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Henry Kissinger Was A Paragon Of Machiavellian
By Yoichi Shimatsu
Appropriately it was along Unter der Linden Stasse, inside the foyer of a palatial office building that had served as headquarters of the Nazi regime's Gestapo secret police and Soviet East Germany's Stasi spy service, that I had the dubious honor of shaking hands with Heinz "Henry" Kissinger, or perhaps that gesture was in dishonor, a low point for both the great man and this lowly investigative journalist, who did not cross swords with the grand-master of global affairs. Such is this Universe, a constant clash of destruction and reconstruction, of courage and ignominy.
The occasion was a conference celebrating the millennium, sponsored by a major German-European publishing house, focused on assessing Germany's foreign policy priorities in the post-Soviet rubble. Kissinger spoke of the need to cobble together the many fragments a global consensus, however fraught with distrust and misgivings. My much lesser role, as a American reporter with long experience in China, Japan, Southeast Asia and the USA, was to discuss the vexing issue of maintaining a cool demeanor toward a Beijing leadership eager to fill the Soviet vacuum. Since the forum focused on reconciliation, and cooperation in global power relations, past history with its horrifying brutalities went mostly unmentioned and indeed unnoticed, given the great man's utterances of political assurance.
A Litany of Political Crimes
The German-born Kissinger, a local hero in Berlin, was idolized then, at least in the western half of a recently united Germany, leaving his past transgressions against humanity in Vietnam, Chile, Indonesia, Pakistan, Congo, Saharan region and more recently Serbia in the wake of the USAF bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade off the conference agenda, although the board and audience were well aware that I was the journalist who had just exposed the lethal embassy strike not to have been an American accident but deliberate targeting by the Clinton White House. The same standards that had applied to the Nazi and Soviet regimes were quietly deemed irrelevant to the crimes of the dominant American-European aka NATO nexus against their perceived adversaries.
Fair enough, since if Kissinger - Henry - had been called to the carpet for his slew of war crimes, the conference on the future of world relations would have been relegated to a tribunal against his feeding and care of dictatorships. Being on the winning side is the key to survival of one's public reputation. As (in)famously put by Niccolo Machiavelli: "It is much safer to be feared than loved." Kissinger's policies in favor of political stability under dictatorships was feared, whereas his media interviews with Barbara Walters were adored by the public.
Kissinger has just died peacefully in his Connecticut home, and whatever those demons that gnawed at his conscience went silently along with his soul to its ultimate destination. That issue is being decided by a higher authority than our puny ability to render judgment.
At the Seat of Brute Power
Inside the former Gestapo-Stasi headquarters (the farther apart they seemed, the more similar they became), Henry nodded in approval of my emphatic points: The need to cooperate with China to prevent its drift towards Soviet-style aggression forced an urgent need to identify grounds for reconciliation with humility. In the case of a rising China, it was important to the Japanese to express remorse for the Nanjing massacre. As for Americans, the focus should be on shared benefits toward a brighter future of ordinary citizens and not giving up when confronted with massive setbacks in diplomacy or military skirmishes (as is occurring today). The big picture, wide-screen vision, is a Kissingerism; and never mind the plight of little people since over the long run their will not matter. That is not cynical despair but simply a fact based on the passage of time, as in: Who still remembers the Neanderthals or the disappearance of the Hohokam Indians from the Gila River? Get one thing straight: History is immensely cruel and then astonishingly forgetful. As Zen has it: focus on the immediate present; all the rest is illusion, a fading dream.
To his credit, Henry despite his personal persecution by the Nazis never made much of a fuss about the Holocaust, when the major priority was for the U.S. Army (which Kissinger enlisted in, again to his credit as a German-born Jew) to win World War II, which would bring on its own set of vices, crimes and abhorrent solutions. During the triumphant postwar era, Henry earned a Ph.D. in political science at Harvard, not bad at all for a refugee with a thick German accent fleeing with his parents from Nazi-era oppression. Then Kissinger went on to serve as national security adviser to Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and after that official stint served as a counselor and pundit on world affairs to U.S. and NATO elites, and part-timed as "tutor" to the Chinese, who treated him as a modern-day Confucius (who also was a warrior and peacemaker). His Machiavellian code of political survival in a troubled and hostile world was not book theory, it was reality-based both personally and amid the political dramas of his lifetime.
