Friday, October 06, 2006

Return of the War Criminal: Henry Kissinger

by Molly Ivins

The Old War Criminal is back. I try not to hold grudges, but I must admit I have never lost one ounce of rancor toward Henry Kissinger, that cynical, slithery, self-absorbed pathological liar. He has all the loyalty and principle of Charles Talleyrand, whom Napoleon described as “a piece of dung in a silk stocking.”

Come to think of it, Talleyrand looks pretty good compared to Kissinger, who always aspired to be Metternich (a 19th century Austrian diplomat). Just count the number of Americans and Vietnamese who died between 1969 and 1973, and see if you can find any indication he ever gave a damn.

As for Kissinger’s getting the Nobel Peace Prize, it is a thing so wrong it has come to define wrongness—as in, “As weird as the time Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Tom Lehrer, who was a lovely political satirist, gave up satire after that blow.

The War Criminal’s return is the only piece of news I have yet found in Bob Woodward’s new book, and what amazes me is the reaction to the work. Gosh, gasp, imagine, Woodward says the war’s a disaster!

People who know a lot more than Bob Woodward have been saying the war’s a disaster for years—because war is self-evidently a disaster. Why this is greeted as an annunciation from on high just because Woodward, the world’s most establishment reporter, now says so is a mystery to me.

I have read snippets here and there suggesting the self-important chattering class of Washington is massively resistant to admitting they were wrong about Iraq, and that you only have credibility as a critic of the war if you were for it in the first place. I missed a logical link there. I know how vain the chattering classes are, but the majority of the American people has since come to conclude they were wrong about the war—and they say so without feeling disgraced.

What’s wrong with the Washington press corps? Speaking of people who have trouble with the truth, here’s a recent George W. line from two weeks ago I particularly prize: “There’s kind of an urban myth here in Washington about how this administration hasn’t stayed focused on Osama bin Laden. Forget it. It’s convenient throwaway lines when people say that.”

How do these urban myths get started? Perhaps with GWB on March 13, 2002: “I don’t know where bin Laden is. ... You know ... I just don’t spend that much time on him. ... I’ll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.”

Or as Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on April 6, 2002: “The goal (in Afghanistan) has never been to get bin Laden. ... The goal there was never (to go) after specific individuals.” Donald Rumsfeld: Bin Laden has been “neutralized.” And Vice President Cheney: “Bin Laden himself is not that big a threat.”

And etc., etc. We got two straight years of quotes from officials all across the Bush administration pushing the idea that Osama bin Laden is just a minor player, we’re not hunting him, the war on terror is a much larger deal, and so on and so forth. You know, it’s one thing to tell a whopper yourself—it’s adding insult to injury to call the people who point this out liars themselves.

A half-hour documentary about Granny D (Doris Haddock) will be playing throughout October on various PBS channels around the country. Granny D, the crusader for campaign finance reform, who hiked across the country at age 90, is now 96, and the documentary of her work is inspiring.

She’s such an adorably “sweet old lady” that one forgets how tough she has been and how consistent she has been. You want to know where to get the strength, courage and optimism to keep fighting for change? Listen to Granny D. More at