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12 May

Obama administration embraces war criminal Henry Kissinger with Distinguished Public Servant Award – Close Advisor to Hillary Clinton

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Obama administration embraces war criminal Henry Kissinger with Distinguished Public Servant Award – Close Advisor to Hillary Clinton

 The O’Leary: I’m going to throw up!

The McGlynn: To Hell with the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton. Their embrace of this war criminal is a massive insult to the many who opposed Kissinger and his multitude of war crimes. This criminal killed millions including thousands of Americans. He ranks with Hitler as a companion in evil.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter shakes Dr. Henry A. Kissinger's hand during an award ceremony at the Pentagon honoring him for his years of distinguished public service May 9, 2016. Dr. Kissinger was presented with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.(DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter shaking Henry Kissinger’s hand at ceremony honoring Kissinger, May 9, 2016

The Obama administration, via its Department of Defense, had war criminal Henry Kissinger over at the Pentagon yesterday. The reason? To award Kissinger its highest honor, the award for Distinguished Public Service.

If you measure “public service” as being responsible for more deaths than any other living American in the effort to spread the influence of American empire over the globe, Kissinger was surely deserving.

It is not news that Kissinger has been embraced by this White House. The Obama administration use of this criminal has been open since the first days of the Obama presidency. The Kissinger issue, if I may call it that, surfaced again during the Clinton-Sanders debates, when Sanders decried Clinton’s reliance on the advice and counseling of Kissinger. For her part, Clinton lionized the former Nixon Secretary of State and National Security Adviser. (See the full transcript here.)

Sanders made it clear, that given Kissinger’s record, he would never rely on him for anything having to do with a Sanders administration. Indeed, it’s clear that Kissinger should be in jail. Sanders erred only in not saying it would prosecute him for war crimes.

The fact is, support for Kissinger is right at the dividing line between those who support and those who oppose an aggressive, militaristic foreign policy. In his reward speech, speaking of his so-called accomplishments , Kissinger said, “the fact is we were engaged in good causes” during his tenure in the Nixon and Ford White Houses.

For Kissinger, the Vietnam War, with its massive use of napalm, Agent Orange, its secret bombing campaigns, and use of torture and assassination, was a “good cause.” When the Obama administration, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, embrace Kissinger, both his legacy and the man, they are embracing the greatest set of war crimes in living memory by the United States, a war that killed millions, and also destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of Americans.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who gave the award personally to Kissinger, was named by Politico recently as a top candidate for the Secretary of Defense position under a Hillary Clinton administration, not least because of his hawkish views.

Vox editorialized news of the recent award, in its article, “The Obama administration is honoring Henry Kissinger today. It shouldn’t be.”

While Kissinger deserves real credit for some of America’s most important Cold War victories, including Nixon’s diplomatic opening to China, he is also responsible for some of its worst atrocities. Carpet-bombing Cambodia, supporting Pakistan’s genocide in Bangladesh, greenlighting the Argentinian dictatorship’s murderous crackdown on dissidents — all of those were Kissinger initiatives, all pushed in the name of pursuing American national interests and fighting communism.

While the Obama administration might want to pretend that only the first half of his résumé exists, that doesn’t change reality. The secretary of defense is handing an award to a man whose actions belie the values Obama administration claims to stand for.

The Nation also chimed in:

It’s exhausting trying to keep track of what is now a quarterly celebration of the 92-year-old Kissinger. It was just six or so months ago when The New York Times Book Review assigned Kissinger’s preferred authorized biographer to review a Kissinger biography written by Kissinger’s second-choice biographer. A “masterpiece”! the first said of the second. And then, three months ago, Hillary Clinton, in a debate with Bernie Sanders, cited Kissinger’s recommendation as a referral for the White House.

