I spent two hours last night, May 31, 2011, protesting Henry Kissinger’s appearance at the 92nd St. Y in New York City.
Kissinger was hawking his new, 600-page book on American Chinese relations and in which he assuredly buffs, revises and rationalizes his lengthy and deadly role in global history.
“Hawking” is the right verb for the aged but dangerous Mr. Kissinger.
There were about 60 of us. We caused a bit of a stir on a refreshingly mild and busy Tuesday evening as the pedestrian and vehicular traffic streamed along Lexington Avenue.
I held a sign that read “ARREST KISSINGER” and wore the small square orange pin “IMPEACH THE WAR CRIMINALS” that the back flap of my knapsack usually sports.
Some of our protesting chants decried Kissinger as a war criminal. Some chants decried the 92nd St. Y for enabling him with their celebrity speaker’s forum.
I am old enough to have demonstrated against Kissinger and his international war criminal cronies during the Vietnam War era. As did another then-idealistic boomer, ambitious college woman Hillary Rodham. She has certainly changed her tune about Kissinger, now as Secretary of State and a colluding crony of Kissinger’s original playbook of American hegemony. Secretary Clinton, full-out participant in an administration that uses the same deranged “bomb the shit out of countries” M-O, defying their sovereignty and the safety of civilians all for global control and resources. An administration willing to unleash the deadly military industrial security complex KILLING MACHINE to satisfy its “addicted to killing for profit” realpolitik group-think, enabled by the jingoism-spinning, ever-disinforming, corporate media.
So 40-plus years later, I am demonstrating against Kissinger again.
He is the biggest and oldest living war criminal.
Only now, with heartbreakingly far fewer Americans who are even conscious of, let alone willing, to protest the dark and powerful impact of his theories of relentless and amoral global military gamesmanship.
In a September 2010 article on Kissinger, Fred Branfman asserts that Kissinger’s mistake in Vietnam echoes the same mistake of the Obama/Petraeus policy in Afghanistan, enabling a corrupt and unpopular government that couldn’t stand on its own.
Kissinger and his presidents Ford (Kissinger was Secretary of State) and Nixon (Kissinger was National Security Advisor), not Congress as Kissinger still maintains, brought about the fall of Saigon. Kissinger’s official reign in Washington lasted from 1969 to 1975.
Branfman asserts that Kissinger prolonged America war-making to such inhumane lengths that by the time Saigon fell, 20,853 Americans had been killed and 8 million murdered, maimed or homeless war victims in the Far East had been created. Almost as many Indochinese war victims under Nixon-Kissinger’s oversight as during Lyndon Johnson during his reign.
In 1969 Averill Harriman, Clark Clifford and Cyrus Vance led those pressing for negotiations with the North Vietnamese. The US could have ended the war then with more dignity and saved countless — COUNTLESS — lives.
Instead, the war ended in 1975, six long years later. Kissinger violated the U.S. Constitution by secretly bombing Cambodia and Laos without the authorization of Congress. Kissinger’s representatives regularly perjured themselves before Congress.
“Kissinger orchestrated the most massive bombing in world history, dropping 3,984,563 million tons on an area inhabited by some 50 million people, twice the 2 million tons dropped on hundreds of millions through Europe and the Pacific in World War II. He dropped 1.6 million tons on South Vietnam, as many as Lyndon Johnson at the height of U.S. involvement; quadrupled the bombing of Laos, from 454,200 to 1,628,900 million tons; initiated widespread bombing of previously peaceful Cambodia, including B52 carpet bombing of undefended villages, for a total of 600,000-1 million tons; and vastly expanded the bombing of civilian targets in North Vietnam. Much of this bombing struck civilian targets throughout Indochina.
“… Two million people in Khmer Rouge zones, as estimated by the U.S. Embassy, were driven underground by massive U.S. bombing that featured regular B52 carpet-bombing of undefended villages.”
In North Vietnam, Kissinger conducted the most savage B52 bombing of urban targets in history, as the New York Times reported in 1972: “United States military leaders are being permitted to wage the air war as they want in Indochina. There appears to be less concern with the civilians this time in view of the freedom given the air commanders and the attempt to cut off food, clothing and medical supplies.”
Human lives, even American soldiers’ lives, obviously had little priority in Kissinger’s arrogant sense of illegitimate patriarchal colonialism.
