By Bill Gallagher
DETROIT -- King Rat, Henry Kissinger, is leaving the USS Shrub to save face. His departure underlines the willingness of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to continue sending young Americans to die in a venture they know has failed. Kissinger is an expert in that area.
Kissinger -- who helped chart the course for the disaster in Iraq -- is only abandoning ship in a desperate attempt to try to spare his already permanently stained reputation more disgrace. Kissinger kept the war in Vietnam going and sent more Americans to their deaths for political purposes.
Kissinger is pure cynicism. Amorality is his code. He has no soul. Thus, he always feels comfortable in the company of Bush and Cheney, whispering into their ears his perverted wisdom.
We learned from Bob Woodward's "State of Denial" that Kissinger made frequent trips to the White House to urge the invasion of Iraq and bolster Bush's reckless instincts. Bush was an easy mark for the clever and treacherous Dr. Kissinger.
Kissinger, a shameless flatterer of the powerful, would tell Bush how courageous he was and how his boldness and aggression would change history. It is easy to imagine Kissinger in his thick German accent telling Bush, "Mr. President, the world will be forever grateful to you. To go to war without direct provocation takes courage. Your leadership is imperative to protect America's strategic position in the Middle East. It has been an inspiration to see your fortitude in adversity and your willingness to walk alone." (Kissinger actually used that last line on President Nixon.)
Bush would lap up Kissinger's sycophantic performance, beaming as he heard the approbation of his virtue, and enjoying the blessing of the great Kissinger as he set out on the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
"I'm glad you're on board, Henry," you can hear Bush twang. "Our country is grateful for your service."
Kissinger has raked in millions of dollars helping shift American jobs to China and other nations on his client list. But power, not money, is Kissinger's aphrodisiac. The former secretary of state and national security adviser during the Nixon and Ford administrations has a colossal ego and relished his return to influence in the Oval Office. Wiser presidents kept Kissinger far away.
When the war sputtered and the fiasco in Iraq began unfolding, Woodward reports Kissinger told Bush and Cheney, "Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy."
Woodward said in an interview on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes," "This is so fascinating. Kissinger's fighting the Vietnam War again, because, in his view, the problem in Vietnam was we lost our will."
It never seemed to bother Kissinger that millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and more than 50,000 Americans lost their lives. In his view, what was important was trying out his grand theories and manipulating Nixon to support his experiments.
Kissinger's fondness for force as the principal tool in foreign policy was played out in Vietnam and now Iraq. And old Henry didn't mind having murder in his repertoire of diplomatic skills.
In 1973, Kissinger plotted to oust Chile's elected leftist president Salvador Allende. In the process, Kissinger ordered the CIA to assassinate a Chilean army general he believed might oppose the coup. Allende and 3,197 Chileans died in the overthrow, a death toll remarkably close to the number killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.
But bloodshed never bothered Kissinger. His friend Augusto Pinochet was placed in power as dictator of Chile and carried out a two-decade long reign of terror, torture and murder. Kissinger is a repeat-offender war criminal. Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile and now Iraq top his rap sheet and represent only the tip of his treachery.
The timing of the always-cunning Kissinger's departure is telling. He hedged his bets until he heard the dirge of the surge and then abandoned ship. A new "meaningful exit strategy" will now do.
Kissinger told the Associated Press, "A 'military victory' in the sense of total control over the whole territory, imposed on the entire population, is not possible."
The nature of the insurgency in Iraq and the religious divisions between Sunnis and Shiites makes negotiating a peace more complex, Kissinger said.
No kidding, Henry. Either you didn't know that before urging the invasion, or you did and failed to caution your buddies in the White House. Or maybe you and your arrogant allies figured we could slap the Arabs around, and they would just roll over, and all your pals would make a lot of money.
L. Paul Bremer -- the disastrous American viceroy in Iraq who dismantled the Iraqi army, planted the seeds for the insurgency and watched billions of dollars disappear -- was a Kissinger protege.
Iraq is a "more complicated problem" than Vietnam, Kissinger admitted, adding, "I am basically sympathetic to President Bush. I am partly sympathetic because I have seen comparable situations."
Note that Kissinger's sympathy is for Bush, not the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans killed in the experiment.
That's typical of Kissinger, and we are now getting a new window into his sick mind. Robert Dallek's new book "Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power" is excerpted in the May issue of "Vanity Fair" magazine.
Dallek spent four years sifting through the Nixon administration's recently opened archives, which include 20,000 pages of verbatim transcripts of Kissinger's phone conversations. He had his aides listen in on his phone calls and write down every word. Of course, Kissinger never thought the conversations would be made public -- but thanks to Dallek, they are.
We learn that Nixon, disturbed as he was, considered Kissinger "psychopathic" and told his aide John Ehrlichman that Dr. K. "might need psychiatric help."
Nixon's chief of staff H.R. Haldeman kept a diary, which included a directive from Nixon that he make an "extensive memoranda about K's mental processes and so on, for his file."
"In Saigon the tendency is to fight the war to victory," Nixon told Kissinger, according to the transcript of a 1969 phone conversation. "But you and I know it is impossible."
But in Haldeman's unpublished diaries, Nixon is urging that Democratic war critics making the same point should be branded "the party of surrender."
Kissinger had no qualms playing politics with war. When someone suggested the war could cost Nixon the 1972 election, Kissinger boasted he could take care of matters because "anytime we want to get out of Vietnam, we can." Kissinger viewed war through the political calendar and advocated leaving Vietnam in the fall of 1972, "so that if any bad results follow, they will be too late to affect the election."
Dallek sees the ruthlessness of Kissinger's maneuvers: "He apparently had nothing to say about American lives that would be lost by deliberately prolonging the war."
Bush's dream that Iraq could be shaped into an imposed, western-style democracy, welcoming permanent American military bases and friendly to U.S. economic interests in the region, is fantasy.
But Bush and Cheney are willing to manufacture reality and let more people die for their dream. Whatever the ultimate outcome in Iraq, they know their beloved military contractors will make billions more -- and that's a good enough reason for them to keep the war going. Kissinger admires such cynicism.
His assessment of Nixon's UN ambassador was low. Kissinger dismissed George H.W. Bush, calling him "an idiot." Kissinger prefers the more malleable and machismo current president. The elder Bush would never buy into Kissinger's violent schemes or say, "Bring 'em on."
In 1999, George H.W. Bush told a gathering of veterans of the Gulf War why he didn't just march into Baghdad after driving Iraqi forces from Kuwait. He said, "Had we gone into Baghdad -- we could have done it, you guys could have done it, you could have been there in 48 hours -- and then what?"
Kissinger and the other warmongers George W. Bush sought for counsel before invading Iraq brushed off the "then what?" question. They were too busy plotting their next bellicose moves.
George H.W. Bush's conscience made him consider the consequences of seizing Iraq: "Whose life would be in my hands as commander in chief because I unilaterally went beyond international law, went beyond the stated mission and said we're going to show our macho?
"We're going to be an occupying power -- America in an Arab land -- with no allies at our side. It would be disastrous." Kissinger's "idiot" Bush had a grasp on reality. The delusional dunce Bush he admires doesn't.
Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com April 10 2007