Welcome to Kissinger Country

Former secretary of state dazzles OC press but fails to explain his alleged complicity in war crimes

Illustration by Bob Aul"Its human-rights policy leaves a lot to be desired."

Henry Kissinger, talking about China at the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace, July 18

In the last days of May, French Judge Roger Le Loire ordered his gendarmes to deliver a summons to Dr. Henry Kissinger, then visiting Paris. Judge Le Loire hoped to hear Kissinger explain his alleged complicity in General Augusto Pinochet's reign of terror in 1970s Chile.

While Pinochet kidnapped, tortured and murdered his way through the country, Kissinger served as U.S. secretary of state, a position that allowed him tremendous insights into the Pinochet regime. Kissinger responded to the judge's summons by quietly slipping out of Paris a few hours later.

It's hardly comforting that Kissinger surfaced on July 18 at the Richard Nixon Library to deliver a foreign-policy lecture and peddle copies of his latest voluminous tome, Does America Need a Foreign Policy?

There to kiss his ring and marvel at his every word were reporters from the Los Angeles Timesand The Orange County Register. And right up front was Jerry Hicks, the Times writer who once wrote a column warning his readers to beware of "fake hookers" standing outside 7-Elevens.

Hicks described the hundreds of fans and well-wishers at the Nixon Library as "Kissinger country." He added that Kissinger spoke to "a friendly crowd on friendly ground" that included right-wing burger baron Carl N. Karcher, former governor and father of electric-utility deregulation Pete Wilson, and mega-developer and alleged tenant swindler George Argyros. Indeed, Hicks was such an ardent butt kisser that readers of the Times may thank God Kissinger isn't faster with his belt buckle.

Hicks cited Kissinger on China's lousy human-rights record and then committed an unpardonable journalistic sin: he failed to ask for the former secretary of state's comment on the Paris summons he avoided or the myriad allegations swirling around intellectual circles that he is a war criminal on par with any Chinese leader.

Those charges are best and most recently detailed in Christopher Hitchens' new book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger. In the book, Hitchens alleges that Kissinger was involved in assassinations and kidnappings by the Pinochet regime, the attempted assassination of Cypriot leader Archbishop Makarios, Indonesia's brutal 1975 invasion of East Timor, and Pakistan's bloody 1971 attack on Bangladesh.

These are very serious charges against which Kissinger's evasion of the Paris summons looks very bad. On those rare occasions when a reporter gets near enough to ask for comment, Kissinger never responds, except to label Hitchens as "a great fiction writer."

Hicks' story made clear he had a private interview with Kissinger following his lecture. Had a real reporter been there to conduct that interview, Kissinger would not have left the grounds without facing a request for comment.

Editor's note:_Nixon Library officials invited theWeekly to cover the Kissinger appearance. A breaking news story prevented our attendance.
 
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