Henry Kissinger is not telling the truth about his past. Again.

Washington Post

He is letting himself off the hook for the U.S. bombing of tens of thousands of civilians.

Henry Kissinger is back. With this new book, World Order, he attempts to explain the chaotic state of the world through the lens of history. But in the interviews he is giving to promote his book, he rewrites history and obfuscates facts—about U.S. war policy and his own bloody legacy—to make himself look good. He has done this before. Here are some of Kissinger’s biggest distortions.

(1) On NPR’s Weekend Edition, Kissinger told host Scott Simon that the ISIS problem could be fixed by thwarting the group’s goals with “superior air power.” Sound familiar? That was the plan President Nixon undertook—in Southeast Asia more than 40 years ago—with the help of Kissinger, his then-national security adviser. The policy not only failed, it left tens of thousands of civilians dead. And that’s a conservative estimate. Nevertheless, he asserted: “I bet if one did an honest account, there were fewer civilian casualties in Cambodia than there have been from American drone attacks.”

It’s a clever argument but disingenuous on two counts. One, the drone strikes are nearly impossible to tally, because the U.S. government won’t release the information. But on Cambodia, Kissinger already has numbers. He writes in his own 2003 book, Ending the Vietnam War, that he was in “no position to make an accurate estimate” of civilian casualties in Cambodia. So he requested one from the Historical Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense. The answer, noted in his own book: “an estimate of 50,000 based on the tonnage of bombs delivered over a period of four and a half years.”

Furthermore, Cambodia wasn’t the only country that U.S. forces bombed without the public’s knowledge during the Vietnam War. American forces also conducted more than 580,000 bombing missions in Laos over nine years. They failed in their two missions—to stop the Ho Chi Minh Trail and to keep the Communists from power—but they left a tragic trail of casualties. As we reported in our book Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos, that nation has, to the best extent possible, created an “honest account” of its casualties from the U.S. bombings: more than 50,000 people killed and injured by accidents with unexploded ordnance, more than 20,000 of them since the end of war. This is the most accurate account we have of Kissinger’s “superior air power.”

Read More

Recent Posts