It's one of the darkest accusations yet made against Hillary. That she's friends with Henry Kissinger. In the aftermath of Obama's endorsement of Hillary, I feel it's important to continue my systematic defenses of both Mrs. Clinton and her campaign. But this one, I'll admit, is a doozie!
There’s no question that the ties between Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger are strong, and not just because they both served as Secretary of State. The Clintons have been regular dinner guests with the Kissingers (particularly at the Dominican home of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta), for years, and Hillary has not only admitted that she listened to Kissinger for advice while serving in Obama’s administration, she boasted about it. In her review of Kissinger’s book, “World Order,” she writes:
“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. Though we have often seen the world and some of our challenges quite differently, and advocated different responses now and in the past, what comes through clearly in this new book is a conviction that we, and President Obama, share: a belief in the indispensability of continued American leadership in service of a just and liberal order.”
This led to a tense exchange between Hillary and Bernie during the February 11 Democratic Party Debate.
SANDERS: Where the secretary and I have a very profound difference, in the last debate — and I believe in her book — very good book, by the way — in her book and in this last debate, she talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring of Henry Kissinger. Now, I find it rather amazing, because I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country.
I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger. And in fact, Kissinger’s actions in Cambodia, when the United States bombed that country, overthrew Prince Sihanouk, created the instability for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to come in, who then butchered some 3 million innocent people, one of the worst genocides in the history of the world. So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger.
IFILL: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy, and we have yet to know who that is.
SANDERS: Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger. That’s for sure.
CLINTON: That’s fine. That’s fine.
You know, I listen to a wide variety of voices that have expertise in various areas. I think it is fair to say, whatever the complaints that you want to make about him are, that with respect to China, one of the most challenging relationships we have, his opening up China and his ongoing relationships with the leaders of China is an incredibly useful relationship for the United States of America.
So if we want to pick and choose — and I certainly do — people I listen to, people I don’t listen to, people I listen to for certain areas, then I think we have to be fair and look at the entire world, because it’s a big, complicated world out there.
SANDERS: It is.
CLINTON: And, yes, people we may disagree with on a number of things may have some insight, may have some relationships that are important for the president to understand in order to best protect the United States.
In other words, it’s best to be receptive and open-minded to advice from everyone experienced in the field, even those you disagree with. And that sounds good. But the catalog of Kissinger’s crimes is undeniable.
• He sided with the Ayatollah Khomenei, solely on the grounds that the Ayatollah was anti-Soviet.
• He persuaded the Iraqi Kurds to take up arms against Saddam Hussein, then abandoned them to be slaughtered after Iraq signed a diplomatic deal with Iran.
• He was responsible for the deliberate mass killings of civilians in Laos and Cambodia.
• He worked behind the lines to oust the democratically elected president Salvador Allende in Chile because of his pro-Communist and pro-Castro views. While he supported the revolutionary leader Auguste Pinochet, Allende was killed, and Pinochet became the leader of a military junta in Chile. The doctrine was, better a dictator on our side than a democracy that favored the Soviets.
• Because the nation of India was developing Soviet ties, he engineered U.S. ties to the nation of Pakistan and sided with them in their invasion of Bangladesh. The result was a bloodbath.
It’s hard to look at such a track record and not be worried that such a man is a friend of Hillary Clinton, and that she takes advice from him.
Even Kissinger’s most staunch detractors, such as your hero and mine Christopher Hitchens, have acknowledged two positive things about Kissinger: that he is/was 1) brilliant and 2) focused.
Kissinger saw his role in the office of Secretary of State as one in which the primary goal was to win the Cold War. This he did rather effectively. He didn’t care how many millions of brown people had to die in order to achieve that goal, but he did achieve it. It doesn't excuse his crimes, but the job got done.
Also, he was the mastermind behind opening up trade relations with China. “Only Nixon could go to China,” was Tricky-Dick’s catchphrase. The truth was, he could only have gone if Kissinger had gone with him. That Sino-American alliance helped hold the Soviets in check, and prevent any future war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. after the Cold War’s end. In other words, this move by Kissinger saved millions of lives.
I am not arguing that the lives Kissinger saved washes his hands of the murders he committed. But I am saying that as Secretary of State, he was both effective and successful at his job and in his goals. He’s clearly a war criminal, but he’s also clearly a fucking genius.
So I look at it from my own perspective. If I were Secretary of State, and I had the opportunity to listen to this man’s advice, would I do so?
Honestly? Damn right, I would! And I think, so would most of you.
I would even sit down to dinner with the man and talk foreign policy with him. True, when dinner had ended, and I’d shook his hand after bidding him good night, I would feel a severe urge to wash that hand thoroughly with very hot water! But I would also have a head full of invaluable knowledge afterward.
On today’s issues, Kissinger has argued for Russia to defeat Daesh (ISIS), and for the Ukraine to fracture into separate east and west republics. This is something I have argued for on this blog. No, I’m not saying I’m as brilliant as Kissinger, but it is interesting how I, who would never have committed the kinds of genocides he did, came to such similar conclusions regarding foreign policy.
Maybe great minds do think alike, even when one of those minds is good and the other evil.
So Hillary regularly listens to Kissinger today. And TODAY’S Kissinger is not advocating the same kinds of “smash-the-third-world’s-chances-at-democracy-to-defeat-the-Kremlin” tactics that he so readily did in the past.
It makes me uncomfortable, to say the least, but if I would be willing to listen to Kissinger (and I would be), then I suppose I can’t be upset at Hillary for listening to him either.
But I’d rather she took his advice while visiting him in his jail cell. In a perfect world, she would be.