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161 of 180 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The War Criminal's War Criminal
In this breezy but extremely well researched little book, Christopher Hitchens convincingly argues that Henry Kissinger is a war criminal according to published American and International legal standards. Hitchens builds his case not from a moral or political point of view but from a purely legal one based on evidence that Kissinger was responsible for acts of genocide,...
Published on November 12, 2002 by Maginot

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99 of 123 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missing the Larger Issues
Christopher Hitchens' slender indictment of former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger can be judged according to its realization of either one of two possible goals. The first, explicit, goal is the narrow one of presenting historical evidence and the relevant clauses of American and international law so as to make the case for Kissinger's...
Published on July 8, 2003 by John Whitehead


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161 of 180 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The War Criminal's War Criminal, November 12, 2002
By 
Maginot "It Just Doesn't Matter" (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
In this breezy but extremely well researched little book, Christopher Hitchens convincingly argues that Henry Kissinger is a war criminal according to published American and International legal standards. Hitchens builds his case not from a moral or political point of view but from a purely legal one based on evidence that Kissinger was responsible for acts of genocide, assassination, and unlawfully interfering with government operations both in the United States and in foreign countries. Hitchens documents how Kissinger's ignominious resume spans the globe and includes the mass murder of civilians in East Timor, Pakistan, Greece, Cyprus, Chile, Argentina, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
In places such as Chile and Argentina, according to Hitchens, Kissinger merely supervised the assassination of democratically elected heads of state and the establishment of brutally repressive and murderous military dictatorships. His accomplishments were more significant in East Timor where, with his help, one third of the population was murdered, and in Indochina where he not only colluded in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese but also in Cambodia and Laos where under his guidance, Nixon illegally extended the war and waged it almost purely against the civilian population.
Conservatives or self-styled realists might refute Hitchens by arguing that Kissinger's genocidal resume is merely the result of his practicing a brutal but necessary variant of realpolitik. But as Hitchens' gleefully points out, few Kissinger lovers including Kissinger himself are unwilling to do this for two reasons: first because they are unwilling to face the legal consequences of linking the man to his murders and second because in many cases, while Kissinger's actions personally benefited him and his patrons, they in no way helped the United States. For example, in 1968 Kissinger helped to sabotage the Johnson administration's peace plan in order ensure a Nixon presidential victory and his own appointment as Secretary of State. Four years later he successfully brokered THE SAME PLAN only by this time, twenty thousand more American troops had been killed along with hundreds of thousands of civilians in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The only people who benefited from this were Nixon and his top officials including Kissinger.
It is for these reasons and others, according to Hitchens, that Kissinger has gone to great lengths to cover his tracks, by censoring documents or bequeathing them to the Library of Congress under the condition that they remain sealed until his death. While Kissinger enjoys a sort of morbid celebrity status at home, he is less at ease abroad where at least once he has been legally detained to answer questions about his responsibility for the "disappearance" of foreign nationals.
The importance of this book lies not so much in its condemnation of Henry Kissinger, but in the lessons it holds for Americans in these troubled times. As of this writing, many Americans are asking themselves why their nation is so hated around the world, and whether its forthcoming invasion of Iraq is based on genuine national security concerns or the self interest of the ruling elite. Sometimes the answers to such questions are found not so much in the present but in the past. Henry Kissinger's career, as chronicled in this book, provides us with many hints and direct answers to some of our most troubling questions today.
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104 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitchens is right, as usual, August 19, 2001
By A Customer
... It is particularly surprising that the claim arousing the most incredulity is the alleged sabotage of the pre-Nixon peace talks, which is almost certainly true. The far-more-moderate Larry Berman makes exactly the same claim (with a different analysis)in No Peace, No Honor a book which even conservatives (like former Reagan lackey Jack Matlock, writing recently in the New York Times Review of Books) find entirely credible.
As to Hitchens as character assassin: Certain characters, like Kissinger's, are in great need of reassessment. When one's life consists largely of extremely bad deeds done secretly in service of no good higher than one's own ambition and greed, a thorough assessment won't look very nice. Short of outright lying, there is no pretty spin one can put on secret carpet bombings, kidnapping, assassination (the murdering kind), overthrow of democratically elected leaders and a lifetime of making cozy with ruthless dicatators the world over.
The book is clearly not intended as a legal brief. As Hitchens recently stated: it is the case for the case for the prosecution, not the case itself. As such, it contains more than ample evidence to warrant further investigation. Indeed, Kissinger has already been served a summons in Paris to be a witness regarding crimes perpetrated in Chile. Summons have been issued in Argentina and Chile as well. So far Dr. K, with the assistance of the US State Dept., has assiduously resisted taking the stand, even though he is not even on trial. What is he so afraid of?
