Summary of Kissinger’s Misdeeds
Some, like New York University history professor Greg Grandin, would say Kissinger’s actions were far from praiseworthy. Here are some of Kissinger’s misdeeds as seen by the Grandin:
1. Prolonged the Vietnam War for five pointless years
2. Illegally bombed Cambodia and Laos
3. Bore responsibility for three genocides in Cambodia, East Timor, and Bangladesh
4. Pumped up Pakistan’s ISI, and encouraged it to use political Islam to destabilize Afghanistan
5. Accelerated needless civil wars in southern Africa that, in the name of supporting white supremacy, left millions dead
6. Supported coups and death squads throughout Latin America
Grandin believes Kissinger’s actions led to the deaths of 3 to 4 million people. Let’s explore two of those bombing campaigns.
Bombing of Cambodia
On March 18, 1969 B-52 bombers began carpet bombing eastern Cambodia. The name of the operation was “Operation Breakfast.” This bombing campaign was the catalyst for Cambodia’s entrance into the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration hid these bombings from Congress.
The Historical Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense estimates 50,000 civilians were killed in Cambodia.
To be clear, we drew Cambodia into the Vietnam War and secretly invaded their country. The bombings were tactically unnecessary. Even worse, Sydney Schanberg, a former New York Times correspondent, argued the bombings helped the Khmer Rouge grow.
The Khmer Rouge was a guerrilla group that came to prominence after a successful coup deposed Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1970. The prince relied on the Khmer Rouge for support, thereby elevating their standing. The Khmer Rouge initially gained support because they presented themselves as a peaceful group committed to pacifism.
Pol Pot became a leader in the Khmer Rouge. Pot implemented a cruel form of communism. He went about “emptying the cities, abolishing money, private property and religion, and setting up rural collectives.” Pot created communal farms and exposed the populace to fatal work conditions. Almost 2 million people were killed by execution, disease, starvation and overwork under the Khmer Rouge’s brutal rule from 1975 to 1979.
Kissinger has tried to defend his actions in Cambodia by saying they bombed areas that were largely uninhabited. This is simply not true. The Washington Post puts it this way:
U.S. bombs landed on populated areas of Cambodia, too. As Kissinger himself reports in an endnote in his 2003 book, “The worst error occurred at Neak Luong, when more than a hundred civilians were killed” by a B-52 strike on the banks of the Mekong River on Aug. 6, 1973. Furthermore, an overlay of U.S. bombing coordinates onto historical maps of Cambodia clearly shows that U.S. planes targeted populated areas, again and again and again, as reported by Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan in an October 2006 article in The Walrus.
Bombing of Laos
North Vietnam created an intricate logistical system through mountainous and jungle terrain in order to man and resupply the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam. The purpose of the National Front was to fight against South Vietnam and the US. The logistical route was called the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
The US carried out 580,000 bombing missions in Laos over nine years in order to destroy the Trail. The bombing campaign was a failure. Another 50,000 people were killed as a result of these bombing campaigns. Even worse, the bombings left 80 million unexploded bombs in the ground of Laos.