Engaged In Good Causes: Longtime War Criminal Inexplicably, Unconscionably Gets Not Jail Sentence But Award (WTF?)

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Speaking truth to implacable power. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Having blithely orchestrated several genocides and the deaths of millions of brown-skinned innocents in the specious, imperial name of the right to bomb neutral countries in order to save them and maybe us - a right that America, despite our ongoing carnage, still claims - Henry Kissinger, our best and brightest war criminal, on Monday won the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Defense Department's highest honor for private citizens. In a stomach-roiling spectacle at the Pentagon wherein one discordantly unfit Nobel Peace Prize winner honors another, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter called the former Secretary of State's murderous service "unique in the annals of American diplomacy.” Kissinger, Carter said, “demonstrated how serious thinking and perspective can deliver solutions to seemingly intractable problems.”

Carter was evidently referring to Kissinger's impressive body count and the "solutions" that led to them: illegally carpet-bombing neutral Cambodia, killing up to 500,000 people and paving the way for a Pol Pot rule that slaughtered a million more; facilitating U.S.-allied Pakistan's genocide in Bangladesh even as he sneered at Americans who "bleed" for the dying Bengalis; greenlighting Indonesia's invasion of East Timor that killed and starved hundreds of thousands; toppling the democratically-elected government of Chile while welcoming in a Pinochet regime that went on to kill, torture and imprison hundreds of thousands; conspiring to launch an Argentinian Dirty War that tortured and "disappeared" over 30,000; and who knows what else. En route, he either lied about the bloody misadventures he mindlessly led, or boasted about them. Thus, his infamous observation, "The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer."

At the Pentagon this week, Kissinger showed he has - how can it be? - shed none of his "singular moral imperiousness," nor has he evidently lost any sleep over the wreckage it caused. He criticized a current tone of political discourse that sometimes views "extrication" from the kind of disastrous wars he relished as acceptable, in a cut-your-losses sort of way. "Extrication is not a strategy, it's an abdication," he intoned. "The purpose of strategy is to achieve your objective, and that was never questioned in this building." The Pentagon's Carter in turn dismissed the oddly persistent allegations of Kissinger's war crimes. "The fact is," he said, Kissinger and his puppet Nixon “were engaged in good causes.”

Despite that laughable protestation, Kissinger rightly ranks with Cheney as one of the most despised mortals still unaccountably taking up precious space in our world. Many remain outraged that Kissinger, at 92, remains not just free but deemed respectable, receiving baubles and media air-time and shockingly tone-deaf endorsements from his admiring vacation-mate Hillary Clinton - a great debate moment that prompted Bernie Sanders to declare to cheers, "I am proud to say Henry Kissinger is not my friend." Even as some are reduced to trying to excuse Kissinger's atrocities by measuring them against others of his era like John Foster Dulles, the fact remains that Kissinger's legacy is still being played out again and again in America's imperialist wars, where under the tiresome, ill-defined, Orwellian and often bullshit rubric of national security, we claim the unassailable right to bomb anyone, anywhere, few if any questions asked. As to Kissinger's crimes, consider William Faulkner: "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

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