SCOTT RITTER: Kissinger – War Criminal Who Saved the World

The United States’ most notorious diplomat was behind key nuclear arms control treaties with the USSR that kept a lid on the possibility of catastrophic nuclear exchange.

Henry Kissinger at the Munich Security Conference in February 2012. (Kai Mörk/Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 German)

By Scott Ritter
Scott Ritter Extra

Henry Kissinger, recognized by many as one of the most influential practitioners of American foreign policy ever, died on Wednesday at the age of 100.

Much is being written about the former national security advisor and secretary of state over the next days and weeks, some of it glowing, much of it condemning. I will leave it up to others to decide how they want to characterize the man and his life. As for me, I will focus on the brief moments of intersection I had with Secretary Kissinger, and how those impacted my life and my work.

My first brush with Henry Kissinger was as a child living in Hawaii. My father was a career Air Force officer, and in the early 1970s he was assigned to the Headquarters, Pacific Air Force, where he was involved with a variety of logistics-related assignments, including helping facilitate the transfer of U.S. military equipment to the Vietnamese Air Force as part of the Nixon administration’s “Vietnamization” program, which sought to transfer responsibility for the defense of South Vietnam from the U.S. military to Vietnamese armed forces.

In this regard, my father made several trips to South Vietnam. Two things stood out from these experiences: one was my father’s disgust at the lies being told by senior U.S. military officers who would issue glowing reports about the progress being made after spending less than 48 hours in South Vietnam, most of that time being spent in bars and nightclubs.

My father had been deployed to Vietnam in 1965-66 as part of the 10th Air Commando Squadron — the “Skoshi Tigers” — responsible for bringing the F-5 fighter to Vietnam, testing it out as a combat platform, and transitioning the F-5 to the South Vietnamese Air Force. He knew more than a little about the realities of turning over modern weapons systems to a military culture unaccustomed to such complexity.

While the U.S. Air Force was able to employ the F-5 in both an air-to-air and air-to-ground role in South Vietnam, the South Vietnamese never really grasped how to properly use the capabilities inherent in the airframe. This was true in 1966, when my father left South Vietnam for the first time, and it remained the case in 1973-74, when he was involved in implementing “Vietnamization.”

But I remember his anger when speaking of the numerous cables that would come in from Washington, D.C., and in particular from National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, directing things to be done. “Kissinger Sends,” the cables would read. “Who the hell is Henry Kissinger?” my father would say. “And why the hell are we listening to him? He’s not in our chain of command.” (Scott Ritter discusses this article on Ep. 118 of Ask the Inspector.)

Later, from February through April 1975, as the South Vietnamese military crumbled before the North Vietnamese armed forces advancing on Saigon, the absolute failure of the “Vietnamization” program —which Kissinger championed — became manifest.

That summer my family played host to a South Vietnamese refugee family that had fled for their lives during the fall of Saigon. We were good hosts, but my father could barely look the family in the eyes given the shame he felt at having been a part of a system that had betrayed them so much.

Godfather of U.S.-Soviet Arms Control

Henry Kissinger, former U.S. secretary of state, chairing a “new partners” panel with former U.S.S.R. leaders in Davos, Switzerland, 1992. (World Economic Forum, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Over the years, I would read much about Kissinger and his work. While a senior in college, I devoured Seymour Hersh’s The Price of Power, a devastating exposé of the dark realities associated with the Nixon administration’s formulation and implementation of national security and foreign policy.

In my mind, the name Henry Kissinger became synonymous with the illegal bombing of Cambodia, the assassination of Salvadore Allende, and the degree to which a nation’s reputation could be sullied by the actions of one man.

To be honest, as I entered the U.S. Marines after graduating college in 1984, I didn’t give Kissinger much thought — he was, from my perspective, a relic of the past, a bad national nightmare who, like his boss, Richard Nixon, was fading into the pages of historical irrelevance.

And then, in early 1988, everything changed. I was taken from the deserts of southern California, where I had been perfecting skills associated with the Marine Corps mission of destroying the enemy through firepower and maneuver.,  I was dispatched to Washington, D.C., where I was made part of a team that would implement inspection tasks associated with the implementation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

As I learned more about the treaty, and its relationship to the history of U.S.-Soviet arms control, the name Henry Kissinger kept popping up. Kissinger, it turns out, was the Godfather of U.S.-Soviet arms control, the man who crafted the anti-ballistic missile treaty, considered one of the foundational agreements that defined the strategic relationship between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

He was also the driving force behind the policy of détente between the U.S. and Soviet Union, which led to an end to the nuclear arms race and heralded in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) which eventually turned into the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

The INF treaty was a byproduct of the vision set forth by Kissinger. I often speak of the importance of the INF treaty in preventing nuclear war, and remain convinced that without it, a nuclear conflict between the U.S. and Soviet Union was inevitable.

‘Foreign Policy Expert’ Reappears 

US President George Bush and USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in Moscow 1991. (National Archives via Creative Commons)

It turns out that without Henry Kissinger, there probably would have been no INF treaty, no START treaty, no SALT agreements, no ABM treaty — no arms control.

Without Henry Kissinger, there would very likely have been a nuclear war.

Following my assignment as an arms inspector in the Soviet Union, I returned to the Marine Corps, where, from August 1990 until August 1998, my life was defined by Iraq — first through Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and then later, as a weapons inspector with the United Nations tasked with overseeing the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs.

Once again, Kissinger disappeared into the background, only to reappear in the summer of 1998 as one of the “foreign policy experts” who articulated openly about the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

Following my resignation from the United Nations in August 1998, I received an invitation from Teddy Forstmann, one of the founders of the private equity corporation Forstmann & Little, to fly to Aspen, Colorado, to speak as part of an annual policy discussion forum that brought together the “best and the brightest” in the world under a single roof where the issues of the day would be addressed. Among the notable people present was none other than Kissinger.

I had the opportunity to rub elbows with him on several occasions during the Aspen forum. We talked, of course, about Iraq — this was pre-9/11, pre-WMD fabrication, where the issues revolved primarily around Saddam Hussein and the threat he posed to regional peace and security.

But most of all we talked about arms control and the importance of preserving the legacy of disarmament that had been started under the Nixon administration, but which seemed to be slipping away under Bill Clinton’s watch.

I last saw Henry Kissinger in May 1999, at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. He was attended to by a retired Secret Service officer whom I had met at the Aspen event. After the dinner and speeches, he approached my table and told me Mr. Kissinger wanted to speak with me. I was ushered to a side room, where the famous former diplomat was waiting. “I wanted to continue our conversation,” Kissinger said. And we did.

The details of what we talked about, filled with the nuances of science, technology, and how they interface with the human condition, are unimportant at this juncture. The point being made here is that for a solid 30 minutes, I had the undivided attention of one of the foremost thinkers of our time when it came to diplomacy and arms control. We talked about the past, we talked about the present, and we both worried about the future.

I have been in the presence of great men, and the one thing that strikes me about most of them is that they love to hear themselves talk. Don’t get me wrong — Henry Kissinger, too, was in love with the sound of his own voice — he had more than earned the right.

I was deeply impressed with the intelligence of this man. But what impressed me the most was his willingness to listen, and to carefully weigh his words when responding to what I had to say. While I was clearly the junior partner in this discussion, I was not made to feel irrelevant.

Far too soon, the Secret Service man appeared, and gestured to the door, where a long line of illuminati was waiting to have an audience with the Dean of American Diplomacy. My time was up. We shook hands. “We will talk again,” Henry Kissinger said in parting.

“He likes you,” the Secret Service agent told me as we exited the room. “You were the first person he wanted to speak to tonight.”

Kissinger’s Complex Legacy

Chile’s General Augusto Pinochet, left, greets US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1976. (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I was honored and looked forward to our next conversation. I even bought a copy of his 1994 masterpiece, Diplomacy, and put it on my bookshelf in anticipation of getting the author to sign it one day.

That day never came. Henry Kissinger passed away on Nov, 29, 2023, at the age of 100.

One of his last official acts was to travel to China, where he used the good reputation he had built from his orchestration of Nixon’s historic outreach in 1972 to try and find some common ground between the U.S. and China today that could be used to repair a very strained relationship.

There will be those who, with reason, choose to remember Henry Kissinger harshly because of policies he formulated and implemented that could, with just cause, be characterized as crimes against humanity. Kissinger once joked, “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.”

It wasn’t funny because it was true.

“Who the hell is Henry Kissinger?” my father used to angrily ask. The answer, it turns out, is not so simple.

There is much to be critical of the man, and nothing he did should be kept secret from the people he ostensibly served.

But I will always remember the intelligence and kindness of the man, and the fact that the policies he shaped helped save the world from nuclear annihilation. Next week there will be a gathering of veterans from the INF treaty in Washington, D.C. We will toast those who have gone before us — including, just this past month, Roland Lajoie, the first director of the On-Site Inspection Agency and the man who made verification of the INF treaty possible.

