Henry Kissinger finally dies

The war criminal and terrible person has died at the age of 100. In general, I do not feel glad at the death of anyone but I will make an exception in this case. When I heard the news this morning, my reaction was “Finally!”.

Kissinger had a great deal of influence on policies that caused immense harm and suffering to millions of people all around the world. His winning of the Nobel Peace Prize, for arriving at a deal that began the process of the US disengaging from the fighting in Vietnam, was an utter disgrace since his policies had created much of the carnage in the country in the first place. He was part of repeated American interference in Latin America, especially Chile, where he supported the coup that overthrew the democratically elected president Salvador Allende and put in power the murderous General Pinochet. People are less aware of his role in enabling Indonesian leader General Suharto unleash a bloody massacre in East Timor. and he suffered absolutely no consequences for any of these because he did it to advance American interests.

David Corn summarizes his bloody legacy in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Chile, East Timor, and Argentina.

Kissinger was routinely lambasted by his critics as a “war criminal,” though has never been held accountable for his misdeeds. He made millions as a consultant, author, and commentator in the decades since he left government. I once heard of a Manhattan cocktail reception where he scoffed at the “war criminal” label and referred to it almost as a badge of honor.

There were no apologies from Kissinger. But the rest of us will owe history—and the thousands dead because of his diplomatic scheming—an apology, if we do not consider the man in full. Whatever his accomplishments, his legacy includes an enormous pile of corpses. 

As Nick Turse writes:

Kissinger helped prolong the Vietnam War and expand that conflict into neutral Cambodia; facilitated genocides in Cambodia, East Timor, and Bangladesh; accelerated civil wars in southern Africa; and supported coups and death squads throughout Latin America. He had the blood of at least 3 million people on his hands, according to his biographer Greg Grandin. 

There were “few people who have had a hand in as much death and destruction, as much human suffering, in so many places around the world as Henry Kissinger,” said veteran war crimes prosecutor Reed Brody.

A 2023 investigation by The Intercept found that Kissinger — perhaps the most powerful national security adviser in American history and the chief architect of U.S. war policy in Southeast Asia from 1969 to 1975 — was responsible for more civilian deaths in Cambodia than was previously known, according to an exclusive archive of U.S. military documents and interviews with Cambodian survivors and American witnesses.

Kissinger’s diplomacy also stoked a war in Angola and prolonged apartheid in South Africa. In the Middle East, he sold out the Kurds in Iraq and, wrote Grandin, “left that region in chaos, setting the stage for crises that continue to afflict humanity.”

Kissinger ducked questions about the bombing of Cambodia, muddied the truth in public comments, and spent half his life lying about his role in the killings there.

“Much of the world considered Kissinger to be a war criminal, but who would have dared put the handcuffs on an American secretary of state?” asked Brody, who brought historic legal cases against Pinochet, Chadian dictator Hissène Habré, and others. “Kissinger was not once even questioned by a court about any of his alleged crimes, much less prosecuted.”

But do not expect the mainstream media to pay much attention to his crimes. They will mention in passing some of the atrocities he was responsible for while showering him with praise from all the political establishment figures. Kissinger is fully deserving of The Eulogy Song that parodies how terrible people get praised after they die.


  1. says

    I also heard that Shane McGowan, formerly of the Pogues, has died. The way I see it, Shane had to follow Kissinger down to the gates of Hell, to rough him up a bit himself before letting him into Satan’s care.

  2. fledanow says

    I agree fully with the criticisms of Kissinger and his vicious legacy. I abhor the eulogy song’s utterly lazy and nasty misogynistic and racist criticism of Princess Diana for being a woman who (gasp) had sex and (Ooh! Yuk!) with an (horrors) Arab.

  3. billseymour says

    But do not expect the mainstream media to pay much attention to his crimes.

    And coming as no surprise at all, Andrea Mitchell had a puff piece on NBC’s Today this morning.  In the whole story, I heard only one throwaway sentence that went something like, “Some people consider him a war criminal because of the bombing of Cambodia.”  No mention of ‘Nam, Chile, the list goes on and on.

  4. says

    The good thing is that there are many outlets (granted, not the majors) that laid out the bloody truth of the man. There is no shortage of coverage of him as a monster who never had to pay the price for his deeds.

  5. xohjoh2n says

    Certainly everyone around here seems to be delighted that he lived a far longer and happier life than they are likely to do, without ever having to face any comeuppance or express any regret.

  6. Myra Greenwood says

    The song is completely wrong about John Lennon. His wife, Ono works for peace every single day and John’s songs are way better than Paul’s.

  7. billseymour says

    Andrea Mitchell again on NBC Nightly News.  This time there were more details about Cambodia and how he announced the end of the Vietnam war before the election when it wasn’t true, but still no mention of any of his other atrocities.  There was a brief mention of how some Nobel Peace Prize judges resigned after Kissinger got the award.

    PBS Newshour was lengthier and more balanced.  Unfortunately, I was interrupted and didn’t catch the whole thing.  They mentioned Chile at the end along with the massachre of about forth thousand persons.

  8. sonofrojblake says

    Don’t know if it’s just my choice of media, but I’ve seen WAY more comment and coverage of Shane McGowan’s death than Kissinger’s.
    Agree with fledanow@2 -- Diana was NOT an appropriate target for that song. I mean -- I didn’t like her, she was a toff, an evidently rather dull-witted posho who never had to do a day’s work in her life of barely-imaginable luxury. Equally, however, she was clearly a victim of one of the 20th century’s worst, most public stitch-ups and never (unless I missed something?) did anyone any actual harm -- she couldn’t help being posh. To lump her in with war criminals and child abusers is egregiously horrible and LAZY.

  9. says

    Hitchens book “The Trial of Henry Kissinger” was quite a good book-length bashing.

    Come to think of it, Hitch missed a trick: he should have included a pre-written obituary as a sort of cribsheet for lazy journalists. He probably never imagined Kissinger outliving him by so long, and anticipated writing the obit in real time. At least nobody asked Kissinger to write an obit for Hitch, but, sadly, because he was beneath Kissinger’s nitice.

  10. says

    Maybe it’s because I no longer spend time on Twitter, but I’ve seen none of the usual scolding that comes when people are celebrating a vile monster’s death.

  11. says

    Tabby: I’m sure there’s plenty of such scolding, and worse, directed at us from right-wing outlets…the ones that even mention Kissinger at all, anyway.

    And that latter point may be part of the rub here: I think quite a few Republicans understand that it’s not really in their interest to mention Kissinger, or to say anything to remind people of what he actually did way back when. Just bury him, let the dumbest noobs pipe up with the old zombie-blither-points, and hope no one spends too much time arguing with their dumbest noobs about him.

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