Kissinger’s death stirs fresh controversy - GulfToday

Kissinger’s death stirs fresh controversy

Michael Jansen

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger

Reviled by many for his bloody legacy and respected by others for a realpolitik approach to foreign affairs, Henry Kissinger’s death at 100 last week has stirred fresh controversy. While Kissinger’s evil roles in Chile’s 1973 coup and the Vietnam, Cambodian, and Pakistan/Bangladesh wars are well known, he has done his best to sweep under the carpet his meddling in Cyprus.

Thanks to Henry Kissinger the Turkish army is a twenty-minute walk from my house. Nicosia responded to his death last week at 100 with what The Cyprus Mail called deafening silence. Kissinger is seen by many here as the “architect” or “green-lighter” of the 1974 attempted coup against Cypriot President Makarios which launched the long-planned Turkish invasion of the northern 36 per cent of the island and ethnic cleansing of Greek Cypriots living there. After occupying the north, Turkey compelled Turkish Cypriots living in the south to move north, divided the island into two communal regions, and recognised a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state recognised by no other country.

Although NATO member Britain had retained major military bases on the island after independence, Kissinger disliked Makarios, a right-of-centre churchman, because he was democratically elected with the backing of the influential Cypriot Communist Party, Akel. Makarios was also a leading figure in the Non-Aligned Movement along with India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Yugoslavia’s Tito. Since Greek Orthodox Archbishop Makarios had a beard, Kissinger, reportedly, branded him the “Castro of the Mediterranean.”

Non-Alignment was anathema to anti-Soviet Cold War warrior Kissinger who, along with the CIA, backed the Athens junta led by right-wing Greek dictator Dimitrios Ioannides who in 1967 mounted a coup against the progressive caretaker government of George Papandreou. The junta’s 1974 objective was to oust Makarios, take over Cyprus and announce its union with Greece in a greater Hellenic Republic.

Kissinger saw Turkey as NATO bastion against the Soviet Union and supported the Turkish army which dominated the political scene in that country and in the mid-1950s had drawn up a map for the division of Cyprus between Turkey and Greece. Collusion between Turkish and Greek generals and the US was on the cards.

US diplomats have argued that Kissinger knew of the plot to overthrow Makarios but did nothing to stop it. This knowledge did not involve superior intelligence because Makarios revealed coup plans to all who would listen, including my husband Godfrey Jansen, then Levant correspondent of The Economist, and me during an interview in April 1974. Therefore, Kissinger had plenty of time to prevent the mid-July coup against Makarios and avoid the Turkish invasion. I was told that when he was informed early on the morning of the coup that Makarios survived, his response was an expletive.

While Kissinger contributed to easing Cold War tensions by improving US relations with Russia and achieving US recognition of China, his positive policies on the great power level are heavily outweighed by his involvement in bloody conflicts and lack of respect for post-World War II international humanitarian laws and norms. His handiwork resulted in 3-4 million fatalities around the world.

He began his career in 1957 as a warmonger by advocating the US use of tactical nuclear weapons in world conflicts. Although a conservative Republican, he joined the Kennedy and Johnson Democrat administrations as a foreign affairs adviser. During this time, he visited Tel Aviv and expressed support for the programme that made Israel the region’s sole possessor of nuclear bombs.

Republican Kissinger exploited his knowledge of Johnson’s 1968 decision to halt the bombing of North Vietnam and initiate negotiations with the Viet Cong to end the war to sabotage the effort. Kissinger’s aim was to defeat the Democratic candidate in the presidential election.

After Richard Nixon became president in 1969, Kissinger became national security adviser. While pursuing the Vietnam war which killed 1.4 million civilians and combatants, he secretly ordered the carpet bombing of Cambodia that slew hundreds of thousands of civilians and led to the takeover by the murderous Khmer Rouge. The Vietnam peace deal, negotiated by Kissinger, was signed in Paris in January 1973. Ironically, Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize that October although the war continued until 1975 when the Viet Cong captured Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam.

In 1971, Kissinger supported Pakistan’s military junta in its conflict in East Pakistan from which it emerged as independent Bangladesh. Tens of thousands were killed.

Kissinger was credited with orchestrating the 1973 coup against and murder of Chile’s leftist President Salvador Allende which produced the 17-year dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Some 89,000 were arrested, tens of thousands were tortured, between 1,200-2,200 were executed, and unknown numbers were disappeared.

Kissinger served as secretary of state under President Gerald Ford after Nixon resigned in 1973. Before the 1976 Argentinian military overthrow of President Isabel Peron, Kissinger warned the coupists to crack down quickly before there were protests in the US against arrests, executions, and forced disappearances.

Since he exited public office in 1977, US administrations have adopted Kissinger’s example of applying military force to countries resisting US dictates irrespective of the deaths and devastation caused by his modus operandi.

The Biden administration is the latest to adopt this route. Instead of promoting a negotiated settlement between Russia and Ukraine over the latter’s bid to join NATO, President Joe Biden urged Kyiv to challenge Moscow. As Russia regarded Ukrainian NATO accession as a “red line,” this prompted a duel on Ukrainian battlefields. This 20-month conflict has cost more than 10,000 Ukrainians their lives and devastated large areas of that country. Biden has also adopted the Kissinger formula by giving total backing to Israel’s war on Gaza. This is the most destructive campaign since Kissinger’s war on Cambodia more than 60 years ago.

Writing in Rolling Stone last week, Spencer Ackerman called Kissinger a “war criminal beloved by America’s ruling class.” Ackerman wrote, “Not once in the half-century that followed Kissinger’s departure from power did the millions the United States killed matter for his reputation, except to confirm a ruthlessness that pundits occasionally find thrilling. America, like every empire, champions its state murderers.”

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