I will offer a separate toast, in silence, to Henry Kissinger, because I know, in my heart of hearts, that for all his many faults, if it weren’t for him, none of us would be here today.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

This story is from the author’s Scott Ritter Extra on Substack 

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

50 comments for “SCOTT RITTER: Kissinger – War Criminal Who Saved the World

  1. robert e williamson jr
    December 3, 2023 at 22:43

    I figure the only way a person, any reasonably normal person could live with themselves knowing they were responsible for facilitating the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, among whom many were innocents, is if they were a psychopath.

    No matter how it is sliced one must possess an incredible ego to arrogantly assume because on one abilities one is to be forgiven for such horrendous behavior. SEE: Donald J Trump. A psychopathic person with very little raw intelligence. As I said before, Hank benefited greatly from actually being the smartest man in the room way to often as he meandered through his far too many years through the U.S. government. I place Edward Teller in the same class. He managed to place the albatross, his SUPER, around the world, with no thoughts of anyone other than himself and his ilk.

    Scott in this case is on is own.

    Thanks CN

  2. December 3, 2023 at 14:27

    I think that most people have probably heard of near death experiences (NDE’s).

    One feature of such experiences which has been reported, and which I find very interesting in the context of justice hopefully working itself out, is that of the life review, which focuses on the deeds a person has done throughout his or her life, the motives of the deeds, and the effects of the deeds on others. In fact it has been reported that one re-experiences one’s deeds not only from one’s own perspective but from the perspective of others whom one’s deeds have affected (both for good and for bad). (And actually not only one’s deeds but also one’s thoughts and words.)

    Here is a youtube video about this, titled The Golden Rule Dramatically Illustrated, featuring NDE researcher Dr. Kenneth Ring.

    In the video Dr. Ring gives an example of a man who was a rather big fellow and a roughneck, and who had gotten into a fight with and punched out another man. This man later had a near-death experience as a result of an accident, and in that experience he had a life review in which he had to re-experience what he did, and he had to be in effect the man whom he had punched out, and to himself feel what the other man must have felt as a result of his blows.

    Dr. Ring makes the point in his video that in the context of the near death experience the Golden Rule is “not just a precept for moral conduct but the way it works”, and one experiences this in a very forcible way in the life review.


    If that is true, then one has to wonder what it is going to be like for somebody like Henry Kissinger to experience for himself the horrid consequences of all that he has done. (Even if one does not go along with the Christian belief that any person’s eternal destiny is necessarily fixed at the moment of death, and a person necessarily goes to spend either an eternity in heaven or an eternity in hell.)

    (Note: I especially do not go along with the Christian belief that one’s eternal destiny is solely determined by one having “accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior” in this present lifetime. And any average good person who has not “accepted Jesus Christ” is condemned to hell, while any person, even one who has done as much evil as Henry Kissinger, can get a free pass out of hell just by having “accepted Jesus Christ”.)

  3. Alan Ross
    December 3, 2023 at 12:27

    When you really think of all the innocent lives that Henry Kissinger participated in prematurely ending, you have to despise this deeply evil man. When you add the treaties he championed, you can see that such an evil person can also serve a good cause, though one doubts that he did not do it out of a care for mankind. Perhaps, what had him participate in lowering the chances of all of us killing ourselves was a recognition that you cannot enjoy your ill-gotten gains and prestige in an incinerated world. You can do the “right” things for a wrong motive, but it is usually corrupted.

    Scott Ritter knows a lot and has many valuable things to say and should be listened to. Yet I think he makes the mistake of giving too much weight to his personal experience with Kissinger, which seemed to have some flattery in it. Ted Bundy was likely very charming to the women he lured to their deaths. Many reporters, especially in the mainstream media make much of politicians who personally treat them well. John McCain worked in behalf of much evil, but was lauded for his opposition to torture. Shouldn’t we judge a person on how he treats all people not just our own personal experience with them?

  4. New Squirel
    December 3, 2023 at 04:03

    Kissinger to me is the archetype of the asshole and cowardly bully, and mass murderer. When facing poor underdeveloped third world countries like Vietnam, Cambodia or Chile, he was like “let’s beat the crap out of them”, while facing a peed adversary has was like “better negotiate with them”. Asshole and cowardly bully, and mass murderer.

  5. Vasil
    December 2, 2023 at 19:13

    Kissinger has simply always protected American interests and nothing more . Crediting him with the heroism that the Americans and Russians realized that nuclear weapons have an expiration date is laughable. He was in the right place at the right time and if he hadn’t been there someone else would have been. The same goes for the millions killed in Asia – someone would have been found to do it and there would have been damn good excuses. Only two I would listen to with interest as you have listened to Kissinger – Noam Chomsky and Michael Hudson, and the former is far from their worldview.

  6. CaseyG
    December 2, 2023 at 15:52

    Kissinger truly gave me the creeps. He seemed to speak in a monotone as if he was a robot. His face was often set in the style of a man who did not respect anyone, and my immediate reaction to the first thing I heard him speak–was not so much the words—but the voice of a man with no humanity. In other words, a scary man. i would have said a scary human, but he did not seem to belong to the humanity group either.

  7. bonbon
    December 2, 2023 at 07:46

    As usual the American blind-spot is deafening :
    Dr. Henry Kissinger, was appointed an Honorary Knight Commander in the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (KCMG), and TWICE publicly said he always served the British Crown, in FOUR US Administrations. Scott Ritter’s father had better sense when he knew Kissinger was not in the chain of command.
    When Sir Henry went to China early on, he did not serve a US Admin as Pepe Escobar recently pointed out.

    As Scott Ritter’s brilliant 2-part video “Agent Zelensky” over at Rumble channel (Diamondz) “Real Truth Real News” clearly shows British pedigree in action today, how is it Ritter missed Kissinger’s pedigree?
    That private 30-min chat sure looks like a recruitment attempt. When the Secret Service guy said “he likes you” alarms should have flashed. Being liked by Sir Henry Kissinger, KCMG is a death warrant.
    Sir Henry Kissinger, KCMG signed US National Security Memoranrum , NSSM 200, listing countries targeted for genocide, Egypt being Number 1.

    And the only way to remove the nuclear democles sword from off our necks is to make them obsolete – shoot them down. Sir Henry Kissinger, KCMG opposed the Reagan Strategic Defense Initiative at Reykyavik 1983. (as did Andropov – who died soon after).
    Sir Henry Kissinger KCMG, left us with MAD – Mutual Assured Destruction, which Scott Ritter all the time writes about everywhere, as traty after treaty is dumped.

  8. noland carter
    December 1, 2023 at 20:52

    ….another apologist for a war criminal…..plain and simple. History trying to rewrite the wrongdoings of a morally bankrupt political system of complete, absolute, ultimate global economic, political, military domination. Good luck. Too many people here and around the world know the historical truth which will not be denied. There can only be a celebration of this perpetrator of death leaving this planet worse than when he entered it.

  9. Jimm
    December 1, 2023 at 17:41

    Simply by the title of his article Ritter believes Kissinger was a war criminal. That assessment he is not “leaving to others”. HK was instrumental in creating the nuclear weapons proliferation that he was somehow famous for diffusing. That SR believes it important to laud HK’s diplomacy skills posthumously is disheartening. When I last viewed the Vietnam War Memorial I wished for an adjacent wall that displayed the names of those politicians and government officials who allowed the Vietnam carnage to flourish. I look forward to a Caitlin Johnstone or Chris Hedges postmortem. In the meantime, the Spencer Ackerman piece at lays it all bare.

  10. Robert Crosman
    December 1, 2023 at 16:03

    I lived in Washington, during the 1950’s, while growing up, and had friends whose fathers were high up in the government – State and Defense Depts. These men were perpetually in a cold sweat about some crisis or other, which they feared would lead to nuclear war.
    Scott Ritter is an excellent example of the insider mentality. Kissinger, who was guilty of many war crimes, was also, as Scott Ritter reminds us, a major champion of arms control treaties – treaties that are now dead or dying. The risk of nuclear war is correspondingly greater, and could happen.
    BUT this will probably not occur, precisely because those in power are so afraid that it will. Example: when OUR madman, Donald Trump, toyed with the nuclear football, those around him made sure that if he tried to start an attack, he wouldn’t be obeyed. Putin, though not insane, would be restrained by others from starting a nuclear war.
    No, we are reasonably safe from nuclear annihilation, and in fact the Pax Atomica is a principal reason why since WWII all wars have been local. We have that, at least, to thank the Atomic Age for. And we can thank Henry Kissinger, war criminal, for being one of the instruments for nuclear détente. It will be interesting to see who picks up the burden he has had to lay down.

  11. Eddie S
    December 1, 2023 at 15:38

    I would gently remind Scott Ritter that some sociopaths can be very charming as part of their manipulative behavior — think of numerous serial killers like Ted Bundy for instance —- so I would be very skeptical and suspicious if someone with Kissinger’s bloody background was being nice to me (or anyone else)..

  12. vinnieoh
    December 1, 2023 at 15:18

    A courageous piece Mr. Ritter, noting that it is not a “Special to Consortium News.”

