants who repressed and massacred many. He did not serve the American values of democracy, free expression, and human rights. He shredded them.
|Kissinger and Pinochet|
Peter Kornbluh, director of the archive's Chile Documentation Project, stated, "These documents provide the verdict of history on Kissinger's singular contribution to the denouement of democracy and rise of dictatorship in Chile."
Yet in her review, Clinton writes:
For an international order to take hold and last, Kissinger argues, it must relate "power to legitimacy." To that end, Kissinger, the famous realist, sounds surprisingly idealistic. Even when there are tensions between our values and other objectives, America, he reminds us, succeeds by standing up for our values, not shirking them, and leads by engaging peoples and societies, the sources of legitimacy, not governments alone.What Clinton doesn't mention is that Kissinger despised legitimate popular governments, as they too often undermined American domination and exploitation.
Despite prior covert U.S. operations to derail Allende's inauguration in November 1970, Kissinger sent a memorandum to President Nixon warning of "the insidious model effect" of his democratic election. In fact, he was convinced that the "consolidation of Allende in power in Chile... would pose some very serious threats to our interests and position in the hemisphere" and that "a successful elected Marxist government in Chile would surely have an impact on -- and even precedent value for -- other parts of the world" that could "significantly affect the world balance and our own position in it."
He was particularly frustrated that "Allende was elected legally" and "has legitimacy in the eyes of Chileans and most of the world; there is nothing we can do to deny him that legitimacy of claim he does not have it." Furthermore, Kissinger lamented, "We are strongly on record in support of self-determination and respect for free election," adding that Nixon himself was "firmly on record for non-intervention in the internal affairs of this hemisphere."
"It would thereby be very costly for us to act in ways that appear to violate those principles, and Latin Americans and others in the world will view our policy as a test of the credibility of our rhetoric," he wrote.
Kissinger immediately outlined a strategy to topple the Allende government.
Following the successful coup and Pinochet's installation as Chile's dictator, Kissinger maintained that "however unpleasant they act, this government is better for us than Allende was." He ignored appeals to address the severe human rights abuses in Chile, telling Pinochet himself, "In the United States, as you know, we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here. We want to help, not undermine you. You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende."
Thus when Nixon complained that "liberal" press was giving him "crap" about the coup, Kissinger was indignant. "In the Eisenhower period, we would be heroes," he said.
Kissinger knew this would strike a chord with his audience of one. Nixon was Vice President when Eisenhower authorized the 1953 CIA-organized coup that overthrew popular Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh for the crime of nationalizing the nation's oil industry and not buckling to British and American diktat. The coup consolidated U.S.-backed dictatorial power under the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who ruled Iran for the next quarter century.
"By restoring the Shah to power," Nixon recalled years later, "it meant that the United States had a friend in Iran, a very strong friend, and for 25 years Iran played a role as a peace-keeper in the Persian Gulf area."
Always valuing imperial interests over democratic and humanitarian values, Nixon made an official pilgrimage to visit the Shah in Iran shortly after the coup. Fifteen years later, as president, Nixon provided weapons systems and military assistance to Iran on a massive scale, effectively bankrolling the Shah's prospective $20 billion military build-up. Massachusetts Congressman Gerry E. Studds at the time called the arms transfers "the most rapid buildup of military power under peacetime conditions of any nation in the history of the world."
Kissinger himself mused, "[W]e adopted a policy which provides, in effect, that we will accede to any of the Shah’s requests for arms purchases from us (other than some sophisticated advanced technology armaments and with the very important exception, of course, of any nuclear weapons capability)."
In a private meeting with Kissinger on July 27, 1973 at Blair House, the Shah confirmed as much. "I have a friend in the U. S. that is ready to provide anything I need - short of atomic weapons and they are not an issue," he said during a conversation about acquiring American fighter jets, tanks, and battleships and agreeing to arm Pakistan against India.
