Infamous war criminal, former U.S. Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger passed away at age 100 on Wednesday.
The renowned diplomat, and infamous to many people in the Third World, died at his home in Connecticut, his consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, said in a statement.
The former U.S. secretary of state and national security advisor “oversaw, overlooked and at times actively perpetrated some of the most grotesque war crimes the United States and its allies have ever committed,” HuffPost reporters Travis Waldron and George Zornick wrote in a scathing obituary of Kissinger, calling him “America’s most notorious war criminal.”
Kissinger’s life story began with his family escaping Nazi Germany for the U.S. in 1938.
After quitting the U.S. military, Kissinger earned a PhD at Harvard University and taught international relations before becoming President Richard Nixon’s top national security adviser in 1969.
He eventually served as secretary of state under Nixon and his successor, President Gerald Ford.
A skilled negotiator committed to realism, Kissinger was instrumental in improving U.S. relations with the Soviet Union in the 1970s and paved a way for the normalization of Washington’s ties with China.
With Kissinger’s stewardship, the Nixon administration’s easing of travel and trade restrictions against Beijing was instrumental in kick-starting China’s rise to prominence as an industrial economy.
In 1973, influential U.S. foreign policy thinker Kissinger shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Vietnamese diplomat Le Duc Tho for negotiating the Paris Peace Accords, which facilitated the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam. Kissinger accepted the Nobel Peace prize but no-showed the ceremony, blaming the pressure of official duties. Tho refused the prize, explaining that he considered the negotiations to have been a failure.
In 1974, Kissinger helped to negotiate Israel’s disengagement agreements with Syria and Egypt, which officially ended the Yom Kippur War.
Bombed Cambodia Without Congressional Approval
A book by U.S.-British journalist Christopher Hitchens ‘The Trial of Henry Kissinger’ accused the diplomat of ordering the first round of Cambodia bombings in the 1960s without congressional approval.
Behind More Than 3 Million Civilian Deaths
An Intercept report released in May to mark the Kissinger’s 100th birthday claimed that he was behind more than 3 million civilian deaths, and that he helped to prolong the Vietnam War while fostering strife and civil wars in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
In Chile, after the overthrow of Salvador Allende and the coup by Augusto Pinochet, at least 3,000 dissidents were killed, and some 40,000 tortured. In Argentina, some estimates put the number of those “disappeared” by the government as high as 30,000 people.
Lectures On World Affairs
Kissinger remained active after leaving office, giving lectures and interviews, in which he commented on world affairs. One of his last trips was a visit to Beijing in July 2023, during which he met with President Xi Jinping. He also repeatedly warned the U.S. and China that if they continued on their current foreign policy course, they risked sliding into open military confrontation.
On the Ukraine conflict, Kissinger described the West’s decision to offer Kiev a pathway to NATO as “a grave mistake” which led to the hostilities in the first place. While the veteran diplomat opposed Ukraine’s membership in the U.S.-led military bloc before the conflict, he later changed his stance, arguing that the country’s neutrality is “no longer meaningful” amid the ongoing fighting.
Last year, he also suggested that Ukraine could relinquish its territorial claims to Crimea and grant autonomy to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics – all Russian territories now – to achieve peace, an idea repeatedly rejected by Kiev.
A Secret War
A Huffpost report – Anthony Bourdain did not hold back when writing about Henry Kissinger – said on November 30, 2023:
An excerpt from Anthony Bourdain’s 2001 book (Bourdain’s memoir, “A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines) dragging Henry Kissinger resurfaced on Wednesday following the infamous war criminal’s death.
While speaking about his culinary explorations around the world in “A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal,” published after his death in 2018, Bourdain said that “you will never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands” after visiting Cambodia, referring to one of Kissinger’s most heinous acts, the approval of a secret war beyond the borders of Vietnam. It was one of many actions he promoted during his eight years as secretary of state under former Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford that are now considered shameful chapters in U.S. foreign affairs.
