I’m always puzzled, and more than a little annoyed, when I see established media outlets give former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger space to write about the Vietnam War and its lessons. I cannot fathom why he is looked upon as an oracle about matters of war and peace. It’s akin to asking the designer of the Edsel for advice on the next generation of automobiles. What we’re likely to get is a blueprint for a fleet of gas-guzzling, environmentally polluting monster SUV’s.
So I wasn’t surprised that Newsweek magazine gave Kissinger two pages in its November 3 issue to expound on “What Vietnam Teaches Us.” To my way of thinking the war should have taught us not to put people like Henry Kissinger in charge of matters of life and death. But, of course, that’s now how Henry the K sees it.
“Entered into with a brash self-confidence after a decade and a half of creative and successful foreign policy, our engagement ended with America as divided as it had not been since the Civil War, ” he starts out. Here Kissinger conveniently neglects to mention that the nation was divided so deeply and bitterly primarily because of his policies that dragged out the Vietnam War for four long years at a cost of some 20, 000 American lives and no one knows how many hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese.
Then Kissinger starts pointing fingers–not at himself, of course, but at Congress. Because of the nation being so divided, he says, “Congress cut off aid to Vietnam two years after the troops had been withdrawn, and the last Americans left Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) by helicopter from the roof of our embassy.” Blaming Congress for losing the war by ending American aid to Vietnam years after the overwhelming majority of Americans wanted to wash their collective hands of that war has been Kissinger’s M.O. since leaving office in disgrace.
It’s a bankrupt argument, but one Kissinger has espoused in his own self-serving books and in newspaper and magazine articles, including the new one in Newsweek . If, for some reason, you want to read the article, which contains a review of a recent book about JFK and LBJ Vietnam War adviser McGeorge Bundy, it’s on line. Click here.