Kissinger and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
The Nixon White House - and Kissinger in particular - maintained very close relations with the Shah, in turn gaining a dutiful puppet in the region. This was especially beneficial during the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, when Arab members of the petroleum exporting consortium "cut production and stopped oil shipments to the United States and other countries that were backing Israel in the Yom Kippur War." With the Shah in power, Iran continued production and export to the United States and its allies, including apartheid South Africa, throughout the embargo and was rewarded handsomely by reaping the windfall of the oil shock.
When the Iranian Revolution finally forced the Shah to flee Iran, it was Kissinger and a cohort of such "influential friends" as Chase Manhattan Bank's David Rockefeller, former statesman and World Bank president John McCloy, and National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who intensively lobbied the Carter administration to eventually admit the Shah to the United States. Carter's reluctant acquiescence was the main catalyst for the November 4, 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
A month after the seizure of the embassy, Kissinger gave an interview to People Magazine. He had already visited the Shah twice since his arrival. He also insisted that Iranians had no legitimate reason to resent American foreign policy. Admitting that the Shah was "certainly authoritarian," Kissinger praised his "reforming government" for its professed economic, education, environmental, and medical advances.
"Not everybody who attacks us is doing so because we supplied a just grievance," he said, adding that "it must be made clear that challenging the U.S. is not for free. There has to be some penalty for opposing us and some reward for being friendly. Unless we can reestablish that balance, this trend will continue."
Regarding his belief that the United States was indebted to its former quisling, Kissinger told People, "I have held the position all along that the Shah was a friend of the U.S. for 37 years. Every President, starting with Truman, lauded the Shah's friendship and his modernizing tendencies and spoke of the gratitude we owed him." Such a partner deserved "private humanitarian asylum," Kissinger said. "In light of the Shah's help to our nation, I felt a duty to help."
Despite all this, Hillary Clinton, in her review of "World Order," maintains that "Kissinger's analyses of the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East are particularly valuable."
While writing about Kissinger's diplomatic philosophies and policy prescriptions, Clinton manages to repeatedly praise herself for her own work as Secretary of State, including what she terms taking "decisive action on challenges such as Iran's nuclear program."
This "decisive action" actually consisted of issuing threats, ultimatums, and imposing "crippling" sanctions upon a country over its refusal to abandon its inalienable right to a domestic nuclear energy program. It wasn't until she left the administration that the current negotiations got underway.
In 1975, during his tenure as Gerald Ford's Secretary of State, "Kissinger signed and circulated National Security Decision Memorandum 292, titled 'U.S.-Iran Nuclear Cooperation,' which laid out the administration's negotiating strategy for the sale of nuclear energy equipment projected to bring U.S. corporations more than $6 billion in revenue," reported the Washington Post's Danfa Linzer in 2005.
The strategy paper, Linzer wrote, "commended Iran's decision to build a massive nuclear energy industry," and argued that Iran needed to "prepare against the time -- about 15 years in the future -- when Iranian oil production is expected to decline sharply."
Working alongside other Ford administration officials like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, Kissinger engaged in "intense efforts to supply Iran with U.S. nuclear technology" and even "tried to accommodate Iranian demands for plutonium reprocessing." A directive signed by Ford in 1976 offered access to "a complete 'nuclear fuel cycle' -- reactors powered by and regenerating fissile materials on a self-sustaining basis."
When asked by Linzer about the potential consequences and hypocrisy of such a deal in light of more recent punitive and preventive policies, Kissinger shrugged. "I don't think the issue of proliferation came up," he said, eventually adding, "They were an allied country, and this was a commercial transaction. We didn't address the question of them one day moving toward nuclear weapons."
Diplomatic Double Standards
In mid-1969, as Nixon's National Security Adviser, Kissinger outlined what would soon become official American policy regarding Israel's clandestine nuclear arsenal. Once Israeli nuclear capability came to light in Washington - outside of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel refused to sign - the Nixon administration attempted to devise a strategy to deal with it.