    To some here making arguments diminishing the consequences of the various arms limitation treaties Kissinger was involved in: Are we to take it then that you believe we would have been better off without those treaties? And if that is the case, why should we be alarmed or even care that those treaties are now almost certainly lost?

    My nation – the US – has been at war almost my entire lifetime (’53) and even with my limited knowledge of all that has transpired I find it impossible to identify any US political, governmental, or bureaucratic heavyweight that does not have blood on their hands. This is not a defense of Kissinger or anyone else, but a statement of a sad truth about modern humanity and human relations.

    Jimmy Carter is likely to expire soon (days? weeks? months?) and here again is a person who will be hailed as a humanitarian and a true old-school Christian (he truly is) who none-the-less was involved in decision making for the most powerful and dangerous nation on the planet, and yes, he too has blood on his hands.

  13. rjb
    December 1, 2023 at 14:46

    If hell were a place where people go until they suffer equally to the hurt they have caused during their lifetime, Kissinger would burn there for a time closer to eternity than anyone I have heard of or imagined.

  14. JonnyJames
    December 1, 2023 at 13:28

    With all due respect, we could have had a real statesman who would not have supported the mass murder of millions in SE Asia, Indonesia, Chile, etc. and also negotiated treaties with the USSR. to reduce the threat of nuclear war. It didn’t have to be either, or.

    No worries, despite the MassMediaCartel and the D/R duopoly dictatorship heaping praise and adulation on the “great man”, history books will be crystal clear and rank him among the worst sociopaths in history.

  15. robert e williamson jr
    December 1, 2023 at 12:41

    Once again Scott gives us insight into his experiences and come away being straight with us about his thoughts.

    I sense Scott’s great respect for the man, a person who clearly was very complicated but very capable at times. He worked himself into positions of power but in my opinion seemed to have no conscience about the misery he was responsible for inflicting on so many.

    Definitely an enigmatic individual. Addicted to power he who ended up with the legacy of being responsible for the deaths of thousands and thousands of innocents. So be it!

    “Hank the Shank” was not one of my favorite people, he reminded me too much of Edward Teller!

    Thanks CN

  16. Kurt
    December 1, 2023 at 12:36

    Scott Ritter legitimizing a monster like Kissinger is like someone trying to legitimize Hitler because he was kind to his German Shepard. Just repugnant. The only reason Kissinger felt like being diplomatic when it came to nuclear weapons is because they threatened him, his family and the amoral capitalist system. He could care less about anyone one, or anything else. Shame on Scott Ritter for not kicking away completely the pedestal the capitalist ruling class wants to keep this monster on.

  17. Robert Crosman
    December 1, 2023 at 12:13

    I lived in Washington, during the 1950’s, while growing up, and had friends whose fathers were high up in the government – State and Defense Depts. These men were perpetually in a cold sweat about some crisis or other, which might well have led to nuclear war. The wars never happened. From this I learned that the more “inside” you were, the greater the fear was – quite appropriately, since fear is a good motivator to avoid any threat. Since then, with the exception of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, I never worried more than briefly about nuclear war, because I knew that those in power would be so frightened that they would stop short of starting it.

    The Cuban crisis started when Khrushchev sent nuclear missiles to Cuba, to counter U.S. placing missiles in Turkey. The U.S. prepared a proxy invasion of Cuba to destroy the missiles, but it failed, and hawks in the White House advised Kennedy to destroy the missiles with a direct attack. Wisely Khrushchev withdrew them instead, and Kennedy secretly reciprocated by withdrawing ours from Turkey. Crisis averted, because the alternative would have been so dire.

    Scott Ritter’s is an excellent example of the insider mentality. Because he could see into the workings of the nuclear chess game, he sees how near to all-out war we have repeatedly come, and are still doing so today – lately in Ukraine, and possibly in Israel, which also has nukes – and one day soon, Iran as well. Kissinger, who was guilty of many war crimes, was also, as Scott Ritter reminds us, a major champion of arms control treaties – treaties that are now dead or dying. The risk of nuclear war is correspondingly greater, and could happen, which should cause those in power to be afraid of some unforeseen chain of accidents and mistakes that could lead to a first strike, then leading quickly to Armageddon.

    BUT this will probably not occur, precisely because the insiders, especially those in power, are so afraid of its happening. Evidence of this is that when OUR madman, Donald Trump, toyed with the nuclear football, those around him made sure that if he tried to start an attack, he wouldn’t be obeyed. The consequences are so dire, that unless the nukes begin to rain down on us, we won’t be launching them first. And Putin, who is no madman, will also not start a nuclear war. Third parties, like Israel or Iran? Not likely, for the same reasons, and they are far from us. Tactical nukes? Possibly – in Ukraine, say – but not a trigger for general war.

