Henry Kissinger's Old-Fashioned Values


Did Henry Kissinger give Washington's stamp of approval to the Argentine junta's brutal dirty war of 1976?83? A newly declassified transcript of a 1976 meeting with Argentina's C?sar Augusto Guzzetti includes these comments from the U.S. secretary of state: "Look, our basic attitude is that we would like you to succeed. I have an old-fashioned view that friends ought to be supported. What is not understood in the United States is that you have a civil war. We read about human rights problems but not the context. The quicker you succeed, the better."

NEXT: Mouse Droppings Are a Girl's Best Friend

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. well at least we didn’t intervene and regime change them

    happy friday

  2. Perhaps Hitchens has skewed my view of the man beyong recovery, but can we please lock this tyrant up? Is the Bush administration going to continue thwarting the International Criminal Court in order to protect Kissinger?

  3. Danny, I don’t know what Bush’s plans are to protect Kissinger. But I for one hope he completely and utterly igonores the International Criminal Court as an empty body that receives its moral authority from … where? We may just as well hold an International Hit & Run Court and expect legitimacy. Tim, can you work on that feature for the next version?

  4. Everyone should thwart the ICC at every opportunity. It is a vacuous circus at best and a power grab the rest of the time.

  5. did someone miss what Kissinger said:

    “What is not understood in the United States is that you have a civil war.”

    Indeed, one would think that this is, at bare minimum, a relevant point to consider when evaluating Argentina in this time period. At any rate, this info hardly gives anything in the way of a cause to call Kissinger a ‘war criminal’, does it?

  6. Citizen, is it true the International Criminal Court doesn’t offer some of the basic protections afforded the accused here in the U.S.? And where DOES it get its authority? The U.N.? Any links to give me the lowdown?

    I do hope the lawsuits pending against Kissinger continue to progress. The family of the Chilean General he arranged to have kidnapped (but was murdered instead) has a really good case. Boy, howdy, do I loathe that man.

  7. Is the Bush administration going to continue thwarting the International Criminal Court in order to protect Kissinger?

    Let me get this straight:

    Your major complaint about the Bush administration is that it *isn’t* ignoring a citizen’s Constitutional right to due process?

  8. Planthoth, if H.K. isn’t a war criminal, then no one is. Civil war is still war and I believe that there are many conventions against the kidnapping, torture, and murder of civilians even in wartime. If H.K. authorized any kind of assistance, then I think he qualifies. We know he authorized assisting Indonesia’s mass murder of hundreds of thousands of East Timorese civilians in the mid seventies. Certainly, it’s against the law to pay people to kidnap others, which we know he did in the case of the conservative Chilean general, Renee Schneider. There’s a rather considerable list of deplorable and legally questionable things he participated in.

  9. I won’t defend nor support any allegations made against Kissinger, since while I have read about them, I have not done so in enough detail to justify taking either position. However, I have a great deal of skepticism about the charge ‘war criminal’ in his case. If all of the other countries who practised forms of this cynical ‘realpolitik’ in the last century will have their politicians stand trial as ‘war criminals’ then I might be persuaded. At any rate, Kissinger wasn’t giving orders to the Argentinian generals, so it will be a real stretch. Perhaps Madeleine Albright can stand trial as ‘war criminal’ for standing by during Rwanda? The logical possibilities become ridiculous.

  10. I’ll start by saying I’m no friend of Kissinger. Nonetheless, the place I work at brought him in for a fundraiser, mind you a very high dollar one at that. Anyway, the protestors were hilarious.

    One girl managed to get through the police to a general reception (don’t ask me how, since she had a shirt that said “Killionaires for Kissinger”). Well, she takes a slurp from the bottle she had tied around her neck, starts shaking, and then falls to her knees. At this point people in tuxes start looking at her with a mix of “what the hell?” and “Is she ok”?. All of sudden she yells out, “Kissinger makes me sick” and projectile vomits bright pink all over the place. It was fabulous.
    Funny enough, the protestors got into the main dinner posing as volunteers, their “efforts” of blowing whistles and giving speeches proved to get the donors even more willing to give.

  11. The ICC gets its power by treaty (anyone commenting on the ICC should know this, BTW – there are close to one hundred ratifying nations now – thirty-five had to ratify it for it to come into being – the ICC is a functioning institution now).

    Web page on the state of the treaty: http://www.un.org/law/icc/

    The court’s web page: http://www.icc-cpi.int/php/index.php

    University of Chicago’s extensive list of links, etc. to information on the ICC: http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/~llou/icc.html

    I am sure there are numerous articles you could find via Google that either support or criticize the ICC; keep in mind that many of the arguments against the ICC are based on unsubstantiated rumor and general paranoia.

    Some basics concerning the ICC:

    A country that ratifies the treaty must abide by its rules and standards; it must accept the court’s jurisdiction and cooperate in investigating and prosecuting crimes (including the extradition of suspects to the ICC) and enforcing penalties.

    The ICC’s permanent seat is in The Hague, but it can sit any ratifying country; member countries decided the ICC’s budget and of course provide it funding.

    Four bodies make up the ICC; briefly these are the Presidency, the Judiciary (18 judges that make up the pre-trial, trial and appeal benches), the Prosecutor, and the Registrar. Judges, the Prosecutor, and the Deputy Prosecutor are elected by the countries that have ratified the treaty, and each judge is elected to a nine-year renewable term (election requires a majority vote). The judges in turn elect the president who serves a three year term.

    The prosecutor has three different options concerning an investigation: (a) the prosecutor may examine information that a crime has been committed and then request authorization from a panel of judges to investigate; (b) a ratifying state may also request an investigation; (c) or the UNSC request an investigation.

    The ICC has jurisdiction which compliments nationa courts and is not meant to replace them; accordingly the national courts have the primary responsibility to prosecute serious international crimes; however the ICC may respond as a backstop if the court systems of a ratifying member fails. Furthermore, if national courts do take such actions, the ICC is barred from interfering. The ICC has jurisdiction anywhere inside the territory of a ratifying member, and it may try any individual responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, regardless of his civilian or military status or official position.

    Genocide refers to serious acts (killing or bodily harm) that are committed with “the intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” Crimes against humanity are serious crimes that include “widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population.” These include murder, torture, sexual violence and other specified inhumane acts committed during times of peace or war. War crimes are crimes committed during armed conflict. They include acts such as torture, sexual violence, pillage, employing poisonous weapons, intentionally starving civilians and other grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

    Those accused of such crimes will enjoy certain rights, including the presumption of innocence, the right to counsel, the right to due process and a fair trial, to present evidence, the right to remain silent, and the right to have charges proved beyond a reasonable doubt. These rights will be protected in trial and appeal procedures and during investigations. A trial may not be in abstentia. The highest penalty that can be imposed by the ICC is life imprisonment; it cannot impose the death penalty.

    Various safeguards within the ICC treaty have also been created to stamp out frivolous and politically motivated cases. Indictments as well as any investigation initiated by the Prosecutor will have to be confirmed and approved by a Pre-Trial Chamber of three judges, which will examine the evidence. The accused will have the opportunity to challenge the indictment during confirmation hearings before the Pre-Trial Chamber. The judges will not be allowed to exercise any activity (such as belonging to certain organizations, etc…) that might jeopardize their independence, and can be disqualified if there is any question of partiality or conflict-of-interest situation. Ultimately, if they abuse their powers, they can be impeached.

  12. I was not at all pleased at how Henry ended the VN war, but the evil that men do is relative. I’m not sure Henry is any eviler than the guy Dubya keeps “going to,” James Baker III.

    What is a Secretary of State for except to traffic in intrigue?

  13. But he won the Nobel Peace Prize !

  14. Planethoth,

    While I appreciate skepticism in all matters, I think there is a large difference between practicing a form of “cynical ‘realpolitik'” and ordering the kidnapping of a general (and paying the kidnappers after they’ve killed him) or supplying arms to a country that is in the process of lining up men, women and children and gunning them down. These are two well documented things that have actually been done by Kissinger.

    While ignoring genocide is truly despicable, it isn’t, unfortunately, illegal (though there are some that argue it does defy agreements we signed with the U.N.).

    I reject the popular apologist argument for arranging or assisting atrocities that “everybody did it.” Even if they did, “they” are not our responsibility. Those employed by the U.S. are and we should have the courage to admit when the U.S. has had a hand in the destruction of innocent lives.

    That said, leftist protesters are truly some of the most brain dead individuals in the country adn it pains me somewhat to agree with them in principle on this matter.

  15. If Hitchens is to be believed Kissinger was also remarkably blase (at least) about the genocide in Bangladesh, commited by Pakistani troops in 1971.

  16. If one is aware of Kissinger’s actions, documented and objectively observed actions, it’s difficult not to conclude that humanity is ther very least of his concerns.