For those still making up their minds about the book, you should notice that those who dimiss Hitchens claims make no factual counter-claims, but instead offer puffy pseudo-expert dismissal. This is even true of Kissinger himself, who has yet to say publicly that anything in the book is untrue. Instead he resorted to calling Hitchens a "Holocaust denier" a claim for which Hitchens recently threatened to sue, and for which which Kissinger, by way of his lawyer, has issued a qualified retraction.
...
By their reckoning, a president is good and progressive if bad, regressive people dislike him. By extension, Hitchens is a bad writer and a bad person because he dislikes a good president who is good because, well, see above...
That the likes of Pinochet and Kissinger can no longer hide entirely from justice is perhaps the most civilizing trend in our uncivilized times. And we are indebted to anyone adding fuel to this particular fire.
Hitchens is, for all his faults, one of the all-time great living essayists (up there with Gore Vidal) and a dyed in the wool truth-teller. We should listen.
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49 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Library of Congress Protects Another Criminal, May 9, 2004
By 
S. Annand (Alexandria, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Trial of Henry Kissinger (Paperback)
Although Hitchens wrote this book in order to expose the criminality of Henry Kissinger, it is of utmost importance to Library of Congress employees (as well as other librarians) to see how the institution was misused and [bad]. Really, just how can a government employee hide government papers as his own personal papers?
A bit out of date, Hitchens details on page 76 how this was done: "On leaving the State Department, Kissinger made an extraordinary bargain whereby (having first hastily trucked them for safekeeping on the Rockefeller estate at Pocantico Hills, New York) he gifted his papers to the Library of Congress, on the sole condition that they remained under seal until after his demise. However, Kissinger's friend Manuel Contreras made a mistake when he killed a United States citizen, Ronni Karpen Moffitt, in the Washington car bomb which also murdered Orlando Letelier in 1976. by late 2000, the FBI had finally sought and received subpoena power to review the Library of Congress papers, a subpoena with which Kissinger dealt only through his attorneys." I am also assuming one of Kissinger's attorneys could be listed as the General Counsel of the Library, Elizabeth Pugh.
Left out is the story of the man who took the papers under a [tricked] Deed of Gift, signed on Christmas Eve no less, between then Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin and Kissinger. Boorstin, a highly duplicitous man in his own right, is a former communist who named names at the McCarthy hearings. The current Librarian of Congress, right-winger James Billington, is the man who fought the FBI subpoena. Maybe that is because he later named an endowed Library of Congress chair after Kissinger?
I particularly liked Hitchens summary of just who Kissinger is on page 16: "The signature qualities were there from the [Nixon] inaugural moment: the sycophancy and the duplicity, the power worship and the absence of scruple; the empty trading of old non-friends for new non-friends. And the distinctive effects were also present: the uncounted and expendable corpses; the official and unofficial lying about the cost; the heavy and pompous pseudo-indignation when unwelcome questions were asked...It debauched the American republic and American democracy, and it levied a hideous toll of casualties on weaker and more vulnerable societies." This description goes for a lot of people in power in Washington.
One bit of work that needs to be done is to be found on page 110 and concerns the attempted assassination attempt Kissinger helped plan against Greek journalist Elias Demtracopoulos. The journalist had been very critical of the junta of generals who had taken over Greece, engaging in suppression of democracy as well as murder (and tied to Nixon and Kissinger). The index for Kissinger's papers at the Library of Congress gives this tanalizing hint about Kissinger's role: "keywords acknowledging sens moss burdick gravel re mr demetracopoulos death in athens prison due 701218." It would be nice for the Library of Congress to release those papers, would it not?
My only complaint about this book is the fact that the Library of Congress figures prominently in hiding the criminal behavior of Kissinger, yet "Library of Congress" is not to be found in the index at the back of the book.
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99 of 123 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missing the Larger Issues, July 8, 2003
By 
John Whitehead (Washington, D.C.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Trial of Henry Kissinger (Paperback)
Christopher Hitchens' slender indictment of former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger can be judged according to its realization of either one of two possible goals. The first, explicit, goal is the narrow one of presenting historical evidence and the relevant clauses of American and international law so as to make the case for Kissinger's trial as a war criminal by US, foreign or international courts. The second goal, implicit in Hitchens' subject matter and arguments, is the broader one of explaining, or at least exploring, what role justice ought to play in Great Power politics and how heads of state ought to be held accountable for their actions. The book realizes the first goal but falls far short of the second--and far more interesting--one.
Drawing on available White House and State Department documents from Kissinger's years in government service, as well as various accounts by others, inside and outside Washington power circles, Hitchens does a skillful job of defining the war crimes in question and demonstrating Kissinger's culpability in them. Here, Hitchens shows his abilities as a journalist and historical detective, as well as his debating skills, deftly dissecting Kissinger's various excuses and evasions concerning his past actions.
