Mr Kissinger comes to town

Kissinger throws weight behind Bush

The Pitt News - 10/7/04

Henry Kissinger spoke at Heinz Hall Tuesday night, spelling out his support for the Bush administration and what it holds for the future of American foreign policy.

Kissinger is a giant in the world of geo-political affairs, having served as Secretary of State under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and as national security advisor for six years.

"History will describe the events of the last three years as one of the most seminal events of our time," he said. "Never before have we been able to see foreign policy enacted in real time."

The great significance of events since September 11, 2001, Kissinger said, is that "private groups, not states, have now been able to attack nations."

Furthermore, he said, "the emergence of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of irresponsible, small states is a threat inconceivable only a few decades ago."

Kissinger is famous for his approach to international relations and his foreign policy initiatives while in office -- namely, peace-brokering with China in 1972 and his attempts to achieve peace between Israel and Palestine in 1973. But his political career is also marked by controversy. Kissinger supported authoritarian regimes in Chile, Argentina and East Timor, as well as the secret bombing of Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War.

In relation to these latter policies, more than a dozen people gathered to protest Kissinger's speech outside Heinz Hall, holding up banners and berating those entering the building.

"He's a war criminal!" shouted a woman at a smartly dressed couple entering the hall.

"She knows! That lady knows!" she screamed loudly as they walked inside.

Across the street, a "Counter-Kissinger" event screened the documentary "The Trial of Henry Kissinger," based on the book by Christopher Hitchens which accuses him of war crimes.

In the book, Hitchens argues that Kissinger should be tried for these offenses along with his political partners and friends who have recently faced arrest and conviction; General Augusto Pinochet of Chile, Slobodon Milosevic of the former Yugoslavia and Major General Suharto of Indonesia.

Today, Kissinger cannot travel to some democratic countries around the world because of standing indictments against him for crimes against humanity.

In a question and answer section of Kissinger's lecture, an audience member asked, "How do you respond to the protests outside, accusing you of war crimes? Are you flattered to still be picketed?"

"My memoirs are an accurate account," he replied.

"These people have taken things out of context, a sentence here or there. I do not debate with them," he added.

In his lecture, Kissinger stressed the need for negotiation and diplomacy in dealing with the multitude of threats facing America in the modern world.

Stressing the need for dialogue, Kissinger gave examples of the threats posed by countries like Iran and North Korea, which possess nuclear arms.

He noted that China has more to worry about than the United States when it comes to North Korea. Describing the small Communist nation as "weird," Kissinger noted that 50 percent of the country's gross national product is spent on the military, while 100,000 die each year of starvation.

Kissinger has worries about Iraq's future, although he supported the initial case for the invasion.

"It is a difficult situation, having to create a stable society in a country of such complexity," he said. "[Iraq] was created in 1920, and has never seen a democratic government. To let the state slip into the hands of fundamentalists would be a disaster."

Kissinger ended his remarks with the observation that it is not possible for one nation to fully dominate the world.

Furthermore, in reference to the ongoing conflict in Iraq, he spoke of his obsession with the history of World War I during his years in public life.

"Although it all started with a peripheral event," he said, "nations did not know how to stop. Eventually the sacrifices got so great, with each country needing victory so bad, that none knew how to end the war." 

Then Sec of State Kissinger confers with President Nixon aboard Air Force One