Carpet Bombing Of Laos
In 1969, Kissinger ordered the clandestine carpet-bombing of Cambodia and Laos. For four years, the U.S. dropped 540,000 bombs, slaughtering 150,000 to 500,000 Cambodian civilians.
“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,” Bourdain wrote in his book.
“Witness what Henry did in Cambodia ― the fruits of his genius for statesmanship ― and you will never understand why he is not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to [Serbian President Slobodan] Milošević.”
Decades after the book’s release, Bourdain’s comments lingered in people’s minds and even made a comeback online following news of Kissinger’s death on Wednesday.
This was not the first dig the chef had taken at Kissinger. In a 2017 New Yorker profile on Bourdain, his publisher, Dan Halpern, lauded the influence he had with “Parts Unknown,” a travel and food show in which Bourdain traveled around the world and discussed the cuisines, cultures and political issues of various countries.
Halpern said that Bourdain had “become a statesman” as his show made people aware of conflicts in other countries.
But Bourdain pushed back on the notion, saying, “I am not going to the White House Correspondents’ dinner. I do not need to be laughing it up with Henry Kissinger.”
Despite being responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, Kissinger had been seen having amicable exchanges with notable figures, including former President George W. Bush, Nixon, Oprah Winfrey and Princess Diana.
“Any journalist who has ever been polite to Henry Kissinger, you know, fuck that person,” Bourdain said. “I am a big believer in moral gray areas, but, when it comes to that guy, in my view he should not be able to eat at a restaurant in New York.”
Rightwing Dictatorships In Chile And Argentina
A Los Angeles Times report – Anthony Bourdain’s scathing Henry Kissinger remarks resurface after foreign policy figure’s death – said on November 30, 2023:
Kissinger was always a controversial figure, and his most outspoken critics — Bourdain among them — saw him as ruthless and accused him of war crimes, mainly for the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia and the support Washington gave to brutal right-wing dictatorships in Chile and Argentina.
A Salon report – “Murderous scumbag”: Anthony Bourdain’s brutal takedown of “war criminal” Henry Kissinger goes viral – said on November 30, 2023:
His positions allowed him to direct the Vietnam War and Cold War with the Soviet Union, while carrying out a foreign policy approach that valued U.S. interests and domestic political achievements over any potential for atrocity that could occur as a result.
“The former led to perhaps the most infamous crime Kissinger committed: a secret four-year bombing campaign in Cambodia that killed an untold number of civilians, despite the fact that it was a neutral nation with which the United States was not at war,” HuffPost reporters Waldron and Zornick wrote.
The campaign killed between 150,000 and a half-million Cambodian civilians, per various estimates, and, according to a Pentagon report released late, Kissinger personally “approved each of the 3,875 Cambodia bombing raids” that occurred between 1969 and 1970.
The Salon report said:
While in charge of U.S. foreign policy, Kissinger also directed illegal arms sales to Pakistan as it executed a brutal suppression of Bengalis in present-day Bangladesh in 1971.
The genocide in Bangladesh led to killing of 3 million Bengali people.
Indonesia And Dirty War
The Salon report said:
Kissinger also backed a 1973 military coup overthrowing a democratically elected socialist government in Chile, granted Indonesia permission to carry out its 1975 invasion of East Timor, and supported Argentina’s military dictatorship as it launched its “dirty war” against dissenters and leftists in 1976.
Civil Wars In Africa
The report said:
During the Ford administration, Kissinger’s policies also inflamed civil wars in Africa, most notably in Angola.
The Intercept’s obituary said Kissinger “stoked a war in Angola and prolonged apartheid in South Africa,” as well as leaving the Middle East “in chaos,” per Yale historian Greg Grandin. For Kissinger, the protection of US economic and foreign policy interests took precedence over human life.
Millions Of Death And Millions Of Rights Abuse
“Even the most generous calculations suggest that the murderous regimes Kissinger supported and the conflicts they waged were responsible for millions of deaths and millions of other human rights abuses, during and after the eight years he served in the American government,” Waldron and Zornick write, noting that Kissinger never expressed any remorse for his actions or was held to any account for carrying them out.