At the time, Clinton’s remarks seemed a misstep, allowing Sanders an opening to criticize her catastrophic interventionism in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Now, though, it is clear that Clinton’s invocation of Kissinger wasn’t a fluke but rather a preview of a general election strategy to run to Trump’s right on foreign policy and win over the hawkish wing of the Republican Party.

Now some of you reading this may not realize how horrific Kissinger really is. But since he has become a campaign issue, and for some people — like myself — is a serious consideration not to support the presumptive candidate for the Democratic Party, you will need to educate yourself about who Kissinger is and what he’s done. Among his crimes are the mass bombing of civilian populations, support for assassinations and torture, wiretapping of journalists, support for invasions and military repression in numerous countries. He was notoriously involved in helping secure a military coup against the democratically elected government of Salvadore Allende in Chile.

Anyone can Google the information these days, but I particularly recommend reading the reproduction of Chapter One of the late Christopher Hitchens’ book, The Case Against Henry Kissinger at this link. Here’s a small section:

Declassified documents show that Kissinger- who had previously neither known nor cared about Chile, describing it offhandedly as “a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica”-took seriously this chance to impress his boss. A group was set up in Langley, Virginia, with the express purpose of running a “two track” policy for Chile, one the ostensible diplomatic one and the other- unknown to the State Department or the U.S. ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry-a strategy of destabilization, kidnapping, and assassination designed to provoke a military coup….

The short-term obstacle lay in the person of one man: General Rene Schneider. As chief of the Chilean Army, he was adamantly opposed to any military meddling in the electoral process. Accordingly, it was decided at a meeting on September 18, 1970, that General Schneider had to go….

On September 15, 1970, Kissinger was told of an extremist right-wing officer named General Roberto Viaux, who had ties to Patria y Libertad and who was willing to accept the secret American commission to remove General Schneider from the chessboard. The term “kidnap” was still being employed at this point and is often employed still. Kissinger’s “track two” group, however, authorized the supply of machine guns as well as tear-gas grenades to Visux’s associates and never seem to have asked what they would do with the general once they had kidnapped him.

On October 22, 1970, after one failed attempt, Kissinger’s Chilean surrogates succeeded in machine gunning Schneider. It was a prelude to the coup that was to come. *(See more below)

The Obama administration is to be condemned for honoring this mass murderer. The supporters of Hillary Clinton have to answer for why they are supporting a candidate whose foreign policy mentor is someone who lauds the Vietnam War as a “good cause.”

Once upon a time, a site such as Daily Kos, which claimed to be for progressive causes, would not have let something like this pass unnoticed or uncommented upon. But with the rush to support a hawkish candidate for president in Hillary Clinton, the past crimes of U.S. foreign policy are being flushed down the memory hole. An earlier diary on this by pablito got ignored or disparaged by various readers.

That should not be.

UPDATE (2:35 PDT): Thanks to those who helped this diary make it to the Recommended List! Perhaps it will help us send a message to the administration that past crimes are still remembered, and that there is at least a political cost (given I’m not expecting any domestic indictments) to cozening up to war criminals. Well… I can still hope so!

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Clinton-Sanders debate, “The Kissinger Issue”

Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton receive the Germany Freedom Award in 2009.

