Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Kissinger complicity

I'll be looking out for this one in the coming months. Since classified documents from the 70s have recently been released, there have been some developments and revelations that make Kissinger appear to have not only allowed that certain dictators in latin America were committing human rights crimes, but he was actually encouraging it.
So claims Christopher Hitchens, writing for Vanity Fair (hat tip: Michael Totten). I am curious if there is much of a defense for Kissinger here, and I've come to trust Hitchens for being an intellectually honest writer, especially for his treatment of Michael Moore and the election.
In South America today, the hidden resting-places of los desaparecidos are being found all the time. New and democratic governments, assisted by principled lawyers and judges and forensic investigators, are disinterring and identifying the maimed and twisted corpses of men and women, and of boys and girls, who were lost to their friends and families about a quarter of a century ago. (The critical resource for this and the rest of the story of Argentina is Martin Edwin Andersen's 1993 book, Dossier Secreto.) At the same time, in Washington, D.C., the declassification process for government documents is entering the disclosure phase. And, in a horrible way that is not being faced, the two excavations have begun to converge. From the standpoint of their victims, the death squads of Argentina and Chile were going about their busy work with the approval-no, the encouragement-of the secretary of state of the United States of America.
What follows is a long look, from the perspective of Hitchens, who covered and interviewed some of these dictators back then, at the United States' policy toward those dictators in the name of curbing communism in those parts of the world.
Kissinger had explicitly told Guzzetti not that he should slow down the rate of kidnappings and murders and disappearances but that he should speed it up. Hill's memo to Kissinger is perfectly plain. Guzzetti was told in June 1976 that "if the terrorist problem was over by December or January ... serious problems could be avoided in the U.S." Get on with it, in other words. The number of desaparecidos in Argentina at that stage has been calculated at 1,022. In October, at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, Kissinger told Guzzetti, "the quicker you succeed the better."
Brrrr. That's chilling. Is this truth?
The whole truth?
I certainly can see this in the context of the cold war. The US was deeply concerned about communism spreading in our neck of the woods, and in the decade before Reagan no one thought the war would end anytime soon. This just puts a slimy blood soaked cap on the historical US policy of "He may be a facist dictator, but he's OUR facist dictator." Which I never was quite comfortable with.
I certainly hope there is nothing like this going on in our current administration's worldwide efforts to curb terrorism.

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