Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"The Trial of Henry Kissinger" by Christopher Hitchens

A Rare specimen!
This book is a rare specimen. It is a book without an audience (besides people like myself who got duped by the title). Although it does have an ostentatious name that would lead you to believe that it might contain hardcore evidence of Kissinger’s commission and complicity in the commission of a wide range of crimes, it falls far short of that expectation. If this book was intended for historians and international lawyers its material is unimpressive, inconsistent with the facts (reference to the authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC) by which Hitchens alludes that the United States is in some way bound comes to mind first, although the US has been persistently rejecting the ICC and has been working for the past few years with individual governments to conclude bilateral extradition treaties designed to undermine this very court) and too speculative to be given any academic credence. If the book was written for the general public which knows little or, in case of the new generation, nothing about Kissinger, it is not explanatory enough to help this audience make head or tail of the nature of Hitchens’ accusations. In addition, the book draws no line between the public and private persona of Henry Kissinger. Instead, allegations of the commission of crimes are made across the board and are served by the author as an amalgam of Kissinger’s private beliefs and practices (such as his long-term support of China and the CCP government) and his public duties which he carried out more than two decades ago. Disregard Daily Telegraph’s challenge (printed on the back of this book) thrown at Kissinger to sue, as there’s no court in this world which abides by the principles of fair trial that would consider Hitchens’ arguments sufficiently persuasive to grant them a prima facia. Kissinger made the right decision by completely disregarding this publication as it has no teeth outside the realm of coffee-shop reading. For the record, I am not associated with Henry Kissinger in any way, nor am I his avid supporter. In my opinion Kissinger’s actions as a public persona merit an investigation, however, Hitchens’ book is an incredibly feeble attempt at doing so. This book has added nothing to the scholarship on the subject, nor does it contain any material that can be of utility to anyone who might decide to put together a prima facie case against Kissinger. There’s better compiled material available on the subject – although it cannot be found all in one place – that a reader can obtain commensurate with his/her prior knowledge of the history of the period during which Kissinger was a political figure. By not buying this book you will also be making a stand against demagoguery in modern polemics. Stan Starygin

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