Sunday, January 1, 2017

Pussy-Grabber Needs Kissinger

Jim Naughton of the New York Times was in the White House interviewing President Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, for a Sunday magazine article.

Ziegler, a former Disneyland barker, was boasting about the new, high-tech video communications system that had recently been installed.  “You want a comment from someone in the administration, I can get it in an instant,” Ziegler said.  “Say you want a comment from Kissinger,” (then the biggest star in the cast), “I just press this button . . . .” The TV screen lit up and an image appeared of a pin-striped knee. “Hello Henry, Ron Ziegler here.  I hope we’re not bothering you but. . .”

A familiar, Teutonic-accented voice growled, “You ARE, Ron.” Click! The screen went dark.

Henry Kissinger exuded power.  No wonder the soon-to-be President likes him.  They share not just a love of power but also an eye for attractive women and an affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Even though he’s 93, Kissinger is said to be designated for a role in the new administration as a foreign policy advisor and intermediary with Putin’s Russia.

Whereas the Pussy-Grabber is utterly ignorant of the complexities of modern foreign policy and diplomatic procedure, Kissinger was one of its slickest operators.  For good or bad, he influenced the international tides.  He commanded respect.

He orchestrated acts of criminality, including assassination.  Salvador Allende, as the democratically-elected president of Chile, offended Washington by acting in the interests of his people rather than the country’s oligarchs and their  pals in corporate America.  Kissinger ordered the CIA to take him out.  In September of 1973 a CIA-instigated military coup ousted Allende, who wound up dead.  Shot himself with an assault rifle, the junta said. Or maybe Santa Claus did it. In any event, the junta put General Augusto Pinochet in charge of the country, and the new dictator rounded up thousands of Allende supporters to be tortured and murdered.  

This sort of thing, of course, has been commonplace in American foreign policy, but Kissinger was arguably better at it than most American officials. Covered his tracks better.

Kissinger had inside knowledge of the quid pro quo that was secretly negotiated with Boris Yeltsin in 1993 when the Russian leader agreed to let Poland join NATO.  One popular version holds that the U.S.agreed to put Russia itself in line for NATO membership.  Another version says there was simply a firm verbal commitment that NATO would never expand further east, towards Russia’s border. Kissinger personally shot down the possibility of putting Russia into NATO when the Clinton administration was considering it in 1994. But he almost certainly would have approved a vow of no further eastward expansion of NATO. Subtly at first, then blatantly, the administrations of  Bush II and Obama violated that vow.

Against that backdrop, Kissinger in a recent interview publicly exonerated Russia from blame for the present-day crisis over Ukraine. He did not directly acknowledge that the United States had, as it did in Chile, orchestrated the coup d’etat that forced Ukraine’s democratically-elected president out of office. But Kissinger nonetheless dismissed western outrage at Russia’s subsequent annexation of Crimea. Given that peninsula’s longtime historic ties to Russia, he said, “the annexation of Crimea was not a move toward global conquest. It was not Hitler moving into Czechoslovakia” (as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others  had contended).

Kissinger said that until the U.S. ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, Putin had no interest in fomenting trouble in Ukraine. He told his interviewer: “Putin spent tens of billions of dollars on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The theme of the Olympics was that Russia is a progressive state tied to the West through its culture and, therefore, it presumably wants to be part of it. So it doesn’t make any sense that a week after the close of the Olympics, Putin would take Crimea and start a war over Ukraine.”

Then Kissinger offered a hint of the sort of advice he would give to the incoming president:”If a conflict is avoidable, on a basis reflecting morality and security, one should try to avoid it. We have to remember that Russia is an important part of the international system, and therefore useful in solving all sorts of other crises, for example in the agreement on nuclear proliferation with Iran or over Syria. This has to have preference over a tactical escalation in a specific case.”

In putting together an administration lacking in wisdom or morality, including a Secretary of State nominee whose only knowledge of world affairs is where the oil is and where there’s money to be made, the Pussy-Grabber would be wise to seek the counsel of Henry Kissinger on matters of global diplomacy.

On Russia, at least, the man in pinstripes knows which buttons to push and when to push them. Just ask Ron Ziegler.