    No, we are reasonably safe from nuclear annihilation, and in fact the Pax Atomica is a principal reason why since WWII all wars have been local. Since 1945, warhawks in the U.S. has been itching for war (witness the Vietnam debacle, and George W’s adventurism) but we’ve been afraid to touch off anything that could go global – because Russia and now China have nukes, and missiles to deliver them. We have that, at least, to thank the Atomic Age for, and some confidence that it will continue. And we can thank Henry Kissinger, war criminal, for being one of the instruments for nuclear détente. It will be interesting to see who picks up the burden he has had to lay down.

  18. Kevin M Czaja
    December 1, 2023 at 11:55

    It is always interesting to me how the most ruthless murderers can act civil and courteous and even seem quite nice on the surface. And after all, some of the most vile sociopaths have often been among the most intelligent people in the room. Its nice Scott had some nice memories with this monster made flesh, but there is nothing complicated about how we should remember him (the only complication comes from how the Empire’s simps in the media will spin his “great man” status). I don’t scorn Scott for being brutally honest here in his take (as I wish everyone would be), but to say he is being a tad too forgiving in his assessment of Henry Kissinger, I believe to be a monumental understatement.

  19. ks
    December 1, 2023 at 11:27

    I appreciate the texture added to our understanding of Henry Kissinger, but “kindness” is a word that shouldn’t appear anywhere in the vicinity of that sociopath. My idea of a great man is Michael Ratner, who spent a lifetime trying to right the wrongs of the Kissingers of this world.

  20. nwwoods
    December 1, 2023 at 11:26

    Did not know thaty about Jaba the Hut!

    December 1, 2023 at 11:08

    Is Scott claiming nobody could have accomplished the anti-ballistic missile treaty but for this one man? Rubbish. Same with his other accomplishments in Chile, Viet Nam and elsewhere.

  22. Tommy
    December 1, 2023 at 10:55

    “…where a long line of illuminati was waiting to have an audience with the Dean of American Diplomacy”

    What illumiati?

  23. Carolyn L Zaremba
    December 1, 2023 at 10:54

    BS. I hate Henry Kissinger. I have always hated him. I think of Chile and Victor Jara’s murder. That was all down to Kissinger. He was a rabid anti-communist. I am a socialist. Never, ever, will the twain meet. He was a criminal. Period.

  24. Dan DeMaio
    December 1, 2023 at 10:33

    There is no contradiction in slaughtering millions to further the desires of the plutocracy and to take measures to insure their safety.

    • Julie Grimme
      December 2, 2023 at 00:13

      I agree. All of it is true. His beliefs and policies resulted in countries being destroyed for decades and millions dying. He also developed the anti ballistic treaty, the intermediate nuclear weapons force treaty and the strategic arms limitation treaty. So he did that too. I respect Scott Ritter so I believe all of it is true. I’m reading Diplomacy now and afterwards I’ll read Hersh’s book.

    • December 2, 2023 at 09:45

      Your comment, Dan, cuts to the core of the issue.

    • Joshua Reicks
      December 3, 2023 at 13:48

      You nailed it. Kissinger was a servant to US domination and economic power. Nuclear war was bad business for big business. Nothing wrong with giving Kissinger credit for broking an agreement that helped the country but that success pales in comparison to the evil he wrought upon the peoples of this world.

  25. Larry McGovern
    December 1, 2023 at 09:53

    Thanks, Scott, for this more nuanced view of Kissinger. Further proof that we are complex beings, are we not – not all good, not all bad. A nicer way, perhaps, of saying (thank you, Issi) that a broken clock is correct twice a day.

    • Julie Grimme
      December 2, 2023 at 00:14

      Might be the best way of saying it.

  26. Drew Hunkins
    December 1, 2023 at 09:37

    Kissinger was a war criminal, no doubt. But he did have some decent qualities: his efforts at detente and rapprochement with the USSR and China were commendable. SALT was largely bc of his work. Of course his overthrow of Allende was reprehensible. Also, his massive bombing of Cambodia was monstrous, this latter move was undertaken bc he and Nixon were trying to end America’s invasion of Vietnam but needed to save some face.

