by Christopher Reilly
Henry Kissinger's dark past seems to be enclosing around him as various countries in South America
and Europe have sought to question him about actions taken by the Nixon and Ford
in which Kissinger was National Security Adviser and Secretary of State respectively.
The latest move to question Kissinger was by Peter Tatchell, a British human rights activist. While
Kissinger was speaking in Britain at the UK's Institute of Directors annual conference on April 24,
Tatchell attempted to have him arrested for committing war crimes under the Geneva Conventions
Judge Nicholas Evans at the Bow Street magistrates' court rejected Tatchell's request because
Tatchell did not present enough evidence implicating Kissinger to war crimes. However, according
to Tatchell, the judge left the door open for future attempts to arrest the former U.S. official if
suitable evidence is presented.
According to Tatchell's recent contribution to London's The Guardian, if he is able to "produce
stronger evidence of Kissinger's culpability in the killing, maiming, torture and forced relocation of
civilian populations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the late 60s and early 70s," then there is a
possibility an arrest warrant for Kissinger may be issued in the future.
Tatchell believes that Kissinger is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in Indo-china. Tatchell
mentions how the Nixon Administration dropped "nearly 4.5 million tons of high explosives on
Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos" ; an amount double that dropped during the entire Second World
Tatchell explains that much of the evidence against Kissinger and his role in Indochina is highlighted
in the book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, by Christopher Hitchens. According to Hitchens,
Kissinger approved bombing runs that resulted in widespread civilian casualties.
Kissinger was also responsible for the "premeditated, wholesale destruction of the environment using
chemical defoliants such as Agent Orange," as Tatchell wrote in The Guardian. "These are war
crimes under the 1957 Geneva Conventions Act."
Tatchell also mentions the comments made by United States General Telford Taylor, the former
chief prosecuting officer at the Nuremberg trials, who stated that the Kissinger-Nixon air strikes
against hamlets allegedly hiding Vietnamese guerrillas were "flagrant violations of the Geneva
convention on civilian protection."
Tatchell also points to freelance investigator Fred Branfman, who "secretly taped U.S. pilots on
bombing missions over Cambodia in the early 70s. At no point did any pilots check before or during
the raids that they were not bombing civilians. His expose that no precautions were taken to protect
civilians was later written up in the New York Times by Sydney Schanberg; offering compelling
evidence of the indiscriminate nature of U.S. aerial attacks."
Kissinger, who was aware of all these actions, has defended them by saying, "No one can say that
he served in an administration that did not make mistakes."
Kissinger seems to have forgotten that most
administrations are not responsible for tens of
thousands of dead innocents. According to Tatchell, 350,000 civilians in Laos and 600,000 in
Cambodia were killed during the U.S. bombardments. This does not even count the number of
civilians maimed or wounded due to the bombings and the threat of unexploded cluster bombs (yes,
this administration used them in conflict too).
Kissinger also failed to mention the Nixon
Administration's use of chemical defoliants and
pesticides, including Agent Orange, that have, according to Tatchell, "caused birth defects and
rendered significant areas of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia too toxic for people to live in or farm-
creating an environmental disaster that will continue to affect many generations to come."
However, Indochina is not the only area that Kissinger may have been involved in the killings of
thousands of innocents.
Earlier in the month of April, Judge Baltasar Garzon, of Spain, wanted to question Kissinger's
involvement in supporting Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet; a man responsible for human
rights abuses resulting in many deaths. Garzon's request was rejected.
And in 2001, Juan Guzman, a Chilean judge, submitted 30 questions to Kissinger about his
relationship with General Pinochet, to which Judge Guzman received no response.
Pinochet came into power after the CIA, with the know-ledge of Kissinger, conspired to overthrow
democratically elected leader Salvador Allende. A few months before Allende became president,
Kissinger made the famous statement on democracy, "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch
a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people." His remarks were later
reported in Newsweek and many other publications.
The attempt to keep Allende from power, due to his socialist beliefs, resulted in the assassination
of Rene Schneider, Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army. According to the U.S. Senate, the
CIA "decided to support and engineer the assassination of General Schneider in order to clear the
way for a coup."
The news report continues: "The CIA passed 'sterilized' machine guns, those without markings, along
with ammunition to conspirators on October 22 . Later that day, General Schneider,
Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army, was assassinated with the same weapons the CIA
supplied, according to the CIA's own admission to the United States Senate, published in April of
General Schneider's family members are now pressing to question Kissinger about his involvement
in this assassination. They filed a $3 million civil suit in Washing-ton last year against Kissinger
Richard Helms, former director of the CIA, and other Nixon officials also were implicated in the
Another well-publicized killing that Kissinger may have oversaw was the death of Charles Horman,
an American journalist living in Santiago during the coup against Allende.
As stated in the preceding news report: "According to Thomas Hauser's
'The Execution of Charles
Horman,' Horman was with several Americans on the day of the coup. Some of the Americans were
in the U.S. military and apparently they spilled too much information in a conversation about the
coup. According to Hauser, a retired naval engineer told Horman: 'We came down to do a job and
it's done.' "
The report continues: "A few days later the new military junta arrested Horman in his Santiago
home. He was never to be seen again."
Horman's family members have tried repeatedly to bring Kissinger and other Nixon officials to court
in order to find out what happened to the missing journalist.
Human rights lawyers in Chile have also filed complaints against Kissinger for his involvement in
the covert program of political repression known as Operation Condor.
This operation, according to the International Herald Tribune, included actions whereby "rightist
military dictatorships in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay coordinated efforts
throughout the 1970s to kidnap and kill hundreds of exiled political opponents"; apparently with the
support of the Nixon and Ford administrations.
Supporters of Kissinger have tried to excuse his actions by explaining that they must be looked at
in the light of the Cold War. This is an important point; however, even placing Kissinger's actions
in the context of the Cold War cannot excuse the death and destruction that he may have been
directly involved in.
Christopher Reilly writes for YellowTimes, April 29, 2002. He encourages your comments:
Le Duc Tho was a bloodthirsty killer. The person who can permit Tho to accomplish monstrous
war crimes in South Vietnam was Henry Kissinger. This one allowed Tho’s servicemen to stand
in South Vietnam preparing the final attack. Kissinger can take this decision alone because
president R. Nixon was floored down by the Watergate, a trap prepared by Kissinger‘s perfidious
collaborators. Henry Kissinger tried always to kill massively because of his bloodthirsty character.
He didn’t kill directly his victims, but he made millions people die by supplying his accomplice
killers opportunities and means in his power. “Kissinger made war gladly”.