The Blanket

Herr Henry Struts Again

This is the man who publicly lied about everything - Robert Scheer Los Angeles Times

Anthony McIntyre • 4.12.02

Mitar Vasiljevic walked from the dock in the Hague last week in the direction which he ought rather than sought. And for company he had prison guards in place of family and friends. He had just heard the thump of a judge’s gavel confirming his sentence of twenty years for the 1992 killing of five Muslims who had pleaded to be spared his murderous intent. The Serb was fortunate in so far as he evaded conviction on another more serious count of burning alive 65 Muslim civilians including children, some of them babies.

Vasiljevic was viewed by the court as having played no great part in the wider Balkans conflict. He functioned as a foot soldier in the White Eagles death squad who had, according to one judge, committed murder out of ‘sheer ethnic hatred.’ The judge went on:

The fact he was a low-level offender in terms of the overall conflict in the former Yugoslavia cannot alter the seriousness of the offences for which he has been convicted, or the circumstances in which he committed them.

All very well: the paupers as well as the princes among war criminals should both share whatever dubious splendour the cells of the Hague provide them. Vasiljevic should hardly go free in a manner that Eichmann did not. Serbian war criminals are little different from the Nazis who preceded them.

So it was perplexing to find on the day that Vasiljevic went down for his score of years that elsewhere another war criminal was being brought in to the heart of the political establishment with the presidential words ‘Mr. Secretary, thank you for returning to the service of your nation' ringing in his ears. And this time the criminal concerned was not a mere foot soldier in the death squads but a senior official who set the strategic context in which perhaps hundreds of thousands were murdered, a man more akin to Goering than Vasiljevic. His war criminal writ ran from Vietnam through Bangladesh, Cambodia, East Timor, Chile and Argentina. The irony was not lost on John Nichols writing in the Nation:

If President Bush had set out to undermine the credibility of the commission charged with probing the intelligence and security flaws that allowed the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to succeed, he would have begun by naming as the chair someone with a track record of secrecy, double-dealing and bartering himself off to the highest bidder. And so the president, who has resisted the investigation for more than a year, did just that. With the selection of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to head the 10-member commission, Bush has signalled that he is more interested in covering for the intelligence establishment - and the administration's allies in corrupt oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia - than in getting to the truth.

And as Julian Borger contended in the Guardian:

Those Europeans who were aware that the old cold warrior was still alive could be forgiven for assuming he was in a cell somewhere awaiting war crimes charges, or living the life of a fugitive, never sleeping in the same bed twice lest human rights investigators track him down.

Even establishment notables such as National Security Archive founder Scott Anderson, a former staff member of the Senate Watergate Committee protested, ‘the minute you start talking about clerics in Saudi Arabia, it's in no way in the interests of his clients for the whole truth to be told.’

Conor O’Clery writing in the Irish Times described the appointment as almost a two-fingered response by the Republican Party to Christopher Hitchens's book The Trial of Henry Kissinger. O’Clery reported Hitchens as being furious. In the view of the author who has also launched polemical broadsides against Mother Teresa and Bill Clinton:

Everyone knows the Bush administration does not want a full and objective inquiry and appointing Henry Kissinger … a proven cover-up artist, a discredited historian, a busted liar and a man who is wanted in many jurisdictions for the vilest of offences ... is the next best thing to not having such an inquiry.

Kissinger and his commission - on which George Mitchell shall also serve without any insistence by him on Kissinger abiding by the same Mitchell Principles he imposed on the Irish - is ostensibly tasked with investigating any financial link between the Saudi royal family and those who blasted the World Trade Centre last year. Money from the wife of the Saudi ambassador to Washington is suspected of having made its way to al Qaida. But the ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, is a friend of Kissinger. And given the American’s track record for covering up for the vilest human rights abusers what are the prospects for him breaking with a well established tradition on this occasion?

During the summer Saudi Arabia was described by the Rand Corporation in a briefing to the Pentagon, as ‘active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheer-leader.’ But that will hardly matter. As it stands the Saudi government is a strategic ally of the US and considered indispensable for any war on Iraq and essential to long term US hegemonic designs in the region. And just as an afterthought, its leaders are close friends of the Bush dynasty.

Of severe disappointment is the warm reception the American public have given the Kissinger appointment. Because they more than anybody else are the target of the intended deception. The very national mood which swelled as a result of last year’s attacks is being exploited in order to deny the American public insight into those behind the attacks. For this reason David Corn in the Nation opined, ‘the public would be better served and the victims of 9/11 better honoured by no commission rather than one headed by Kissinger … he should be subpoenaed, not handed the right to subpoena. He is a target, not an investigator.

Talk of human rights, humanitarian interventionist wars, freedom and democracy is all nonsense when judged against the sort of actions that promote a serial war criminal such as Henry Kissinger. It will both undermine human rights activists and further enrage those already hostile to America and its citizenry. The cynicism of the move, despite being purposefully crafted to provide cover for the Saudis, will most certainly fuel a militant and fundamentalist ideological conflagration which has American citizens firmly in its sights.




Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives





It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies.
- Arthur Calwell
Index: Current Articles

6 December 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Questioning the Prison System in the North
Liam O Ruairc


Britain's New Moral Authority to Shoot Republicans
Anthony McIntyre


Teething Troubles
Henry McDonald


Setting The Record Straight

Billy Mitchell


Herr Henry Struts Again
Anthony McIntyre


Even the Taxi Drivers Say It: "Likud has Failed"
Uri Avnery


The Letters page has been updated.


1 December 2002


Blanket Special

3 Part Series
Capo di Tutti i Capi?:
The Three Families

Part Three: The Civil Rights Veterans' Story
Anthony McIntyre


Asking the Awkward Questions
Terry Harkin


West Belfast Firefighters Support
Davy Carlin


Crime And The Family

Sean Smyth


Juliana McCourt
Anthony McIntyre


A Glimmer of Hope
Michael Dahan




The Blanket



Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices

To contact the Blanket project with a comment, to contribute an article, or to make a donation, write to: