To me this was a defining moment. Bernie Sanders firmly, clearly, rejected the idea that Henry Kissinger is anyone he would look to for foreign policy advice.
Kissinger is a war criminal. He should have been indicted and imprisoned for breaking the law and directing the secret bombing of Cambodia.
More, and, yes, this is directly from the Sanders campaign:
Kissinger is known for direct involvement in secret coups against democratically elected presidents, support of notorious dictators, the expansion of the national security state, and various human rights violations. New York University History professor Greg Grandin wrote in The Nation that Kissinger’s policies led to “3, maybe 4 million deaths” in Vietnam, Cambodia and elsewhere (he caveats that this is a likely underestimate). Many of these involvements were planned in collusion with big corporations and wealthy bankers. (The Nation)
Following is a sample of his most egregious acts while in office.
1. In White house tapes released in 2010, Kissinger is heard telling Nixon in 1973 that helping Soviet Jews emigrate, and escape oppression, was “not an objective of American foreign policy.” He also said “And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.” Jewish leaders and organizations expressed outrage over this. NYT
2. Kissinger helped wage an illegal war in Cambodia between 1969 and 1973. The war wrecked the country through a huge bombing campaign that killed some 100,000 civilians, and set the stage for the rise of the genocidal Khmer Rouge. Kissinger hid the bombing from the public and U.S Congress by working with military officers to falsify records. (NYT, Politico)
3. Kissinger authorized the secret bombing of Laos during the Vietnam War. There, U.S. forces conducted over 580,000 bombing missions over nine years. Laos’ accounting of its casualties cites more than 50,000 people killed and injured by accidents and unexploded ordinance, more than 20,000 of them after the end of the war (Washington Post).
4. In South Asia, Kissinger supported Pakistan’s military dictatorship and the bloody crackdown in 1971 on what is today Bangladesh. Conservative estimates say that roughly 200,000 were killed; the official Bangladeshi estimate is three million. Ten million Bengali refugees fled to India, where untold numbers died in refugee camps. Kissinger knowingly violated U.S. law in allowing secret arms transfers to Pakistan during the India-Pakistan war, despite warnings from White House staff and State Department and Pentagon lawyers. (Politico, New Yorker)
5. According to GWU’s National Security Archive, the Indonesian government’s invasion of Portuguese East Timor in December 1975 occurred with Kissinger’s blessing, and behind the backs of Congress. Some 200,000 Timorese died during the 25-year occupation. Kissinger was aware that Suharto planned to invade East Timor, but the invasion was legally problematic because of Indonesia’s use of U.S. military equipment that Congress had approved only for self-defense.
6. With billions of corporate investment at stake, Kissinger helped plan a CIA-led coup in Chile in 1973 that led to the assassination of democratically elected president Salvador Allende. Allende had pledged to lead his country “down the democratic road to socialism.” He was replaced by the notorious dictator, Augusto Pinochet, whose government killed at least 3,197 people and tortured about 29,000. Kissinger’s top deputy for Latin America advised him make human rights central to U.S.-Chilean relations; instead Kissinger told Pinochet that his regime was a victim of leftist propaganda. “In the United States, as you know, we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here…“You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende.” (LINK)
7. In the late 1960s, Kissinger was involved in the secret wiretapping of National Security Council staff. He urged Nixon to go after Daniel Ellsberg for having released the Pentagon Papers, which resulted in government charges against The New York Times for violations against the Espionage Act (the charges did not hold). NYT
8. In the mid-70s, Kissinger began to urge apartheid South Africa, with which he was closely aligned, to secretly intervene in Angola’s civil war to prevent (Marxist) MPLA from taking power (LINK). The U.S. was directly involved in the civil war. In addition to training Angolan combat units, U.S. personnel carried out reconnaissance and supply missions, and the CIA spent over a million dollars on its mercenary program. The war took more than 300,000 lives. (LINK)
9. Kissinger and Nixon’s orientation toward southern African states with white majority leadership was outlined in a secret NSC policy study called the “Tar Baby” report. Anthony Sampson noted in Black and Gold that “The Nixon-Kissinger policy effectively condoned Pretoria’s apartheid system, and left it to corporations and banks to try to liberalize it.” (LINK) According to Grandin, such policies cost millions of lives. (The Nation)
10. The Shah of Iran was installed into power as a result of a joint British-U.S. coup. Kissinger engaged a policy of unconditional support for the Shah. He overrode State Department and Pentagon objections to allow Iran broad access to military equipment, and authorized the CIA training of the Shah’s torturous secret police. He exacerbated tensions with Tehran after the Revolution (resulting in the hostage crisis) by urging Carter to grant the Shah asylum in the United States. (Salon)
11. In 1975, Kissinger thought he had worked out a balance of power between Iran and Iraq, and thus withdrew support for the Kurds. Iraq attacked the Kurds, killing thousands, and implemented a program of ethnic cleansing, relocating Kurdish survivors and moving Arabs into their homes. (Salon)
12. In 1980, Saddam Hussein invaded Iran — a war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Reagan supported Iraq, but also illegally trafficked weapons to Iran (Iran-Contra scandal). Raymond Tanter of the NSC reported that at a foreign-policy briefing for nominee Reagan in 1980, Kissinger suggested “the continuation of fighting between Iran and Iraq was in the American interest.” The U.S., he said, “should capitalize on continuing hostilities.” (Salon)
13. Newly released documents have Kissinger mapping out secret contingency plans to launch airstrikes against Havana and “smash Cuba.” Mr. Kissinger worried that the U.S. would look weak if it did not respond. He had previously planned an underground effort to improve relations, but after Castro sent troops to Angola to help the newly independent nation fend off attacks from South Africa and right-wing guerrillas, Kissinger started to plan a U.S. airstrike. (NYT)
That is the difference between a resume on foreign policy versus wisdom and judgement