    I can understand legal controversy in regards to his status as a “war criminal,” but I’m at a loss as to why people are so hesitant to accept documented and objectively observed facts which demonstrate clearly the needless death and destruction he’s left in his wake.

  17. No shit, Les. What I was saying (poorly) I guess is that his statement could be understood that way.

  18. les-
    People don’t want to accept the reality of “documented and objectively observed facts which demonstrate clearly the needless death and destruction he’s left in his wake”. If they did, then they would have to do “something” about it.

    Same thing with eminent domain or stories about some guy saving joe blow’s life by wounding or killing a criminal and then that “hero” being put on trial for murder. We all just stand around and talk, but don’t really do anything.

  19. infamouse,

    Sorry, I see what you mean now. It is a defense I’m sure he and his supporters would use when confronted with the documents in question.


    You’re probably right and that’s not a little depressing. I’m going to make myself a drink, now.

  20. I’m not going to comment on Kissinger, but do want to point out that his comment does contain a grain of humanity in it. Namely, the sooner the junta managed to end the “civil war” aka all the violence and murder, the better.

  21. kissinger should be tried as a war criminal: not assisting the south vietnamese as much as they needed to avoid being slaughtered by commies, not telling the argies that invading a nuclear power is a bad idea, not getting all of the commies in south am. hanging properly, not having enough balls and being overly concerned with stability, rather than taking the fight to the sovs, recognizing red china, etc.

    in a civil war, pretty much everyone is a combatant. there are guerillas everywhere and it is difficult to tell who is non-combatant, who ain’t

    in a war between civilised nations/groups, rules of war are fine, as bth sides want to control useful territory post-bellum. when dealing with communist insurgents or islamic terrorists, one should not be gulled into limiting one’s response, as the other side does not care and will go to any and all lengths to succeed. those who argue for limits are frequently traitors who want the other side to succeed (see the west’s peace movements, which were dominated by commies, fascists, and then back to commies (and now islamofascists) to help their ideological brethren who oppose(d) us and accept(ed) no restrictions.

    barbarians deserve no quarter, their tribes and supporters deserve no quarter, and we can not afford to give them quarter. the punic wars are the best guide to dealing with these kinds of situations: 1st and 2nd were hard fought and drastically damaged rome before they won, the 3rd had rome plowing the fields of carthage with salt and forcing the abandonment of the city and ending carthaginian civilisation. existential fights are about winning and surviving. we are in an existential war, so screw it, let’s win!!!

    i’d bring back hk, but he has no balls and no aggressiveness… he is part of the creation of islamofascism by naking us appear weak. for that reason he should be hanged for crimes against the us

  22. Hey, you’re joking, right? That’s a parody of a radically conservative, barbaric philosophy of warfare, isn’t it? God, I hope so.

  23. If there wasn’t an ICC, the United States Administration would want to create something like it to provide and obtain international sanction for judgments against international criminals. But …

    The problem is … “it” (the US Administration) doesn’t want to abide by, or be bound by, anything it doesn’t or can’t control, or manipulate to its adantage.

    Which … if we can believe anything from the accunulated evidence of the history of humankind concerning human nature, myth, metaphor, karma, polarity, Murphy’s Law, or anything else based on long observation of how we humans interact with our conciousness and the planet …

    means that eventually there will be a reckoning.

  24. The article Mr Anon linked to argues in favor of a coup against an elected president who could have been voted out of office at any time, on the grounds that he was following bad policies. Apparently, after trying unsuccessfully in three consecutive elections to turn Allende out of office, the military got sick of democracy, and just took over.

  25. nope:


    first of all it wasn’t an opinion piece.

    second, the article makes it clear that Allende was also actively subverting democracy — ignoring the wishes of the congress and courts and acting in violation of Chili’s constitution.

    is that democracy, joe?

    face it, two thugs were trying to take over, and one lost. and of course the Left is still pissed that their thug lost.

    Apparently the Allende Myth lives on. To stay OT, is there any similarites to the Dirty War?

  26. Mr. Amon, I’m hardly a member of the left, but I think what’s objectionable is that one of the thugs was elected and the other (who went on to murder thousands of dissidents) wasn’t. “Right” and “Left” should have nothing to do with it.

  27. I’m not saying Allende was a paragon of democracy; I’m saying he was acting within a democratic framework regardless of his personal beliefs about democracy. The Chilean Right, unable to get what they wanted through the democratic process, decided to take over the government instead.

  28. Allende was just as criminal in subverting democracy. He was exceeding his powers, subverting the congress, courts, rule of law and constitution and was planning on murdering those that opposed him in the military and other places. Elected or unelected, this is antidemocratic.

