I hope you choke on your birthday cake, Henry

Today is an evil birthday, a reminder that the universe is not fair and just.

Henry Kissinger is turning 100 this week, and his centennial is prompting assorted hosannas about perhaps the most influential American foreign policymaker of the 20th century. The Economist observed that “his ideas have been circling back into relevancy for the last quarter century.” The Times of London ran an appreciation: “Henry Kissinger at 100: What He Can Tell Us About the World.” Policy shops and think tanks have held conferences to mark this milestone. CBS News aired a mostly fawning interview veteran journalist Ted Koppel conducted with Kissinger that included merely a glancing reference to the ignoble and bloody episodes of his career. Kissinger is indeed a monumental figure who shaped much of the past 50 years. He brokered the US opening to China and pursued detente with the Soviet Union during his stints as President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser and secretary of state. Yet it is an insult to history that he is not equally known and regarded for his many acts of treachery—secret bombings, coup-plotting, supporting military juntas—that resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands.

The news, as usual, was sickening. Kissinger is generally treated as distinguished, honorable statesman, and his crimes are glossed over because, obviously, he’s a very old man and he’s celebrating a birthday. You don’t want to ruin his birthday, do you? (Yes, I do.) So the Washington Post runs a piece written by Kissinger’s son, David, that

tells us all about his secret for living so longa diet heavy on bratwurst and Wiener schnitzel, a career of relentlessly stressful decision-making, and a love of sports purely as a spectator, never a participant. He forgets never having a speck of empathy for others, and never ever facing the consequences of his decisions. He has seen some of those consequences, but they do not deter him.

As a refugee from Nazi Germany, he had lost 13 family members and countless friends to the Holocaust. He returned to his native Germany as an American soldier, participating in the liberation of the Ahlem concentration camp near Hannover. There, he witnessed the depths to which mankind can sink unconstrained by international structures of peace and justice. Next month, we will return to Fürth, where he will lay a wreath at the grave of his grandfather, who did not escape.

That’s so sad. If only the lesson he’d learned from his personal experience that murdering civilians is an evil act. At least the Intercept has a lengthy article on the civilian experience in Cambodia and Kissinger’s war crimes.

To Nixon and Kissinger, Cambodia was a sideshow: a tiny war waged in the shadow of the larger conflict in Vietnam and entirely subsumed to U.S. objectives there. To Cambodians on the front lines of the conflict — farming folk living hardscrabble lives — the war was a shock and a horror. At first, people were awed by the aircraft that began flying above their thatched-roof homes. They called Huey Cobra attack helicopters “lobster legs” for their skids, which resembled crustacean limbs, while small bubble-like Loaches became “coconut shells” in local parlance. But Cambodians quickly learned to fear the aircraft’s machine guns and rockets, the bombs of F-4 Phantoms, and the ground-shaking strikes of B-52s. Decades later, survivors still had little understanding of why they were attacked and why so many loved ones were maimed or killed. They had no idea that their suffering was due in large part to a man named Henry Kissinger and his failed schemes to achieve his boss’s promised “honorable end to the war in Vietnam” by expanding, escalating, and prolonging that conflict.

Kissinger doesn’t understand the meaning of “honor.” He’s a butcher who promoted the impersonal use of technology to lay waste to villages — he established an American tradition continued to this day, using drone strikes to wage bloody war with no clear idea how flattening farms and blowing up children will end a war.

Mother Jones summarizes Kissinger’s place in history.

It’s easy to cast Kissinger as a master geostrategist, an expert player in the game of nations. But do the math. Hundreds of thousands of dead in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and East Timor, perhaps a million in total. Tens of thousands dead in Argentina’s Dirty War. Thousands killed and tens of thousands tortured by the Chilean military dictatorship, and a democracy destroyed. His hands are drenched in blood.

Yet he will be feted today, and every simpering politician who praises this man is an accomplice.

I wish there were a grave that they could lay a wreath on, and that the rest of us could piss on.


  1. ethicsgradient says

    At least he’s occasionally been called out to his face by major broadcasters:

    “Mr Paxman initially disarmed his prey by showering him with flattery, calling him “the most famous diplomat of the last 30 years” and recalling that he was once voted most popular choice for a date in a poll of Playboy bunnies.

    He then moved in for the kill, accusing Dr Kissinger of trying to “rewrite history”, deriding his claim to have helped to end the Cold War and criticising America’s support for General Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator.

    When the conversation turned to Indo-China Dr Kissinger, who worked with Presidents Nixon and Ford, began to lose his famous cool.

    Noting that he received the Nobel peace prize for negotiating an Indo- Chinese settlement in 1973, Mr Paxman asked: “Was there any part of you that felt a fraud in accepting it?” “A what?” spluttered Dr Kissinger.

    Mr Paxman referred to a huge loss of life as a result of America’s subsequent bombing of Cambodia. Dr Kissinger said: “That’s absolutely untrue. There’s not the slightest evidence of tens of thousands of people being killed … this is absolutely outrageous nonsense.”