SANDERS: Let me just say this. What a president of the United States has got to do — and what is his or her major, I think, responsibility — is to, A, make certain that we keep our people safe, that we work with allies around the world to protect… … president of the United States has got to do, and what is his or her major, I think, responsibility, is to, A, make certain that we keep our people safe. That we work with allies around the world to protect democratic values. That we do all that we can to create a world of peace and prosperity. I voted against the war in Iraq because I listened very carefully to what President Bush and Vice President Cheney had to say and I didn’t believe them. And if you go to my Web site,berniesanders.com, what you find is not only going to help lead the opposition to that war, but much of what I feared would happen when I spoke on the floor of the House, in fact, did happen in terms of the instability that occurred. Now I think an area in kind of a vague way, or not so vague, where Secretary Clinton and I disagree is the area of regime change. Look, the truth is that a powerful nation like the United States, certainly working with our allies, we can overthrow dictators all over the world. And God only knows Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator. We could overthrow Assad tomorrow if we wanted to. We got rid of Gadhafi. But the point about foreign policy is not just to know that you can overthrow a terrible dictator, it’s to understand what happens the day after. And in Libya, for example, the United States, Secretary Clinton, as secretary of state, working with some other countries, did get rid of a terrible dictator named Gadhafi. But what happened is a political vacuum developed. ISIS came in, and now occupies significant territory in Libya, and is now prepared, unless we stop them, to have a terrorist foothold. But this is nothing new. This has gone on 50 or 60 years where the United States has been involved in overthrowing governments. Mossadegh back in 1953. Nobody knows who Mossadegh was, democratically-elected prime minister of Iran. He was overthrown by British and American interests because he threatened oil interests of the British. And as a result of that, the shah of Iran came in, terrible dictator. The result of that, you had the Iranian Revolution coming in, and that is where we are today. Unintended consequences. So I believe as president I will look very carefully about unintended consequences. I will do everything I can to make certain that the United States and our brave men and women in the military do not get bogged down in perpetual warfare in the Middle East. (APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: If I could just respond. Two points. One, Senator Sanders voted in 1998 on what I think is fair to call a regime change resolution with respect to Iraq, calling for the end of Saddam Hussein’s regime. He voted in favor of regime change with Libya, voted in favor of the Security Council being an active participate in setting the parameters for what we would do, which of course we followed through on. I do not believe a vote in 2002 is a plan to defeat ISIS in 2016. It’s very important we focus on the threats we face today, and that we understand the complicated and dangerous world we are in. When people go to vote in primaries or caucuses, they are voting not only for the president, they are voting for the commander-in- chief. And it’s important that people really look hard at what the threats and dangers we face are, and who is best prepared for dealing with them. As we all remember, Senator Obama, when he ran against me, was against the war in Iraq. And yet when he won, he turned to me, trusting my judgment, my experience, to become secretary of state. I was very honored to be asked to do that and very honored to serve with him those first four years. (APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Judy, if I can, there is no question, Secretary Clinton and I are friends, and I have a lot of respect for her, that she has enormous experience in foreign affairs. Secretary of state for four years. You’ve got a bit of experience, I would imagine. But judgment matters as well. Judgment matters as well. And she and I looked at the same evidence coming from the Bush administration regarding Iraq. I lead the opposition against it. She voted for it. But more importantly, in terms of this Libya resolution that you have noted before, this was a virtually unanimous consent. Everybody voted for it wanting to see Libya move toward democracy, of course we all wanted to do that.

SANDERS: That is very different than talking about specific action for regime change, which I did not support.

CLINTON: You did support a U.N. Security Council approach, which we did follow up on. And, look, I think it’s important to look at what the most important counterterrorism judgment of the first four years of the Obama administration was, and that was the very difficult decision as to whether or not to advise the president to go after bin Laden. I looked at the evidence. I looked at the intelligence. I got the briefings. I recommended that the president go forward. It was a hard choice. Not all of his top national security advisors agreed with that. And at the end of the day, it was the president’s decision. So he had to leave the Situation Room after hearing from the small group advising him and he had to make that decision. I’m proud that I gave him that advice. And I’m very grateful to the brave Navy SEALs who carried out that mission. (APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Judy, one area very briefly…

WOODRUFF: Just a final word.

