The Nixon tapes remind us what a vile creature Henry Kissinger is.

A wartime lexicon.
Dec. 13 2010 11:28 AM

How Can Anyone Defend Kissinger Now?

The Nixon tapes remind us what a vile creature Henry Kissinger is.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Click image to expand.
Henry Kissinger

Over the last few weeks, this modest little column of mine has been acquiring an almost eerie prescience and potency. I called for the death sentence on Tariq Aziz to be commuted, and it was only a matter of days before the president of Iraq announced that he would not sign Aziz's death warrant. I called for Julian Assange to turn himself in, and he appeared at a London police station within hours of my words being published. Small stuff, you say. Show us something with a bit more heft and handle to it. All right, how's this? In my column of Nov. 15, I denounced the shameful offer made by the Obama administration to the Netanyahu Cabinet in Israel and called for it to be withdrawn. And last week, in a wretched and furtive manner that befitted its original taint of bribery and corruption, withdrawn it was. How do you like that?

Christopher Hitchens Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author, most recently, of Arguably, a collection of essays.

One of my main points in that article was the extent to which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was dependent on a coalition that gave important portfolios to political parties with insane ideologies. I instanced Israel Beitenu, the ultra-chauvinist group led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and the religiously orthodox Shas Party, under the spiritual leadership of deranged Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. "Fringe" though they might be, members of such groups hold key ministries, including the ones that dominate the "settlement" process. Since I last wrote about him, Rabbi Yosef has again been to the fore, blaming the calamitous forest fires in northern Israel on the failure of Jews to observe the Sabbath in the proper way. And the country's interior minister, a Shas member named Eli Yishai, has rejected offers of firefighting equipment from Christian organizations, lest they use the opportunity to seduce Jews away to the worship of the Nazarene.

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Men with this mentality were offered $3 billion worth of American aid, plus a full range of diplomatic support, in exchange for a one-month suspension of settlement-building, this nonfreeze not even to include Jerusalem! And they rejected it as not good enough. It is difficult to say which is the worse national humiliation for the United States: the degraded initial offer or its contemptuous refusal. So I was thinking of demanding that the squalid bargain not be offered again. And then I decided that this would be a waste of a wish or a duplicate of a demand. So, while I am on a roll …

Here's what should now happen, and let's see if it does. Henry Kissinger should have the door shut in his face by every decent person and should be shamed, ostracized, and excluded. No more dinners in his honor; no more respectful audiences for his absurdly overpriced public appearances; no more smirking photographs with hostesses and celebrities; no more soliciting of his worthless opinions by sycophantic editors and producers. One could have demanded this at almost any time during the years since his role as the only unindicted conspirator in the Nixon/Watergate gang, and since the exposure of his war crimes and crimes against humanity in Indochina, Chile, Argentina, Cyprus, East Timor, and several other places. But the latest revelations from the Nixon Library might perhaps turn the scale at last. (Click here to listen to the conversation; the offending section begins at 13:56.)

Chatting eagerly with his famously racist and foul-mouthed boss in March 1973, following an appeal from Golda Meir to press Moscow to allow the emigration of Soviet Jewry, Kissinger is heard on the tapes to say:

The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.

(One has to love that uneasy afterthought …)

In the past, Kissinger has defended his role as enabler to Nixon's psychopathic bigotry, saying that he acted as a restraining influence on his boss by playing along and making soothing remarks. This can now go straight into the lavatory pan, along with his other hysterical lies. Obsessed as he was with the Jews, Nixon never came close to saying that he'd be indifferent to a replay of Auschwitz. For this, Kissinger deserves sole recognition.

It's hard to know how to classify this observation in the taxonomy of obscenity. Should it be counted as tactical Holocaust pre-denial? That would be too mild. It's actually a bit more like advance permission for another Holocaust. Which is why I wonder how long the official spokesmen of American Jewry are going to keep so quiet. Nothing remotely as revolting as this was ever uttered by Jesse Jackson or even Mel Gibson, to name only two famous targets of the wrath of the Anti-Defamation League. Where is the outrage? Is Kissinger—normally beseeched for comments on subjects about which he knows little or nothing—going to be able to sit out requests from the media that he clarify this statement? Does he get to keep his op-ed perch in reputable newspapers with nothing said? Will the publishers of his mendacious and purloined memoirs continue to give him expensive lunches as if nothing has happened?

After I published my book calling for his indictment, many of Kissinger's apologists said that, rough though his methods might have been, they were at least directed at defeating Communism. I never quite saw how the genocide in East Timor, say, had any effect in eroding the Berlin Wall. But I also pointed out that Kissinger did many favors for the heirs of Stalin and Mao: telling President Gerald Ford not to invite Alexander Solzhenitsyn to the White House, for example, and making lavish excuses for the massacre in Tiananmen Square. He is that rare and foul beast, a man whose record shows sympathy for communism and fascism. It comes from a natural hatred of the democratic process, which he has done so much to subvert and undermine at home and abroad, and an instinctive affection for totalitarians of all stripes. True, full membership in this bestiary probably necessitates that you say something at least vicariously approving about the Final Solution. What's striking about the Nixon tapes is that they show Kissinger managing this ugly feat without anyone even asking him. May my seasonal call be heeded: Let this character at last be treated like the reeking piece of ordure that he is.

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