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A Terribly Scornful Obituary: Henry Kissinger

This is a eulogy, one where I dishonour someone I never met yet abhor; Someone whose legacy is dripping in the blood of millions; Someone who is a Nobel Peace Laureate but is destined for the deepest pits of hell. This is a eulogy for Henry Kissinger, born in 1923 and dead now.

This is a eulogy for someone whose legacy is dripping in the blood of millions; This is a eulogy for Henry Kissinger.

Born to a Jewish family who fled from the Nazis during his teenage years and a graduate of Harvard, Henry Kissinger lived up to the mark of a century, of which he spent eight years working at the White House as the US Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under two presidencies (Nixon & Ford). Many of this generation, who are not interested in history or politics, may not be familiar with the name for he was never a President. But he was the architect of US foreign policies during the Cold War era which have irrevocably shaped the world we live in today. And he did so cruelly.

Kissinger’s career-defining moment was the Vietnam War (one which the Americans lost but refuse to accept). He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating a ceasefire 10 years after the United States joined the war, effectively reducing the role of US in the gruesome war. Regardless, his bootless achievement was overshadowed by the relentless carpet bombings he pursued. The unforgettable operation was the 1972 ‘Christmas Bombings’, one of the most brutal aerial bombardments in modern history. The Americans attacked North Vietnam from December 18-29 except for the 25th, day of Christmas, dropping over 20,000 tons of bombs. The bombings killed over 1,600 Vietnamese civilians, and left thousands more immutably traumatized.

Till the fall of Saigon, the war killed over 2,000,000 civilians, 1,100,000 North Vietnamese/Vietcong fighters, and around 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers. On the American side (young Americans were forcefully drafted to fight in this war), more than 58,000 soldiers died on ground. Another heinous fact to justify the vilification of Kissinger was his advocacy in the use of Napalm bombs and Agent Orange through the course of the war. Napalm bombs contain petroleum, which sticks to the skin of the targets, and causes severe burns without being able to cool the wounds with water due to the chemistry of immiscibility. On the other hand, Agent Orange was a herbicide widely utilized by the Americans to clear rabid vegetation, denying the Vietnamese fighters cover to hide, and destroy food crops. Its widespread use had devastating health impacts on the Vietnamese which is still impactful to new-borns today. Vietnam war was one of the most devastating conflicts of the 20th century. Although Kissinger ravaged more than Vietnam.

Laos, a humble nation neighbouring Vietnam, is the most bombed country in the world in history. During the Vietnam War, Kissinger additionally launched a ‘secret war’ against a neutral-standing Laos, the pipeline for exchanging weaponries with the Vietcong. Under his authority (and the Presidents), the United States dropped over 270,000,000 bombs weighing over 2,000,000 tonnes between 1964-1973. To better understand the sheer scale of the bombings, that would be 30,000,000 every year; 82,000 bombs every day; 3,425 bombs every hour, and 57 bombs every minute. Every day for 9 Years. The bombings alone killed around 200,000 Laotians.

Cambodia, in many ways, is a twin of Laos. It is a tiny nation neighbouring Vietnam, and a neutral country who met the same fate of being a victim of Kissinger’s bloodthirst. Post-Independence from French colonialism, the country looked promising – touted as an ‘Island of Peace’. Until he imposed another ‘secret war’ against Cambodia. for similar justifications as for Laos: to annihilate the communists. For 4 years, Cambodia faced carpet bombings every day, losing between 150,000-500,000 people from 500,000 tonnes of bombs being dropped – each of those bombs personally approved by Kissinger himself. To quote him, “bomb everything that moves and anything that flies”. Ironically, his ‘secret war’ in Cambodia led to the rise of Communist leader Pol Pot who was responsible for the Cambodian Genocide which killed another 2,000,000 people and displaced millions more.

The outcome of Kissinger's policies regarding Vietnam War is that the region is the most contaminated country in the world. Over 800,000 tons of unexploded bombs (UXO) lay hidden on the grounds of Vietnam, further 80,000,000 UXOs in Laos, and millions of tonnes more in Cambodia, all of which still detonate and engender hundreds of casualties every year.

Kissinger's bloodlust rampage in Southeast Asia did not just end with Vietnam and its neighbours. In 1975, Indonesian Dictator Suharto received approval from the White House to invade East Timor, a nation sharing borders with one of many Indonesian islands who declared Independence from Portuguese colonialism the same year. The brutal invasion and subsequent occupation lasted till 1999, offending Kissinger’s words towards Suharto to “do it (the invasion) quickly”. The inevitable genocide the Indonesians put the East Timorians through wiped out over 300,000 people, exterminating nearly half of the nation’s population. Many were killed by the massacres committed by the Indonesian military, several others died from mass starvations and illnesses. Kissinger’s backing of this unfettered violence stemmed from the rise of communists in East Timor, and the potential threat Suharto could face from sharing borders with communists during the era of Cold War.

Kissinger’s ideology did not adhere liberalism or communism, it was rather realpolitik. One that transcends across moral premises of all political principles. He supported any political leanings if it advantaged American interests. Thus, explains Kissinger’s support for Pakistani Dictator Yahya Khan during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. In aim of initiating closer ties with China following the Sino-Soviet Split, the Americans found appeasing Pakistan to be their best bet. And they did so by supporting Pakistan's violence in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). While succeeding in the task, the blood spilled was inconceivable. The carnage inflicted by Pakistan is often delineated as a genocide, taking the lives of 3,000,000 Bengalis and displacing 10,000,000 more. Khan’s barbarity was heavily buttressed by Nixon and Kissinger's verbal and military support. Today, Bangladesh is free and thriving, but look further and one can unviel the greivances they still face from the brutalism of the genocide.

The vile atrocities above were only a few of Kissinger’s most notable assault in Asia alone. Rather criminally, he had a proclivity towards aiding and supporting massacres globally. (Argentina, Cyprus, Palestine, Angola, Chile, South Africa, and plenty more). He was a callous man, and his moral bankruptcy makes one question whether he truly was a human with a heart and a soul.

Kissinger’s death proves one grim reality we must refuse to accept: the bad guys never pay for their actions. His hands (with the assistance of many others who permitted him) worked tirelessly in ruining the lives of millions in every curved corner of the globe, and that undeniable brutality brought upon a universal consensus on his explicit crimes against humanity. Yet, no justice was brought to his victims; rather giving him the power, the authority, the leverage to perpetuate more endless evil crimes in the Global South. After the 8 years he spent in ‘preserving American interests’ at the expense of humanity, he lived a fairly comfortable life, and was continuously regarded as a political expert by the ruling class (and dictators he aided into positions of power) for the rest of his life.

They omit his prolific expertise at war crimes, but it is difficult for the world to forget or bury them when many Laotians today are limbless from accidentally stepping over UXOs five decades old, or when Vietnamese babies are abandoned for exhibiting disabilities stemming from Agent Orange. The evidences are still present in every country he has brutalized. Even after his death, the blood in his hands will never fade as the ramifications of his inhumane decisions continue to push the people of today into immense suffering; some even dying from it.

There may have been some good in him; We cannot say for certain for neither of us know of him personally. But his works are sufficient in incriminating him as one of world’s greatest villains. I would not be gracious enough to give a man, whose hands are soaked in oceans of blood, the benefit of the doubt. He was a war criminal, and his death should never redeem his tainted legacies of depraved impunity.

To Dr. Henry Kissinger, for whom even hell is too kind.