A National Security Study delivered to Kissinger in May 1969 by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Rodger Davies noted, "Israel has committed to us that it will not be 'the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the area', but there are grounds for believing that Israel does not construe production of a weapon to constitute 'introduction.'" It further stated:
If the possession of nuclear weapons offered an ultimate deterrent for Israel we would perhaps be prepared to conclude that, whatever other disadvantages this development might have, its contribution to Israel's security, especially with the prospect of continuing Arab hostility, was in the US interest.In a July 19, 1969 memo to the president, Kissinger introduced a new policy option, writing that "while we might ideally like to halt actual Israeli possession, what we really want at a minimum may be just to keep Israeli possession from becoming an established international fact."
Israel wants nuclear weapons, as was both explicit and implicit in our conversations with Rabin, for two reasons: first, to deter the Arabs from striking Israel, and second, if deterrence fails and Israel were about to be overrun, to destroy the Arabs in a nuclear Armageddon.
Golda Meir, Richard Nixon, and Kissinger
Despite the efforts of Nixon officials to place curbs on the program, they eventually "withdrew step after step from an ambitious plan to block Israeli nuclearization, until they finally acceded, in internal correspondence – the content of the conversation between Nixon and Meir is still classified – to recognition of Israel as a threshold nuclear state," wrote Amir Oren recently in Ha'aretz, basing his report on newly-declassified documents.
The Nixon advisers concluded that, all things considered, "we cannot force the Israelis to destroy design data and components, much less the technical knowledge in people’s minds, nor the existing talent for rapid improvisation." Thus, Davies wrote in July, two months before the Nixon-Meir meeting, the lesser evil would be to agree for Israel to "retain its 'technical option'" to produce nuclear weapons.
"If the Israelis show a disposition to meet us on the nuclear issue but are adamant on the Jericho missiles, we can drop back to a position of insisting on non-deployment of missiles and an undertaking by the Israelis to keep any further production secret," Davies added.Such "nuclear ambiguity" has been both official Israeli and U.S. policy ever since President Richard Nixon met with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in September 1969. Accordingly, Nixon formally suspended all American inspection of and visitation to Israel's Dimona nuclear plant in 1970 and ceased demands that Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
When President Obama first met with Netanyahu in May 2009, he confirmed the continuity of the secret agreement, a stance one Senate staffer reportedly described as "call[ing] into question virtually every part of the president's nonproliferation agenda" by giving "Israel an NPT treaty get out of jail free card."
The Clinton Doctrine
Clinton's affinity for Kissinger is nothing new. In December 2009, Jon Meacham conducted a joint interview with the two of them for Newsweek, during which Clinton praised Kissinger: "Henry's the expert on theory and doctrine," she said.
Hillary Clinton's review of Henry Kissinger's book provides her and her public relations team an opportunity to set the stage for what seems like another inevitable run for president. It affirms her fealty to American imperialism and hegemony, her reliance on the advice of predecessors, colleagues and friends with demonstrably more appalling records than her own, and her firm commitment to continue the failed and dangerous policies of past administrations, all the while retaining the same sanctimony, self-righteousness, and entitlement that got her where she is today.
The review is already paying dividends as intended.
"I know Hillary as a person," Kissinger told NPR's Scott Simon the other day. "And as a personal friend, I would say yes, she'd be a good president." Though perhaps conflicted as a lifelong Republican as to whom he would vote for come 2016, Kissinger nevertheless confirmed, "Yes, I'd be comfortable with her as the president."
That alone should cost her the primary.
From voting to authorize the invasion of Iraq to her consistently hawkish defense of Israeli war crimes and constant bellicosity on Iran to her personal role in the Obama administration's expansion of the American surveillance state and drone program, and now hailing Henry Kissinger as a gritty, truth-telling idealist, the question remains: is there anything about Hillary Clinton that isn't absolutely terrible?
September 10, 2014 - Peter Hart of the vital media watchdog FAIR has a phenomenal piece up today about Kissinger's recent round of public appearances and interviews. It should be read in its entirety three times in a row and then shared with everyone you know:
And Now, a Word From Henry Kissinger…