    When Mr Paxman called the bombing campaign “a secret operation against a neutral country”, Dr Kissinger lost his rag. “Come on, Mr Paxman, this is 15 years or more back, and you at least have the ability to educate yourself and not lie on your own programme,” he said. “You are accusing me of a lot of things here that are simply outrageous.”

    He answered two questions from Mr Robertson, then background noise indicated he was leaving the studio. “OK, bye Dr Kissinger,” Mr Paxman called out after him.”


  2. says

    Thank you PZ for reminding us of this anal sphincter of a person. I would be glad to help people stuff the cake down his evil, criminal throat to choke him.

  3. nomaduk says

    So many graves to piss on. Not sure I have the time or the bladder for them all. But Kissinger and Thatcher are at the top of my list.

  4. nomaduk says

    Also, Paxo is aces. It’ll be a shame when he finally leaves University Challenge at the end of this series.

  5. Jazzlet says

    Steve Bell is good at puncturing the pretentions of the suposedly virtuous, but actually vicious.

    Yeah, Paxman did good on that occasion, we really need his sort of interview to be the standard.

  6. KG says

    Nazi extermination camp guards are still being prosecuted in their late 90s. There’s still time.

  7. says

    “There, he witnessed the depths to which mankind can sink unconstrained by international structures of peace and justice.” and spent the rest of his unnatural life sinking to the same depths.

  8. anxionnat says

    This is personal for me. In 1971-72 school year, my girlfriend lived in a household that included the girlfriend of Frank Teruggi. Frank visited occasionally. He was a nice guy. In September 1973, Frank Teruggi and Charles Horman were two northamericans who were murdered by the golpistas in Chile. One faculty member at my university, who was one of my mentors, escaped the same fate only because he flew back to the US from Chile on September 6. So, yeah, I lost a friend to Henry Kissinger and his fascist buddies. In 1976, my best friend and her family were probably disappeared in Argentina, also by golpistas. I say “probably” because one of the horrible parts about somebody “disappearing” is you don’t know. So I lost another friend and her family to Henry Kissinger and his fascist cronies. Just a week ago, I was telling my account of the first 9/11 to one of my nieces, who’s 32. She’d never heard of the U.S.-sponsored coup in Chile, nor of the one in Argentina, nor did she know of the torture and disappearances that were carried out in both countries. But she had heard of Kissinger. She was shocked to hear me say that Kissinger is a war criminal who is responsible for the deaths and disappearances and tortures of so many–not just my friends. Kissinger learned zero from the deaths of his family members in concentration camps–except maybe that it would be a good idea to get the power to do the same to others. Like to people I mourn to this day. And, no, I’m not the sort who forgives people like Kissinger for the atrocities they are responsible for. Not when it’s personal.

  9. raven says

    This is personal for me.

    I know how that goes.
    I knew people who were killed in Vietnam.
    I knew people who came back from Vietnam and were never the same again.

    My friend’s father was killed in Vietnam.
    Her mother was pregnant at the time.
    She really went downhill and never recovered. Her youngest daughter was raised by the older children and other relatives and never had a stable upbringing. That worked as well as you could expect as she ended up struggling as an adult.

    Two of my friends were also killed in Iraq. Thanks Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    Getting Cambodia dragged into the war opened the road for Khmer Rouge, who murdered one and a half milliion people.
    And once the Vietnamese drove out Khmer Rouge Ronald Reagan gave the mass murderers diplomatic support in UN.
    Getting Laos dragged into the war eventually lead to the communists taking over there, too.
    And CIA financed that part of the war with heroin smuggling.
    Every time you think American politicians cannot get worse, they will surprise you.

  11. nomdeplume says

    One of the most evil man of the last 100 years – against stiff competition. Millions dead, injured, poisoned, tortured, imprisoned in South America and SE Asia, and all for the crime of having, or trying to have, left wing governments, or trying to free themseleves from American hegemony, and attempting to reduce American corporations from stealing their economic wealth. The evil that man did will live long after him.

  12. hemidactylus says

    And yet his rival Zbig, the founder of the Bilderberg offshoot Trilateral Commission, Jimmy Carter’s mentor, and father-in-law of MSNBC pundit Joe Scarborough is dead. Love me some technocrats.

  13. says

    Christopher Hitchens’ 2001 book ‘The Trial of Henry Kissinger’ is a thorough take down
    to be sure we now know even more about Kissinger’s crimes. Here is one of the shorter videos of Hitchens discussing Kissinger:

    If you want more, just search for ‘Hitchens Kissinger’ in YouTube.

    Kissinger is a monster.

  14. says

    It’s easy to cast Kissinger as a master geostrategist, an expert player in the game of nations.

    It’s much easier to case him as a dime-store Machiavelli whom the Republicans brought on just to pretend they had a strategic genius thinker on their team. And while he may not have played “the game of nations” nearly as expertly as he likes to pretend, he sure as Hell played both Nixon and the US “news” media to astounding effect, and great benefit to himself.