Subject: Letters on Henry Kissinger

Letters on Henry Kissinger

Also: Try Henry Kissinger for war crimes (Letter, Providence Journal-Bulletin)

"Henry the K" . 'Letters' New York Times Book Review . July 15 2001

To the Editor:

When Thomas L. Friedman, in his review of Henry Kissinger's ''Does America Need a Foreign Policy?'' (June 17), agreed that Kissinger is ''as cynical . . . as his most venomous critics have charged,'' I thought we were going to get a brief recitation of the most serious accusations against him. But no, Friedman only trots out the tired old debate between the liberal Wilsonian interventionists and the hard-nosed Kissingerian realists. This is how the American foreign policy establishment flatters itself -- the only allegations of sin it discusses are ones of omission, where the United States may choose not to use its power to protect the innocent.

But this isn't what Kissinger's critics are talking about when they call him a war criminal. They accuse him of plotting to kidnap innocent officials in a democratic government (General Schneider in Chile), of indiscriminately bombing civilian populations (Southeast Asia) and of supplying weapons in violation of American law to a government engaged in a near-genocidal invasion (Indonesia in East Timor). It's interesting how much hand-wringing there is about our moral responsibility to stop other people's crimes, and how little is said about the ones we've committed ourselves.

Donald Johnson Nyack, N.Y.

The Providence Journal-Bulletin

July 17, 2001, Tuesday, All EDITIONS

LETTERS - Try Henry Kissinger for war crimes

It is interesting (maybe even strange) that an editorial ("Problematic prosecution," July 4) should appear in your paper suggesting that the prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague may not be in the best interest of the world community.

You write, The definition of war crimes against humanity is elastic, and has as much to do with politics as principle. Later you say that even Bill Clinton, considering this weak interpretation, could find himself in custody for the U.S. bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum.

I doubt that that could happen, and furthermore, the actions of President Clinton and President Milosevic are not in the most remote way similar. Clinton, you may remember (unlike George H.W. Bush), forcefully challenged the Serbs, and thereby helped end the horror and bloodshed that were going on, and that had been ordered by Slobodan Milosevic.

Could the motive behind the editorial instead be that our own Henry Kissinger has now been accused of war crimes, and therefore maybe we should just forget all about this tribunal stuff?

I'm sorry, but there are some serious pieces of evidence against the former secretary of state. Christopher Hitchens, in his book The Trial of Henry Kissinger, delineates six reasons why the foremost expert on foreign policy should be tried for war crimes. I will not list them all, but one of the worst offenses was his involvement in the bloodshed in East Timor, the island in the Indonesian archipelago. As a result of Indonesian General Suharto's invasion of East Timor, 200,000 or more people lost their lives. More than 90 percent of the arms used in the slaughter of innocent civilians and others came from the United States, in violation of U.S. law.

Kissinger himself was in Jakarta, meeting with the dictator, along with President Ford, the day before the invasion. It's hard to believe that he did not know what was going on. Another item listed by Hitchens was Kissinger's involvement in the attempted murder of a civilian journalist, Elias Demetracopoulos, to be carried out in this country or possibly in Athens. Mr. Demetracopoulos had been writing critically about the thugs who were running the junta in Greece. This was very embarrassing to the dictator and thugs there, and to Kissinger. It seems that they had been illegally funneling money to the Nixon/Agnew campaign, and probably still were, along with also being involved with the attempted murder of the journalist.

The list actually goes on and on. But Hitchens is careful to concentrate only on some of the most heinous crimes with credible evidence to back up his claims.

Kissinger and Milosevic both should be tried for war crimes, and other crimes against humanity. It was done in Nuremberg, and it needs to be done now.

RAYMOND E. ROSS Providence

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