I was relieved that there were not more of the hard-faced police present at our demonstration. They were dressed in regular blue uniforms. No intimidating “Star Wars” paramilitary gear. I remembered how alarming it was when paramilitaries with AK-47s turned up at the front of the 92nd St. Y during that year after the 9/11 attack. So many NYC institutions put in scanning devices and set up vigilant security entry rituals.
Before I arrived at the demonstration, the cops apparently had attempted to move the protest area across the street in front of Dunkin’ Donuts, but the protesters held their permit-legal mid-block ground.
I hadn’t known what to expect as I hastened to the demonstration. These are unpredictable times. There were recent YouTube videos of the hard-armed police force on a flash mob event at the Jefferson Memorial, or a paramilitary force’s over-reaction and rough treatment of Daniel Ellsberg, Retired Lt. Col. Ann Wright and other demonstrators for Bradley Manning which had been chilling and worrisome. Apparently, their assembling to protest the denial of Manning’s due process, his enforced-nudity ritualized torture and, the seemingly huge trigger, their wanting to lay commemorative flowers on a public-accessible Iwo Jima statue at the entrance of Quantico were too great threats for our nation’s security.
It seems whistleblowers and protesting people of conscience are now regarded as true domestic enemies of the Obama state – we the people who call out criminality happening in the corporate or military worlds (a/k/a accountability-free zones), thanks to this and the last president and the corporate-captured U.S. Congress and media.
Daniel Ellsberg, once heralded as the most feared man in America by Frontline, now ignored by the corporate media. Even or especially when roughed up by overzealous US paramilitary police.
Then there is the lionization, coddling and uber-security by both the media and the police state extended to the supercilious Henry Kissinger, who has the blood of millions on his hands. Kissinger, about to rake in millions of dollars for a book of his pseudo-wisdom. One would never know that there exist international arrest warrants from France and Spain for Kissinger for war crimes during the US-enabled coup d’état in Chile in 1973, overturning a democratically elected President Allende.
Most people driving by looked rather blankly on the bunch of us demonstrators. Once in a while a foreign-looking cab driver honked at us and nodded, which made a fellow protester remark that most of the foreign cabbies undoubtedly knew first-hand the devastating power of Henry Kissinger on their homelands.
No longer an automobile driver since settling in Manhattan, it was novel for me to take serious notice of the cars passing. So many were upscale. There seemed a lot of limos mixed with the yellow taxis and buses. I assumed one of those limos had recently left off Mr. Kissinger at a side entrance down E. 92nd St.
I thought of the cost in human lives to empower all those cars whizzing by with gasoline. How irrelevant or unconsidered that was to the vast majority of their owners or passengers. Dots that never get connected by us citizen benefactors of US hegemony.
When I moved nearer to the sidewalk to hold up my sign to the pedestrians, I found it hard to discern which of them might soon turn right up the steps into the 92nd St. Y. Most people looked confused or deliberately dog-faced blank as they passed us (the New York standard-operating-posture, unless one is on a cell-phone in his or her own little animated orbit). A few faces were clearly annoyed and contemptuous of our existence. Not many nods or thumbs up. Especially among the young people. One protester implored the younger pedestrians to google Kissinger and read about his history.
The corporate media treats and has always treated Kissinger with such reverence. He was even considered a sex symbol in his prime. All that power and arrogance. Rank and age apparently have their privilege and have given him even more cachet thanks to the obsequious anointers and enablers of political celebrity, such as Charlie Rose and David Gregory. As Gore Vidal once said, “We are the United States of Amnesia.” The overblown funeral accolades for Ronald Reagan certainly intensified media’s putting celebrity over reality and integrity.
Kissinger had been on Charlie Rose the day before to discuss the new book. Charlie could have used a drool towel.
Kissinger, one more aging American daddy “bastard of the universe”. Incidentally, another war-mongering Nobel Peace Prize winner. Tom Lehrer, the brilliant, comic parodist/performer, once said, “When Kissinger won the Nobel peace prize, satire died.”
As with Alan Greenspan and so many other long-time, faux-paternal mass betrayers, the corporate media refuses to acknowledge not only grotesque amorality but massive failure. Most of the American citizenry trust said media.
“Are we smarter than fifth graders” the tv show title inquired? I say no.
Once again in America, sociopathic, ego-maniacal abusers are celebrated and rewarded. The Constitution-defending and the moral are degraded, ignored and/or punished.
Sadly, it’s now the American way.