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. (APPLAUSE) 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. (APPLAUSE)

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. (LAUGHTER) 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. (APPLAUSE) 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. (APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I find — I mean, it’s just a very different, you know, historical perspective here. Kissinger was one of those people during the Vietnam era who talked about the domino theory. Not everybody remembers that. You do. I do. The domino theory, you know, if Vietnam goes, China, da, da, da, da, da, da, da. That’s what he talked about, the great threat of China. And then, after the war, this is the guy who, in fact, yes, you’re right, he opened up relations with China, and now pushed various type of trade agreements, resulting in American workers losing their jobs as corporations moved to China. The terrible, authoritarian, Communist dictatorship he warned us about, now he’s urging companies to shut down and move to China. Not my kind of guy. (APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: Senator, let me — let me move on to another country with which the U.S. has a complicated relationship, Senator Sanders, and that’s Russia. On the one hand, we’re aware that Russia is a country that the United States needs to cooperate with.

WOODRUFF: Just tonight, Secretary of State John Kerry has announced what appears to be an agreement with the Russians to lead — that could lead toward a ceasefire in Syria, would be the first cessation of conflict in that country, in that civil war in five years, but it comes at a very high price, because not only have all — have we seen the deaths, the removal of so many people, millions of people, we now see the Russians in the last few weeks have bombed in a way that benefits President Assad, has not gone after ISIS. So my question to you is, when it comes to dealing with Russia, are you prepared — how hard are you prepared to be? Are you prepared to institute further economic sanctions? Would you be prepared to move militarily if Russia moves on Eastern Europe? It seems to me that Russia recently has gotten the better of the United States.

SANDERS: Well, this is what I would say. It is a complicated relationship. I congratulate Secretary of State John Kerry and the president for working on this agreement. As you’ve indicated, what is happening in Syria, the number of people, the hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed — men, women, 20,000 children, the people who are forced to flee their own country — their own country – – it is unspeakable. It is a real horror. Now, what I think is that right now we have got to do our best in developing positive relations with Russia. But let’s be clear: Russia’s aggressive actions in the Crimea and in Ukraine have brought about a situation where President Obama and NATO — correctly, I believe — are saying, you know what, we’re going to have to beef up our troop level in that part of the world to tell Putin that his aggressiveness is not going to go unmatched, that he is not going to get away with aggressive action. I happen to believe that Putin is doing what he is doing because his economy is increasingly in shambles and he’s trying to rally his people in support of him. But bottom line is: The president is right. We have to put more money. We have to work with NATO to protect Eastern Europe against any kind of Russian aggression.

SANDERS: Well, with respect to Syria, I really do appreciate the efforts that Secretary Kerry has made. The agreement on humanitarian relief now needs to be implemented, because there are enclaves that are literally filled with starving people throughout Syria. The agreement on a cease-fire, though, is something that has to be implemented more quickly than the schedule that the Russians agreed to. You know, the Russians wanted to buy time. Are they buying time to continue their bombardment on behalf of the Assad regime to further decimate what’s left of the opposition, which would be a grave disservice to any kind of eventual cease-fire? So I know Secretary Kerry is working extremely hard to try to move that cease- fire up as quickly as possible. But I would add this. You know, the Security Council finally got around to adopting a resolution. At the core of that resolution is an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva, which set forth a cease-fire and moving toward a political resolution, trying to bring the parties at stake in Syria together. This is incredibly complicated, because we’ve got Iran as a big player, in addition to Russia. We have Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others who have very important interests in their view. This is one of the areas I’ve disagreed with Senator Sanders on, who has called for Iranian troops trying to end civil war in Syria, which I think would be a grave mistake. Putting Iranian troops right on the border of the Golan right next to Israel would be a nonstarter for me. Trying to get Iran and Saudi Arabia to work together, as he has suggested in the past, is equally a nonstarter. So let’s support what Secretary Kerry and the president are doing, but let’s hope that we can accelerate the cease-fire, because I fear that the Russians will continue their bombing, try to do everything they can to destroy what’s left of the opposition. And remember, the Russians have not gone after ISIS or any of the other terrorist groups. So as we get a cease-fire and maybe some humanitarian corridors, that still leaves the terrorist groups on the doorstep of others in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and the like. So we’ve got some real work to do, and let’s try to make sure we actually implement what has been agreed to with the Russians. (APPLAUSE)

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