    • Kurt
      December 1, 2023 at 12:50

      His efforts were purely for the purpose of American hegemony and its imperialist interests. The U.S. government continues to denounce China over the fact that China will not show fealty to the ” rules based order,” and the continuing meddling with Taiwan that is threatening war. As for the Soviet Union, Kissinger did everything in his power to quicken the dismantling of the Stalinist bureaucracy so he could see Fukuyama’s ridiculous ” end of history ” in his lifetime. He probably dreamed of living long enough to see the complete dismantling of Russia into colonial vassal states which is the U.S,. and the rest of the NATO lapdogs, ultimate goal with their proxy war in Ukraine.

    • Teleman
      December 1, 2023 at 13:14

      The bombing of Cambodia was to deny the North Vietnamese a staging facility to attack and kill Americans who were ordered to the battlefield. As Country Joe and the Fish once sang, “There’s plenty good money to be made by supplying the Army with tools of trade.”
      The North Vietnamese weren’t invited into Cambodia either. “There was plenty of blame to spread around.” I said that.

  27. Robert
    December 1, 2023 at 09:32

    Don’t quite know how to assess Kissinger. Probably was a net positive for the United States (government and citizens) and net negative for the rest of the world. I found Ritter’s take on him to be a very interesting read.

    On the plus side Kissinger comes off as a shining star compared to people that followed him in the State Department and other diplomatic roles. To name just a few recents: Madeline Albright, Hillary Clinton, Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley, Antony Blinken, Victoria Nuland. Not one of those six mentioned had the experience, qualifications, temperament, or intellect to be appointed to positions they ended up in. And everyone of them seemed to like far away wars way to much.

    So I can handle reading about the grand send off Kissinger will get in Washington DC, but my stomach still churns a bit when an article or video of Madeline (half a million dead Iraqi kids was worth it) Albright pop up in archives.

    • December 1, 2023 at 14:45

      About five or six years ago I was receiving emails from the late congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis. In some of his emails he was asking that we sign a petition to stand with Madeleine Albright as she was speaking out against Donald Trump. As if speaking against Donald Trump set any high bar or made her somebody at all worthy of standing with.

      I unsubscribed to his email list and in telling why I was unsubscribing I said shame, shame, SHAME on John Lewis for asking that we stand with that nasty warmonger, and that John Lewis was dishonoring and betraying the legacy of Martin Luther King by asking that we stand with Madeleine Albright of all people.


  28. Lois Gagnon
    December 1, 2023 at 09:10

    I don’t believe it was the world he was trying to save in nuclear arms control treaties, it was the ability of the US led West to continue its rampage across the planet unimpeded. That’s pretty much what happened. His motivations were never about peace. They were about control. Good riddance.

    • ks
      December 1, 2023 at 11:32

      Well said.

    • Robyn
      December 1, 2023 at 18:12

      Lois – I agree 100%.

    • Laurie Holbrook
      December 1, 2023 at 21:07

      Well put Lois and all too true. It’s always the motivation behind the action that speaks louder.

  29. Tony
    December 1, 2023 at 08:47

    “Later, from February through April 1975, as the South Vietnamese military crumbled before the North Vietnamese armed forces advancing on Saigon, the absolute failure of the “Vietnamization” program —which Kissinger championed — became manifest.”

    But Nixon and Kissinger knew that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable and that the “Vietnamisation” policy was very unlikely to succeed. It was a way to get out without being humiliated or blamed.

    This is why Nixon and Kissinger sought better relations with both China and the USSR. By contrast, the military chiefs believed that the war in Vietnam was winnable if only they could be allowed to fight their version of it. They had not been allowed to do this under President Johnson and felt let down by Nixon too.

    This is covered in a number of books such as Ray Locker’s “Nixon’s Gamble.”

  30. susan
    December 1, 2023 at 07:10

    Thanks for the short Kissinger history lesson Scott. I still won’t miss the evil man!

  31. December 1, 2023 at 06:14

    This article is very a propos of some of my own thoughts on Henry Kissinger that I shared in a comment on the article “The New York Times’ Shift on Victory in Ukraine,” authored by John Walsh of and syndicated by Consortium News on May 27, 2022:

    “Kissinger certainly deserves every negative appraisal and demand for accountability for his ghoulish legacy (in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Chile, East Timor, etc.) that he has received from perceptive critics like Christopher Hitchens, Noam Chomsky, William Shawcross, Greg Grandin, etc., such that he is now a pretty unequivocally infamous personage outside the Beltway. Furthermore, the fact that even ‘humanitarian interventionist’ Samantha Power cozies up to him is surely an indictment of just how little divergence there tends to be on the destructive fundamentals of hegemonic power projection in US policy circles.

