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Moreover, there's the whole question of what international law is intended to accomplish. "International law does not involve personal crimes," argued Rubin, the Tufts professor. "I would emphasize that immorality is not illegality, and illegality is not personal criminal liability."
But a court hearing could do more for a nation than punish its most visible villains. "I think it would be good to have a trial," says Zinn, the historian. "I wouldn't want to put him in jail. I don't want to put any of these people in jail. I don't believe in that. I think it should be more like the truth commission in South Africa. Hold them up to the world, shame them, and ban them from dinner parties."
There may be no tracking down of every powerful figure who has ever broken the rules. Trace it right back through history, says former White House candidate Ralph Nader. "Do you know any president who hasn't violated international law dozens of times?" Nader says. "If Kissinger is a war criminal, what about Clinton, who killed citizens in Iraq? You can't pick one person out. It doesn't have credibility. International law is known primarily for violating it. Is there anything the U.S. won't do abroad in violation of international law?"
For now, the way Kissinger's world keeps shrinking may have to be punishment enoughat least until someone takes action. "Maybe if he makes a mistake and travels abroad where he doesn't expect to be apprehended, then that country could arrest and try him," concludes Zinn. "He doesn't want to set foot in France because he's afraid of that. I think that's a very nice little punishment that doesn't allow him to see Paris ever again. Apprehending him in the U.S., with the judicial system and friendseven so-called critics? Nothing is going to happen to him unless someone makes a citizen's arrest."
An indictment of Henry Kissinger for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes would include (but not be confined to) the following.
VIETNAM: Kissinger scuttled peace talks in 1968, paving the way for Richard Nixon's victory in the presidential race. Half the battle deaths in Vietnam took place between 1968 and 1972, not to mention the millions of civilians throughout Indochina who were killed.
CAMBODIA: Kissinger persuaded Nixon to widen the war with massive bombing of Cambodia and Laos. No one had suggested we go to war with either of these countries. By conservative estimates, the U.S. killed 600,000 civilians in Cambodia and another 350,000 in Laos.
BANGLADESH: Using weapons supplied by the U.S., General Yahya Khan overthrew the democratically elected government and murdered at least half a million civilians in 1971. In the White House, the National Security Council wanted to condemn these actions. Kissinger refused. Amid the killing, Kissinger thanked Khan for his "delicacy and tact."
CHILE: Kissinger helped to plan the 1973 U.S.-backed overthrow of the democratically elected Salvador Allende and the assassination of General René Schneider. Right-wing general Augusto Pinochet then took over. Moderates fled for their lives. Hit men, financed by the CIA, tracked down Allende supporters and killed them. These attacks included the car bombing of Allende's foreign minister, Orlando Letelier, and an aide, Ronni Moffitt, at Sheridan Circle in downtown Washington.
EAST TIMOR: In 1975 President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger met with Indonesia's corrupt strongman Suharto. Kissinger told reporters the U.S. wouldn't recognize the tiny country of East Timor, which had recently won independence from the Dutch. Within hours Suharto launched an invasion, killing, by some estimates, 200,000 civilians.