Two problems mar this otherwise impressive performance. The first, inevitable, problem is that the sifting of historical data and parsing of laws makes the book a bit dry and dull--exactly what one would expect from a legal brief. The second, far more avoidable, problem is the book's style, made extremely tedious by the buckets of vitriol and self-righteousness Hitchens pours out not only on Kissinger but on far less morally reprehensible figures like Clark Clifford or Daniel Patrick Moynihan (whose writing abilities, as well as character, are attacked in a bizarre aside).
The book's most serious flaw, however, is its failure to address the larger issues involved. Hitchens seems to believe that all key political decision makers ought to be held to the high standards set by international law and human rights codes and tried for their violations of these standards by a body like the International Criminal Court. While this is a worthy goal in principle, its practicality is doubtful. The rule of law within a society presupposes the authority of a unified state, preferably one accountable to the people, behind the law. Only such a common authority can enforce the law and ensure a reasonably uniform application of it. No such authority exists behind international law or the ICC, which are subject to the same old power politics among nations they are supposedly above.
Take, for example, the original war crimes tribunals against the German and Japanese high commands after World War II. Were those men guilty of war crimes? Absolutely--but so were Winston Churchill (for allowing the fire-bombing of civilians at Dresden), Harry S Truman (for authorizing use of the A-bombs) and Josef Stalin (for originally invading Poland, slaughtering Poles and allowing the mass rape of German women at the war's end). The reason those men did not end up at the end of the rope was for the simple, cynical reason that they won and the Axis powers lost. Similarly, Henry Kissinger might someday be prosecuted for his crimes, but such prosecution will represent the triumph of his political enemies, not of justice.
Fair application of international law is a near impossibility, especially since its violation is a sadly routine part of politics and if it ever were rigorously applied not only Kissinger but most of the world's governments would be behind bars. Hitchens failure to acknowledge this problem makes him seem naive and makes The Trial of Henry Kissinger an ultimately unsatisfying read.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Written with great courage, November 20, 2012
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To write such a scathing biography of a living, high-profile person takes a great deal of meticulous research and courage. The latter is a rare phenomenon in these litigious times, and Christopher's early death is a great loss to to the world.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A devastating portrait of Henry Kissinger at his worst, December 4, 2002
This review is from: The Trial of Henry Kissinger (Paperback)
In The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens presents evidence that he believes could be used to prosecute the former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State for war crimes. The book describes a series of sordid episodes where Kissinger's foreign policy initiatives and other actions directly caused mass murder, assassination, and genocide, with Kissinger's full knowledge that these things would occur. In keeping with the pretence that the book could be used as "the basis of a legal prosecution" (ix), Hitchens states at the outset that he will only include "identifiable crimes that can and should be placed on a proper bill of indictment" (x). In other words, he claims to omit many things that could help paint a negative portrait of Henry Kissinger if these things do not fit accepted definitions of "war crimes." Even with this self-imposed limitation, Hitchens has no trouble finding plenty of accusations, usually supported by U.S. government documents and memoirs of other U.S. policymakers of the time. Hitchens makes no secret of his wish to see Henry Kissinger hauled in front of a real war crimes tribunal, but this is not likely to happen anytime soon, especially now that Kissinger has been named to lead the investigation into the 9/11 attacks. Still, Hitchens shows that in theory, it could probably be done, by the same standards used to prosecute dictators such as Augusto Pinochet and Slobodan Milosevic.
Among the specific accusations made by Hitchens makes are:
- That Kissinger cooperated in an effort by Presidential candidate Richard Nixon in 1968 to sabotage the Paris peace talks on Vietnam in order to help Nixon get elected. Nixon's first appointment after winning the election was Henry Kissinger as National Security Advisor. America's bloody involvement in the Vietnam War dragged on for years and was concluded on almost the exactly the same terms that could have been achieved in 1968.
- That Kissinger is responsible for various bloody campaigns in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia between 1968 and 1972 that killed countless civilians. Among these campaigns were several heavy bombing raids on densely populated areas.
- That he allowed the Pakistani government to murder hundreds of thousands of Bengali civilians, knowing in advance that the murders would happen and insisting that the U.S. do nothing to prevent them.
- That he funded an assassination in Chile that eventually led to the overthrow of a democratic government and the installation of Augusto Pinochet with U.S. support.
- That he was involved in a plot to murder President Makarios of Cyprus. The murder ultimately did not take place, but Makarios was removed from power.
- That he supported Indonesia's takeover of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor and the subsequent mass murders carried out by the Indonesian government with U.S. weapons.
- That he was involved in a plot to murder a Greek journalist living in Washington, D.C. who opposed the Greek regime that Kissinger supported.