Kissinger approached criticism of his human rights abuses with a mocking tone and remained in good standing in Washington’s political elite until the time of his death.
“The covert justifications for illegally bombing Cambodia became the framework for the justifications of drone strikes and forever war. It is a perfect expression of American militarism’s unbroken circle,” historian Greg Grandin, author of “Kissinger’s Shadow,” told The Intercept earlier this year. According to Common Dreams, the historian has estimated that Kissinger was responsible for at least 3 million deaths.
Millions Of Argentinians, Bangladeshis, Cambodians, Chileans, East Timorese
“What is undeniable, on the occasion of his death, is that millions of Argentinians, Bangladeshis, Cambodians, Chileans, East Timorese and others cannot offer their opinion on Henry Kissinger’s legacy or the world he helped create, because they died at the hands of the tyrants Kissinger enabled,” Waldron and Zornick wrote.
Other reporters further lamented Kissinger’s approach to policy and the notorious legacy it left throughout the nation — and the world — across social media and in articles about his death.
In an obituary of Kissinger for Rolling Stone, journalist Spencer Ackerman compared Kissinger to “white supremacist terrorist Timothy McVeigh,” who Ackerman described as “the worst mass murderer ever executed by the United States.”
“McVeigh, who in his own psychotic way thought he was saving America, never remotely killed on the scale of Kissinger, the most revered American grand strategist of the second half of the 20th century,” Ackerman continued. “Every single person who died in Vietnam between autumn 1968 and the Fall of Saigon — and all who died in Laos and Cambodia, where Nixon and Kissinger secretly expanded the war within months of taking office, as well as all who died in the aftermath, like the Cambodian genocide their destabilization set into motion — died because of Henry Kissinger.”
“We will never know what might have been, the question Kissinger’s apologists, and those in the U.S. foreign policy elite who imagine themselves standing in Kissinger’s shoes, insist upon when explaining away his crimes,” Ackerman added. “We can only know what actually happened. What actually happened was that Kissinger materially sabotaged the only chance for an end to the war in 1968 as a hedged bet to ensure he would achieve power in Nixon’s administration or Humphrey’s. A true tally will probably never be known of everyone who died so Kissinger could be national security adviser.”
The Intercept’s D.C. Bureau Chief Ryan Grim noted that “Henry Kissinger killed so many people that we uncovered new atrocities he directed JUST THIS YEAR” in a post to X/Twitter, linking to an article the outlet published titled, “Survivors of Kissinger’s Secret War in Cambodia Reveal Unreported Mass Killings.”
Journalist Conor Powell highlighted former President George W. Bush’s opening statement on Kissinger’s death — “America has lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs with the passing of Henry Kissinger” — as an indication of “just how problematic #Kissinger’s legacy is.”
“These words are not a ringing endorsement of Kissinger,” Powell tweeted. “And yet George W Bush as president did more to put Kissinger’s foreign policy ideas into practice than just about any other US president. Bush can barely say a thing positive about Kissinger in 2023.”
Against The Kurds, In Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, And Cyprus
A Teen Vogue report – Henry Kissinger Was a War Criminal Responsible for Millions of Deaths – said on November 30, 2023:
On November 29, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who NPR calls “one of the country’s most important foreign policy thinkers for more than half a century,” died at 100. Kissinger was responsible for an estimated 3 to 4 million deaths, according to one historian, and millions of human rights violations across a long list of nations. That list was recalled by Yale historian Greg Grandin in his obituary of Kissinger for The Nation: “Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, East Timor, Bangladesh, against the Kurds, in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Cyprus, among other places.”
In May, Grandin wrote another story for the same magazine about Kissinger making it to age 100, outliving his contemporaries who share some of the blame, like Richard Nixon. That month, MSNBC commentator Medhi Hasan “celebrated” Kissinger’s birthday by recalling “some of the many, many people around the world who didn’t get to live till 100, or even 60, 70 or 80, because of Henry Kissinger, because of his support for brutal dictators, brutal regimes, brutal wars, and war crimes.”
