by Megan Connolly*
An article I recently read stated that “Life has so far survived the collision of continents, mountain ranges erupting in volcanoes, murderously cold ice ages, the plague, Attila the Hun, and even Henry Kissinger.” One might be wondering, who is this Henry Kissinger? And how can this person possibly be compared to tectonic forces, the Ice Age, the Black Death, and the Scourge of God?
The Trials of Henry Kissinger, a documentary based on the book by Christopher Hutchins, offers controversial answers to these questions.
Kissinger served as National Security Advisor and later as Secretary of State during the Nixon administration, continuing his position when Gerald Ford took office after Watergate. The film suggests (as do many other journalists and human advocacy groups both abroad and in the U.S.) that Kissinger is responsible for multiple war crimes committed while working for the government.
The Johnson administration and North Vietnam were negotiating the prospect of peace in 1968, however, when Nixon (who was heavily influenced by Kissinger) took office, the prospect of peace quickly faded. The Vietnam War continued, resulting in tens of thousands of more deaths, only to have Nixon settle for the same peace terms in 1975 that Johnson did in 1968. Are Nixon and Kissinger then responsible for prolonging the Vietnam War for political gain?
Kissinger is also accused of being the prominent figure behind the secret Cambodian bombing campaign during the Vietnam War. The secret Cambodian bombing campaign strengthened the chaos in Cambodia, which led to the strengthening of the Khmer Rouge insurgency who devastated the country even further, executing more than 1.5 million Cambodians. Is Kissinger, therefore, responsible for the deaths of millions of people?
Questions about Kissinger’s involvement in the plotting of the assassination of the communist Chilean President Salvador Allende are also brought up. Is Kissinger responsible for illegally removing the head of a foreign government? Coincidentally, the day the son of Allende brought up the charges against Kissinger, the impact of these accusations were overshadowed by the grave events that occurred that day, which was September 11, 2001.
In The Trials of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hutchins demonstrates his arguments as to why he believes that Henry Kissinger is less than an honorable man. The film will too leave the viewer questioning the integrity of Kissinger. The Trials of Henry Kissinger displays the many different aspects of the character and personality of Henry Kissinger, who was and still remains one of the most controversial political figures in history.
*Megan Connolly is a Moraine Valley student, who writes a regular column, “In the LRC,” for the student newspaper The Glacier. In this column, Ms. Connolly reviews and highlights new additions to the library’s collection. This article has been reprinted with permission.