While former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has been dubbed a masterful practitioner of Realpolitik, the German-born politician was, in fact, a classic idealist, for whom the lives of untold thousands could be sacrificed in service of the ideal of geopolitical stability, argues New York University historian Greg Grandin.
In his newly published Kissinger’s Shadow, The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman, makes the argument that Kissinger’s brutal legacy, discredited in the wake of the disastrous Vietnam War and his support of the brutal regime of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran, has not only been rehabilitated, but elevated to the gold standard of American foreign policy, with results just as disastrous as in the 1960s and 1970s.
For many of esnl’s generation, Henry Kissinger represented everything wrong in American politics, and his name served as an embodiment of imperial ambition, and nobody captured the Kissinger essence better than political caricaturist David Levine, most notably in this illustration for the cover of the New York Review of Books:
When the New Republic’s Steven Cohen recently interviewed Grandin, he asked the historian what had sparked his latest tome. The answer is revealing:
Honestly, I saw a picture of Samantha Power [the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations] and Henry Kissinger at a Yankees game that so drove me over the edge. You know, Samantha Power wrote this book about genocide, including several genocides that Kissinger was implicated in, and then to see their banter about power and realism and human rights…I thought I would write a snarky book called The People’s Obituary of Henry Kissinger. That introduction, “An Obituary Foretold,” is kind of all that’s left from it. I don’t think I have the comic imagination to justify a full-length book that would have said anything new.
From The Laura Flanders Show on Telesur English, here’s an interview with the author, followed by an excerpt of a documentary on his legacies:
Greg Grandin: Empire and Resistance
The tools of empire, and the resistance: We talk with professor and author Greg Grandin about his latest book, Kissinger’s Shadow. Then, later in the show, we look at the US-supported coup in Honduras in 2009. And some words from Laura on Guatemala.
Finally, one more David Levine illustration this one named after a Ray Bradbury novel, The Illustrated Man: