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Henry Kissinger's quote recently released by Wikileaks,"the illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer", likely brought a smile to his legions of elite media, government, corporate and high society admirers. Oh that Henry! That rapier wit! That trademark insouciance! That naughtiness! It is unlikely, however, that the descendants of his more than 6 million victims in Indochina, and Americans of conscience appalled by his murder of non-Americans, will share in the amusement. For his illegal and unconstitutional actions had real-world consequences: the ruined lives of millions of Indochinese innocents in a new form of secret, automated, amoral U.S. Executive warfare which haunts the world until today.
And his conduct raises even more fundamental questions: to what extent can leaders who act secretly ,illegally and unconstitutionally, lying to their citizenry and legislature as a matter of course, legitimately claim to represent their people? How much allegiance do citizens owe such leaders? And what does it say about America's elites that they have honored a man with so much innocent blood on his hands for the past 40 years?
Mr. Kissinger's most significant historical act was executing Richard Nixon's orders to conduct the most massive bombing campaign, largely of civilian targets, in world history. He dropped 3.7 million tons of bombs** between January 1969 and January 1973 - nearly twice the two million dropped on all of Europe and the Pacific in World War II. He secretly and illegally devastated villages throughout areas of Cambodia inhabited by a U.S. Embassy-estimated two million people; quadrupled the bombing of Laos and laid waste to the 700-year old civilization on the Plain of Jars; and struck civilian targets throughout North Vietnam - Haiphong harbor, dikes, cities, Bach Mai Hospital - which even Lyndon Johnson had avoided. His aerial slaughter helped kill, wound or make homeless an officially-estimated six million human beings**, mostly civilians who posed no threat whatsoever to U.S. national security and had committed no offense against it.
There is a word for the aerial mass murder that Henry Kissinger committed in Indochina, and that word is "evil". The figure most identified with this word today is Adolph Hitler, and his evil was so unspeakable that the term is by now identified with him. But that is precisely why it is important to understand the new face of evil and moral depravity that Henry Kissinger represents. For evil not only comes in the form of madmen dreaming of 1000 year Reichs. In fact, in our day, it is more likely to be committed by sane, genial and ordinary careerists waging invisible automated war in far-off lands against people whose screams we never hear, whose faces we never see, and whose deaths go unrecorded and unnoticed. It is critical to understand this new face of evil, for it threatens not only countless foreigners but Americans in coming years. And no one has embodied it more than Henry Kissinger.
The planes he dispatched came by day. They came by night. Remorseless. Pitiless. Relentless. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Most of the people below had no idea where the bombers came from, why their lives had been turned into a living hell. The movie "War of the Worlds", in which Americans are incomprehensibly slaughtered by machines is the closest depiction of what the innocent rice-farmers of Indochina experienced.
Hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were forced to live in holes and caves, like animals. Many tens of thousands were burned alive by the bombs, slowly dying in agony. Others were buried alive, as they gradually suffocated to death when a 500 pound bomb exploded nearby. Most were victims of antipersonnel bombs designed primarily to maim not kill, many of the survivors carrying the metal, jagged or plastic pellets in their bodies for the rest of their lives.
Fathers like 38-year old Thao Vong were suddenly blinded or crippled for life as they lost an arm or leg, made helpless, unable to support their families, becoming dependent on others just to stay alive. Children were struck, lying out in the open, screaming, villagers unable to come to their aid for fear of being killed themselves. No one was spared - neither sweet, loving grandmothers nor lovely young women, neither laughing, innocent children nor nursing or pregnant mothers, not water buffalo needed to farm not the shrines where people had for centuries honored their ancestors and hoped one day to be honored themselves.
A farmer on the Plain of Jars in northern Laos wrote of being bombed by the U.S. in 1969 that "every day and every night the planes came to drop bombs on us. We lived in holes to protect our lives. I saw my cousin die in the field of death. My heart was most disturbed and my voice called out loudly as I ran to the houses. Thus, I saw life and death for the people on account of the war of many airplanes in the region of the Plain of Jars. Until there were no houses at all. And the cows and buffalo were dead. Until everything was leveled and you could see only the red, red ground."
A 30-year old mother wrote that "at that time, our lives became like those of animals desperately trying to escape their hunters. Our lives were confided to the Lord Buddha. No matter when, all we did was to pray to the Lord to save our lives."
A 39 year old rice-farmer wrote of the aftermath of a bombing raid: "The other villagers and I got together to consider this thing. We hadn't done anything, nor harmed anyone. We had raised our crops, celebrated the festivals and maintained our homes for many years. Why did the planes drop bombs on us, impoverishing us this way?"
Mr. Kissinger exulted to President Nixon over this bombing, telling him that "it's wave after wave of planes. You see, they can't see the B-52 and they dropped a million pounds of bombs ... I bet you we will have had more planes over there in one day than Johnson had in a month ... each plane can carry about 10 times the load of World War II plane could carry."
Although Mr. Kissinger claimed he was only bombing enemy troops, guerrilla soldiers were largely undetectable from the air. Investigating the bombing of northern Laos, the U.S. Senate Refugee Subcommittee concluded that "the United States has undertaken a large-scale air war over Laos to destroy the physical and social infra -structure in Pathet Lao (i.e., guerrilla) areas. Throughout all this there has been a policy of secrecy. The bombing has taken and is taking a heavy toll among civilians." These words apply to Mr. Kissinger's bombing throughout Indochina. The villagers of Indochina were not "collateral damage". They were the target.
Those who praise Mr. Kissinger for the opening to China but ignore his mass murder in Indochina shame human decency itself. By honoring Mr. Kissinger they dishonor themselves. And they are also blind to the careerist "Executive Branch mentality" he embodied, which poses a clear and present a danger to foreigners and Americans alike today. Adolph Hitler dreamed of conquering and Stalin of communizing the world. Mr. Kissinger destroyed millions of lives primarily to further his career by preventing a communist takeover while he held office. And it is this kind of institutional, bureaucratic mentality, combined with new machines of secret war, which threatens the humanity today far more than the crazed ideologies of the past.
In the end Mr. Kissinger failed, as the communists took over Indochina in the spring of 1975. The Thieu, Lon Nol and Royal Lao government regimes, which Mr. Kissinger propped up with so many tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars, evaporated. The genocidal Khmer Rouge took over in Cambodia, which would not have occurred had Mr. Kissinger supported the neutralist Sihanouk and not illegally invaded Cambodia. But though Mr. Kissinger failed miserably in Indochina, he did in the end succeed in his principal goal. He emerged from the wreckage of Indochina with his reputation intact.
Even critics of Mr. Kissinger tend to use euphemisms about his actions for fear of losing their "credibility." But facts are facts. The truth is the truth, and euphemisms obscure it. It is a matter of fact not rhetoric that Mr. Kissinger bears a major responsibility for murdering masses of people in Indochina. He is a mass murderer.
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