Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you were looking for some escape from the daily grind on a gorgeous spring evening. Some Torontonians might want to go hear a real live accused war criminal, who’s been invited to town shortly. Or let’s say you decided to relax by making a list of some of the more notorious crimes against humanity of the past several decades, as we enjoy doing in my family. You’d likely include the following:
The American war against Vietnam, the Pakistani massacre of Bengalis in 1971 ( an estimated 1.5 million killed), the operations of the Shah of Iran’s secret police, the brutal Pinochet years in Chile, the secret U.S. bombing of Cambodia that made possible the Khmer Rouge’s genocidal killing fields (1.5 to 2 million dead), the bloody 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus (an estimated 150 ,000 refugees), the betrayal of the Kurds in 1974-75 , the Indonesian slaughter of some 100 ,000 East Timorese, the war against the government of Angola, the entrenchment of apartheid in South Africa. No one will ever know how many millions of ordinary citizens were killed, maimed, tortured, brutalized or displaced in these merciless operations. A U.S. Senate subcommittee on refugees estimated that more than three million civilians were killed, injured or rendered homeless in Southeast Asia alone from 1969 to 1975. And we do know this: By a curious coincidence, all of these horror stories have in common the very man who’s soon coming to Toronto, Dr. Henry Kissinger ( somehow the only PhD in the world who’s regularly called Dr.). As Richard Nixon’s national security adviser and both Mr. Nixon and Gerald Ford’s secretary of state, Dr. Kissinger enabled or endorsed every one of them. Readers should know that this statement is really quite uncontroversial. The sources are multiple and well-documented, and include Christopher Hitchens’s book The Trial of Henry Kissinger , which explicitly accuses him of being a war criminal. But my main source is far more anodyne than Mr. Hitchens, the provocateur. It’s the 1992 best- selling biography Kissinger by Walter Isaacson, an ultra- establishment American then running Time magazine. Besides Dr. Kissinger’s complicity in the crimes listed above, Mr. Isaacson found his subject to be a two- faced, deceitful, callous, paranoid, duplicitous, devious, lying, conspiratorial, amoral megalomaniac who caused untold human suffering. Otherwise, he was a pretty swell guy. Okay, two more little anecdotes of the thousands available. In 1973 , Israeli prime minister Golda Meir requested American intervention on behalf of Jews being persecuted in the Soviet Union. According to tapes released last year by the Nixon Library, here’s what Henry the K., a Jew whose family fled Nazi Germany in 1938 , advised the president: “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.” Maybe a humanitarian concern. Maybe not. Mr. Nixon agreed with Dr. Kissinger, not being crazy about the Chosen People anyway. As the president elegantly put it, “the Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality.”' In his book Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power , Robert Dallek reports that Mr. Nixon used to call Dr. Kissinger, to his face, “my Jewboy.” Dr. Kissinger in turn acknowledged that his behaviour in Mr. Nixon's presence was “obsequious excess” while behind Mr. Nixon’s back Dr. Kissinger referred to him as a “ madman” and a “drunk” who was “ unfit to be president.” He chose neither to protest nor to resign.