Obviously, this is not a biography of Kissinger, or even an account of his full career in the White House, and it makes no attempt to be "balanced." Hitchens despises Kissinger and makes no attempt to hide this fact throughout the book. He presents various possible "defenses" of his actions that Kissinger could use, in order to show how inadequate they are. Hitchens includes several statements that Kissinger has made in the past in his defense, including an extended transcript of a question-and-answer session during which Kissinger was confronted about East Timor, and a letter co-authored by Kissinger that addresses the charges about the sabotage of the 1968 Paris peace accords. Each time Hitchens lets Kissinger speak for himself, he shows how his words are inconsistent with government documents and other evidence, including in some cases comments that Kissinger had made on other occasions. Perhaps if Kissinger were allowed to present a full rebuttal, he could refute some of Hitchens' charges, but it is doubtful that he could do enough to erase the "war criminal" designation. Hitchens presents enough evidence from reliable sources to ensure that at least some of the charges would stick, if Kissinger's "trial" ever occurred.
The Trial of Henry Kissinger is a quick read, at only 150 smaller-than-average pages including appendices and acknowledgements. Hitchens' writing style is generally lively, even if it does get bogged down at times by the many pieces of evidence that he presents. If you want to learn why in some social circles, the name "Henry Kissinger" is considered to be synonymous with "war criminal" (or "butcher", "barbarian", "murderer", etc.), this is probably your best resource. It may not be "balanced," but it shows that the prosecution has a strong case.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An active nihilist, January 4, 2013
This book evoked a strange feeling of despair. On the one hand, I was dismayed at the terrible toll exacted on vulnerable peoples, unnecessarily and for little more reason than to further the political cause of the US president, his party and, more singularly, Henry Kissinger - an unelected government official of unbound self interested action. On the other hand, I felt despondent in the knowledge that despite this clear, evidence supported argument of the case for locking up Henry Kissinger for various international or US crimes, such is the hypocritical and weak US policy on human rights by its own statesmen that he has not and will not be ever arrested. Nevertheless, this fact offers no indictment on the work of Christopher Hitchens or his book, which in his usual style wallops his target in devastating eloquence but with an efficiency of language that rounds out the entire book in about 130 pages. Don't let the length of the book fool you though, it is not a book that will likely be read in a single sitting.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Kissinger of Death, January 10, 2008
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This review is from: The Trial of Henry Kissinger (Paperback)
J. Paul Getty once said: "If you owe the bank $100 that's your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that's the bank's problem." Similarly, if you are a young black guy who has killed one person with a gun while high on drugs, you have a problem and you may find yourself on death row somewhere in the USA; but if you are a Nobel prize winner responsible for killing millions of people with the weapons of statecraft and real politick while high on arrogance and influence, society has a problem and may not be able to prosecute you.

Hitchens' book first appeared in 2001 and had additional facts added in 2002; still, 6 years later no one in the USA has dared to bring his case to court. Does that mean the case is weak? Or that someone in power has a problem? Hitchen's evidence seems credible but there may not be a court anywhere prepared to hear the case.

It is interesting that according to the back cover of the book, while Dr. Kissinger finds the book 'contemptible' it is not reported that he finds the contents are 'untrue.'

An extra star goes to Hitchens for his courage in taking on the 'establishment.'
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever Wonder Why You Don't Like Kissinger. This Is Why., February 22, 2013
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I remember not liking Kissinger back way back when, as a young man, feeling the effects of the Nixon term. There was something I couldn't put a finger on about Henry. Could my radar be that far off on a person? Everyone was using the "genius" word when it came to this guy. But how? Why were there women "props" around him? Were these beards? I knew I was right about Nixon, and I knew I was right about Henry. Let the master polemicist tell you all about it. Hitchens codifies our worst fears about the dark underbelly of our government. Meet one of the real evil geniuses of the last generation, face to face. It may validate, everything you have suspected all along. Great work again by Hitchens.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A portrait of depraved and corrupt power, September 27, 2012
What a frightening narrative - and even if it's only half true, why hasn't someone had the courage (and deep pockets) to pursue Kissinger through the Courts? As Hitchens says, these matters may be old news and now of limited interest in the USA, but they are still highly relevant and personal to the thousands of people who have been affected and traumatised outside the States. The Australian Government received no attention in Hitchens' book for its disgraceful complicity when Indonesia invaded East Timor, but at least the Australian Government eventually had the courage to go back and help the East Timorese put things right (albeit too late for the many thousands who had been killed). If only the US Government had equal fortitude to put things right at home and bring Kissinger to trial ... Hopefully the many documents which Kissinger has managed to keep locked away in the US archives until after his demise will eventually help History bring down a true judgement on Kissinger. Innocent until proven guilty (if only Kissinger had allowed others such a courtesy), but based on Hitchens' book, Kissinger comes across as a very nasty piece of work with little regard for democracy, the rule of law or due process.
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The Trial of Henry Kissinger
The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens (Paperback - June 17, 2002)
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