Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin offers a scathing eulogy to a man who wrought havoc on countless countries and peoples across the globe. Whose scars are still borne by the global South and whose passing must inspire us to fight every future Kissinger that may burden the Earth with imperialism in the name of capital.
“Only the good die young”, sang Billy Joel back in 1977, the same year Henry Kissinger was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President Gerald Ford. Decades later, at the age of 100, Kissinger has shuffled off this earth. In his case, not only did he not die young, but he also never faced prosecution or consequence for the evil he inflicted on millions of people around the world. Nevertheless, the planet is a better place without him.
Kissinger entered office along with President Richard Nixon in 1969 at a time when the US was in a deep political crisis. It was losing the war in Vietnam and facing increasing opposition at home. Fearing that the US would look weak if they pulled their troops out of VIetnam, Kissinger and Nixon escalated the war instead and began bombing neighbouring Laos and Cambodia. The bombing of Cambodia was particularly monstrous – the US dropped more than 25,000 bombs, killing more than 500,000 people. Kissinger hid the bombing campaign from the US Congress as he thought they would oppose it.
Further carpet bombing of North Vietnam was instigated by Kissinger in 1972. Finally, in 1973, a ceasefire was agreed after a 17-year long war that claimed the lives of two million Vietnamese civilians and 58,000 US soldiers. For this, Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize, despite being drenched in the blood of Vietnamese, Cambodian Laotian people.
In Chile, Kissinger played a similarly destructive role. Having failed to prevent the self-proclaimed Marxist Salvador Allende from gaining power in 1970, Kissinger set about destabilising his government through a combination of support for the right-wing opposition, economic warfare, and infiltration of the armed forces. Over the course of a three-year period, Kissinger worked with the Chilean right to create the conditions for the overthrow of Allende in a bloody coup, led by General Pinochet. Hundreds of people were murdered in this coup. Many more were detained and tortured, and tens of thousands more were either killed or disappeared by the regime during its reign.
Over the course of his time in politics there was hardly a dictator that Kissinger didn’t back, as long as they were supportive of US interests. In what is now Bangladesh, Bengali nationalists won an election in East Pakistan in 1970, threatening stability in West Pakistan. Kissinger and Nixon backed the military government of West Pakistan as it murdered between 300,000 and 3 million people.
In 1975 he gave greenlight to Indonesia’s President Suharto to invade East Timor, telling the president, “it is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly”. Suharto invaded East Timor the next day, killing 200,000 East Timorese.
Likewise, in Argentina, he supported the military dictatorship which overthrew President Isabel Perón in 1976. Under the dictator Videla’s reign, over 30,000 people were disappeared, but Kissinger had nothing but praise for him in his fight against “terrorism” during a visit in 1978.
These are just some of the litany of war crimes and horrors Henry Kissinger was responsible for – vicious crimes of empire that he was never prosecuted for. Instead, he is eulogised by the Western establishment, including fellow war criminals like Tony Blair, who has already declared:
“I consider it one of the greatest privileges of my political life to have known him. From the first moment of meeting him to the last, he inspired me and taught me and I will be forever grateful to him”.
Kissinger’s death comes at a time when global support for US “leadership” of the world is at an all time low, when US President Biden continues to give carte blanche to Israel is it carries out a genocide against the Palestinians. May the Palestinian resistance and the global solidarity movement continue to rise over the coming months and years and dig the grave of empires the world over.
Only then can we be sure that we will see no more Henry Kissingers.