Although I personally feel morally compelled to condemn Henry Kissinger for looking away from political persecution and war crimes, the reality is: How can I heap blame on his ruthless realism as compared with, say, the present-day liberal idealism that is fanning the flames of destruction in unrealistic support of Ukraine, Israel, illegal immigration, sexual deviance and harmful drug use, which are all untenable and leading toward spectacular disaster? Kissinger's grip on what is achievable given the realities seems benign by comparison. No, we cannot impose on all of humanity desirable objectives such as democracy, end hunger, force birth control, stop environmental destruction and enact gender equality, when we can barely avoid nuclear warfare and the next military conflagration in some distance point on Earth. Those would truly believe in such super-powers should volunteer to join the U.S. Armed Forces as gun-toting combatants, the sure-cure for overweening ambition.
Thus, listening to the litany of liberal criticism of Kissinger today sounds to me like sour grapes. What prevented his critics from toting a gun with the Sandinistas, chopping sugar cane in Cuba, donating one entire bank account to ship Cheerios to the Horn of Africa, donating blood monthly or committing suicide to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? A few did exactly such acts of atonement; most by contrast focused on their lives, some in complicity.
Yes, I have been a critic of Kissinger and his political masters, but I did foolish things against my comfort and career by taking the many risks of being helpful to the locals in Afghanistan, Cambodia, the far ends of China, the Korean Peninsula and inside the nuclear zone of Fukushima, but I will admit Henry Kissinger saved from his tower of power millions more lives from poverty and brutality that I could have achieved in a hundred lifetimes.
The Unspoken Treason
Yet sometimes, you have to be cruel to be kind. And now it is my turn to be harsh on Herr Kissinger, and his sidekick Colin Powell, whose deal with Mao to end the Vietnam War included the betrayal of the combatants in the Secret War in Laos, involving the use of Agent Orange defoliants and carpet-bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The agreement with the Chinese involved both sides silencing (permanently) their illicit armies - troops, officers, transporters, everyone down to the last man. The Kissinger-Powell operation divulged the addresses and phone numbers and whereabouts of American counterinsurgency ops personnel to the North Vietnamese regulars for execution. Chopper pilots and ground troops were corralled and hunted down, killed without an iota mercy.
My stepfather who built Air America and ran the Secret War, Milton Spencer Taylor, frantically crisscrossed Laos aboard a small plane in a vain attempt to rescue any survivors, and barely missed the massacre of 6,000 Hmong families allied with the USA, all mass-murdered and incinerated by one of Powell's special-ops groups. In despair, Taylor was left with no choice but to leave the zone by landing at the Thai Air Force airfield in Chiangmai. There he was met by two CIA case officers who debriefed him and then stripped him down from a GS-17 rank down to GS-9 with the warning that if he ever again tried to make contact with his men that the government would kill his wife and daughter (my mother and half-sister). That was the last chapter of the Vietnam War, which never appeared in the official record or mentioned by CBS, ABC, NBC and the rest of the complicit media. That heinous and most unpatriotic act of treason is the one certain capital crime of Henry Kissinger, yet to be judged in a better world than this hellhole of ours. In God we trust.
As for the liberal commentators heaping guilt upon a now-departed Kissinger, why did they not speak out and protest when he was serving as national security advisor? As I recall, the mainstream media and most of the liberal-left kept their mouths shut and their profits in their pockets as they went along with the official lies to advance their puny careers. In his defense, Henry did not act out of self preservation or personal greed but simply carried out the orders of his self-serving political masters who pretended to be good, responsible and sometimes democratic, and to his credit the present era would now be worse off if he had not tried to be sly, subtle and persuasive in our time, which has definitely not then or now been an Age of Heroes.
Dream on, perhaps on some day of bravery or merely during a brief moment of charity, you will be able to achieve an iota of goodness, which will go unrecognized by the mass media and unappreciated or even cursed by your supposed friends and uncaring family. Yet, in its tiny way action toward the good even though futile serves as an apology for what was unnecessarily done to millions of victims worldwide. As put by Machiavelli: "I hold it to be true that Fortune is the arbiter of one-half of our actions, but she still leaves us to direct the other half, or perhaps a little less." All one can do is to try.