Bombs, Instrument Of Diplomacy
Kissinger used, as Grandin put it, “bombs as an instrument of diplomacy” — an approach which, HuffPost’s obituary observed, “has become a hallmark of U.S. foreign policy.”
Upon news of Kissinger’s death, the internet celebrated possibly more than it did after the last elderly imperial death, but that celebration has been darkened by the basis for it. Joshua Hill posted a video from the 2010s of Kissinger being “unrepentant” about the deaths of Cambodians, where Kissinger’s personally approved carpet-bombing campaign still wounds and takes lives from cluster bombs left there more than 50 years later. (The US provided the same sort of bombs to Ukraine this year.) C-SPAN posted footage from 2016 of Kissinger defending his role in Vietnam. A biting missive from the late Anthony Bourdain — painful enough given that Kissinger got almost twice as long on this Earth than Tony — got posted over and over again.
Within 10 minutes of seeing the news, I started seeing the headlines: “America’s Most Notorious War Criminal” dead, a Teen Vogue classic; “Controversial Diplomat;” and some spicier ones, such as “Finally” at the leftist Tribune. Publishers Verso and Jacobin had a book fully prepared and ready for a print run for the occasion. It is hard to exaggerate how long the media had to get ready for this moment. A contributor to the New York Times’s obituary died in 2010.
Apparently, the preparedness to dance on Kissinger’s grave went hand-in-hand with an assumption, proven right, that those currently in power would not hesitate to eulogize a war criminal. Eric Adams and George W. Bush are among those publicly mourning. In life, Kissinger was a friend to Hillary Clinton, an advisor to Trump, and feted by the Obama administration in 2016 — at the same time that Obama acknowledged the U.S.’s role in Argentina’s “dirty war” against dissenters and leftists.
Kissinger has advised or been celebrated by every presidency since he joined Nixon’s cabinet, though less so with President Biden. However, current Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, whose name has been sprawled across coverage of America’s 2023 involvement in overseas wars, attended Kissinger’s 100th-birthday party at the New York Public Library, leading the State Department to “awkwardly” sidestep calls for Blinken to justify his attendance.
New York City’s social strata was a respite for Kissinger, according to New York magazine’s Choire Sicha, who noted that from 1977 onward — when, even then, “in all the world there were fewer names more hated than his” — he left his academic and diplomatic careers behind to attend socialite parties after his campaign of death.
Kissinger Enabled The Deaths Of Between 300,000 And 3 Million In Bangladesh
The Teen Vogue report said:
“Historical memory is short, and U.S. politicians from both parties have a habit of bestowing accolades and kind words on officials who deserve nothing of the sort,” wrote Azadeh Shahshahani for Teen Vogue in 2021 following the death of fellow war criminal Donald Rumsfeld, calling for accountability for both Rumsfeld and Kissinger. Shahshahani pointed out that, in 1971, in Bangladesh alone, Kissinger had enabled the deaths of between 300,000 and 3 million people by providing arms to the Pakistani Army.
Ultimately, there’s little to celebrate about a war criminal who lived without regret to 100 years old, comfortably admired by the political class that created and supported him, with millions of deaths in his tracks. I’m reminded of a lyric: “Not everybody gets the chance to live/A life that isn’t dangerous.”
Our tech overlords, modern-day robber barons with hubris and unchecked power, aspire to never age, never die, to outlive us on other planets rather than save ours. There is not much dignity left in the “lesser evil” that is folks gladly burning our planet to the ground in favor of supposed American business interests. Things are dark right now. But, as writer Edward Ongweso Jr. tweeted, “At least one less literal demon walks among us.”
While death tolls keep rising over the world at the hands or arms of the U.S. empire, to outlive one of its proudest, prolifically murderous foots soldiers offers some small karmic comfort.