by Medea Benjamin
February 13, 2016
Antiwar.com

At the February 11 Democratic Debate, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton had a spirited exchange about an unlikely topic: the 92-year old former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Sanders berated Clinton for saying that she appreciated the foreign policy mentoring she got from Henry Kissinger. “I happen to believe,” said Sanders, “that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country.”

In one of Sanders’ rare outbursts of enmity, he added, “I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger. And in fact, Kissinger’s actions in Cambodia, when the United States bombed that country, overthrew Prince Sihanouk, created the instability for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to come in, who then butchered some three million innocent people, was one of the worst genocides in the history of the world. So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger.”

Clinton went on to defend Kissinger, using the example of China. “His opening up China and his ongoing relationships with the leaders of China is an incredibly useful relationship for the United States of America,” she insisted.

Sanders responded that Kissinger scared Americans about communist China, then opened up trade so U.S. corporations could dump American workers and hire exploited, repressed Chinese.

First he warned us about “the terrible, authoritarian, Communist dictatorship,” groaned Sanders, “now he’s urging companies to shut down and move to China. Not my kind of guy.”

Now that many Americans, particularly young ones, are hearing the name of Henry Kissinger, they should learn some other reasons why Kissinger would not make a good mentor.

As Secretary of State, Kissinger facilitated the horrendous September 11, 1973 coup against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende that brought to power the ruthless Augusto Pinochet in Chile. As some 5,000 people were being detained and tortured in Chile’s National Stadium, Kissinger told Pinochet, “You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende.” The Pinochet dictatorship, which lasted for two decades, left over 3,000 people dead or missing, thousands tortured and hundreds of thousands driven into exile.

There was also Kissinger’s role in the brutal 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor, which took place just hours after Kissinger and President Ford visited Indonesia. They had given the Indonesian strongman the US green light – and the weapons – for an invasion that led to a 25-year occupation in which over 100,000 soldiers and civilians were killed or starved to death. The UN’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor (CAVR) stated that US”political and military support were fundamental to the Indonesian invasion and occupation” of East Timor.

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