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Henry Kissinger a champion of war not peace

file photo: a code pink demonstrator dangles a set of handcuffs in front of former secretary of state kissinger on capitol hill in washington
FILE PHOTO: A Code Pink demonstrator dangles a set of handcuffs in front of former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the Armed Services Committee on global challenges and U.S. national security strategy on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 29, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo

Now he is dead it may be possible for more light to be shed on the true extent to which he manipulated events in Cyprus in 1974

Henry Kissinger died peacefully last week at the ripe old age of 100 – his main achievement in a lifetime misspent destabilising governments across the globe.

He was born in Germany in 1923. His family escaped the persecution of Jewish people in Nazi Germany and fled to the US in 1938. He became a US citizen and returned as a German-speaking officer in the US army hunting down Nazis at the end of World War II.

He retained a German accent when speaking English in a gruff voice that made it difficult to understand what he was saying. His use of English was academic German English; what George Orwell would have condemned as “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

After the war he returned to the US and attended Harvard University, where he obtained a doctorate and became professor of international relations. It was the early 1950s, the Korean war between North Korea supported by the communist east and South Korea supported by America and her allies was in full swing. It ended in 1953 with a ceasefire along a dividing line that remains frozen to this day. Alt-hough a forgotten war, it ushered in the Cold War that continues after a brief interlude, and is what shaped Kissinger’s thinking about world affairs.

Kissinger became Richard Nixon’s national security adviser in his first term (1969-1973) and US Secretary of State on his reelection in 1973. Nixon resigned his second term on August 9, 1974 and was succeeded by Vice President Gerald Ford who kept Kissinger in charge of foreign policy until 1977, but replaced him as national security adviser in 1975.

So, Kissinger was Secretary of State as well as national security adviser at the time of the Cyprus crisis in the summer of 1974. Actually, he was de facto president, as Nixon was incapacitated by the Watergate scandal in July-August 1974. Now that Kissinger is dead it may be possible for more light to be shed on the true extent to which he manipulated events in Cyprus in 1974.

The allegations against him in a number of articles and books including one by the journalist and author the late Christopher Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, have been that he had a case to answer for war crimes in Cambodia, Chile and Cy-prus among others. In his own work, Years of Renewal, Kissinger admits that in his view president Makarios “was the proximate cause of Cyprus’ tensions,” which implies self-justification for the attempt to have him removed.

What happened in July 1974 was that the military dictators in Greece, who were CIA agents, decided to topple president Makarios. The case against Kissinger is that as he was in total control of US foreign and national security policy, he must have known and approved the decision of his agents in Athens to overthrow the democratically elected president of Cyprus.

Makarios survived to tell Kissinger personally that when the putschists attacked his presidential palace he got into a car and drove off to Paphos and thence to the British base at Akrotiri from where he was flown out, courtesy of the RAF.

When it became clear that the Greek dictatorship was about to collapse and that Makarios would be reinstated, Kissinger is said to have switched US support in favour of Turkey in order to anchor Cyprus to the West; basically because it suited US geopolitical interests during the Cold War.

He consistently denied the accusation of the Machiavellian machinations levelled against him. He claimed he had so much on his plate at the time, the last thing he wanted was a crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean between two Nato allies. And furthermore that during the crisis he was not always on top of events owing to the Watergate crisis that coincided with the crisis in Cyprus.

The trouble with Kissinger’s denials is that exchanges from British diplomatic sources show him as hands on at crucial times in the Cyprus crisis. There is also his well-known propensity to instigate the overthrow of democratically elected governments as in Chile and a callous indifference to loss of life in the pursuit of US geopolitical interests as happened in Vietnam and Cambodia.

The likes of war mongers Tony Blair and Boris Johnson praised Kissinger last week as a great diplomat but if you look around there is nothing left of his diplomatic triumphs. The opening of China has broken down, relations with Russia are at an all-time low and the Arabs and Israelis will not recover from the crisis in Gaza for generations.

In 1973 Kissinger was, controversially, awarded the Nobel peace prize jointly with Vietnam’s Le Durc Tho “for jointly having negotiated a ceasefire in Vietnam in 1973”. Kissinger shamelessly accepted knowing it was an insult to the prize, but Tho refused saying pointedly: “it was the Vietnamese people that made peace by defeating the American war of aggression against us and by regaining our independence and freedom.”

What on earth were the Nobel committee thinking when they awarded Kissinger the peace prize knowing he had ordered the carpet bombing of Cambodia and Vietnam? I was puzzled so I looked up the origins of the Nobel Prize and made some interesting discoveries.

Alfred Nobel was a very rich Swedish armaments manufacturer who had a brother who died before him. At the time the press mistakenly thought he had died and splashed headlines saying “the merchant of death is dead.”

Apparently, it was to avoid such headlines when he died for real that he wrote a will that bequeathed part of his enormous wealth for a yearly prize “to the person who has done the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses.”

According to the will the prize for “champions of peace” is to be awarded to the “worthiest person” by a committee of five persons to be selected by the Norwegian Parliament.

The award of the Nobel prize for peace to Kissinger was incoherent and contrary to the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will. It was a joint award and the other person awarded had said Kissinger had waged a war of aggression against Vietnam. He was most certainly not the “worthiest” “champion for peace.”

Alper Ali Riza is a king’s counsel in the UK and a former part time judge

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