    That being said, I was always a little annoyed by how Kissinger is made out to be some uniquely monstrous individual (compared to, e.g., Zbigniew Brzezinski, Madeleine Albright, or frankly even James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, to say nothing of the PNAC clique), largely due to neoconservative-adjacent Hitchens’s influence over the discourse on him. On the contrary, Kissinger’s Council of Vienna-esque conceptions of ‘realpolitik,’ double-edged sword though they are, compare relatively favorably to the maximalist imperial agendas prevalent in neoconservative policy circles (which began to become a more prominent strain in policy thought than Kissingerian realism with the ‘Halloween Massacre’ of 1975).”

    • Tony
      December 1, 2023 at 08:53

      Zbigniew Brzezinski, for example, was behind the plan to help bring about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He even boasted about it in his 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur magazine.

  32. issi
    December 1, 2023 at 05:44

    the broken clock is still correct twice daily

  33. December 1, 2023 at 05:20

    I’m sorry,
    Maybe I wasn’t listening closely enough,
    Did you say that even one of his five bestest friends in the whole wide world actually moved towards disarmament?
    Because, if you did, I didn’t hear it, and I most certainly didn’t see it.
    Did anyone else?

  34. December 1, 2023 at 05:01

    Those ‘key nuclear arms control treaties’ wound up being a lock in for the balance of nuclear terrorism which, in effect, kept the five permanent members of the security council in power. They most certainly didn’t save the world, in case you haven’t noticed, it hasn’t quite been saved just yet…

    • December 1, 2023 at 10:52

      Thanks, Joshua; we needed that.

      • Tony Kevin
        December 1, 2023 at 17:38

        Thanks to Scott Ritter and to CN for publishing this brave piece by Scott which has predictably infuriated many here. I think Kissinger played an important – perhaps crucial – positive role in the golden years of East West detente . As detente collapsed over the past five years , Kissinger tried to get the ear of US presidents . Trump was disposed to heed his advice . Obama and Biden – nyet. I think there would still be some professional respect for Kissinger in the Kremlin where he was a welcome visitor even recently . As to the genocidal US bombings in Indochina – K was part of a genocidal US war machine which continues to function in similar ways in many other countries and regions since his time in office . Try Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen , Libya, Syria , and now Gaza. To single out K as a uniquely evil participant is historically unjustified.

        • December 3, 2023 at 18:32


          As I once stated elsewhere when reviewing Greg Grandin’s “Kissinger’s Shadow” (2016), and as a policy legacy that you are likely very familiar with from your own time as Australian ambassador in Cambodia from 1994-97:

          “Grandin does concede that ‘Henry Kissinger is, of course, not singularly responsible for the evolution of the United States’ national security state into the perpetual motion machine that it has become today’ (Grandin, 15). However, by making an effort to differentiate Kissinger’s pernicious influence on subsequent foreign policy from that of foreign policy architects and intellectuals such as George Kennan, Arthur Schlesinger, Hans Morgenthau, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Thomas Schelling, Grandin’s book appears to diminish the problematic contributions of those representing preceding and/or opposing perspectives on foreign relations (Grandin, 1-4, and 10).

          For example, he understandably outlines the destructive impact of Kissinger’s covert invasion and bombing of Cambodia; at the same time, Grandin does not engage with the ways that the contrasting insights and perceptions of contemporaneous diplomatic personnel observing ‘a broad ‘anti-fascist’ alliance of ‘non-communists,’ ‘Sihanoukists,’ and ‘Red Khmers’’ might have contributed to later pragmatic US sponsorship of this same alliance against Vietnamese forces despite prior genocidal atrocities by the Khmer Rouge (Grandin, 64, cf. Michael Haas, ‘Cambodia, Pol Pot, and the United States: The Faustian Pact,’ published by Praeger in 1991, or the work of John Pilger on Cambodia).”

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      December 1, 2023 at 10:55

      Agreed. Thank you.

    • Chuck Main
      December 1, 2023 at 13:50

      Unless you are inclined to consider. like I do, that it is miraculous that we haven’t nuked ourselves into oblivion–yet, which seems somewhat more a matter of luck than wisdom. The arms treaties were for our (the US) benefit, not the whole of humankind, though of course for Kissinger et al we are (were) the essential ones. Now the world is being slowly dragged towards the realization that millennia of tribalism is rendered untenable by the bombs of nuclear weapons proliferation and human proliferation. One might hypothetically surmise both of these were in the back of Kissinger’s (et al) psychopathic vision for a solution. And it is great for military-industrial businesses, where we remain by far the world leader, the only such hard industrial niche we still occupy–other than Tesla.

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