I must admit that I never understood the adulation Henry Kissinger has attracted. I started paying attention to politics in the early 1970s, and Kissinger was one of the main players on the world political stage at that point. His connection to the deeply repugnant Richard Nixon should have been enough to keep him out of the limelight after his boss was forced out of the presidency. Yet he somehow managed not only to stay in the public eye, but to increase his popularity.
Christopher Hitchens thinks that the latest revelations from that era will finally bring Kissinger the odium he so richly deserves:
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 honour; 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.
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?