    Pinonche probably would have been shot following Allende’s power consolidation. In the battle of thugs, he was just quicker on the trigger.

    At least he was open about his criminal rule. And pretending the other thug was “better” just because he had a majority vote is shameful. I can think of many tyrants that won elections!

  29. Allende didn’t have a majority. There was electoral deadlock. Allende was trying to break it through legal and political means. Pinochet decided that a coup and years of massacre was a better path to follow.

  30. I’m shocked. Oh, Henry — how could you?

  31. “Allende was just as criminal in subverting democracy. He was exceeding his powers, subverting the congress, courts, rule of law and constitution and was planning on murdering those that opposed him in the military and other places. Elected or unelected, this is antidemocratic.”

    What evidence is there that he was planning on murdering those that opposed him? He’d had plenty of time to murder them before he was overthrown.

    “Pinonche probably would have been shot following Allende’s power consolidation. In the battle of thugs, he was just quicker on the trigger.”

    Who had Allende had killed prior to the overthrow? Anyone? We know that in order to make the overthrow happen, the U.S. had to pay to have the conservative general Renee Schneider killed. Schneider was an anti-communist, but he respected the rule of law. If Allende had been a criminal, Schneider might have supported a coup. It was because he didn’t that he was eliminated.

    “At least he was open about his criminal rule. And pretending the other thug was “better” just because he had a majority vote is shameful. I can think of many tyrants that won elections!”

    Again, how many civilians did Allende round up to torture and murder?

    I think you’re as devoted to your “side” as the leftists who refuse to condemn Castro because he’s on their “side.”

  32. I dont agree with everything done by the regime, but the government of General Augusto Pinochet saved the country from communism and Soviet domination. I find it laughable that “activists” scream about the Chilean military regime while at the same time ignoring the far worst crimes committed by the Soviet communists and current communist regimes like Castro’s. Human rights? Yeah right.

  33. There was no civil war in Chile until Pinochet’s goons starting kidnapping, toruting, and murdering people. Kissinger is definging “civil war” as “parliamentary, electoral, and activist opposition to the leader I like.” In that case, America was in a civil war from 1966-1974 and, by Henry’s reasoning, a few thousand multilated hippies would have been a small price to pay, as long as it was done quickly.

    That monster should have had a rope around his neck thirty years ago.

  34. Just to be clear: We’re talking about Argentina, not Chile. Not that I have any interest in sticking up for Pinochet. But the redeeming qualities that some people find in him are nowhere to be found among his Argentine counterparts.

  35. Oops. I don’t know shit about Argentina. Was there actually a civil war at the time?

  36. OK, this is OT on Chile, but interesting – “The Allende Myth”:

    does anyone have any contrarian pieces on the Dirty War?

  37. Shawn,

    There is no moral difference between the atrocities committed by the Soviets and those committed by countries getting U.S. assistance. The difference is in terms of responsibility. We, as taxpayers, had no responsibility for what the Soviets did, whereas when it came to the mass murdering thugs we supported all over the world, we certainly were responsible. That doesn’t mean that what the Soviets did was not as bad. It only means that pointing our fingers at them without taking responsibility for the atrocities we assisted in is hypocritical and a little cowardly.

  38. Also, anybody who can’t fight and/or prevent communism without killing thousands of civilians has no business fighting communism.

  39. The Merovingian gave a very good and concise explanation of the jurisdiction of the ICC, but nobody has responded to it. Still many are highly sceptical about the need of the ICC. It seems that the US propaganda machine has done its work well. Guantanamo bay, a completely illegal institution defying all laws is fine, but an international court respecting all laws is not. How can it be possible?

    Arguments against the ICC that it would open the door to frivolous political cases, that the judges were not impartial, and most of all that it would undermine US jurisdiction are all false. Besides, Kissinger and others don’t have to worry about their past crimes and the ICC, because the ICC will only rule cases based on facts that have happened after it started functioning.

    So why is there still the distrust and all the lies? Because Kissinger and the likes will commit even more crimes, or just because the American public is – once again- being misinformed by their own government? Finally there is an international judicial body that will finally be able to judge the countless of war criminals this world still knows, but the US backs out. Some of those criminals may be American or Israeli, but they will not be indicted if the US and Israel would do it themselves.

    The US and Israel have nothing to worry about. The rest of the world however has if the US opposition means that they will continue to let their own war criminals get away with their crimes.

  40. Very interesting site!

  41. Thanks for this site,
    congratulation and my best wishes!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.